The upper and central plains of Myanmar are the traditional home of the Bamar. They are a Tibeto-Burman people who migrated from the north and China-India borderlands long before they established their greatest capital at Bagan on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River between 1044 and 1287 AD. Later capitals were built at Inwa, Amarapura, Sagaing, Mandalay and Taungoo.
Today Bamars form the largest ethnic group in the country, with 30 million people - about 60 per cent of the population - speaking only their language, Bamar.
The rich culture of the Bamars, who are staunch Buddhists, shows influences of Indian civilisations. These include Pali script (derived from Sanskrit), cosmology, philosophy and statecraft, art, medicine and architecture.
Mon State is home to the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, an extraordinary golden rock perched precariously on a mountain outcrop.