After nearly 50 years of military rule, the country officially known as Myanmar has slowly emerged from its near-lifetime of isolation and repression. Since 2011, the country has opened up to the international community and instituted a number of political reforms, including the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2012 the government ended its policy of media censorship.
The dramatically swift democratic reform in Myanmar has been the geopolitical surprise of the past year. The new government -- headed by former military Thein Sein -- freed thousands of political prisoners and signed truces with rebel groups.