The winds of change have swept through Burma in the past year as President Thein Sein and his government have introduced reforms that have transformed the mood of the country and caused a geopolitical shift in the region and beyond. The transformation that has seen Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently won a seat in parliament, re-introduced to the political fold seem to have convinced western countries that Burma's military-led junta is serious about its vaunted reforms. As a reward, numerous countries have started to relax or cancel sanctions that have blighted the economy for years.
Despite the hope that is sweeping the nation, there are still many issues that need to be resolved, not least the bitter ethnic wars in the Kachin and Karen states. The failing economy has also left a country ravaged by poverty, particularly in rural areas, and a healthcare system that is barely functioning. This, amongst other things, is contributing to Burma having one of the highest rates of HIV infection and one of the worst records of treatment in Asia.
Aung San Suu Kyi will be given the rare honour of addressing both houses of the British parliament in June 2012 even though she is not a former or sitting head of state.