Home to more than 50 million people, Myanmar is shaped like a giant kite with a long tail that sweeps down along the Andaman Sea.
Beneath the surface, invisible dangers affect Myanmar’s growing population, making it one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. In the north, mountain ranges mark the northeast limit of the Indian tectonic plate, which has been colliding with the southern edge of the Eurasian plate for tens of millions of years. It is this interaction that has helped push up the Himalayan Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau in the far north of the country.
To the east, the Shan Plateau rises high above the central Myanmar basin. Ribbed with mountain ranges and broken hills, it hides a 700-kilometre-wide system of active faults, creating hazards we know little about.
Extending north to south, the 1,500-kilometre-long Sagaing Fault splits Myanmar in half, running below the economic centre of Mandalay, through the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw, alongside the thriving metropolis of Bago, and to the west of the country’s largest city, Yangon. When set into motion, strike-slip faults like this one tear the earth apart when slabs of crust slide sideways against each other.