Myanmar has recently sought a new path for its development, one that includes a constitutional framework, new executive and legislative institutions, greater civil and political freedoms, and the gradual liberalisation of the economy. To help understand the recent history of Myanmar's transitions, this special issue of the European Journal of East Asian Studies offers six articles that analyse the changes from a variety of perspectives and different appropriate theoretical approaches. From democratisation to the army's role, from new economic challenges to renewed peace efforts, from the complex interaction with China to historical tensions with India, this diverse set of articles helps clarify the extent to which Myanmar is enjoying a renaissance. The country has peculiar advantages but is also limited by geography, poverty and political history. To forge a new culture of consistent popular participation in democratic life will not be easy or cheap. However, with wise leadership, economic ambition and popular participation the country could become one of Asia's great democratic and social successes.