With more than 135 ethnic groups calling Myanmar home (or Burma as old name), this historically volatile country owns a patchwork of traditions, customs, and languages. Ethnic groups fall under Shan, Bamar, Kayin, Mon, Kayan, Kachin, Chin, as well as Rakhine.
Most Burmese are Buddhist, and religion plays an important role in the daily lives of the locals, which has the effect of unifying this Southeast Asian country. A Buddhist man is often expected to wear his robe twice in everyday life, the monks are expected to be respected, and his dress modest. If you wear shorts, they should be knee length and cover the shoulders. Millennials are starting to question this dress code, but everyone still has a cover when visiting religious sites.The rest of the population are Hindus, Muslims, Christians and animists.
Regardless of religion, many Burmese are highly superstitious, mixing their religious beliefs with the worship of nat (spirits). Most villages have a natshin or shrine honoring the village keeper and you will likely see car mirrors adorned with red and white cloth which is believed to offer nat protection. Astrology is often used to find a partner and to choose important dates such as weddings, funerals and celebratory events.
About three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas, where poverty remains widespread and jobs are difficult. Families are large and usually live in thatched huts with no running water or electricity. Despite these difficulties, many rural Burmese are hospitable and content, and readily refer to their new friends as "brother" or "sister."