Last modified on 14 September 2014, at 09:17

Bangladesh

This article is about the People's Republic of Bangladesh. For other uses, see Bangladesh (disambiguation).
People's Republic of Bangladesh
  • গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ
  • Gônôprôjatôntri Bangladesh
Flag Emblem
Anthem: 

  • Seal of Ministries and the Government of Bangladesh
Capital
and largest city
Dhaka
23°42′N 90°21′E / 23.700°N 90.350°E / 23.700; 90.350
Official languages Bangla (Bengali)
Other languages English
Ethnic groups (1998[1])
Demonym Bangladeshi
Government Unitary parliamentary republic
 -  President Abdul Hamid
 -  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
 -  Speaker of the House Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury
 -  Chief Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain
Legislature Jatiyo Sangshad
Formation
 -  Partition of British India 14 August 1947 
 -  Declaration of Independence 26 March 1971 
 -  Liberation of Bangladesh 16 December 1971 
 -  Constitution 4 November 1972 
Area
 -  Total 147,570 km2 (94th)
56,977 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 6.4
Population
 -  March 2013 estimate 150,039,000[2] (8th)
 -  Density 1,033.5/km2 (12th)
2,676.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $324.628 billion[2] (43rd)
 -  Per capita $2,083[2] (154th)
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $153.58 billion[3] (43rd)
 -  Per capita $899[2] (150th)
Gini (2010) 32.1[4]
medium
HDI (2013) Increase 0.558[5]
medium · 142nd
Currency Taka () (BDT)
Time zone BST (UTC+6)
Date format
  • dd-mm-yyyy (dd-mm-yy)
  • Era দদ-মম-বববব (CE−594)
Drives on the left
Calling code +880
ISO 3166 code BD
Internet TLD .bd
.বাংলা

Bangladesh /bɑːŋlɑːdɛʃ/; Listeni/ˌbæŋɡləˈdæʃ/ (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ, pronounced: [ˈbaŋlad̪eʃ] ( ), lit. "The land of Bengal"), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Bengali: গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônôprôjatôntri Bangladesh), is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India to its west, north and east; Burma to its southeast and separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the Chicken’s Neck corridor. To its south, it faces the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh is the world's eighth-most populous country, with over 160 million people, and among the most densely populated countries. It forms part of the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal, along with the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.

The present-day borders of Bangladesh took shape during the Partition of Bengal and British India in 1947, when the region used to be known as East Pakistan, as a part of the newly formed state of Pakistan. It was separated from West Pakistan by 1,400 km of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and economic neglect by the politically dominant western wing, nationalism, popular agitation and civil disobedience led to the Bangladesh Liberation War and independence in 1971. After independence, the new state endured poverty, famine, political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress. In 2014, the Bangladeshi general election was boycotted by major opposition parties, resulting in a parliament and government dominated by the Awami League and its smaller coalition partners.

Bangladesh is a unitary parliamentary republic with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad. Bengalis form the country's largest ethnic group, along with indigenous peoples in northern and southeastern districts. Geographically, the country is dominated by the fertile Bengal delta, the world's largest delta. The four largest and constitutionally recognized religions in the country are Islam (89%), Hinduism (8%), Buddhism (1%) and Christianity (0.5%).

Bangladesh is identified as a Next Eleven economy. It has achieved significant strides in human and social development since independence, including in progress in gender equity, universal primary education, food production, health and population control.[6][7][8] However, Bangladesh continues to face numerous political, economic, social and environmental challenges, including political instability, corruption, poverty, overpopulation and climate change.

Bangladesh is a founding member of SAARC, the Developing 8 Countries and BIMSTEC. It contributes one of the largest peacekeeping forces to the United Nations. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

History

Main article: History of Bangladesh

Antiquity

Gangaridai in Ptolemy's world map, 1st century CE

Remnants of civilization in the greater Bengal region date back four thousand years to when the region was settled by ancient Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman and Austroasiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word "Bangla" or "Bengal" is unclear, though it is believed to be derived from Bang/Vanga, the Dravidian-speaking tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BCE.[9][10] Under Islamic rule, the region came to be known to the Muslim world in Persian as Bangalah.

The region was known to the ancient Greek and Roman world as Gangaridai or nation of Ganges. Though still largely unclear, the early history of Bengal featured a succession of city states, maritime kingdoms and pan-Indian empires, as well as a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. The ancient political units of the region consisted of Vanga, Samatata, Harikela and Pundravardhana. The Mauryan Empire led by Ashoka the Great conquered Bengal in the second century BCE. After the collapse of the Gupta Empire, a local ruler named Shashanka rose to power and founded the impressive Gauda kingdom. After a period of anarchy, the Bengali Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years, followed by the Hindu Sena Dynasty.

Islamic Bengal

Akbar prays upon the victory of the Mughal Navy in Bengal (1576)

Islam was introduced to the Bengal region during the 7th century by Arab Muslim traders and Sufi missionaries, and the subsequent Muslim conquest of Bengal in the 12th century lead to the rooting of Islam across the region.[11] Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkic general, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal in the year 1204.

The region was ruled by the Sultanate of Bengal and the Baro-Bhuiyan confederacy for the next few hundred years. By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an important provincial centre of Mughal administration.

Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent until the 16th century. From 1517 onwards, Portuguese traders from Goa were traversing the sea route to Bengal. Only in 1537 were they allowed to settle and open customs houses at Chittagong. In 1577, the Mughal emperor Akbar permitted the Portuguese to build permanent settlements and churches in Bengal.[12]

Colonialism

Battle of Plassey (1757) marked the advent of the Company Raj[13]

The influence of European traders grew until the British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey in 1757.[14] The bloody rebellion of 1857—known as the Sepoy Mutiny—resulted in a transfer of authority to the crown with a British viceroy running the administration.[15] During colonial rule, famine racked South Asia many times, including the war-induced Great Bengal famine of 1943, which claimed 3 million lives.[16]

After the foundation of the British Indian Empire, Bengal was still under the heavy influence of British culture including architecture and art. The Indian Independence Movement was still underway in effort to overthrow the British Empire, and many Bengali people contributed to that effort. At the same time as the Islamic and Hindu conflicts occurred, Bengal would be split into two states. Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones.[17]

East Pakistan

Following the exit of the British Empire in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines, with the western part going to newly created India and the eastern part (Muslim majority) joining Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with Dhaka as its capital.[18]

In 1950, land reform was accomplished in East Bengal with the abolishment of the feudal zamindari system.[19] Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east, Pakistan's government and military were largely dominated by the upper classes from the west. The Bengali Language Movement of 1952 was the first sign of friction between the two wings of Pakistan.[20] Dissatisfaction with the central government over economic and cultural issues continued to rise through the next decade, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population. It agitated for autonomy in the 1960s, and in 1966, its president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), was jailed; he was released in 1969 after an unprecedented popular uprising. In 1970, a massive cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan, killing up to half a million people,[21] and the central government's response was seen as poor. The anger of the Bengali population was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League had won a majority in Parliament in the 1970 elections,[22] was blocked from taking office.

After staging compromise talks with Mujibur Rahman, President Yahya Khan and military officials launched Operation Searchlight,[23] a sustained military assault on East Pakistan, and arrested Mujibur Rahman in the early hours of 26 March 1971. Yahya's methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war resulted in many civilian deaths.[24] Yahya's chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus, and about one million refugees fled to neighbouring India.[25] Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from thirty thousand to three million.[26] Mujibur Rahman was ultimately released on 8 January 1972 as a result of direct US intervention.[27]

Awami League leaders set up a government-in-exile in Calcutta, India. The exile government formally took oath at Meherpur, in the Kustia district of East Pakistan, on 17 April 1971, with Tajuddin Ahmad as the first Prime Minister and Syed Nazrul Islam as the Acting President. The Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months. A resistance force known as the Mukti Bahini was formed from the Bangladesh Forces (consisting of Bengali regular forces) in alliance with civilian fighters such as the Kader Bahini and the Hemayet Bahini. Led by General M. A. G. Osmani, the Bangladesh Forces were organized into eleven sectors and, as part of Mukti Bahini, conducted a massive guerrilla war against the Pakistan Forces. The war witnessed the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, in which the Pakistan Army and its allied religious militias carried out a wide-scale elimination of Bengali civilians, intellectuals, youth, students, politicians, activists and religious minorities. By winter, Bangladesh-India Allied Forces defeated the Pakistan Army, culminating in its surrender and the Liberation of Dhaka on 16 December 1971.

Modern Bangladesh

Founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signs the Constitution of Bangladesh into law on 16 December 1972

After independence, the Constitution of Bangladesh established a unitary secular multiparty parliamentary democratic system. The Awami League the first general elections in 1973 with a massive mandate, gaining an absolute parliamentary majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974,[16] and in early 1975, Mujib initiated a one-party socialist rule with his newly formed BAKSAL. On 15 August 1975, Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated by mid-level military officers.[28] Vice President Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed was sworn in as President with most of Mujib's cabinet intact. Two Army uprisings on 3 November and 7 November 1975 led to a reorganised structure of power. A state of emergency was declared to restore order and calm. Mushtaq resigned, and the country was placed under temporary martial law, with three service chiefs serving as deputies to the new president, Justice Abu Sayem, who also became the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman took over the presidency in 1977 when Justice Sayem resigned. President Zia reinstated multi-party politics, introduced free markets, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia's rule ended when he was assassinated by elements of the military in 1981.[28] Bangladesh's next major ruler was Lieutenant General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who gained power in a coup on 24 March 1982, and ruled until 6 December 1990, when he was forced to resign after a revolt of all major political parties and the public, along with pressure from Western donors (which was a major shift in international policy after the fall of the Soviet Union).

Chief Advisor Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed with Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2007

Since then, Bangladesh has reverted to a parliamentary democracy. Zia's widow, Khaleda Zia, led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to parliamentary victory at the general election in 1991 and became the first female Prime Minister in Bangladeshi history. However, the Awami League, headed by Sheikh Hasina, one of Mujib's surviving daughters, won the next election in 1996. The Awami League lost again to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 2001. Widespread political unrest followed the resignation of the BNP in late October 2006, but the caretaker government worked to bring the parties to election within the required ninety days. At the last minute in early January, the Awami League withdrew from the election scheduled for later that month. On 11 January 2007, the military intervened to support both a state of emergency and a continuing but neutral caretaker government under a newly appointed Chief Advisor, who was not a politician. The country had suffered for decades from extensive corruption,[29] disorder, and political violence. The caretaker government worked to root out corruption from all levels of government. It arrested on corruption charges more than 160 people, including politicians, civil servants, and businessmen, among whom were both major party leaders, some of their senior staff, and two sons of Khaleda Zia.

After working to clean up the system, the caretaker government held what was described by observers as a largely free and fair election on 29 December 2008.[30] The Awami League's Sheikh Hasina won with a two-thirds landslide in the elections; she took the oath of Prime Minister on 6 January 2009.[31]

Biodiversity and climate

Bengali country boats in Chalan Beel, a typical wetland. Water transportation is widespread across the vast riverine country

Bangladesh is dominated by the low-lying Ganges Delta, but has highlands in the north and southeast. The Ganges delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (local name Padma or Pôdda), Brahmaputra (Jamuna or Jomuna), and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna, finally flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The alluvial soil deposited by the rivers when they overflow their banks has created some of the most fertile plains in the world. Bangladesh has 57 trans-boundary rivers, making water issues politically complicated to resolve – in most cases as the lower riparian state to India.[32]

Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above sea level, and it is estimated that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28 ft).[33]

Sylhet Division, Chittagong Division and parts of Rangpur Division, Mymensingh District and Gazipur District feature topographically hilly areas, parts of regional mountain ranges and highland formations that include the Garo, Khasi and Tripura Hills, the Bhawal highlands, the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Arakan mountains.

Satellite image of Bangladesh, including its three great rivers Padma, Jamuna and Meghna

In southeastern Bangladesh, experiments have been done since the 1960s to 'build with nature'. Construction of cross dams has induced a natural accretion of silt, creating new land. With Dutch funding, the Bangladeshi government began promoting the development of this new land in the late 1970s. The effort has become a multiagency endeavor, building roads, culverts, embankments, cyclone shelters, toilets and ponds, as well as distributing land to settlers. By fall 2010, the program will have allotted some 27,000 acres (10,927 ha) to 21,000 families.[34]

With an elevation of 1,052 m (3,451 ft), the highest peak in Bangladesh is Saka Haphong, in Mowdok range in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, in the southeastern part of the country.[35]

Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Bangladeshi climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March, and a hot, humid summer from March to June. The country has never frozen at any point on the ground, with a record low of 4.5 °C in the south west city of Jessore in the winter of 2011.[36] A warm and humid monsoon season lasts from June to October and supplies most of the country's rainfall. Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and tidal bores occur almost every year,[37] combined with the effects of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were particularly devastating. A cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991 killed some 140,000 people.[38]

In September 1998, Bangladesh saw the most severe flooding in modern world history. As the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and Meghna spilt over and swallowed 300,000 houses, 9,700 km (6,000 mi) of road and 2,700 km (1,700 mi) of embankment, 1,000 people were killed and 30 million more were made homeless, with 135,000 cattle killed, 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of land destroyed and 11,000 km (6,800 mi) of roads damaged or destroyed. Two-thirds of the country was underwater. There were several reasons for the severity of the flooding. Firstly, there were unusually high monsoon rains. Secondly, the Himalayas shed off an equally unusually high amount of melt water that year. Thirdly, trees that usually would have intercepted rain water had been cut down for firewood or to make space for animals.[39]

Bangladesh is now widely recognised to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural hazards that come from increased rainfall, rising sea levels, and tropical cyclones are expected to increase as climate changes, each seriously affecting agriculture, water and food security, human health and shelter.[40] It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea level alone will create more than 20 million[41] climate refugees.[42] Bangladeshi water is contaminated with arsenic frequently because of the high arsenic contents in the soil. Up to 77 million people are exposed to toxic arsenic from drinking water.[43][44] Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural floods, tornados and cyclones.[45][46] Also, there is evidence that earthquakes pose a threat to the country. Evidence shows that tectonics have caused rivers to shift course suddenly and dramatically. It has been shown that rainy-season flooding in Bangladesh, on the world’s largest river delta, can push the underlying crust down by as much as 6 centimetres, and possibly perturb faults.[47]

A major part of the coastline is marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered.[48] The Magpie Robin is the National Bird of Bangladesh and it is common and known as the Doyel or Doel (Bengali: দোয়েল). It is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh, appearing on currency notes and a landmark in the city of Dhaka is named as the Doyel Chatwar (meaning: Doyel Square). The national flower of the country is white-flowered water lily, which is known as Shapla. The national fruit is jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), which in Bengali is known as Kathal. In late 2010, the Bangladeshi government selected the Mango tree as the national tree.[49]

Politics and law

Government

Bangladesh is a unitary state and parliamentary democracy.[53] Direct elections in which all citizens, aged 18 or over, can vote are held every five years for the unicameral parliament known as the Jatiyo Sangshad. Currently it has 350 members (including 50 reserved seats for women) elected from single-member constituencies. The Prime Minister, as the head of government, forms the cabinet and runs the day-to-day affairs of state. The Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President but must also be a member of parliament who commands the confidence of the majority.

The President is the head of state, albeit mainly ceremonially in his/her elected post;[54] however, the President's powers are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government, which is responsible for the conduct of elections and transfer of power. The officers of the caretaker government must be non-partisan and are given three months to complete their task. This transitional arrangement was pioneered by Bangladesh in its 1991 election and then institutionalised in 1996 through its 13th constitutional amendment.[55]

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, President of the Awami League

Major parties in Bangladesh include the Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Jatiya Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Sheikh Hasina's Awami League aligns with more leftist parties, whereas Khaleda Zia's BNP has politically been allied with Islamist parties like the Jamaat but practices secular politics. The former two have been bitter, dominant political rivals for over 15 years; each is related to one of the leaders of the independence movement. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been punctuated by protests, violence and murder. Student politics are particularly strong in Bangladesh, a legacy from the liberation movement era, as almost all parties have highly active student wings, and student leaders have been elected to the Jatiyo Sangshad.

On 11 January 2007, following widespread political unrest, emergency law was declared and a caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The 22 January 2007 election was postponed indefinitely as the Army-backed caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed aimed to prepare a new voter list and crack down on corruption. They also assisted the interim government of Bangladesh in a drive against corruption, which resulted in Bangladesh's position in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index changed from the very bottom, where they had been for 3 years in a row, to 147th in just 1 year.[56] A large alliance led by the Bangladesh Awami League won in a 29 December 2008 landslide victory, gaining 230 seats among 300 seats in the parliament.[57]

Law & Judiciary

Bangladeshi law is primarily in accordance with the English legal system, although since 1947 the legal scenario of Bangladesh has significantly drifted from the West owing to differences in socio-cultural values and religious guidelines. Laws are loosely based on English common law, but family laws such as marriage and inheritance are based on religious scriptures, and therefore differ between religious communities. The Constitution of Bangladesh was drafted in 1972 and has undergone 15 amendments.[54]

The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, with justices appointed by the President. The judicial and law enforcement institutions are comparatively weak.[57] On 1 November 2007, Bangladesh successfully separated the Judiciary Branch from the Executive, but several black laws, including the Special Powers Act, still influence the rulers.[58] It is expected that this separation will make the judiciary stronger and more impartial.

Foreign relations and military

A patrol of Bangladesh Army UN peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Morshed Khan and American Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003

Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy which places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. In 1974, Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations and has since been elected to serve two terms on the Security Council – in 1978–1979 and 2000–2001. In the 1980s, Bangladesh pioneered the creation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the first regional intergovernmental body in South Asia. It is also a founding member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative and the Developing 8 Countries.

Bangladesh's most important and complex foreign relationship is with neighbouring India. The relationship is borne out of historical and cultural affinities, as well as India's alliance with Bangladeshi nationalists during the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. However, bilateral ties have gone through several hiccups in the last forty years. A major source of tension is water-sharing on 56 common rivers, as well as border security and India's barriers to trade and investments. Both countries have also at times accused each other of harbouring insurgent groups.[58] Recognising the importance of good relations, regional security and South Asian economic integration, the two countries have sought to revive relations in recent years, and have formed strategic partnerships to develop regional connectivity, infrastructure, greater trade, mutual access to markets, energy, environmental protection and cultural projects. India's eastern states, as well as Nepal and Bhutan, are keen to gain access to Bangladesh's Chittagong and Mongla ports.[59][60]

Bangladesh enjoys very warm ties with the People's Republic of China, and particularly in the last decade there has been increased economic cooperation between them. Between 2006 and 2007, trade between the two nations rose by 28.5% and there have been agreements to grant various Bangladeshi commodities tariff-free access to the Chinese market. Cooperation between the Military of Bangladesh and the People's Liberation Army is also increasing, with joint military agreements signed and Bangladesh purchasing Chinese arms which range from small arms to large naval surface combat ships such as the Chinese Type 053H1 Missile Frigate.

Dipu Moni and Hillary Clinton at the State Department in 2011

Bangladesh is a major South Asian ally of the United States. The two countries have long-standing partnerships in development, defense, energy, business, trade, education, health and the environment. As of 2011, American aid to Bangladesh totalled over US$ 6 billion. American companies are the largest foreign investors in country, and the US is also the largest market for Bangladeshi exports. In the 1991 Gulf War, Bangladesh participated in the US-led multinational coalition to liberate Kuwait. It supports the US-led reconstruction of Afghanistan, where Bangladeshi non-governmental agencies, such as BRAC, are extensively involved in Afghan reconstruction efforts. The US Military and the Bangladesh Armed Forces have long-standing strategic relations and host frequent joint military exercises, particularly in counter-terrorism and maritime security. The US has also assisted Bangladesh with massive relief operations in the aftermath of several natural disasters, such as the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone and Cyclone Sidr. In 2010, President Barack Obama announced a $1 billion aid package for Bangladesh, to be utilized from 2010 to 2015, in addressing challenges of food security, health and climate change. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni launched annual strategic dialogues between the two countries.[60]

As of 2012, the current strength of the army is around 300,000 including reservists,[61] the air force 22,000,[62] and navy 24,000.[63] In addition to traditional defence roles, the military has been called on to provide support to civil authorities for disaster relief and internal security during periods of political unrest. Bangladesh is not currently active in any ongoing war, but it contributed 2,300 troops during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and is the world's largest contributor (10,736) to UN peacekeeping forces. In May 2007, Bangladesh had major deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Côte d'Ivoire.[64][65]

Divisions

Rangpur Division Rajshahi Division Khulna Division Barisal Division Chittagong Division Sylhet Division Dhaka DivisionA clickable map of Bangladesh exhibiting its divisions.
About this image

Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative divisions,[1][66] each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Rangpur.

Divisions are subdivided into districts (zila). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh, each further subdivided into upazila (subdistricts) or thana. The area within each police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is divided into several unions, with each union consisting of multiple villages. In the metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into wards, which are further divided into mahallas. There are no elected officials at the divisional or district levels, and the administration is composed only of government officials. Direct elections are held for each union (or ward), electing a chairperson and a number of members. In 1997, a parliamentary act was passed to reserve three seats (out of 12) in every union for female candidates.[67]

Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. The cities with a city corporation, having mayoral elections, include Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Comilla and Gazipur. Other major cities, these and other municipalities electing a chairperson, include Mymensingh, Gopalganj, Jessore, Bogra, Dinajpur, Saidapur, Narayanganj and Rangamati. Both the municipal heads are elected for a span of five years.

Division Bengali 2011 Census population[68] Area (km2)[68] Population density
2011 (people/km2)[68]
Largest city
Barisal বরিশাল 8,325,666 13,297 626 Barisal (328,278)
Chittagong চট্টগ্রাম 28,423,019 33,771 841 Chittagong (2,592,439)
Dhaka ঢাকা 47,424,418 31,120 1,523 Dhaka (7,033,075)
Khulna খুলনা 15,687,759 22,272 704 Khulna (663,342)
Rajshahi রাজশাহী 18,484,858 18,197 1,015 Rajshahi (449,756)
Rangpur রংপুর 15,787,758 16,317 960 Rangpur (343,122)
Sylhet সিলেট 9,910,219 12,596 780 Sylhet (479,837)
Bangladesh বাংলাদেশ 144,043,697 147,570 976 Dhaka (7,033,075)

[69]

Economy

Main article: Economy of Bangladesh
The Port of Chittagong is one of the region's busiest gateways, handling $60 billion in trade each year
Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, founded the Grameen Bank, the world's leading pioneer of microfinance.

Bangladesh is a developing nation and a rapidly growing market-based economy. It is one of the world's leading exporters of textiles and garments, as well as fish, seafood and jute, and has globally competitive emerging industries in shipbuilding, life sciences and technology. The country also has a strong social enterprise sector and is the birthplace of microfinance.[70][71][72]

Bangladesh has substantially decreased its dependency on foreign grants and loans from 85% (In 1988)[73] to 2% (In 2010)[74] for its annual development budget. Its per capita income as of 2013 is US$1,044 compared to the world average of $8,985.[75] In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around 6.5%.[76]

Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment. In order to enhance economic growth, the government set up several export processing zones to attract foreign investment. These are managed by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority.

Goldman Sachs recognized the Bangladeshi economy as one of the Next Eleven. Citigroup identified Bangladesh as a 3G country with significant potential to generate global growth.

The insufficient power supply constitutes an obstacle to growth.[77] According to the World Bank, "among Bangladesh’s most significant obstacles to growth are poor governance and weak public institutions."[78] In April 2010, Standard & Poor's awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a long term in credit rating which is below India and well over Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[79]

One significant contributor to the development of the economy has been the widespread propagation of microcredit by Muhammad Yunus (awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006) through the Grameen Bank. By the late 1990s, Grameen Bank had 2.3 million members, along with 2.5 million members of other similar organisations.[80]

Bangladesh government is planning for construction of the largest deep sea port in South Asia at Sonadia Island. The 500 billion taka project will be completed in multiple phases and enable Bangladesh to service the whole region as a maritime transport and logistics hub. India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and other neighbouring countries will be able to take full advantage of the strategic location and the privileges given to Bangladesh because of its Least developed country status, for exporting goods that are manufactured in Bangladesh.[81][82]

Agriculture

According to FAOSTAT, Bangladesh is one of world's largest producers of:[83] fisheries[84] (5th), rice (4th), potato (11th), mango (9th), pineapple (16th), tropical Fruit (5th), onion (16th), banana (17th), jute (2nd), tea (11th).

Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its share of the world export market peaked in the Second World War and the late 1940s at 80%[85] and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70% of its export earnings. However, polypropylene products began to substitute for jute products worldwide and the jute industry started to decline. Bangladesh grows very significant quantities of rice, tea, potato, mango, onion and mustard.

Industry

Bangladesh is the second global largest exporter of garments and textiles after China

More than three-quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come from the garment industry[86] in 2005. The industry began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s because of cheap labour and low conversion cost. As of 2014, Bangladesh is the world's second largest apparel exporter.[87]

There has also been a significant growth to Bangladesh's ship building industry in the last few years. The required ships and vessels in the country are being produced by the local shipbuilders. Furthermore, they have already started taking orders and executing them perfectly for foreign companies from Germany, Denmark and other European countries who prefer the cheap market of Bangladesh over their local market. The Khulna Shipyard have successfully completed building a Khulna Class LPC(Large Patrol Craft) and a LCVP(Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) for the Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Army respectively, the cost being almost half of their import price. They are to build 5 more LPCs of the same class in the coming year.

Demographics

The population of Bangladesh as of 15 March 2011 is 142.3 million (census 2011 result),[88] much less than recent (2007–2010) estimates of Bangladesh's population ranging from 150 to 170 million and it is the 8th most populous nation in the world. In 1951, the population was 44 million.[89] It is also the most densely populated large country in the world, and it ranks 11th in population density, when very small countries and city-states are included.[90]

Historical populations in millions
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1971 67.8 —    
1980 80.6 +1.94%
1990 105.3 +2.71%
2000 129.6 +2.10%
2010 148.7 +1.38%
2012 161.1 +4.09%
Source: OECD/World Bank[91]

Bangladesh's population growth rate was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when its population grew from 65 to 110 million. With the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate began to slow. The fertility rate now stands at 2.55, lower than India (2.58) and Pakistan (3.07) The population is relatively young, with 34% aged 15 or younger and 5% 65 or older. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 70 years for both males and females in 2012.[1] Despite the rapid economic growth, about 26% of the country still lives below the international poverty line which means living on less than $1.25 per day.[92] The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are Bengali, constituting 98% of the population.[93] The remainder are mostly Biharis and indigenous tribal groups. There is also a small but growing population of Rohingya refugees from Burma around Cox's Bazaar, which Bangladesh seeks to repatriate to Burma. The tribal peoples are concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast. There are 45 tribal groups located in this region, the largest being the Chakma. The Hill Tracts region has been a source of unrest and separatism both before and since the inception of Bangladesh.[94] Outside the Hill Tracts, the largest tribal groups are the Santhals and Garos (Achiks), whereas smaller groups include the Kaibarta, Meitei, Mundas, Oraons, and Zomi.

Languages

More than 98% of Bangladeshis speak Bengali as their native language, which is also the official language.[96][97] English is also used as a second language among the middle and upper classes and is also widely used in higher education and the legal system.[98] Historically, laws were written in English and were not translated into Bengali until 1987, when the procedure was reversed. Bangladesh's Constitution and all laws now both are in English and Bengali.[99] There are also some amount of Indigenous minority language speakers.

Religion

Islam is the state religion even though Bangladesh is secular. Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh, making up 90.4% of population. Hinduism makes up 8.2% of the population, Buddhism 0.7%, Christianity 0.6%, and others of 0.1% of the population. The majority of Muslims are Sunni, roughly 4% are non-denominational Muslims[100] and a small number are Shia,[101] and about 100,000 Ahmadi Muslims.[102] Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan and India.[103] Hindus are the second biggest religious group in Bangladesh, and the third largest in the world after India and Nepal.[104]

After Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan, Secularism was included in the original Constitution of Bangladesh in 1972 as one of the Four State Principles, the others being Democracy, Nationalism and Socialism. In 2010, the High Court upheld the secular principles of the 1972 constitution but allowed to keep Islam as the state religion. Bangladesh follows secular government system in democratic state. However, Bangladesh also follows combined system of state laws and individual religious laws applicable to people of respective religious group.[105]

Some people in Bangladesh practice Sufism, as historically Islam was brought to the region by Sufi saints. Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries.[106] The largest gathering of Muslims in the country is the Bishwa Ijtema, held annually by the Tablighi Jamaat. The Ijtema is the second largest Muslim congregation in the world after the Hajj.

Education

Once known as the Oxford of the East, the University of Dhaka is the country's oldest and highest ranking university

Bangladesh has a low literacy rate, estimated at 61.3% for males and 52.2% for females in 2010.[1] The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidized. The government of Bangladesh operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It also subsidises parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government also funds more than 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission.

The education system is divided into 5 levels: Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Junior Secondary (from grades 6 to 8), Secondary (from grades 9 to 10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary.[107] The five years of lower secondary education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination, but since 2009 it concludes with a Primary Education Closing (PEC) Examination. Also earlier Students who pass this examination proceed to four years Secondary or matriculation training, which culminate in a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination, but since 2010 the Primary Education Closing (PEC) passed examinees proceed to three years Junior Secondary, which culminate in a Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination. Then students who pass this examination proceed to two years Secondary or matriculation training, which culminate in a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of Higher Secondary or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) Examination.[107]

Education is mainly offered in Bengali, but English is also commonly taught and used. A large number of Muslim families send their children to attend part-time courses or even to pursue full-time religious education, which is imparted in Bengali and Arabic in madrasahs.[107]

Bangladesh conforms fully to the Education For All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and international declarations. Article 17 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides that all children between the ages of six and ten years receive a basic education free of charge.

Universities in Bangladesh are mainly categorized into three different types: public university (government owned and subsidized), private university (private sector owned universities) and international university (operated and funded by international organizations). Bangladesh has some thirty-four public, sixty-four private and two international universities. National University has the largest enrollment among them and University of Dhaka (established 1921) is the oldest university of the country. Islamic University of Technology, commonly known as IUT is a subsidiary organ of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing fifty seven member countries from Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.[108] Bangladeshi universities are accredited by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), a commission created according to the Presidential Order (P.O. No 10 of 1973) of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.[109]

Health

Main article: Health in Bangladesh
Community health workers form the backbone of rural health services

Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved recently as poverty (26% at 2012[110]) levels have decreased. In the rural areas, village doctors with little or no formal training constitute 62% of the healthcare providers practicing modern medicine and the formally trained providers are occupying a mere 4% of the total health workforce. A survey conducted by Future Health Systems revealed significant deficiencies in treatment practices of village doctors, with a wide prevalence of harmful and inappropriate drug prescriptions.[111] There are market incentives for accessing health care through informal providers and it is important to understand these markets in order to facilitate collaboration across actors and institutions in order to provide incentives for better performance.[112]

A 2007 study of 1000 households in rural Bangladesh found that direct costs (payment to formal and informal health care providers) and indirect costs (loss of earnings associated with workdays lost because of illness) associated with illness were important deterrents to accessing health care from qualified healthcare providers.[111] A community survey with 6183 individuals in rural Bangladesh found a clear gender difference in treatment-seeking behaviour, with women less likely to seek treatment compared to men.[113] The use of skilled birth attendants, however, has risen between 2005 and 2007 by women in all wealth quintiles except the highest quintile.[114] A pilot community empowerment tool, called a health watch, was successfully developed and implemented in south-eastern Bangladesh in order to improve uptake and monitoring of public health services.[115]

The poor health conditions in Bangladesh is attributed by the lack of healthcare and services provision by the government. The total expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of their GDP was only 3.35% in 2009, according to a World Bank report published in 2010.[116] The number of hospital beds per 10,000 population is 4.[117] The General government expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of total government expenditure was only 7.9% as of 2009 and the citizens pay most of their health care bills as the out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of private expenditure on health is 96.5%.[116]

Malnutrition has been a persistent problem for the poverty-stricken country. The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh is ranked 1st in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition.[118][119] In Bangladesh, 26% of the population are undernourished[120] and 46% of the children suffers from moderate to severe underweight problem.[121] 43% of children under 5 years old are stunted. One in five preschool age children are vitamin A deficient and one in two are anemic.[122] Child malnutrition in Bangladesh is amongst the highest in the world. Two-thirds of the children, under the age of five, are under-nourished and about 60% of them, who are under six, are stunted.[123] More than 45 percent of rural families and 76 percent of urban families were below the acceptable caloric intake level.[124]

Culture

Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has a culture that encompasses elements both old and new.

Literature

Main building of Bangla Academy
Late 19th and early 20th century polymaths Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam

Bengali has a rich literary heritage, which Bangladesh shares with the Indian state of West Bengal. The earliest literary text in Bengali is the 8th century Charyapada. Medieval Bengali literature was often either religious (for example, Chandidas), or adapted from other languages (for example, Alaol). Bengali literature reached its full expression in the 19th century, with its greatest icons being poets, the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra, Jasim Uddin, Jibanananda Das, Shamsur Rahman, Al Mahmud, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Michael Madhusudan Dutt and present day Humayun Ahmed, Muhammed Zafar Iqbal. Bangladesh also has a long tradition in folk literature, for example Maimansingha Gitika, Thakurmar Jhuli and stories related to Gopal Bhar, Birbal and Molla Nasiruddin.

Cinema

Main article: Cinema of Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi film industry has been based in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, since 1956. As of 2004, it produced approximately 100 movies a year, with an average movie budget of about 20,000,000 Bangladeshi taka. The film industry is known as Dhallywood, a portmanteau of the words Dhaka and Hollywood. Bangladesh produces about 80 films a year.[125]

Music and the arts

The one string ektara is often played by Baul folk minstrels

The musical tradition of Bangladesh is lyrics-based (Baniprodhan), with minimal instrumental accompaniment. Numerous musical traditions exist including Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya, varying from one region to the next. Folk music is accompanied by the ektara, an instrument with only one string. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. Bangladesh also has an active heritage in North Indian classical music. Similarly, Bangladeshi dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as the broader Indian dance tradition.[126] The Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.[127]

Media

Main article: Media of Bangladesh

Around 200 daily newspapers are published in Bangladesh, along with more than 500 periodicals. However, regular readership is low at just under 15% of the population.[128] Bangladeshis listen to a variety of local and national radio programs like Bangladesh Betar. Several private FM radio stations (Radio Foorti, ABC Radio, Radio Today, Radio Amar etc.) are popular among urban youths. International Bengali-language broadcasts include BBC Bangla and Voice of America. The dominant television channel is the state-owned Bangladesh Television, but in the last few years, privately owned channels have developed considerably. Some popular privately owned TV channels are ATN Bangla, Channel i, NTV, Ekushey Television, Desh TV, RTV, Banglavision, Islamic TV, Boishakhi TV, Mohona TV, ATN News, Somoy TV, Independent TV, Channel 9 Bangladesh etc.

Cuisine

Main article: Bangladeshi cuisine

The culinary tradition of Bangladesh has close relations to surrounding Bengali and North-East Indian cuisine as well as having its own unique traits. Rice and fish are traditional favourites. With an emphasis on fish, vegetables and lentils served with rice as a staple diet. Biryani is a favourite dish of Bangladesh and this includes egg biryani, mutton biryani and beef biryani. Bengaladeshi cuisine is known for its subtle (yet sometimes fiery) flavours, and its huge spread of confectioneries and desserts. Bangladeshis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, some common ones being Rôshogolla, Rasmalai, Rôshomalai, chômchôm and kalojam. It also has the only traditionally developed multi-course tradition from the Indian subcontinent that is analogous in structure to the modern service à la russe style of French cuisine, with food served course-wise rather than all at once.

Textiles and craftsmanship

.

The Sari (শাড়ি shaŗi) is by far the most widely worn dress by Bangladeshi women. A guild of weavers in Dhaka is renowned for producing saris from exquisite Jamdani muslin. The salwar kameez (shaloar kamiz) is also quite popular, especially among the younger females, and in urban areas some women wear western attire. Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also wear the kurta-paejama combination, often on special occasions, and the lungi, a kind of long skirt for men.

Festivals

The Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the Bengali New Year, Independence day, Victory Day, the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Krishna Janmashtami, the Buddhist festival of Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, and Christmas, called Borodin (" the Great day"), are national holidays in Bangladesh and see the most widespread celebrations in the country.

Pohela Boishakh, the Bengali new year, is the major festival of Bengali culture and sees widespread festivities. Of the major holidays celebrated in Bangladesh, only Pohela Boishakh comes without any preexisting expectations (specific religious identity, culture of gift-giving, etc.). Unlike holidays like Eid al-Fitr, where dressing up in lavish clothes has become a norm, or Christmas where exchanging gifts has become an integral part of the holiday, Pohela Boishakh is really about celebrating the simpler, rural roots of the Bengal. As a result, more people can participate in the festivities together without the burden of having to reveal one's class, religion, or financial capacity. Other cultural festivals include Nabonno, and Poush porbon (festival of Poush), both Bengali harvest festivals.

Alongside these are national days like the remembrance of 21 February 1952 Language Movement Day (International Mother Language Day), Independence Day and Victory Day. On Language Movement Day, people congregate at the Shaheed Minar in Dhaka to remember the national heroes of the Bengali Language Movement, and at the Jatiyo Smriti Soudho on Independence Day and Victory Day to remember the national heroes of the Bangladesh Liberation War. These occasions are observed with public ceremonies, parades, rallies by citizens, political speeches, fairs, concerts, and various other public and private events celebrating the history and traditions of Bangladesh. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs. And many schools and colleges organise fairs, festivals, and concerts in which citizens from all levels of society can participate.

Architecture

Bangladesh has appealing architecture from historic treasures to contemporary landmarks. The architecture of Bangladesh has a long history and is rooted in Bangladesh's culture, religion and history. [129] It has evolved over centuries and assimilated influences from social, religious and exotic communities. The architecture of Bangladesh bears a remarkable impact on the lifestyle, tradition and cultural life of Bangladeshi people. Bangladesh has many architectural relics and monuments dating back thousands of years.

Bangladesh has a strong tradition of regional modernism and combining the cultural and environmental heritage of the Bengal delta with contemporary modern architecture. Many prominent international architects have worked in Bangladesh, including Louis Kahn, Konstantinos Doxiadis, Richard Neutra, Stanley Tigerman, Paul Rudolph and Robert Boughey. Leading Bangladeshi architects include Fazlur Rahman Khan, Muzharul Islam, Rafiq Azam, Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury, Bashirul Haq, Ehsan Khan and others.[130][131]

Sports

Main article: Sports in Bangladesh

Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Bangladesh, followed by football. The national cricket team participated in their first Cricket World Cup in 1999, and the following year was granted elite Test cricket status. But they have struggled to date, recording only three Test match victories: one against Zimbabwe in 2005, the other two in a series win of 2–0 against the West Indies in 2009.[132] The team has been more successful in One Day International cricket. In July 2010, they celebrated their first ever win over England in any form of match. Later in 2010, they beat New Zealand for the first time. In late 2012, they won a five-match home ODI series 3-2 against a full-strength West Indies National team. In 2011, Bangladesh successfully co-hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 with India and Sri Lanka. In 2012, the country hosted the Asia Cup. The team beat India and Sri Lanka but failed to keep the reputation in the final game against Pakistan. However, it was the first time Bangladesh had advanced to the final of any major cricket tournament.

They participated at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, defeating Afghanistan to claim their Gold Medal in the first ever cricket tournament held in the Asian Games.

Kabaddi is a very popular game in Bangladesh, considered the national game.[133] Other popular sports include field hockey, tennis, badminton, handball, basketball, volleyball, chess, shooting, angling. The National Sports Council regulates 42 different sporting federations.[134]

Bangladesh have 5 grand masters in chess. Among them, Niaz Murshed was the first grand master in South Asia.

In another achievement, A Bangladeshi origin Russian Margarita Mamun become worlds number one rhythmic gymnast of 2013.[135]

See also

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Bibliography

External links