officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Bangla:
Bangladesh) is a
South Asia. It is
India on all sides except for a small border with
Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the
Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian
West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of
Bengal. The name Bangladesh means "Country of
Bengal" in the official
The borders of present-day
Bangladesh were established with the
partition of Bengal and
India in 1947, when the region became
East Pakistan, part of the newly formed nation of
Pakistan. However, it was separated from the
western wing by 1,600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory.
Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic
discrimination, and economic neglect by the
politically-dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation grew
West Pakistan and led to the
Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, which the Bengali
people won with the support of India. After independence,
the new state endured famines, natural disasters and
widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and
military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has
been followed by relative calm and economic progress. Today,
Bangladesh is a
Bangladesh is the
eighth most populous country and is among the
most densely populated countries in the world. The
country also has a high poverty rate. However, per-capita
(inflation-adjusted) GDP has more than doubled since 1975,
and the poverty rate has fallen by 20% since the early
1990s. The country is listed among the "Next
Dhaka, the capital, and other urban centers have been
the driving force behind this growth.
Geographically, the country straddles the fertile
Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subject to annual
monsoon floods and
cyclones. Bangladesh is a
parliamentary democracy with an elected parliament
Jatiyo Sangshad. The country is a member of the
Commonwealth of Nations, the
BIMSTEC, and the
D-8. As the World Bank notes in its July 2005 Country
Brief, the country has made significant progress in human
development in the areas of
literacy, gender parity in schooling and reduction of
However, Bangladesh continues to face a number of major
challenges, including widespread political and bureaucratic
corruption, economic competition relative to the world,
overpopulation, widespread poverty, and an increasing
danger of hydrologic shocks brought on by ecological
civilization in the greater
Bengal region date back four thousand years,
when the region was settled by
Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word "Bangla"
or "Bengal" is not known, though it is believed to be
derived from Bang, the Dravidian-speaking tribe that
settled in the area around the year 1000 BC.
The kingdom of
Gangaridai was formed from at least the 7th century BC,
which later united with
Bihar under the
Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the
Gupta Empire and
Harsha Empire from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE.
Following its collapse, a dynamic Bengali named
Shashanka founded an impressive short-lived kingdom.
After a period of
anarchy, the bengali
Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years,
followed by a shorter reign of the
Sena dynasty. Medieval European geographers located
paradise at the mouth of the Ganges and although this was
overhopeful, Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the
subcontinent up until the 16th century. The area's early
history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal
squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for
Islam was introduced to Bengal in the 12th century by
Arab Muslim merchants;
Sufi missionaries and subsequent Muslim conquests helped
Islam throughout the region.
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
Sultans and land lords
Bhuiyan for the next few hundred years. By the 16th
Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an
important provincial centre of Mughal administration.
European traders arrived late in the 15th century, and
their influence grew until the
British East India Company gained control of Bengal
Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The bloody rebellion of 1857 – known as the
Sepoy Mutiny – resulted in transfer of authority to the
crown with a British
viceroy running the administration.
During colonial rule, famine racked the Indian subcontinent
many times, including the
Great Bengal famine of 1943 that claimed 3 million
Between 1905 and 1911, an
abortive attempt was made to divide the province of
Bengal into two zones, with Dhaka being the capital of the
India was partitioned in 1947, Bengal was
partitioned along religious lines, with the western part
going to India and the eastern part (Muslims majority)
Pakistan as a province called
East Bengal (later renamed
East Pakistan), with its capital at Dhaka.
In 1950, land reform was accomplished in East Bengal with
the abolishment of the feudal
Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east,
however, 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.
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,
and the central government responded poorly. The Bengali
population's anger was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
Awami League won a majority in Parliament in the 1970
was blocked from taking office.
After staging compromise talks with Mujib, President
Yahya Khan arrested him in the early hours of 26 March
1971, and launched
a sustained military assault on East Pakistan. Yahya's
methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war
resulted in many civilian deaths .
Chief targets included
intellectuals and Hindus, and about ten million
refugees fled to neighbouring India.
Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from
three hundred thousand to 3 million.
Before his arrest by the
Pakistan Army, Sk. Mujibur Rahman formally declared the
independence of Bangladesh, and directed everyone to fight
till the last soldier of the Pakistan army was evicted from
East Pakistan. Awami League leaders set up a
Calcutta, India. The exile government formally took oath
at Mujib Nagar in Kustia district of East Pakistan on 17
April 1971, with Tajuddin Ahmad as the first Prime Minister.
Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months. The
Bangladesh Forces formed within 11
sectors led by General M.A.G. Osmani consisting of
Bengali Regulars, and
Mukti Bahini conducted a massive guerilla war against
the Pakistan Forces with all out support from the
Indian Armed Forces. Jointly, the
Mitro Bahini achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan
on 16 December 1971, with Indian Armed Forces taking over
prisoners of war.
After its independence, Bangladesh became a parliamentary
democracy, with Mujib as the Prime Minister. In the 1973
parliamentary elections, the Awami League gained an absolute
majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974,
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.
A series of bloody coups and counter-coups in the following
three months culminated in the ascent to power of General
Ziaur Rahman, who reinstated multi-party politics, and
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia's rule ended
when he was assassinated by elements of the military in
Bangladesh's next major ruler was General
Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who gained power in a bloodless
coup in 1982, and ruled until 1990, when he was forced to
resign after a massive 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). 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. It lost again to the Bangladesh
Nationalist Party in 2001.
On 11 January 2007, following widespread political
unrest, a caretaker government was appointed to administer
the next general election. The country had suffered from
disorder and political violence. The new caretaker
government has made it a priority to root out corruption
from all levels of government. To this end, many notable
politicians and officials, along with large numbers of
lesser officials and party members, have been arrested on
corruption charges. The caretaker government held what
observers described as a largely free and fair election on
29 December 2008.
Sheikh Hasina won the elections with a landslide victory
and took the oath of Prime Minister on 6 January 2009.
Government and politics
Bangladesh is a
unitary state and
Direct elections in which all
citizens, aged 18 or over, can vote are held every five
years for the
parliament known as
Jatiya Sangsad. The parliamentary building is known as
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban and was designed by architect
Louis Kahn. Currently the parliament has 345 members
including 45 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. While
the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the
President, he or she must be an
MP who commands the confidence of the majority of
parliament. The President is the
head of state but mainly a ceremonial post elected by
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 is an innovation that was pioneered by
Bangladesh in its 1991 election and then institutionalized
in 1996 through its 13th constitutional amendment.
Constitution of Bangladesh was drafted in 1972 and has
judicial body is the
Supreme Court. Justices are appointed by the President.
The judicial and law enforcement institutions are weak.
Separation of powers, judicial from executive was finally
implemented on the 1st of November, 2007. It is expected
that this separation will make the judiciary stronger and
impartial. Laws are loosely based on
English common law, but family laws such as marriage and
inheritance are based on religious scripts, and therefore
differ between religious communities.
major parties in Bangladesh are the
Bangladesh Awami League and the
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). BNP is led by
Khaleda Zia and has traditionally been allied with
Islamist parties like
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and
Islami Oikya Jot,
Sheikh Hasina's Awami League aligns with
secularist parties. Hasina and Zia are bitter rivals who
have dominated politics for over 15 years; each is related
to one of the leaders of the independence movement. Another
important player is the
Jatiya Party, headed by former military dictator Ershad.
The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated
by protests, violence and murder. Student politics is
particularly strong in Bangladesh, a legacy from the
liberation movement era. Almost all parties have highly
active student wings, and student leaders have been elected
to the Parliament.
Two radical terrorist organizations,
Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and
Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were banned in
February 2005. Several small-scale bomb attacks taking place
since 1999 have been blamed on those groups, and dozens of
suspected members have been detained in security operations,
including the heads of those two parties in 2006. The
masterminds were tried and executed. The Bangladesh
government won praise from world leaders, including Western
leaders, for its strong anti-terrorist stance.
The January 22, 2007 election was postponed indefinitely
and emergency law declared on January 11, 2007 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
Corruption Perceptions Index changed from the very
bottom, where they had been for 3 years in a row, to 147th
in just 1 year.
A large alliance led by the Bangladesh Awami League won the
December 29, 2008 poll, in a landslide victory. They got 230
seats among 300 seats in the parliament.
Foreign policy and military
Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy that 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 played a lead role in founding the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
in order to expand relations with other South Asian states.
Since the founding of SAARC 1985, a Bangladeshi has held the
post of Secretary General on two occasions.
Bangladesh's most important and complex foreign
relationships are with
India. These relationships are informed by historical
and cultural ties and form an important part of the domestic
political discourse. Bangladesh's
relationship with India began on a positive note because
of India's assistance in the
independence war and reconstruction. Throughout the
years, relations between both countries have fluctuated for
a number of reasons.
A major source of tension between Bangladesh and India is
In 1975, India constructed a dam on the
Ganges River 11 miles (18 km) from the Bangladeshi
border. Bangladesh alleges that the dam diverts much needed
water from Bangladesh and adds a man-made disaster to the
country already plagued by natural disasters. The dam also
has terrible ecological consequences.
On the other hand, India has voiced concerns about
anti-Indian separatists and Islamic militants allegedly
being harboured across their 2,500-mile (4,000 km) border,
as well as the flow of illegal migrants, and is
building a fence along most of it.
But at the 2007 SAARC meeting both nations pledged to work
cooperatively on security, economic and border issues.
The current strength of the army is around 200,000
the air force 22,000,
and navy 14,950.
In addition to traditional defense 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 did contribute 2,300 troops to the
coalition that fought in
Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Bangladesh is
consistently a top contributor to UN peacekeeping forces
around the world. As of May 2007, Bangladesh had major
Democratic Republic of Congo,
Presently Bangladesh is the largest troop contributor
country to the UN.
Bangladesh enjoys relatively warm ties with the People's
Republic of China which has, particularly in the past
decade, increased economic cooperation with the South Asian
nation. 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 procuring Chinese
arms which range from small arms to large naval surface
combatants such as the Chinese
Type 053H1 Missile Frigate.
Divisions, districts and upazilas
Administrative divisions of Bangladesh. This map
shows the highest level unit called a Division.
Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative
each named after their respective divisional headquarters:
Sylhet (সিলেট), and
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, district or upazila
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 twelve) in every union for female
Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh.
Other major cities include
Rangpur. These cities have
mayoral elections, while other municipalities elect a
chairperson. Mayors and chairpersons are elected for a span
of five years.
City population (2008 estimate)
Metro population (2008 estimate)
Geography and climate
Satellite image presenting physical features of
Bangladesh lies between latitudes
27°N, and longitudes
Bangladesh is in the low-lying
River Delta or Ganges Delta. This delta is formed by the
confluence of the
Ganges (local name
Padma or Pôdda),
or Jomuna also known as "Yamuna"), and
Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The
Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the
Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty
into the Bay of Bengal. The
alluvial soil deposited by these rivers 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.
Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above
the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land
would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28
In south east Bangladesh experiments have been done since
the sixties to 'build with nature'. By implementing cross
dams, the natural accretion of silt has created new land.
With Dutch funding, the Bangladeshi government began to help
develop this new land in the late 1970s. The effort has
since become a multiagency operation 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.
The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at
1,052 m (3,451 ft) in the
Chittagong Hill Tracts to the southeast of the country.
Cox's Bazar, south of the city of Chittagong, has a
beach that stretches uninterrupted over 120 kilometres (75
Tropic of Cancer, Bangladeshi climate is
tropical with a mild winter from October to March, a
hot, humid summer from March to June. A warm and humid
monsoon season lasts from June to October and supplies most
of the country's rainfall. Natural calamities, such as
tidal bores occur almost every year,
combined with the effects of
soil degradation and
cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were particularly devastating.
cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991 killed some
In September 1998, Bangladesh saw
the most severe flooding in modern world history. As the
Meghna spilt over and swallowed 300,000 houses, 9,700 kilometres
(6,027 mi) of road and 2,700 kilometres (1,678 mi) of
embankment 1,000 people were killed and 30 million more were
made homeless with 135,000 cattle killed, 50 square
kilometres (19.3 sq mi) of land destroyed and 11,000 kilometres
(6,835 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
intercept rain water had been cut down for firewood or to
make space for animals.
Bangladesh is now widely recognized 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 change, each seriously
affecting agriculture, water & food security, human health
It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea
level alone will create more than 20 million
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.
Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural
A major part of the coastline comprises a
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
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 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.
Worker in a
paddy field – a common scene throughout
Bangladesh. Two thirds of the population works
in the agricultural sector.
A prepared field for sowing paddy plants.
At April 2010, USA - based ratings agency
Standard & Poor's (S&P) awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a
long term in
credit rating which is below India and well over
Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia.
And, despite continuous domestic and international efforts
to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh
However, Bangladesh gradually decreased its dependency on
foreign grant and loan from 85% (In 1988)
to 2% (In 2010)
 for its annual development budget. Its
per capita income in 2010 was US$641 compared to the
world average of $8,985.
purchasing power parity (PPP) is taken into account,
Bangladesh's economy is the
44th largest in the world at US$257 billion according to
Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its
share of the world export market peaked in the
Second World War and the late 1940s at 80%
and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70% of its export
polypropylene products began to substitute for jute
products worldwide and the jute industry started to decline.
Bangladesh grows very significant quantities of rice, tea,
potato, mango, onion and
mustard. According to
FAOSTAT, Bangladesh is one of world's largest producers
Pineapple (16th), Fruit, Tropical (5th),
Although two-thirds of Bangladeshis are farmers, more
than three quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come
which began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s due to
cheap labour and low conversion cost. In 2009-10 fiscal year
the industry exported US$ 12.6 billion
worth of products where in 2002 the exported amount was US$
5 billion. Recently Bangladesh has been ranked as the 4th
largest clothing exporter by the
WTO (The World Trade Organization) .
The industry now employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of
whom are women.
A large part of foreign currency earnings also comes from
the remittances sent by
expatriates living in other countries.
Obstacles to growth include frequent cyclones and floods,
inefficient state-owned enterprises, mismanaged
port facilities, a growth in the labour force that has
outpaced jobs, inefficient use of energy resources (such as
natural gas), insufficient power supplies, slow
implementation of economic reforms, political infighting and
corruption. According to the World Bank, "among
Bangladesh’s most significant obstacles to growth are poor
governance and weak public institutions."
Despite these hurdles, the country has achieved an average
annual growth rate of 5% since 1990, according to the World
Bangladesh has seen expansion of its
middle class (world's
Fifty Forth largest, just below of Singapore & Vietnam),
consumer industry has also grown. In December 2005, four
years after its report on the emerging "BRIC"
Russia, India, and China),
Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of the "Next
Vietnam and seven other countries.
Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in
foreign direct investment. A number of
multinational corporations and local big business houses
Dragon Group and multinationals such as
Unocal Corporation and
Chevron, have made major investments, with the natural
gas sector being a priority. In December 2005, the
Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around
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.
One significant contributor to the development of the
economy has been the widespread propagation of
Muhammad Yunus (awarded the
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
Recent (2007–2010) estimates of Bangladesh's population
range from 150 to 164 million and it is the
8th most populous nation in the world. In 1951, the
population was 44 million.
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.
A striking contrast is offered by
Russia which has a slightly smaller population spread
over a land area that is 120 times larger than Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's population growth was among the highest in the
world in the
1970s, when the country swelled from 50 to 90 million.
With the promotion of
birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate has slowed.
The population is relatively young, with 60% being 25 or
younger and 3% being 63 or older.
Life expectancy is 63 years for both males and females.
The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are ethnic
Bengalis, comprising 98% of the population.
The remainder are mostly
Biharis and indigenous tribal groups. There is also a
small but growing population of
Rohingya refugees from
Cox's Bazaar, which Bangladesh seeks to repatriate to
Myanmar. The indigenous tribal peoples are concentrated in
Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast. There are
thirteen tribal groups located in this region, the largest
Chakma. The Hill Tracts region has been a source of
unrest and separatism since and before the inception of
Outside the Hill Tracts, the largest tribal groups are the
Garos (Achiks), while smaller groups include the
Nearly all Bangladeshis speak
Bangla as their mother tongue and it is the official
It is an
Indo-Aryan language of
Sanskrit origin with its own
English is used as a second language among the middle
and upper classes.
English is also widely used in higher education and the
legal system. Historically, laws were written in English and
translated into Bengali until 1987 when the procedure was
Bihari population speaks
Urdu, which was also the language associated with the
government prior to separation from
Health and education levels remain relatively low,
although they have improved recently as poverty levels have
decreased. Most Bangladeshis continue to live on subsistence
farming in rural villages. Health problems abound, springing
from poor water quality and prevalence of infectious
diseases. The water crisis is acute, with widespread
bacterial contamination of
surface water and
arsenic contamination of groundwater.
Common diseases include
dengue. The literacy rate in Bangladesh rose to 53.5% in
There is gender disparity, though, as literacy rates are 50%
among men and 31% among women, according to a 2004 UNICEF
Among the most successful literacy programs are the Food
for education (FFE) introduced in 1993,
and a stipend program for women at the primary and secondary
Religion in Bangladesh
The main religion practiced in Bangladesh is
Islam (89.7%), but a significant percentage of the
population adheres to
The majority of Muslims are
Sunni. There is a small
Shia and an even smaller
Ahmadiyya community. Ethnic
Biharis are predominantly
Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries.
Other religious groups include
Buddhists (0.7%, mostly
Christians (0.3%, mostly of the
Roman Catholic denomination), and
Animists (0.1%). Bangladesh has the fourth largest
Muslim population after
India, with over 130 million. Bangladesh was founded as
a secular state, but Islam was briefly made the state
religion, before returning by decree of the High Court to
the principles of its 1972 constitution.
The High Court also strengthened its stance against
punishments by Islamic edict (fatwa),
following complaints of brutal sentences carried out against
women by extra-legal village courts.
Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has
a culture that encompasses elements both old and new. The
Bengali language boasts 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
Chandidas), or adapted from other languages (e.g.
Alaol). Bengali literature reached its full expression
in the nineteenth century, with its greatest icons being
Michael Madhusudan Dutt and
Kazi Nazrul Islam. Bangladesh also has a long tradition
in folk literature, for example
Thakurmar Jhuli and stories related to
Gopal Bhar, Birbal and Molla Nasiruddin.
The musical tradition of Bangladesh is lyrics-based (Baniprodhan),
with minimal instrumental accompaniment. The
Baul tradition is a distinctive element of Bengali folk
music. Numerous other musical traditions exist including
Bhawaiya, varying from one region to the next. Folk
music is often accompanied by the
ektara, an instrument with only one string. Other
instruments include the
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
Bangladesh produces about 80 films a year.
Hindi films are also quite popular.
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.
Bangladeshis listen to a variety of local and national radio
Bangladesh Betar. Four private FM radio stations named (Radio
Radio Amar) are popular among urban youths.
International Bengali language broadcasts include
BBC Bangla and
Voice of America. The dominant television channel is the
Bangladesh Television, but in the last few years,
privately owned channels have developed considerably.
The culinary tradition of Bangladesh has close relations
North-East Indian and
Middle Eastern cuisine as well as having its own unique
traits. Rice, and fish are traditional favorites.
Bangladeshis make distinctive
sweetmeats from milk products, some common ones being
Rôshogolla, Rasmalai|Rôshomalai, chômchôm
sari (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
salwar kameez (shaloar kamiz) is also quite
popular, and in urban areas some women wear western attire.
Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also
kurta-paejama combination, often on religious
occasions, and the
lungi, a kind of long skirt for men.
Eid ul-Fitr and
Eid ul-Adha, being the most important holidays in the
Islamic calendar, are the subject of major festivals. The
day before Eid ul-Fitr is called Chãd Rat (the night
of the moon) and is often celebrated with firecrackers.
Eid ul-Adha is celebrated in the memory of great
Abraham. Major Hindu festivals are
Kali Puja and
Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of
Gautama Buddha, and
Christmas, called Bôŗodin (Great day), are both
national holidays. The most important secular festival
Pohela Baishakh or Bengali New Year, the beginning of
the Bengali calendar. Other festivities include
Nobanno, Poush parbon (festival of
Poush) and observance of national days like
Shohid Dibosh and
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 subsidizes parts of the funding for many
private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the
government also funds more than 15 state universities
University Grants Commission.
Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Secondary (from grades 6 to
10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary.
The five years of lower secondary education concludes with 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 Certificate (HSC) Examination.
Education is mainly offered in Bangla, 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
Arabic in madrasahs.
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 30 public universities where
National University is the Largest one and
University of Dhaka, established in 1921, is the oldest
university of the country. Bangladeshi universities are
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.
Cricket enjoys a passionate following in Bangladesh and
it is the most popular sport followed by
football (soccer). The
national cricket team participated in their first
World Cup in 1999, and the following year was granted
Test cricket status. But they have struggled to date,
recording only three
Test match victories,one against
Zimbabwe in 2005 and the other two in a series win of
2-0 against the
West Indies in 2009.
In July, 2010, they celebrated their first ever win over
England in any form of match. Later in 2010,they managed
New Zealand for the first time in history. In 2011,
Bangladesh is going to host the
ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 jointly with
In Asiad 2010 in Guangzhou they defeated Afghanistan to
claim Gold Medal in the first ever cricket tournament held
in Asian Games.
Hadudu (Kabaddi) is the national sport of Bangladesh.
Other popular sports include
Bangladesh Sports Control Board regulates twenty-nine
different sporting federations.