Burmese American

Burmese American

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Burmese American

poptime = 30,000
popplace = California, New York, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois
langs = English, Burmese
rels = Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism

Burmese Americans, or Myanmarese Americans, are Americans of Burmese descent. The term encompasses people of all ethnic backgrounds with ancestry in the present-day Myanmar (formerly Burma). [citebook|title=Asian Americans: Vulnerable Populations, Model Interventions, and Clarifying Agendas|author= Lin Zhan|year= 2003|publisher=Jones & Bartlett|id=ISBN 0763722413] Burmese Americans are a subgroup of Asian Americans.

History in the United States

A large percentage of expatriates from Myanmar arrived in the United States between the late 1960s and mid 1980s. Many Burmese--primarily of Anglo-Burmese, Indian and Chinese origins--began to emigrate abroad after Gen. Ne Win established military rule in 1962. Some of the Burmese immigrated to the United States after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the previously existing quota on Asian immigrants. [ [http://www.historicaldocuments.com/ImmigrationActof1965.htm Historical Documents and Speeches - The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 ] ] A second influx occurred during the late 1980s and early 1990s after the national uprising in 1988. Many Burmese (including the indigenous Burmese) left Burma in large numbers in search of better opportunities.

The Burmese in far smaller numbers continue to immigrate to the United States today mainly through family sponsorships and the "green card lottery". Thousands of Burmese each year apply to a Diversity Visa Program (colloquially known as "OP" in Burmese), a lottery-based program that grants random visas to people wishing to reside in the United States.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 16,720 persons of Burmese descent resided in the United States. That number is estimated to have risen to at least 50,000 today because of the large number of Burmese people seeking political asylum. The actual number, however, may be even larger. (Note that a significant number of Burmese Chinese and Burmese Indians who immigrated to the United States for socio-economic factors tend to identify themselves as Chinese or South Asian rather than Burmese. Additionally, the Anglo-Burmese and Anglo-Indians from Burma, mostly now settled in Southern California and Georgia, usually classify themselves as 'other' for racial purposes.)Fact|date=February 2007

Various Burmese exile groups have set up shop in the United States. One prominent group is the "National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma" (.


Most Burmese Americans live in metropolitan areas with large immigrant populations. The Big Four metropolitan areas with sizable Burmese populations are Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Washington D.C. Other areas of significance include Florida, Illinois, and Indiana where many Burmese refugees have resided.

* Los AngelesSan Gabriel Valley, especially San Gabriel and Rosemead
* Bay AreaSan Francisco, California, and San Jose, California
* New York CityQueens, Brooklyn, and Northern New Jersey
* Washington D.C. — Northern Virginia and Maryland
* Fort Wayne, Indiana
* Chicago


As most Burmese are Buddhists, many Burmese Buddhist monasteries, most of which also serve as community centers, have sprouted across most major cities in the United States. A few ethnic Mon and Rakhine monasteries serve their respective ethnic populations. Burmese Christian churches consisting mainly of ethnic Karen, Chin, Kachin, and even Anglo-Burmese congregations can also be found in large metropolitan areas.

English is the primary language for most Burmese Americans, albeit with varying levels of fluency depending on the level of education and the years lived in the country. Burmese is still widely spoken or understood as most Burmese Americans are recent immigrants or first generation children of those immigrants. Still, the command of spoken Burmese among the American-born Burmese is basic to poor, and that of written Burmese is close to none. Some older Burmese of Chinese origin speak Chinese (typically, Mandarin, Minnan, or Cantonese); likewise some of South-Asian origin speak some Indic language (usually Hindi/Urdu).


Notable Burmese Americans

* Wendy Law-Yone
* Natalise
* Thant Myint-U

ee also

*Demographics of Myanmar
*Asian Americans
*National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
*Canadian Friends of Burma
*US Campaign for Burma
*Free Burma Coalition
*Burmese monasteries

External links

* [http://www.historicaldocuments.com/ImmigrationActof1965.htm The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965]
* [http://www.bapsusa.org/ Burmese American Professionals Society]
* [http://www.myanmar.org.uk/shwe/ Burmese-American's own companies in USA]
* [http://www.badasf.org/ Burmese American Democratic Alliance]
* [http://www.burmesewomen.org/pages/1/index.htm Burmese American Women's Alliance]
* [http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-context=dt&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-CONTEXT=dt&-mt_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_PCT019&-tree_id=403&-redoLog=true&-all_geo_types=N&-geo_id=01000US&-search_results=01000US&-format=&-_lang=en US Census 2000 foreign born population by country]
* http://burmeseamerican.com/
* [http://www.ieds.blogspot.com/ Unconventional Commentaries on Karen people of Burma]
* [http://www.mandalaygazette.com/ The first Burmese Language News Paper in United States]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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