The Union of Myanmar covers an area of 677,000 square kilometres (261,228 square miles) ranging 936 kilometres (581 miles) from east to west and 2,051 kilometres (1,275 miles) from north to south, It is a land of hills and valleys and is rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountaion barriers are the flat lands of Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country’s agricultural land and population are concentrated.
The country is made up of 135 national races, of which the main national races are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Population of the country is estimated at 52.4 million (July, 2003) and the population growth rate is 1.84 percent. The main religions of the country are Theravada Buddhism 89.2%, Christianity 5.0%, Islam 3.5%, Hinduism 0.5%, Spiritualism 1.2%, and others 0.2%.
There are now 16 Archdioceses and dioceses with 18 active Bishops and 5 retired Bishops - all from Myanmar. Catholics remain a minority with the estimated numbers of 748,379, Diocesan & Religious Priests 855, Religious (Women & Men) 1816, Catechists 2598.
Most of the dioceses are very extensive; most have extensive jungle and mountainous areas with extremely poor transportation and practically non-existent telephone or internet communications, except for city areas. In most rural parishes, it might take the priest from several hours to 2 to 5 days to reach some of the villages.
Almost all dioceses have trained adult catechists who are responsible for the instruction of the faithful in the villages. In most dioceses, the catechetical training is a 2 year program for those who have finished high school, and 3 years for those who have had only primary or middle school background.