Rudyard Kipling wrote that Burma is 'quite unlike any land you know about', and this still very much applies over a century after it was written. With a civilisation that is more than 2,500 years old, Burma is a mysterious and magical land with magnificent temple architecture set in timeless and sublime landscapes. Burma (also known as Myanmar) has remained hidden for decades ensuring that its astonishing natural beauty and charm have remained one of the world's best-kept secrets. Ox carts, locals dressed in traditional longyis and women with tree- bark paste decorating their faces all add to the sense that time has stood still here, even in the cities. Once again opening up to the world, this intriguing country is blessed with a unique natural environment of snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, mighty rivers, lush tropical forests, and unspoiled beaches. Bordered by China to the north-east, Laos to the east, Thailand to the south-east, Bangladesh to the west, India to the north-west and the Bay of Bengal to the south-west, the Andaman Sea and its 1,199 mile uninterrupted coastline define Burma's southern periphery. The Burmese culture, heavily influenced by neighbours, is based on Theravada Buddhism intertwined with animist elements called nats, which are spirits that hold dominion over a place or person. Burma's diverse population (there are over 135 ethnic groups) has played a major role in defining its politics, history and demographics in modern times, and the country continues to struggle to mend its ethnic tensions. The military has dominated government since General Ne Win led a coup in 1962 that toppled the civilian government of U Nu. Burma remains under the tight control of the military-led State Peace and Development Council. We believe that this should not deter people from travelling to the country though as it is often Burma's hospitable, open, inquisitive and friendly people that provide visitors with their most memorable moments. Despite limited access to the internet or (for many) a proper education, the Burmese are remarkably well informed about outside events, thanks to radio shows from the BBC and Voice of America which, regardless of the ban by the government, are tuned into every evening. From the busy city of Yangon to the royal city of Mandalay, the thousands of temples and pagodas in Bagan to the natural grace of Inle Lake, Burma is an intriguing and beautiful land.