After 50 years, the isolated nation of Burma -- which was cut off from much of the modern world by its military government for decades -- has begun opening up closed bureaucratic positions to civilians, freeing political prisoners, and most dramatically, allowing Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to run for elections in April 2012 -- dramatic events in this mysterious Buddhist land once known mostly for its golden pagodas.
Photographer Geoffrey Hiller is one of a handful of journalists who has been quietly slipping into the country since 1987, before the 1988 democractic uprising and the subsequent arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. In May 2011, he went back to the country for several months to photograph the capital, Yangon, and other places.
Six months later, in January 2012, hearing the news of Hillary Clinton's historic visit to Burma, Hiller flew back in. The country he found was "night-and-day different."
Pictures and memorabilia of Aung San Suu Kyi and her father, Gen. Aung San -- once strictly banned -- appeared in the streets. And, for the first time ever, regular people began to talk openly: teachers, students, monks, nuns, doctors, and taxi drivers consented to be photographed and interviewed on film. Here's a slice of life inside a beautiful and rapidly changing Burma.
Above, supporters carry a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi at a rally in the city of Pathein in February 2012. Until last fall, images of Aung San Suu Kyi were forbidden in Burma.