Since a coup a half-century ago, the nation of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, had mostly had a repressive government controlled by military officers. That is slowly changing, thanks largely to a courageous woman.
The Myanmar government's most visible victim has been opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was kept under house arrest for years. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won national elections in 1990, but the military refused to give up power.
Such tyranny has been accompanied by a low level of economic development. Despite its resources, Myanmar has remained one of the poorest countries in Asia. Because of its dismal human-rights performance, the West and other Asian countries have shunned it and imposed economic sanctions.
Myanmar seems to be emerging from its miasma of years of political and economic underdevelopment. The United States marked the change this month, when President Obama received Ms. Suu Kyi, now an elected member of parliament, at the White House. Congress awarded her a gold medal.
U.S. officials have eased sanctions to a degree. They plan to meet with Myanmar's president, Thein Sein, a former general who governs as a civilian.
Myanmar's political evolution and economic emergence are proceeding, but need to be monitored. Remaining problems include pushing and pulling among Myanmar's neighbors, notably China, in competition for its resources.
There is a long-festering problem with ethnic minorities, aggravated by elements outside the country. Myanmar remains a drug producer and exporter.
Progress is reasonable, however. The next major test of Myanmar's progress will be elections scheduled for 2015.