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This article is about the People's Republic of Bangladesh. For other uses, see Bangladesh (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 23°48′N 90°18′E / 23.8°N 90.3°E / 23.8; 90.3

People's Republic of Bangladesh
  • গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ
  • Gônôprôjatôntri Bangladesh  (Bengali)
Flag Emblem
Anthem: "Amar Sonar Bangla"
"My Golden Bengal"

March: "Notuner Gaan"
"The Song of Youth"[1]

  • Seal of the Government of Bangladesh
and largest city
23°42′N 90°21′E / 23.700°N 90.350°E / 23.700; 90.350
Official languages Bengali[a]
Other languages English[b]
Ethnic groups (2014[3])
Religion Islam [c]
Demonym Bangladeshi
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
 •  President Abdul Hamid
 •  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
 •  Speaker of the House Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury
 •  Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha
Legislature Jatiyo Sangshad
 •  Partition of India 15 August 1947 
 •  Declaration of Independence 26 March 1971 
 •  Liberation of Bangladesh 16 December 1971 
 •  Constitution 4 November 1972 
 •  Total 147,570 km2 (94th)
56,977 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 6.4
 •  2015 estimate 168,957,745[5] (8th)
 •  Density 1,033.5/km2 (12th)
2,676.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $572.440 billion[6] (34th)
 •  Per capita $3,581[6] (144th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $205.327 billion[7] (44th)
 •  Per capita $1,314[8] (155th)
Gini (2010) 32.1[9]
HDI (2013) Increase 0.558[10]
medium · 142nd
Currency Taka () (BDT)
Time zone BST (UTC+6)
Date format
  • dd-mm-yyyy
  • BS দদ-মম-বববব (CE−594)
Drives on the left
Calling code +880
ISO 3166 code BD
Internet TLD .bd

Bangladesh (/bɑːŋlɑːdɛʃ/; Listeni/ˌbæŋɡləˈdæʃ/; বাংলাদেশ, pronounced: [ˈbaŋlad̪eʃ], lit. "The land of Bengal"), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônôprôjatôntri Bangladesh), is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India to its west, north and east; Myanmar (Burma) to its southeast; and is 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 168 million people. It is one of the most densely populated countries, and among countries with a population exceeding 10 million, it is the most densely populated. 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 the British India in 1947, when the region came 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 kilometres (870 mi) of Indian territory. Because of 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. The native 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. This also gives Bangladesh a unique name tag as "the land of rivers". Bangladesh has a rich heritage of ancient civilization.[11][12] Bangladesh's documented history spans 4,000 years.[13][14] Bangladesh human history has lasted for more than 20,000 years.[15]

Bangladesh is a Next Eleven emerging economy. It has achieved significant strides in human and social development since independence, including progress in gender equality, universal primary education, food production, health, and population control.[16][17][18] However, Bangladesh continues to face numerous political, economic, social and environmental challenges, including political instability, corruption, poverty, overpopulation, and global warming.

The country 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.


While the word "Bengali" is generally used to refer to people of ethnic Bengali descent in Bangladesh including those living in India and other countries, the demonym "Bangladeshi" is used to describe all citizens of Bangladesh, including non-Bengalis. The origin of the name Bengal (known as Bangla and Bongo in Bengali language) is unknown. One theory suggests that the word derives from "Bang", a Dravidian tribe that settled the region around 1000 BC.[19] The word might have been derived from the ancient kingdom of Vanga (or Banga), which came from the Austric word "Bonga" meaning the Sun-god.[20] The Indo-Aryan suffix "(-desh)" is derived from the Sanskrit word deśha- ("region, province, country") (see Desi) means "land" or "country" in Bengali language, so Bangladesh means "The land of Bengal".

The earliest reference to "Vangala" (Bangla) has been traced in the Nesari plates (805 AD) of Rashtrakuta Govinda III which speak of Dharmapala as the king of Vangala. The records of Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty, who invaded Bengal in the 11th century, speak of Govindachandra as the ruler of Vangaladesa.[21][22][23]


Main article: History of Bangladesh


Mahasthangarh is the oldest archaeological site in Bangladesh. It dates back to 700 BCE and was the ancient capital of the Pundra Kingdom
Asia in 323 BC, the Gangaridai Empire in relation to the Nanda Empire, Alexander's Empire and neighbours
The Somapura Mahavihara, once the largest Buddhist vihara in South Asia, built by Emperor Dharmapala of Bengal

Neolithic fossils and tools discovered in Chittagong District indicate Stone Age settlements in the Bengal region during the third millennium BCE.[24] Bengal was settled by Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Burman people during antiquity.[25][26] The Bengal delta was known to the Greek and Roman world as Gangaridai and was chronicled by the invasion army of Alexander the Great in 325 BCE.[27][28] The Wari-Bateshwar ruins are the earliest urban archaeological site in Bangladesh and enjoyed trade links with the Roman Empire and Southeast Asia.[29] The early history of Bengal featured a succession of city-states, maritime kingdoms and pan-Indian empires. The Buddhist Samatata kingdom emerged in east Bengal after 232 BCE. The Mauryan and Gupta empires ruled much of the region between 200BCE-550CE. The Pundravardhana region encompassed much of northwestern Bengal. The Harikela state ruled the northeast and coastal areas. The Hindu leader Shashanka founded the Gauda kingdom in the 7th century. The Buddhist Candra dynasty rose to power in the southeast. Bangladesh history can go back to 100,000 years as Bangladesh has highly rich history[15] After a period of civil war, the Bengali Buddhist Pala Empire was established circa 750 CE.[27] Its rulers were followers of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. The Palas ushered an age of stability and imperialism. They patronized many universities and temples.[30] Pala sculpture and painting are considered among the most finest of ancient Asian art.[30] The cultural and architectural influence of the empire traveled to Tibet and Southeast Asia.[31] The Pala dynasty ruled for four hundred years, reaching its peak under Dharmapala and Devapala. The resurgence of Brahmanical Hinduism brought the Sena and Deva dynasties to power. The Senas consolidated the caste system in Bengal.[32] They ruled for more than 150 years.[27]

Islamic Bengal

The Sultanate of Bengal during the reign of Alauddin Hussain Shah in 1500
The Sixty Dome Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Mughal conquest of Bengal in Akbarnama

The excavation of Abbasid Caliphate coins in Bangladeshi archaeological sites indicate trade and political relations between the Pala Empire and the Islamic Middle East.[33] Sufism played an instrumental role in the spread of Islam in Bengal. The Muslim conquest of Bengal began in the early 13th century and was a turning point in Bengali history.[34] The achievements of previous civilizations were, however, not lost, but to a great extent, absorbed into the new Islamic polity, culture and civilization. Bakhtiar Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate defeated Lakhsman Sena of the Sena dynasty in 1204. The Mamluks, Khiljis and Tughluqs ruled the region for more than a century. Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah founded the city of Sonargaon in 1328. The Sultanate of Bengal was proclaimed in 1342.[35] The Ilyas Shahi dynasty ruled Bengal for 123 years. The sultanate was a regional power in Asia and enjoyed links with Ming China, Persia, Hejaz, Indonesia and the Ottoman Empire.[36][37] The House of Raja Ganesha converted to Islam and reigned between 1415 and 1435. The second stint of Ilyas Shahi rule ended in a palace coup by Abyssinian generals in 1487.[35] The Hussain Shahi dynasty gained power in 1494, when Alauddin Hussain Shah, the son of the Sharif of Mecca, became the Sultan of Bengal.[38] Alauddin ushered an age of prosperity and cultural pluralism. His royal court and governors were major patrons of literature and the arts. The sultanate expanded its territory to include Arakan as a dominion.[39] Bengal's trade links on the Indian Ocean were strengthened.[40][41] Its royal court received numerous world explorers, including Ibn Battuta, Niccolo De Conti, Ralph Fitch and Admiral Zheng He.[42][43]

From 1517 onwards, Portuguese traders from Malacca and Goa were traversing the sea routes to Bengal. In 1528 they were permitted to open factories and customs houses in Chittagong, which grew into the settlement of Porto Grande. Sher Shah Suri conquered Bengal in 1538. He developed the Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Chittagong. The Sur dynasty was replaced by the Afghan Karranis in 1564. The decline of the Bengal Sultanate increased the power of the aristocracy, giving rise to the Baro-Bhuyan landlords. Led by Isa Khan, the Baro-Bhuyans controlled much of eastern Bengal in the late 16th-century. They put up stiff resistance to the expansion of the Mughals, the Ahom kingdom and the Koch dynasty. The Kingdom of Mrauk U was formed in 1530 and placed Chittagong under Arakanese rule. Mrauk U was a focal point for medieval Bengali literary activities, as the royal court of Arakan became a haven for Muslim writers and bureaucrats.[44]

The Mughal Empire controlled Bengal at the end of the 16th century. Dhaka was renamed as Jahangir Nagar and became an important Mughal administrative centre. The Mughals promoted agrarian reform.[34] During the reign of Akbar, the Bengali calendar was modified in line with the Islamic hijri. The region witnessed a boom in manufacturing and agriculture, as exports grew and integration into the world economy increased. Shaista Khan defeated the Arakanese and retook Chittagong in 1666.[34] The decline of Mughal power in the 18th-century led to the formation of the Principality of Bengal. The Nawabs of Bengal presided over a period of increasing influence from European traders. Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent until the 18th century.

British rule

Main article: British Raj
British rule began with Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757

The British East India Company gained control of Bengal after defeating its last independent Nawab at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Company rule saw the formation of the Bengal Presidency. The company instituted the Permanent Settlement in 1793. At its peak, the presidency's jurisdiction included large parts of North India, Burma and the Malacca Straits. The mutiny of 1857 resulted in the transfer of authority directly to the British crown under a viceregal government.[45] After the foundation of the British Indian Empire, Bengal was still under the heavy influence of British culture, including architecture, education and art. The region was a hotbed of revolutionary and anti-colonial movements to overthrow the British Empire. Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive partition created the short lived province of Eastern Bengal and Assam.[46]

The 1937 elections ushered the first democratically elected government in the region. A. K. Fazlul Huq of the Krishak Praja Party became the first elected Premier of British Bengal. The Lahore Resolution was adopted in 1942. It called for the creation of independent states in eastern and northwestern British India. The Muslim League formed a coalition government in 1943, with Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin as premier.

During the Second World War, the Japanese Air Force conducted air raids in Chittagong.[47][48] Allied forces were stationed in bases across the region in support of the Burma Campaign. After the war, the British government began plans for a quick exit from the subcontinent. Negotiations between political parties, principally the Muslim League and the Congress, led to the partition plan of 1947, despite a proposal for a United Bengal, mooted by the liberal democratic Prime Minister of Bengal H. S. Suhrawardy.[49] Famine struck Bengal several times during British rule, including in 1770 and 1943.[50]

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.[51]

The Bengali Language Movement catalysed the assertion of Bengali national identity in East Bengal and later East Pakistan.

In 1950, land reform was accomplished in East Bengal with the abolishment of the feudal zamindari system.[52] 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.[53] 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,[54] 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,[55] was blocked from taking office.

The Surrender of Pakistan took place on 16 December 1971 at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka, marking the liberation of Bangladesh.

After staging compromise talks with Mujibur Rahman, President Yahya Khan and military officials launched Operation Searchlight,[56] 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.[57] Yahya's chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus, and about one million refugees fled to neighbouring India.[58] Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from thirty thousand to three million.[59] Mujibur Rahman was ultimately released on 8 January 1972.[60]

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.


Prime Minister 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 won the first general elections in 1973 with a massive mandate, gaining an absolute parliamentary majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974,[50] 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.[61] Vice President Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed was sworn in as President with most of Mujib's cabinet intact. Two Army uprisings on 3 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.[61] 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).

Lt General Ziaur Rahman served as President (1977–1981) and CMLA (1977–1979)

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. The fifth parliamentary brings Bangladesh nationalist party with Khaleda Zia, and a parliament system was set in place. 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,[62] 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.[63] 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.[64]


Satellite image of Bangladesh from space, including Ganges Delta, the world's largest delta with its three distributaries- Padma, Meghna and Jamuna

The geography of Bangladesh is divided between three regions. Most of the country is dominated by the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. The northwest and central parts of the country are formed by the Madhupur and the Barind plateaus. The northeast and southeast are home to evergreen hill ranges. 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.[65]

The country is predominated by rich fertile flat land. 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).[66] 17% of the country is covered by forests and 12% is covered by hill systems. The country's haor wetlands are of significant importance to global environmental science.

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.[67] With an elevation of 1,064 m (3,491 ft), the highest peak of Bangladesh is Saka Haphong, on the border with Myanmar.


Main article: Climate of Bangladesh
Sundarbans, the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Bangladesh's climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March, and a hot, humid summer from March to June. The country has never recorded an air temperature below 0 °C, with a record low of 1.1 °C in the north west city of Dinajpur on 3 February 1905.[68] 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,[69] 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.[70]

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.[71]

Bangladesh-Burma maritime border off the coast of St. Martin's Island and coral reef

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.[72] It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea level alone will create more than 20 million[73] climate refugees.[74] 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.[75][76] Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural floods, tornados and cyclones.[77][78] 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.[79]


The Bengal tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh

Bangladesh ratified the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 3 May 1994.[80] As of 2014, the country is set to revise its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.[80]

Bangladesh is located in the Indomalaya ecozone. Its ecology includes a long sea coastline, numerous rivers and tributaries, lakes, wetlands, evergreen forests, semi evergreen forests, hill forests, moist deciduous forests, freshwater swamp forests and flat land with tall grass. The Bangladesh Plain is famous for its fertile alluvial soil which supports extensive cultivation. The country is dominated by lush vegetation, with villages often buried in groves of mango, jackfruit, bamboo, betel nut, coconut and date palm.[81] There are 6000 species of plant life, including 5000 flowering plants.[82] Water bodies and wetland systems provide a habitat for many aquatic plants. Water lilies and lotuses grow vividly during the monsoon. The country has 50 wildlife sanctuaries.

Bangladesh is home to much of the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest. It covers an area of 6,000 km2 in the southwest littoral region. It is divided into three protected sanctuaries- the South, East and West zones.The forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The northeastern Sylhet region is home to haor wetlands, which is a unique ecosystem. It also includes tropical and subtropical coniferous forests, a freshwater swamp forest and mixed deciduous forests. The southeastern Chittagong region covers evergreen and semi evergreen hilly jungles. Central Bangladesh includes the plainland Sal forest running along the districts of Gazipur, Tangail and Mymensingh. St. Martin's Island is the only coral reef in the country.

Bangladesh has an abundance of wildlife in its forests, marshes, woodlands and hills.[81] The vast majority of animals dwell within a habitat of 150,000 km2.[83] The Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, saltwater crocodile, black panther and fishing cat are among the chief predators in the Sundarbans.[84][85] Northern and eastern Bangladesh is home to the Asian elephant, hoolock gibbon, Asian black bear and oriental pied hornbill.[86] The Chital deer are widely seen in southwestern woodlands. Other animals include the black giant squirrel, capped langur, Bengal fox, sambar deer, jungle cat, king cobra, wild boar, mongooses, pangolins, pythons and water monitors. Bangladesh has one of the largest population of Irrawaddy dolphins and Ganges dolphins. A 2009 census found 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins inhabiting the littoral rivers of Bangladesh.[87] The country has numerous species of amphibians (53), reptiles (139), marine reptiles (19) and marine mammals (5). It has 628 species of birds.[88]

Several animals became extinct in Bangladesh during the last century, including the one horned and two horned rhinoceros and common peafowl. The human population is concentrated in urban areas, hence limiting deforestation to a certain extent. However, rapid urban growth has threatened natural habitats. Though many areas are protected under law, a large portion of Bangladeshi wildlife is threatened by this growth. The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act was enacted in 1995. The government has designated several regions as Ecologically Critical Areas, including wetlands, forests and rivers. The Sundarbans Tiger Project and the Bangladesh Bear Project are among the key initiatives to strengthen conservation.[86]


Bangladesh is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic, based on the Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The system was established after independence under the widely hailed 1972 Constitution.[89] Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the preeminent national leader in the early years of independence. Between 1975 and 1990, the country was governed under a presidential republic, initially established under BAKSAL, and adopted later by military-backed governments. President Ziaur Rahman reinstated multiparty politics in 1978. President Hussain Muhammad Ershad ruled the nation for seven years until his resignation in 1991, following a popular uprising for the restoration of parliamentary democracy.

Since 1991, Bangladesh has essentially been under a two party system, in which the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have alternated in power. A caretaker government system was introduced in 1996 to oversee neutral elections under interim administrations. The Awami League has aligned itself with secular and leftist parties, while the BNP is aligned with right-wing and Islamist parties. The two alliances are respectively led by Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. A political crisis in 2006 led to a two-year state of emergency, when the country was ruled by a military-backed caretaker government. Elections in 2008 saw the Awami League return to power with a landslide majority. The League repealed the caretaker government system in 2011. The Khaleda Zia-led BNP and other major opposition groups boycotted the next general election in 2014, amid concerns over vote rigging. This resulted in a clean sweep by the Awami League and its allies.

Bangladesh is ranked by Freedom House as "Partly Free" in its Freedom in the World report.[90] The Economist Intelligence Unit classifies the country as a hybrid regime, which is the third best rank out of four in its Democracy Index. Bangladeshi politics is dominated by the bitter personal rivalry between Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.


Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, meeting place of the National Parliament

Foreign affairs

Bangladesh's foreign policy follows a principle of friendship to all and malice to none, which was first articulated by Bengali statesman H. S. Suhrawardy in 1957.[94][95] Today, countries considered as Bangladesh's most important partners include India,[96] China,[97] Japan,[98] Russia,[99] the United States[100] and the United Kingdom.[101] During the Cold War, Bangladesh cultivated good relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union; but it remained nonaligned with either superpower.[102] It asserted itself on many international issues, particularly those affecting decolonized and developing countries.[102] Bangladesh has placed a heavy reliance on multilateral diplomacy, especially in the United Nations. It was twice elected to the UN Security Council in 1978 and 2000. H R Choudhury served as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

During the Gulf War in 1991, Bangladesh contributed 2,300 troops to the US-led multinational coalition for the liberation of Kuwait. It has since become the world's largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, providing 113,000 personnel to 54 UN missions in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and the Caribbean, as of 2014.[103] Bangladeshi aid agencies work in many developing countries worldwide. A major example are the operations of BRAC in Afghanistan, which benefit 12 million people in that country.[104]

Key to Bangladesh's self-assertiveness is its desire to project the soft power of Bengali culture and democratic politics. It also relies on its Islamic heritage, being the world's third largest Muslim-majority country, and enjoys fraternal relations with many nations in the Muslim world. It is a founding member of the Developing 8, along with Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia.[102] It has been a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation since 1973.

Bangladesh Army UN peacekeeping patrol in Darfur, Sudan in 2005. Bangladesh is the world's largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces

As part of efforts to stimulate regional development plans, Bangladesh has been instrumental in organizing regional economic cooperation in the subcontinent of South Asia.[102] The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in Dhaka in 1985. Since then, three Bangladeshis have served as its Secretary-General. The Bangladeshi capital also hosts the headquarters of the Bay of Bengal Initiative (BIMSTEC). Located on the western doorstep of Southeast Asia, Bangladesh has prioritized on building economic, political and strategic relations with member states of ASEAN. Other regional groupings where it s a key member include the BCIM, BBIN, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Bangladesh's most important bilateral relationship is with neighboring India. Relations are bounded by shared history, cultural affinities and Indian support for the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The two nations were initially very strong allies, but differences soon emerged over water sharing, border security and trade barriers. Bangladesh distanced itself from the Indo-Soviet Cold War axis in South Asia, and pursued stronger relations with Western countries.[105] Any hint of Indian intimidation or enroachment on territorial rights elicited a strong nationalistic response from all levels of Bangladeshi society.[102] Relations have considerably improved since the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina (daughter of India's 1971 wartime ally Sheikh Mujib) returned to power in 2009. The two countries have resolved long pending border disputes, and have forged joint initiatives in counter-terrorism, energy security and developing transport links. Bangladesh and India are today the largest trading partners in South Asia.[106]

Japan and Bangladesh have strong relations with common strategic and political goals.[94] Japan has been Bangladesh's largest development partner since independence, providing US$11 billion in assistance since 1972. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a further US$6 billion aid package for the country in 2014.[107]

Bangladesh's prime minister (4th from lower right) at the Asian-African Summit in 2015

Bangladesh enjoys very warm relations with the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Economic cooperation between Dhaka and the two major powers have rapidly increased. China is both a major trade partner and defense supplier to Bangladesh. A civilian nuclear agreement with Russia in 2011. The Bangladesh Armed Forces operate Russian and Chinese fighter jets, tanks, frigates and missiles.

Bangladesh is an important strategic ally of the United States in South Asia. The two countries enjoy robust strategic cooperation in defense, maritime security, and counter-terrorism. The U.S. is also Bangladesh's largest trade partner and foreign investor. According to a Pew research poll in 2014, 76% of Bangladeshis express a favorable view of America.[108] Bangladesh is an important member of the Commonwealth of Nations and has growing economic ties with Latin American countries.


As of 2012, the current strength of the army is around 300,000 including reservists,[109] the air force 22,000, and navy 24,000.[110] 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 has consistently been the world's largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces for many years. In February 2015, Bangladesh had major deployments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Darfur, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, South Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus and the Golan Heights.[111]

Administrative divisions

Bangladesh is divided into eight administrative divisions,[112][113][114] each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Mymensingh, 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.[115]

Administrative Divisions of Bangladesh
Division Capital Established Area (km2)[116] Population[116] Density[116]
Barisal Barisal
1 January 1993
Chittagong Chittagong
Dhaka Dhaka
Khulna Khulna
1 October 1960
Mymensingh Mymensingh
14 September 2015
Rajshahi Rajshahi
Rangpur Rangpur
25 January 2010
Sylhet Sylhet 1 August 1995


Main article: Economy of Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a Next Eleven developing nation with a US$209 billion economy and a per capita income of US$1,190.[117] The Taka is the currency of Bangladesh. The central bank is the Bangladesh Bank. The service sector accounts for 51% of GDP, the industrial sector 30% and agriculture 18%. Between 2004 and 2014, Bangladesh averaged a GDP growth rate of 6%. The economy is increasingly led by export-oriented industrialisation. The Bangladesh textile industry is the second-largest in the world. Other key sectors include pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, ceramics, leather goods and electronics. Being situated in one of the most fertile regions on Earth, agriculture plays a crucial role, with the principal cash crops including rice, jute, tea, wheat, cotton and sugarcane. Bangladesh ranks fifth in the global production of fish and seafood. The Bangladesh telecoms industry has witnessed rapid growth over the years and is dominated by foreign investors. The government has emphasised the development of software services and hi-tech industries under the Digital Bangladesh scheme. Bangladesh has substantial reserves of natural gas and coal; and many international oil companies are involved in production and exploration activities in the Bay of Bengal. Regional neighbours are keen to use Bangladeshi ports and railways for transhipment. Located at the crossroads of SAARC, the ASEAN+3, BIMSTEC, and the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh has the potential to emerge as a regional economic and logistics hub.[118][119][120]


Map showing the growing areas of major agricultural products.

Bangladesh has a primarily agrarian economy. Agriculture is the single largest producing sector of the economy since it comprises about 18.6% (data released on November, 2010) of the country's GDP and employs around 45% of the total labor force.[121] The performance of this sector has an overwhelming impact on major macroeconomic objectives like employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security. A plurality of Bangladeshis earn their living from agriculture. Bangladesh is a major agricultural producer, particularly in the global production of rice (4th), fisheries (5th), jute (2nd), tea (10th) and tropical fruits (5th).[122][123] Although rice and jute are the primary crops, wheat is assuming greater importance. Tea is grown in the northeast. Because of Bangladesh's fertile soil and normally ample water supply, rice can be grown and harvested three times a year in many areas. Due to a number of factors, Bangladesh's labor-intensive agriculture has achieved steady increases in food grain production despite the often unfavorable weather conditions. These include better flood control and irrigation, a generally more efficient use of fertilizers, and the establishment of better distribution and rural credit networks. With 35.8 million metric tons produced in 2000, rice is Bangladesh's principal crop. National sales of the classes of insecticide used on rice, including granular carbofuran, synthetic pyrethroids, and malathion exceeded 13,000 tons of formulated product in 2003.[124][125] The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute is working with various NGOs and international organizations to reduce insecticide use in rice.[126]

Manufacturing and industry

A Bangladesh-built ferry in Denmark. The country has a rapidly growing shipbuilding industry

Bangladesh has a large, often inefficient, public sector, including state owned utilities, banks and industries. Major industries include textiles, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, steel, electronics, telecommunications, energy, fertilizer, cement, leather, food processing and ceramics. After independence, the international community poured substantial foreign aid into Bangladesh to help develop its infrastructure, education, healthcare and demographic prospects. Today, the country has decreased its dependency on foreign aid from 85% (in 1988) to 2% (in 2010), for the annual development budget.[127] Since 2004, the economy has grown at an average rate of 6%. Bangladesh has seen rising foreign direct investment, particularly in energy, telecoms and export processing zones. Bangladesh has one of the largest financial industries in South Asia. Its twin stock markets are the Dhaka Stock Exchange and the Chittagong Stock Exchange.

The telecoms industry in Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with 114 million cellphone subscribers in December 2013.[128] The pharmaceutical industry meets 97% of domestic demand and exports to 52 countries.[129][130] The shipbuilding industry has seen rapid growth in recent years. The steel industry in Bangladesh is concentrated in the port city of Chittagong. It is buoyed by the boom in shipbuilding, construction and real estate. Bangladesh is increasing its export of ceramics, particularly bone china and porcelain. It is a major exporter of fish, seafood, frozen and processed food. It has a fast growing solar power industry and ranks as the country with the fifth-largest number of green jobs.[131]

Microfinance sector

A significant contributor to the economy is the microfinance sector. Pioneered by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in the late 1970s, it has grown to include more than thirty million borrowers and has lent billions of dollars in microcredit loans.[132][133] The industry stimulates a dynamic rural economy, supporting entrepreneurship in agriculture, cottage industries and small businesses. Microcredit organizations such as BRAC and Grameen Bank have diversified into education, housing and renewable energy.[133]Despite the fact that more than a thousand institutions are operating microcredit programs, only 10 large Microcredit Institutions (MFIs) and Grameen Bank represent 87% of total savings of the sector (around BD taka 93 billion) and 81% of total outstanding loans of the sector (around BD taka 157.82 billion). Nearly two hundred thousand people are employed in MFIs and Grameen Bank. Around 30 million poor people are directly benefiting from microcredit programs. Through the financial services of microcredit, these poor people are engaging themselves in various income generating activities. At present, financial service of BD taka 160 billion (approx.) is being rendered among 30 million poor people which help them to be self-employed which helps to accelerate the overall economic development process of the country. However, they remained outside any central supervisory system. To bring the microcredit sector under a regulatory framework, the government of Bangladesh enacted the “Microcredit Regulatory Authority Act, 2006” on July 16, 2006 with effect from August 27, 2006. The Microcredit Regulatory Authority has been established under this Act and is empowered and responsible for monitoring and supervising the microcredit activities of the MFIs. According to the Act, no MFI can operate microcredit programs without obtaining a licence from MRA. Within the stipulated period, 4,236 microcredit institutions applied for a licence. Among them, 335 microcredit institutions have been licensed until September 2008. Applications by 438 institutions could not be considered. 2,599 small institutions are advised to fulfil minimum criteria of obtaining a licence (either minimum balance of outstanding loan at field level BD taka four million or minimum borrower 1,000) within June 2009.

Transport and infrastructure

Jamuna Multi-purpose Bridge was the 11th longest bridge in the world when constructed in 1998

Transport is a major sector in the Bangladesh economy. The country has a 2,706 km rail network operated by the Bangladesh Railway. It has one of the largest inland waterway networks in the world,[134] with 8,046 km of navigable waterways. The Port of Chittagong is its busiest seaport, handling over US$60 billion in annual trade.[135] More than 80% of the country's export-import trade passes through Chittagong. The second largest seaport is the Port of Mongla. The country is the seventh-largest natural gas producer in Asia..[136]Commercial energy consumption is mostly natural gas (around 66%), followed by oil, hydropower and coal. Electricity is the major source of power for most of the country's economic activities

The share of the population with access to an improved water source was estimated at 98% in 2004,[137] a very high level for a low-income country. This has been achieved to a large extent through the construction of handpumps with the support of external donors. However, in 1993 it was discovered that groundwater, the source of drinking water for 97% of the rural population and a significant share of the urban population, is in many cases naturally contaminated with arsenic. Another challenge is the low level of cost recovery due to low tariffs and poor economic efficiency, especially in urban areas where revenues from water sales do not even cover operating costs. Concerning sanitation, estimated 56% of the population have had access to adequate sanitation facilities in 2010.[138] A new approach to improve sanitation coverage in rural areas, the community-led total sanitation concept that has been first introduced in Bangladesh, is credited for having contributed significantly to the increase in sanitation coverage since 2000.[139]


The population of Bangladesh as of 15 March 2011 is 142.3 million (census 2011 result),[140] 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.[141] 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.[142]

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[143]
Bangladeshi women during the Bengali Spring Festival

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.[113] 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.[144] Bengalis constitute 98% of the population.[145]

Minorities include indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and other parts of northern Bangladesh. The Hill Tracts are home to 11 ethnic tribal groups, notably the Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Tripuri, Kuki and Bawm. The Sylhet region is home to the Manipuri tribe. The Mymensingh region has a substantial Garo population. The North Bengal region is home to aboriginal Santals. Bangladesh is also home to a significant Ismaili community.[146]

The southeastern region has received an influx of Rohingya refugees from Burma, particularly during Burmese military crackdowns in 1978 and 1991.[147] During renewed sectarian unrest in Rakhine State in 2012, Bangladesh closed its borders amid fears of a third major exodus from Burma.[148] Stranded Pakistanis are a contentious dispute between Bangladesh and Pakistan. In 2008, the Bangladesh High Court granted full citizenship to all second generation Stranded Pakistanis born after 1971.[149] The Hill Tracts region suffered unrest and an insurgency from 1975 to 1997 due to a movement by indigenous people for autonomy. A peace accord was signed in 1997; however, the region remains heavily militarized.[150]


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.


More than 98% of Bangladeshis speak Bengali as their native language, which is also the official language.[152][153] 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.[154] 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 are now in both English and Bengali.[155] There are also several indigenous minority languages.


Religions in Bangladesh[3]
Religion Percent

Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh, making up 86.6% of the population. Hinduism makes up 12.1% of the population, Buddhism 0.6% and Christianity 0.3%.[156] The majority of Muslims are Sunni, roughly 4% are non-denominational Muslims[157] and a small number are Shia,[158] and about 100,000 Ahmadi Muslims.[159] Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan and India.[160] Hindus are the second biggest religious group in Bangladesh, and the third largest in the world after India and Nepal.[161] Buddhists are concentrated in the southeast while Christians in urban areas.

After gaining independence from Pakistan, Bangladesh became the first country in South Asia to constitutionally proclaim secularism in 1972.[162] It was followed by India in 1976.[163] However, the military junta led by Ziaur Rahman removed secularist principles enshrined in the document through a martial law ordinance in 1977.[164] In 1988, President H. M. Ershad, another de facto military ruler, promoted a parliamentary amendment that made Islam the state religion.[165] In 2010, the High Court ruled that Zia's changes under martial law were illegal and void, and upheld the secular principles of the 1972 constitution.[166] But it allowed to keep Islam as the state religion. The Constitution calls for a secular government and bans religion-based politics.[167] Bangladesh combines secular state laws with individual personal religious codes.[168]

Many 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.[169] 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.


Bangladesh has a low literacy rate, estimated at 61.3% for males and 52.2% for females in 2010.[113] The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidized. The government operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It subsidises parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government funds more than 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission.

Five Fundamentals Gate at the Islamic University of Technology in Bangladesh

The education system is divided into five 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.[170] The five years of lower secondary education concluded with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination, but since 2009 it concludes with a Primary Education Closing (PEC) examination. Earlier, students who pass this examination proceed to four years secondary or matriculation training, which culminate in a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. Since 2010 the Primary Education Closing (PEC) passed examinees proceed to three years Junior Secondary, which culminate in a Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination. 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.[170]

Education is mainly offered in Bengali, but English is 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.[170]

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 types: public (government owned and subsidized), private (private sector owned universities) and international (operated and funded by international organizations). Bangladesh has 34 public, 64 private and two international universities. Bangladesh National University has the largest enrollment among them and University of Dhaka (established 1921) is the oldest. Islamic University of Technology, commonly known as IUT, is a subsidiary organ of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing 57 member countries from Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Asian University for Women in Chittagong is the preeminent liberal arts university for women in South Asia, representing 14 countries from Asia. The faculty members are from many well-known academic institutions of North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.[171] BUET, CUET, BUTex, DUET are among the six public engineering universities in the country. There are some science and technology universities including SUST, MIST, PUST, etc.

Bangladeshi universities are accredited by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), created according to the Presidential Order (P.O. No 10 of 1973) of the government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.[172]

Medical education is provided by 29 government and some other private medical colleges. All medical colleges are affiliated with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Recently Bangladesh literacy rate improved as it stands at 71% as of 2015 thanks to modernization of schools and education funds. At present, 16,087 schools and 2,363 colleges were getting Monthly Pay Order (MPO) facilities. 27,558 madrasas, and technical and vocational institutions were enlisted for the facilities. 6036 educational institutions were outside the MPO coverage and that the ruling party enlisted 1,624 private schools for MPO in 2010.[173][174]


Main article: Health in Bangladesh

Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved recently as poverty (26% at 2012[175]) 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.[176] 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.[177]

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.[176] 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.[178] The use of skilled birth attendants, however, has risen between 2005 and 2007 by women in all wealth quintiles except the highest quintile.[179] 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.[180]

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.[181] The number of hospital beds per 10,000 population is 4.[182] 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%.[181]

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.[183][184] In Bangladesh, 26% of the population are undernourished[185] and 46% of the children suffers from moderate to severe underweight problem.[186] 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.[187] 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.[188] More than 45 percent of rural families and 76 percent of urban families were below the acceptable caloric intake level.[189]


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


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.

Music and the arts

Bangladeshi artists performing a traditional Baul Folk dance.

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.[190] The Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.[191]


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.[192]


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.[193] 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.


Main article: Bangladeshi cuisine
A variety of Bangladeshi foods— smoked ilish with mustard-seed, Biryani and Pitha

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 the traditional dress for Bangladeshi woman and by far the most widely worn dress by Bangladeshi womem. A guild of weavers in Dhaka is renowned for producing saris from exquisite Jamdani muslin. The salwar kameez (shaloar kamiz) is also quite popular among espcially the younger females, and in urban areas a lot of women wear western attire. Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also wear the Panjabi[194][195] and paejama combination, often on special occasions, and the lungi, a kind of long skirt for men.


Shaheed Minar, as displayed on the annual anniversary of Bengali Language Movement Day (International Mother Language Day)

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.


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. [196] 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.[197][198]


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 ten Test match victories: eight against Zimbabwe with five in 2005 and three in 2014, the other two came in a 2-0 series victory over the West Indies in 2009.[199] 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. Bangladeshi cricketer Sakib Al Hasan is no.1 on the ICC's all-rounder rankings in all three formats of the cricket.[200]

Kabaddi is a very popular game in Bangladesh, considered the national game.[201] Other popular sports include field hockey, tennis, badminton, handball, basketball, volleyball, chess, shooting, angling. The National Sports Council regulates 42 different sporting federations.[202]

Bangladesh have 5 grand masters in chess. Among them, Niaz Murshed was the first grand master in South Asia. In another achievement, Margarita Mamun, a Russian rhythmic gymnast of Bangladeshi origin, became world's champion in 2013 and 2014.

See also



  1. ^ The constitution spells Bangla to refer Bengali Language[2]
  2. ^ Bengali is the sole official language and also the de jure national language. Alongside Bengali, English is often used for official purposes, specially in judiciary systems.
  3. ^ Islam is the State religion, but the constitution ensure equal status and equal right in the practice of the Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and other religions.[4]


  1. ^ "NATIONAL SYMBOLS→National march". Bangladesh Tourism Board. Bangladesh: Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism. In 13 January 1972, the ministry of Bangladesh has adopted this song as a national marching song on its first meeting after the country's independence. 
  2. ^ "3. The state language". Laws of Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
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Cited sources

Further reading

  • Iftekhar Iqbal (2010) The Bengal Delta: Ecology, State and Social Change, 1840–1943, Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, Pages: 288, ISBN 0-230-23183-7
  • M. Mufakharul Islam (edited) (2004) Socio-Economic History of Bangladesh: essays in memory of Professor Shafiqur Rahman, 1st Edition, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, OCLC 156800811
  • M. Mufakharul Islam (2007), Bengal Agriculture 1920–1946: A Quantitative Study, Cambridge South Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, Pages: 300, ISBN 0-521-04985-7
  • Meghna Guhathakurta & Willem van Schendel (Edited) (2013) The Bangladesh Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The World Readers), Duke University Press Books, Pages: 568, ISBN 0-8223-5304-0
  • Sirajul Islam (edited) (1997) History of Bangladesh 1704–1971(Three Volumes: Vol 1: Political History, Vol 2: Economic History Vol 3: Social and Cultural History), 2nd Edition (Revised New Edition), The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Pages: 1846, ISBN 984-512-337-6
  • Sirajul Islam (Chief Editor) (2003) Banglapedia: A National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh.(10 Vols. Set), (written by 1300 scholars & 22 editors) The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Pages: 4840, ISBN 984-32-0585-5
  • Srinath Raghavan (2013) '1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh', Harvard University Press, Pages: 368, ISBN 0-674-72864-5

External links