Bangladesh | Wikipedia audio article

Bangladesh | Wikipedia audio article


Bangladesh ( ( listen); Bengali: বাংলাদেশ
Bangladesh [ˈbaŋladeʃ] ( listen), lit. ”The country of Bengal”), officially the People’s
Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônoprojatontri
Bangladesh), is a country in South Asia. It shares land borders with India and Myanmar
(Burma).The country’s maritime territory in the Bay of Bengal is roughly equal to the
size of its land area. Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country. Dhaka is its
capital and largest city, followed by Chittagong, which has the country’s largest port. Bangladesh
forms the largest and easternmost part of the Bengal region. Bangladeshis include people
from a range of ethnic groups and religions. Bengalis, who speak the official Bengali language,
make up 98% of the population. The politically dominant Bengali Muslims make the nation the
world’s third largest Muslim-majority country. Islam is the official religion of Bangladesh.Most
of Bangladesh is covered by the Bengal Delta, the largest delta on Earth. The country has
700 rivers and 8,046 km (5,000 mi) of inland waterways. Highlands with evergreen forests
are found in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the country. Bangladesh has many
islands and a coral reef. The longest unbroken sea beach of the world, Cox’s Bazar Beach,
is located in the southeast. It is home to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest
in the world. The country’s biodiversity includes a vast array of plant and wildlife, including
endangered Bengal tigers, the national animal. The Greeks and Romans identified the region
as Gangaridai, a powerful kingdom of the historical Indian subcontinent, in the 3rd century BCE.
Archaeological research has unearthed several ancient cities in Bangladesh, which enjoyed
international trade links for millennia. The Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Bengal transformed
the region into a cosmopolitan Islamic imperial power between the 14th and 18th centuries.
The region was home to many principalities that made use of their inland naval prowess.
It was also a notable center of the global muslin and silk trade. As part of British
India, the region was influenced by the Bengali renaissance and played an important role in
anti-colonial movements. The Partition of British India made East Bengal a part of the
Dominion of Pakistan; and renamed it as East Pakistan. The region witnessed the Bengali
Language Movement in 1952 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. After independence
was achieved, a parliamentary republic was established. A presidential government was
in place between 1975 and 1990, followed by a return to parliamentary democracy. The country
continues to face challenges in the areas of poverty, education, healthcare and corruption.
Bangladesh is a middle power and a developing nation. Listed as one of the Next Eleven,
its economy ranks 43rd in terms of nominal gross domestic product and 29th in terms of
purchasing power parity. It is one of the largest textile exporters in the world. Its
major trading partners are the European Union, the United States, China, India, Japan, Malaysia
and Singapore. With its strategically vital location between South, East and Southeast
Asia, Bangladesh is an important promoter of regional connectivity and cooperation.
It is a founding member of SAARC, BIMSTEC, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for
Regional Cooperation and the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Initiative. It is also a member
of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Commonwealth of Nations, the Developing 8
Countries, the OIC, the Indian-Ocean Rim Association, the Non Aligned Movement, the Group of 77
and the World Trade Organization. Bangladesh is one of the largest contributors to United
Nations peacekeeping forces.==Etymology==The
etymology of Bangladesh (Country of Bengal) can be traced to the early 20th century, when
Bengali patriotic songs, such as Namo Namo Namo Bangladesh Momo by Kazi Nazrul Islam
and Aaji Bangladesher Hridoy by Rabindranath Tagore, used the term. The term Bangladesh
was often written as two words, Bangla Desh, in the past. Starting in the 1950s, Bengali
nationalists used the term in political rallies in East Pakistan. The term Bangla is a major
name for both the Bengal region and the Bengali language. The earliest known usage of the
term is the Nesari plate in 805 AD. The term Vangaladesa is found in 11th-century South
Indian records.The term gained official status during the Sultanate of Bengal in the 14th
century. Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah proclaimed himself as the first “Shah of Bangala” in
1342. The word Bangla became the most common name for the region during the Islamic period.
The Portuguese referred to the region as Bengala in the 16th century.The origins of the term
Bangla are unclear, with theories pointing to a Bronze Age proto-Dravidian tribe, the
Austric word “Bonga” (Sun god), and the Iron Age Vanga Kingdom. The Indo-Aryan suffix Desh
is derived from the Sanskrit word deśha, which means “land” or “country”. Hence, the
name Bangladesh means “Land of Bengal” or “Country of Bengal”.==History=====
Early and medieval periods===Stone Age tools found in Bangladesh indicate
human habitation for over 20,000 years, and remnants of Copper Age settlements date back
4,000 years. Ancient Bengal was settled by Austroasiatics, Tibeto-Burmans, Dravidians
and Indo-Aryans in consecutive waves of migration. Archaeological evidence confirms that by the
second millennium BCE, rice-cultivating communities inhabited the region. By the 11th century
people lived in systemically-aligned housing, buried their dead, and manufactured copper
ornaments and black and red pottery. The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers were natural
arteries for communication and transportation, and estuaries on the Bay of Bengal permitted
maritime trade. The early Iron Age saw the development of metal weaponry, coinage, agriculture
and irrigation. Major urban settlements formed during the late Iron Age, in the mid-first
millennium BCE, when the Northern Black Polished Ware culture developed. In 1879, Alexander
Cunningham identified Mahasthangarh as the capital of the Pundra Kingdom mentioned in
the Rigveda. Greek and Roman records of the ancient Gangaridai
Kingdom, which (according to legend) deterred the invasion of Alexander the Great, are linked
to the fort city in Wari-Bateshwar. The site is also identified with the prosperous trading
center of Souanagoura listed on Ptolemy’s world map. Roman geographers noted a large
seaport in southeastern Bengal, corresponding to the present-day Chittagong region.Ancient
Buddhist and Hindu states which ruled Bangladesh included the Vanga, Samatata and Pundra kingdoms,
the Maurya and Gupta Empires, the Varman dynasty, Shashanka’s kingdom, the Khadga and Candra
dynasties, the Pala Empire, the Sena dynasty, the Harikela kingdom and the Deva dynasty.
These states had well-developed currencies, banking, shipping, architecture and art, and
the ancient universities of Bikrampur and Mainamati hosted scholars and students from
other parts of Asia. Xuanzang of China was a noted scholar who resided at the Somapura
Mahavihara (the largest monastery in ancient India), and Atisa traveled from Bengal to
Tibet to preach Buddhism. The earliest form of the Bengali language began to the emerge
during the eighth century. Early Muslim explorers and missionaries arrived
in Bengal late in the first millennium CE. The Islamic conquest of Bengal began with
the 1204 invasion by Bakhtiar Khilji; after annexing Bengal to the Delhi Sultanate, Khilji
waged a military campaign in Tibet. Bengal was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate for a century
by governors from the Mamluk, Balban and Tughluq dynasties. During the 14th century, an independent
Bengal Sultanate was established by rebel governors. The sultanate’s ruling houses included
the Ilyas Shahi, Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, Hussain Shahi, Suri and Karrani dynasties,
and the era saw the introduction of a distinct mosque architecture and the tangka currency.
The Arakan region was brought under Bengali hegemony. The Bengal Sultanate was visited
by explorers Ibn Battuta, Admiral Zheng He and Niccolo De Conti. During the late 16th
century, the Baro-Bhuyan (a confederation of Muslim and Hindu aristocrats) ruled eastern
Bengal; its leader was the Mansad-e-Ala, a title held by Isa Khan and his son Musa Khan.
The Khan dynasty are considered local heroes for resisting North Indian invasions with
their river navies. The Mughal Empire controlled Bengal by the
17th century. During the reign of Emperor Akbar, the Bengali agrarian calendar was reformed
to facilitate tax collection. The Mughals established Dhaka as a fort city and commercial
metropolis, and it was the capital of Mughal Bengal for 75 years. In 1666, the Mughals
expelled the Arakanese from Chittagong. Mughal Bengal attracted foreign traders for its muslin
and silk goods, and the Armenians were a notable merchant community. A Portuguese settlement
in Chittagong flourished in the southeast, and a Dutch settlement in Rajshahi existed
in the north. During the 18th century, the Nawabs of Bengal became the region’s de facto
rulers. The Nawabs forged alliances with European colonial companies, which made the region
relatively prosperous early in the century. The Bengali Muslim population was a product
of conversion and religious evolution, and their pre-Islamic beliefs included elements
of Buddhism and Hinduism. The construction of mosques, Islamic academies (madrasas) and
Sufi monasteries (khanqahs) facilitated conversion, and Islamic cosmology played a significant
role in developing Bengali Muslim society. Scholars have theorized that Bengalis were
attracted to Islam by its egalitarian social order, which contrasted with the Hindu caste
system. By the 15th century, Muslim poets were writing in the Bengali language. Notable
medieval Bengali Muslim poets included Daulat Qazi, Abdul Hakim and Alaol. Syncretic cults,
such as the Baul movement, emerged on the fringes of Bengali Muslim society. The Persianate
culture was significant in Bengal, where cities like Sonargaon became the easternmost centers
of Persian influence.===Colonial period===After the 1757 Battle of Plassey, Bengal was
the first region of the Indian subcontinent conquered by the British East India Company.
The company formed the Presidency of Fort William, which administered the region until
1858. A notable aspect of company rule was the Permanent Settlement, which established
the feudal zamindari system. A number of famines, including the great Bengal famine of 1770,
occurred under company rule. Several rebellions broke out during the early 19th century (including
one led by Titumir), but British rule displaced the Muslim ruling class. A conservative Islamic
cleric, Haji Shariatullah, sought to overthrow the British by propagating Islamic revivalism.
Several towns in Bangladesh participated in the Indian Mutiny and pledged allegiance to
the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, who was later exiled to neighboring Burma. The challenge posed to company rule by the
failed Indian Mutiny led to the creation of the British Indian Empire as a crown colony,
and the first railway was built in 1862. Syed Ahmed Khan and Ram Mohan Roy promoted modern
and liberal education on the subcontinent, inspiring the Aligarh movement and the Bengal
Renaissance. During the late 19th century, novelists, social reformers and feminists
emerged from Muslim Bengali society. Electricity and municipal water systems were introduced
in the 1890s; cinemas opened in many towns during the early 20th century. East Bengal’s
plantation economy was important to the British Empire, particularly its jute and tea. The
British established tax-free river ports, such as the Port of Narayanganj, and large
seaports like the Port of Chittagong. Social tensions also increased under British
rule, particularly between wealthy Hindus and the Muslim-majority population. The Permanent
Settlement made millions of Muslim peasants tenants of Hindu estates, and resentment of
the Hindu landed gentry grew. Supported by the Muslim aristocracy, the British government
created the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1905; the new province received increased
investment in education, transport and industry. However, the first partition of Bengal created
an uproar in Calcutta and the Indian National Congress. In response to growing Hindu nationalism,
the All India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka during the 1906 All India Muhammadan
Educational Conference. The British government reorganized the provinces in 1912, reuniting
East and West Bengal and making Assam a second province. The Raj was slow to allow self-rule in the
colonial subcontinent. It established the Bengal Legislative Council in 1862, and the
council’s native Bengali representation increased during the early 20th century. The Bengal
Provincial Muslim League was formed in 1913 to advocate civil rights for Bengali Muslims
within a constitutional framework. During the 1920s, the league was divided into factions
supporting the Khilafat movement and favoring cooperation with the British to achieve self-rule.
Segments of the Bengali elite supported Mustafa Kemal Ataturk secularist forces. In 1929,
the All Bengal Tenants Association was formed in the Bengal Legislative Council to counter
the influence of the Hindu landed gentry, and the Indian Independence and Pakistan Movements
strengthened during the early 20th century. After the Morley-Minto Reforms and the diarchy
era in the legislatures of British India, the British government promised limited provincial
autonomy in 1935. The Bengal Legislative Assembly, British India’s largest legislature, was established
in 1937. Although it won a majority of seats in 1937,
the Bengal Congress boycotted the legislature. A. K. Fazlul Huq of the Krishak Praja Party
was elected as the first Prime Minister of Bengal. In 1940 Huq supported the Lahore Resolution,
which envisaged independent states in the northwestern and eastern Muslim-majority regions
of the subcontinent. The first Huq ministry, a coalition with the Bengal Provincial Muslim
League, lasted until 1941; it was followed by a Huq coalition with the Hindu Mahasabha
which lasted until 1943. Huq was succeeded by Khawaja Nazimuddin, who grappled with the
effects of the Burma Campaign, the Bengal famine of 1943 and the Quit India movement.
In 1946, the Bengal Provincial Muslim League won the provincial election, taking 113 of
the 250-seat assembly (the largest Muslim League mandate in British India). H. S. Suhrawardy,
who made a final futile effort for a United Bengal in 1946, was the last premier of Bengal.===Union with Pakistan===On 3 June 1947 Mountbatten Plan outlined the
partition of British India. On 20 June, the Bengal Legislative Assembly met to decide
on the partition of Bengal. At the preliminary joint meeting, it was decided (120 votes to
90) that if the province remained united it should join the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.
At a separate meeting of legislators from West Bengal, it was decided (58 votes to 21)
that the province should be partitioned and West Bengal should join the Constituent Assembly
of India. At another meeting of legislators from East Bengal, it was decided (106 votes
to 35) that the province should not be partitioned and (107 votes to 34) that East Bengal should
join the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan if Bengal was partitioned. On 6 July, the
Sylhet region of Assam voted in a referendum to join East Bengal.
Cyril Radcliffe was tasked with drawing the borders of Pakistan and India, and the Radcliffe
Line established the borders of present-day Bangladesh. The Dominion of Pakistan was created
on 14 August 1947. East Bengal, with Dhaka its capital, was the
most populous province of the 1947 Pakistani federation (led by Governor General Muhammad
Ali Jinnah, who promised freedom of religion and secular democracy in the new state). East
Bengal was also Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan province, home to peoples of different faiths,
cultures and ethnic groups. Partition gave increased economic opportunity to East Bengalis,
producing an urban population during the 1950s.Khawaja Nazimuddin was East Bengal’s first chief minister
with Frederick Chalmers Bourne its governor. The All Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed
in 1949 as a centre-left alternative to the centre-right All Pakistan Muslim League. In
1950, the East Bengal Legislative Assembly enacted land reform, abolishing the Permanent
Settlement and the zamindari system. The 1952 Bengali Language Movement was the first sign
of friction between the country’s geographically-separated wings. The Awami Muslim League was renamed
the more-secular Awami League in 1953. The first constituent assembly was dissolved in
1954; this was challenged by its East Bengali speaker, Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan. The United
Front coalition swept aside the Muslim League in a landslide victory in the 1954 East Bengali
legislative election. The following year, East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan as part
of the One Unit program and the province became a vital part of the Southeast Asia Treaty
Organization. Pakistan adopted its first constitution in
1956. Three Bengalis were its Prime Minister until 1957: Nazimuddin, Mohammad Ali of Bogra
and Suhrawardy. None of the three completed their terms, and resigned from office. The
Pakistan Army imposed military rule in 1958, and Ayub Khan was the country’s strongman
for 11 years. Political repression increased after the coup. Khan introduced a new constitution
in 1962, replacing Pakistan’s parliamentary system with a presidential and gubernatorial
system (based on electoral college selection) known as Basic Democracy. In 1962 Dhaka became
the seat of the National Assembly of Pakistan, a move seen as appeasing increased Bengali
nationalism. The Pakistani government built the controversial Kaptai Dam, displacing the
Chakma people from their indigenous homeland in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. During the
1965 presidential election, Fatima Jinnah lost to Ayub Khan despite support from the
Combined Opposition alliance (which included the Awami League). The Indo-Pakistani War
of 1965 blocked cross-border transport links with neighboring India in what is described
as a second partition. In 1966, Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced a six
point movement for a federal parliamentary democracy. According to senior World Bank officials,
Pakistan practiced extensive economic discrimination against East Pakistan: greater government
spending on West Pakistan, financial transfers from East to West Pakistan, the use of East
Pakistan’s foreign-exchange surpluses to finance West Pakistani imports, and refusal by the
central government to release funds allocated to East Pakistan because previous spending
had been under budget; East Pakistan generated 70 percent of Pakistan’s export revenue with
its jute and tea. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested for treason in the Agartala Conspiracy
Case, and was released during the 1969 uprising in East Pakistan which resulted in Ayub Khan’s
resignation. General Yahya Khan assumed power, reintroducing martial law.
Ethnic and linguistic discrimination was common in Pakistan’s civil and military services,
in which Bengalis were under-represented. Fifteen percent of Pakistani central-government
offices were occupied by East Pakistanis, who formed 10 percent of the military. Cultural
discrimination also prevailed, making East Pakistan forge a distinct political identity.
Pakistan banned Bengali literature and music in state media, including the works of Nobel
laureate Rabindranath Tagore. A cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan in 1970, killing
an estimated 500,000 people, and the central government was criticized for its poor response.
After the December 1970 elections, calls for the independence of East Bengal became louder;
the Bengali-nationalist Awami League won 167 of 169 East Pakistani seats in the National
Assembly. The League claimed the right to form a government and develop a new constitution,
but was strongly opposed by the Pakistani military and the Pakistan Peoples Party (led
by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto).===War of Independence===The Bengali population was angered when Prime
Minister-elect Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was prevented from taking the office. Civil disobedience
erupted across East Pakistan, with calls for independence. Mujib addressed a pro-independence
rally of nearly 2 million people in Dacca on 7 March 1971, where he said, “This time
the struggle is for our freedom. This time the struggle is for our independence.” The
flag of Bangladesh was raised for the first time on 23 March, Pakistan’s Republic Day.
During the night of 25 March, the Pakistani military junta led by Yahya Khan launched
Operation Searchlight (a sustained military assault on East Pakistan). Pakistan army arrested
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and flew him away to Karachi. Mujib however, before his arrest
proclaimed the Independence of Bangladesh on 26 March midnight which led the Bangladesh
Liberation War to officially break out within hours. The Pakistan Army continued to massacre
Bengali students, intellectuals, politicians, civil servants and military defectors in the
1971 Bangladesh genocide, while the Mukti Bahini and other Bengali guerilla forces created
strong resistance throughout the country. During the war, an estimated 300,000 to three
million people were killed and several million people took shelter in neighboring India.
Global public opinion turned against Pakistan as news of the atrocities spread; the Bangladesh
movement was supported by prominent political and cultural figures in the West, including
Ted Kennedy, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Victoria Ocampo and André Malraux.
The Concert for Bangladesh was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City to raise funds
for Bangladeshi refugees. The first major benefit concert in history, it was organized
by Harrison and Indian Bengali sitarist Ravi Shankar.During the Bangladesh Liberation War,
Bengali nationalists declared independence and formed the Mukti Bahini (the Bangladeshi
National Liberation Army). The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was established on
17 April 1971, converting the 469 elected members of the Pakistani national assembly
and East Pakistani provincial assembly into the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh. The
provisional government issued the Proclamation of the Independence of Bangladeshi, which
was the country’s interim constitution and declared “equality, human dignity and social
justice” as its fundamental principles. Due to Mujib’s detention, the acting president
was Syed Nazrul Islam, while Tajuddin Ahmad was Bangladesh’s first prime minister. The
military wing of the provisional government was the Bangladesh Forces that included Mukti
Bahini and other Bengali guerilla forces. Led by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven
sector commanders, the forces strongly held the countryside during the war and conducted
wide-ranging guerrilla operations against Pakistani forces. As a result, almost entire
country except capital Dacca was liberated by Bangladesh Forces by late November. This
led Pakistan Army to attack neighboring India’s western front on 2 December. India retaliated
both in western and eastern fronts. By joint Bangladeshi ground advance and Indian air
strike, the rest capital Dacca was liberated from Pakistani occupation in mid December.
During the last phase of the war, the Soviet Union and the United States dispatched naval
forces to the Bay of Bengal in a Cold War standoff. The nine-months long war ended with
the surrender of Pakistani armed forces to the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces on 16 December
1971. Under international pressure, Pakistan released Rahman from imprisonment on 8 January
1972 and he was flown by the British Royal Air Force of to a million-strong homecoming
in Dacca. Remaining Indian troops were withdrawn by 12 March 1972, three months after the war
ended.The cause of Bangladeshi self-determination was recognized around the world. By August
1972, the new state was recognized by 86 countries. Pakistan recognized Bangladesh in 1974 after
pressure from most of the Muslim countries.===People’s Republic of Bangladesh=======
First parliamentary era====The constituent assembly adopted Bangladesh’s
constitution on 4 November 1972, establishing a secular, multiparty parliamentary democracy.
The new constitution included references to socialism, and Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman nationalized major industries in 1972. A major reconstruction and rehabilitation
program was launched. The Awami League won the country’s first general election in 1973,
securing a large majority in the Jatiyo Sangshad. Bangladesh joined the Commonwealth of Nations,
the UN, the OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, and Rahman strengthened ties with India. Amid
growing agitation by the opposition National Awami Party and National Socialist Party,
he became increasingly authoritarian. Rahman amended the constitution, giving himself more
emergency powers (including the suspension of fundamental rights). The Bangladesh famine
of 1974 also worsened the political situation.====Presidential era and coups (1975–1991)
====In January 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman introduced
one-party socialist rule under BAKSAL. Rahman banned all newspapers except four state-owned
publications, and amended the constitution to increase his power. He was assassinated
during a coup on 15 August 1975. Martial law was declared, and the presidency passed to
the usurper Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad for four months. Ahmad is widely regarded as a quisling
by Bangladeshis. Tajuddin Ahmad, the nation’s first prime minister, and four other independence
leaders were assassinated on 4 November 1975. Chief Justice Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem was
installed as president by the military on 6 November 1975. Bangladesh was governed by
a military junta led by the Chief Martial Law Administrator for three years. In 1977,
Army chief Ziaur Rahman became president. Rahman reinstated multiparty politics, privatized
industries and newspapers, established BEPZA and held the country’s second general election
in 1979. A semi-presidential system evolved, with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
governing until 1982. Rahman was assassinated in 1981, and was succeeded by Vice President
Abdus Sattar. Sattar received 65.5 percent of the vote in the 1981 presidential election.After
a year in office, Sattar was overthrown in the 1982 Bangladesh coup d’état. Chief Justice
A. F. M. Ahsanuddin Chowdhury was installed as president, but army chief Hussain Muhammad
Ershad became the country’s de facto leader and assumed the presidency in 1983. Ershad
lifted martial law in 1986. He governed with four successive prime ministers (Ataur Rahman
Khan, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, Moudud Ahmed and Kazi Zafar Ahmed) and a parliament dominated
by his Jatiyo Party. General elections were held in 1986 and 1988, although the latter
was boycotted by the opposition BNP and Awami League. Ershad pursued administrative decentralization,
dividing the country into 64 districts, and pushed Parliament to make Islam the state
religion in 1988. A 1990 mass uprising forced him to resign, and Chief Justice Shahabuddin
Ahmed led the country’s first caretaker government as part of the transition to parliamentary
rule.====Current parliamentary era (1991–present)
====After the 1991 general election, the twelfth
amendment to the constitution restored the parliamentary republic and Begum Khaleda Zia
became Bangladesh’s first female prime minister. Zia, a former first lady, led a BNP government
from 1990 to 1996. In 1991 her finance minister, Saifur Rahman, began a major program to liberalize
the Bangladeshi economy.After an Awami League initiative, the BNP introduced a system of
caretaker governments to oversee the transfer of power. Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman
was the first Chief Adviser of Bangladesh, and oversaw the 1996 election. The Awami League,
led by Sheikh Hasina, won the seventh general election. Hasina’s first term was highlighted
by the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord and a Ganges water-sharing treaty with India.
The second caretaker government, led by Chief Adviser Justice Latifur Rahman, oversaw the
eighth general election in 2001 which returned Begum Zia and the BNP to power.
The second Zia ministry saw improved economic growth, but political turmoil gripped the
country between 2004 and 2006. A radical Islamist militant group, the JMB, carried out a series
of bombings. The evidence of staging these attacks by these extremist groups have been
found in the investigation, and hundreds of suspected members were detained in numerous
security operations in 2006, including the two chiefs of the JMB, Shaykh Abdur Rahman
and Bangla Bhai, who were executed with other top leaders in March 2007, bringing the militant
group to an end.Amid widespread political unrest the Bangladeshi military urged President
Iajuddin Ahmed to impose a state of emergency and a caretaker government, led by technocrat
Fakhruddin Ahmed, was installed. Emergency rule lasted for two years, until the ninth
general election in 2008 which returned Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League to power. In 2010,
the Supreme Court ruled martial law illegal and affirmed secular principles in the constitution.
The following year, the Awami League abolished the caretaker-government system. The 2014
general election was boycotted by the BNP, giving the Awami League a decisive victory.==Geography==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. Bangladesh has 57 trans-boundary rivers, making the resolution
of water issues politically complicated, in most cases, as the country is a lower riparian
state to India.Bangladesh is predominantly rich fertile flat land. Most parts of it is
less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above sea level, and it is estimated that about 10% of its
land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28 ft). 17% of the country
is covered by forests and 12% is covered by hill systems. The country’s haor wetlands
are of significance 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 multi-agency endeavor, building roads, culverts,
embankments, cyclone shelters, toilets and ponds, as well as distributing land to settlers.
It was expected that by fall 2010, the program would have allotted some 27,000 acres (10,927
ha) to 21,000 families. With an elevation of 1,064 m (3,491 ft), the
highest peak of Bangladesh is Keokradong, near the border with Myanmar.===Administrative geography===Bangladesh is divided into eight administrative
divisions, each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal, Chittagong,
Dhaka, Khulna, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Sylhet.
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 in each union (or ward) for 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.===Climate===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 (32
°F), with a record low of 1.1 °C (34.0 °F) in the north west city of Dinajpur on 3 February
1905. 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, combined with the effects
of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were particularly
devastating, the latter killing some 140,000 people.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; 135,000
cattle were killed; 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of land were destroyed; and 11,000 km (6,800 mi) of
roads were damaged or destroyed. Effectively, two-thirds of the country was underwater.
The severity of the flooding was attributed to unusually high monsoon rains, the shedding
off of equally unusually large amounts of melt water from the Himalayas, and the widespread
cutting down of trees (that would have intercepted rain water) for firewood or animal husbandry.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. It is estimated that by 2050, a 3 feet rise in
sea levels will inundate some 20 percent of the land and displace more than 30 million
people.There is evidence that earthquakes pose a threat to the country and that plate
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.Bangladeshi
water is frequently contaminated with arsenic because of the high arsenic content of the
soil—up to 77 million people are exposed to toxic arsenic from drinking water.===Biodiversity===Bangladesh ratified the Rio Convention on
Biological Diversity on 3 May 1994. As of 2014, the country was set to revise its National
Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.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. The country has up to 6000 species of plant life, including 5000 flowering plants.
Water bodies and wetland systems provide a habitat for many aquatic plants. Water lilies
and lotuses grow vividly during the monsoon season. The country has 50 wildlife sanctuaries.
Bangladesh is home to much of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, covering
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. The vast majority of animals dwell within
a habitat of 150,000 km2. The Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, saltwater crocodile, black
panther and fishing cat are among the chief predators in the Sundarbans. Northern and
eastern Bangladesh is home to the Asian elephant, hoolock gibbon, Asian black bear and oriental
pied hornbill.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. The country has numerous
species of amphibians (53), reptiles (139), marine reptiles (19) and marine mammals (5).
It also has 628 species of birds.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. Rapid urban growth has threatened natural habitats. Although 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.==Politics==The Constitution of Bangladesh established
a unitary, Westminster-style parliamentary republic with universal suffrage. A member
of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority (usually the chair of the largest
party) is the Prime Minister, the head of government and of the cabinet. Bangladesh
is governed by a 350-member parliament, known as the Jatiyo Sangshad. Three hundred of its
members are elected on a first past the post basis, and 50 seats are reserved for female
nominees by political parties. Although parliamentary elections are scheduled every five years,
they have often been delayed by political crises, emergency rule or martial law. The
President of Bangladesh is the head of state. From 1975 to 1990 the presidency had executive
powers, but it has been reduced to a largely-ceremonial role by the Twelfth Amendment to the constitution.
Since 1991, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and the Bangladesh Awami League, have
been the two major political parties in Bangladesh and have engaged in bitter rivalries and skirmishes.In
2011, the Fifteenth Amendment mandated the “highest punishment” for usurpers. The amendment
was controversial for abolishing the caretaker-government system, which had been a neutral administration
during election periods since the 1990s. The 2014 national election was boycotted by the
largest opposition party, which argued that a free election could not be held without
a neutral interim government. The Jatiyo Sangshad is restrained from holding no-confidence motions,
floor crossing and free votes by Article 70 of the constitution. Human-rights violations
have increased due to the growing power of security forces—particularly the Rapid Action
Battalion, which is accused of arbitrary arrests, summary executions and forced disappearances.===Legal system===Bangladesh’s legal system is based on common
law, and its principal source of laws are acts of Parliament. The Bangladesh Code includes
a list of all laws in force in the country. The code begins in 1836, and most of its listed
laws were crafted under the British Raj by the Bengal Legislative Council, the Bengal
Legislative Assembly, the Eastern Bengal and Assam Legislative Council, the Imperial Legislative
Council and the Parliament of the United Kingdom; one example is the 1860 Penal Code. From 1947
to 1971, laws were enacted by Pakistan’s national assembly and the East Pakistani legislature.
The Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh was the country’s provisional parliament until
1973, when the first elected Jatiyo Sangshad was sworn in. Although most of Bangladesh’s
laws were compiled in English, after a 1987 government directive laws are now primarily
written in Bengali. Marriage, divorce and inheritance are governed by Islamic, Hindu
and Christian family law. The judiciary is often influenced by legal developments in
the Commonwealth of Nations, such as the doctrine of legitimate expectation.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, including its High Court and Appellate Divisions, is
the high court of the land. The head of the judiciary is the Chief Justice of Bangladesh,
who sits on the Supreme Court. The courts have wide latitude in judicial review, and
judicial precedent is supported by the Article 111 of the constitution. The judiciary includes
district and metropolitan courts, which are divided into civil and criminal courts. Due
to a shortage of judges, the judiciary has a large backlog. The Bangladesh Judicial Service
Commission is an independent body responsible for judicial appointments, salaries and discipline.===Military===The Bangladesh Armed Forces have inherited
the institutional framework of the British military and the British Indian Army. It was
formed in 1971 from the military regiments of East Pakistan. In 2012 the army strength
was around 300,000, including reservists, the Air Force (22,000) and the Navy (24,000).
In addition to traditional defence roles, the military has supported civil authorities
in disaster relief and provided internal security during periods of political unrest. For many
years, Bangladesh has been the world’s largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces. In
February 2015, the country made major deployments to Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Darfur, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, the Golan Heights, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and South Sudan.The Bangladesh
Navy has the third-largest fleet (after India and Thailand) of countries dependent on the
Bay of Bengal, including guided-missile frigates, submarines, cutters and aircraft. The Bangladesh
Air Force is equipped with several Russian multi-role fighter jets. Bangladesh cooperates
defensively with the United States Armed Forces, participating in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness
and Training (CARAT) exercises. Ties between the Bangladeshi and the Indian military have
increased, with high-level visits by the military chiefs of both countries. Eighty percent of
Bangladesh’s military equipment comes from China.===Foreign relations===The first major intergovernmental organization
joined by Bangladesh was the Commonwealth of Nations in 1972. The country joined the
United Nations in 1974, and has been elected twice to the UN Security Council. Ambassador
Humayun Rashid Choudhury was elected president of the UN General Assembly in 1986. Bangladesh
relies on multilateral diplomacy in the World Trade Organization. It is a major contributor
to UN peacekeeping, providing 113,000 personnel to 54 UN missions in the Middle East, the
Balkans, Africa and the Caribbean in 2014.In addition to membership in the Commonwealth
and the United Nations, Bangladesh pioneered regional cooperation in South Asia. Bangladesh
is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an organization
designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among its members.
It has hosted several summits, and two Bangladeshi diplomats were the organization’s secretary-general.
Bangladesh joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 1973. It has hosted the
summit of OIC foreign ministers, which addresses issues, conflicts and disputes affecting Muslim-majority
countries. Bangladesh is a founding member of the Developing 8 Countries, a bloc of eight
Muslim-majority republics. Japan is Bangladesh’s largest economic-aid
provider, and the countries have common political goals. The United Kingdom has longstanding
economic, cultural and military links with Bangladesh. The United States is a major economic
and security partner, including its largest export market and foreign investor. Seventy-six
percent of Bangladeshis viewed the United States favorably in 2014, one of the highest
ratings among Asian countries. The European Union is Bangladesh’s largest regional market,
conducting public diplomacy and providing development assistance.
Relations with other countries are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations
with Western countries, and similar economic concerns forge ties to other developing countries.
Despite poor working conditions and war affecting overseas Bangladeshi workers, relations with
Middle Eastern countries are friendly and bounded by religion and culture; more than
a million Bangladeshis are employed in the region. In 2016, the king of Saudi Arabia
called Bangladesh “one of the most important Muslim countries”. Bangladesh’s most politically-important bilateral
relationship is with neighboring India. In 2015, major Indian newspapers called Bangladesh
a “trusted friend”. Bangladesh and India are South Asia’s largest trading partners. The
countries are forging regional economic and infrastructure projects, such as a regional
motor-vehicle agreement in eastern South Asia and a coastal shipping agreement in the Bay
of Bengal. Indo-Bangladesh relations have a shared cultural heritage and democratic
values and a history of support for Bangladeshi independence. Despite political goodwill,
border killings of Bangladeshi civilians and the lack of a comprehensive water-sharing
agreement for 54 trans-boundary rivers are major issues. In 2017, India joined Russia
and China in refusing to condemn Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya, which contradicted
with Bangladesh’s demand for recognizing Rohingya human rights. However, the Indian air force
delivered aid shipments for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The rise of Hindu extremism
and Islamophobia in India has also affected Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi beef and leather
industries have seen increased prices due to the Indian BJP government’s Hindu nationalist
campaign against the export of beef and cattle skin.Sino-Bangladesh relations date to the
1950s and are relatively warm, despite the Chinese leadership siding with Pakistan during
Bangladesh’s war of independence. China and Bangladesh established bilateral relations
in 1976 which have significantly strengthened, and the country is considered a cost-effective
source of arms for the Bangladeshi military. Since the 1980s 80 percent of Bangladesh’s
military equipment has been supplied by China (often with generous credit terms), and China
is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner. Both countries are part of the BCIM Forum. The neighbouring country of Myanmar was one
of first countries to recognize Bangladesh. Despite common regional interests, Bangladesh-Myanmar
relations have been strained by the Rohingya refugee issue and the isolationist policies
of the Myanmar military. In 2012, the countries came to terms at the International Tribunal
for the Law of the Sea over maritime disputes in the Bay of Bengal. In 2016 and 2017, relations
with Myanmar again strained as over 400,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh after
atrocities. The parliament, government and civil society of Bangladesh have been at the
forefront of international criticism against Myanmar for military operations against the
Rohingya, which the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.Pakistan and Bangladesh
have a US$550 million trade relationship, particularly in Pakistani cotton imports for
the Bangladeshi textile industry. Although Bangladeshi and Pakistani businesses have
invested in each other, diplomatic relations are strained because of Pakistani denial of
the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. Bangladeshi aid agencies work in many developing
countries. An example is BRAC in Afghanistan, which benefits 12 million people in that country.
Bangladesh has a record of nuclear nonproliferation as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It is a state party to the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Bangladeshi foreign policy is influenced by the principle of “friendship to all and malice
to none”, first articulated by Bengali statesman H. S. Suhrawardy in 1957. Suhrawardy led East
and West Pakistan to join the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, CENTO and the Regional
Cooperation for Development.===Human rights===Rights in Bangladesh are enshrined in the
country’s constitution. However, government and security forces have flouted constitutional
principles and have been accused of human rights abuses. Bangladesh is ranked “partly
free” in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, but its press is ranked “not free”.
According to the British Economist Intelligence Unit, the country has a hybrid regime: the
third of four rankings in its Democracy Index. Bangladesh was the third-most-peaceful South
Asian country in the 2015 Global Peace Index. Civil society and media in Bangladesh have
been attacked by the ruling Awami League government and Islamic extremists. According to National Human Rights Commission
chairman Mizanur Rahman, 70% of alleged human-rights violations are committed by law-enforcement
agencies. Targets have included Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen
Bank, secularist bloggers and independent and pro-opposition newspapers and television
networks. The United Nations is concerned about government “measures that restrict freedom
of expression and democratic space”.Bangladeshi security forces, particularly the Rapid Action
Battalion (RAB), have received international condemnation for human-rights abuses (including
enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings). Over 1,000 people have been said
to have been victims of extrajudicial killings by RAB since its inception under the last
Bangladesh Nationalist Party government. The RAB has been called a “death squad” by Human
Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which have called for the force to be disbanded.
The British and American governments have been criticized for funding and engaging the
force in counter-terrorism operations.The Bangladeshi government has not fully implemented
the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. The Hill Tracts region remains heavily militarized,
despite a peace treaty with indigenous people forged by the United People’s Party of the
Chittagong Hill Tracts.Secularism is protected by the constitution of Bangladesh, and religious
parties are barred from contesting elections; however, the government is accused of courting
religious extremist groups. Islam’s ambiguous position as the de facto state religion has
been criticized by the United Nations. Despite relative harmony, religious minorities have
faced occasional persecution. The Hindu and Buddhist communities have experienced religious
violence from Islamic groups, notably the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and its student
wing (Shibir). Islamic far-right candidates peaked at 12 percent of the vote in 2001,
falling to four percent in 2008. Homosexuality is outlawed by section 377 of the criminal
code, and is punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.According to the 2016 Global
Slavery Index, an estimated 1,531,300 people are enslaved in modern-day Bangladesh, or
0.95% of the population. A number of slaves in Bangladesh are forced to work in the fish
and shrimp industries.===Corruption===Bangladesh was 14th on Transparency International’s
2014 Corruption Perceptions Index. In 2015, bribes made up 3.7 percent of the national
budget. The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission was active during the 2006–08 Bangladeshi
political crisis, indicting many leading politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen for graft. After
it assumed power in 2009, the Awami League government reduced the commission’s independent
power to investigate and prosecute. Land administration was the sector with the most bribery in 2015,
followed by education, police and water supply.==Economy==Bangladesh, a developing country with a market-based
mixed economy, is one of the Next Eleven emerging markets. Its per-capita income was US$1,754
in 2018, with a GDP of $285 billion. Bangladesh has the third-largest South Asian economy
(after India and Pakistan) and the second-highest foreign-exchange reserves (after India). The
Bangladeshi diaspora contributed $15.31 billion in remittances in 2015. During its first five years of independence
Bangladesh adopted socialist policies, an Awami League blunder. The subsequent military
regime and BNP and Jatiya Party governments restored free markets and promoted the country’s
private sector. In 1991, finance minister Saifur Rahman introduced a programme of economic
liberalization. The Bangladeshi private sector has rapidly expanded, with a number of conglomerates
driving the economy. Major industries include textiles, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, steel,
electronics, energy, construction materials, chemicals, ceramics, food processing and leather
goods. Export-oriented industrialization has increased, with fiscal year 2014–15 exports
increasing by 3.3% over the previous year to $30 billion, although Bangladesh’s trade
deficit ballooned by over 45% in this same time period. Most export earnings are from
the garment-manufacturing industry. Bangladesh also has social enterprises, including the
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Grameen Bank and BRAC (the world’s largest non-governmental
organisation).However, an insufficient power supply is a significant obstacle to Bangladesh’s
economic development. According to the World Bank, poor governance, corruption and weak
public institutions are also major challenges. In April 2010, Standard & Poor’s gave Bangladesh
a BB- long-term credit rating, below India’s but above those of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The country is notable for its soil fertility
land, including the Ganges Delta, Sylhet Division and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Agriculture
is the largest sector of the economy, making up 18.6 percent of Bangladesh’s GDP in November
2010 and employing about 45 percent of the workforce. The agricultural sector impacts
employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security.
More Bangladeshis earn their living from agriculture than from any other sector. The country is
among the top producers of rice (fourth), potatoes (seventh), tropical fruits (sixth),
jute (second), and farmed fish (fifth). Bangladesh is the seventh-largest natural
gas producer in Asia, ahead of neighboring Myanmar, and 56 percent of the country’s electricity
is generated by natural gas. Major gas fields are located in the northeastern (particularly
Sylhet) and southern (including Barisal and Chittagong) regions. PetroBangla is the national
energy company. The American multinational corporation Chevron produces 50 percent of
Bangladesh’s natural gas. According to geologists, the Bay of Bengal contains large, untapped
gas reserves in Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone. Bangladesh has substantial coal reserves,
with several coal mines operating in the northwest. Jute exports remain significant, although
the global jute trade has shrunk considerably since its World War II peak. Bangladesh has
one of the world’s oldest tea industries, and is a major exporter of fish and seafood. Bangladesh’s textile and ready-made garment
industries are the country’s largest manufacturing sector, with 2014 exports of $25 billion.
Leather-goods manufacturing, particularly footwear, is the second-largest export sector.
The pharmaceutical industry meets 97 percent of domestic demand, and exports to many countries.
Shipbuilding has grown rapidly, with exports to Europe.Steel is concentrated in the port
city of Chittagong, and the ceramics industry is prominent in international trade. In 2005
Bangladesh was the world’s 20th-largest cement producer, an industry dependent on limestone
imports from northeast India. Food processing is a major sector, with local brands such
as PRAN increasing their international market share. The electronics industry is growing
rapidly, particularly the Walton Group. Bangladesh’s defense industry includes the Bangladesh Ordnance
Factories and the Khulna Shipyard. The service sector accounts for 51 percent
of the country’s GDP. Bangladesh ranks with Pakistan as South Asia’s second-largest banking
sector. The Dhaka and Chittagong Stock Exchanges are the country’s twin financial markets.
Bangladesh’s telecommunications industry is one of the world’s fastest-growing, with 114
million cellphone subscribers in December 2013, and Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and
BTTB are major companies. Tourism is developing, with the beach resort of Cox’s Bazar the center
of the industry. The Sylhet region, home to Bangladesh’s tea country, also hosts a large
number of visitors. The country has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Mosque City,
the Buddhist Vihara and the Sundarbans) and five tentative-list sites.Microfinance was
pioneered in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus. In 2015, the country had over 35 million microcredit
borrowers.===Transport===Transport is a major sector of the economy.
Aviation has grown rapidly, and includes the flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines and
other privately owned airlines. Bangladesh has a number of airports: three international
and several domestic and STOL (short takeoff and landing) airports. The busiest, Shahjalal
International Airport connects Dhaka with major destinations.
Bangladesh has a 2,706-kilometre (1,681-mile) rail network operated by state-owned Bangladesh
Railway. The total length of the country’s road and highway network is nearly 21,000-kilometre
(13,000-mile). It has one of the largest inland waterway
networks in the world, with 8,046 kilometres (5,000 miles) of navigable waters. The southeastern
port of Chittagong is its busiest seaport, handling over $60 billion in annual trade
(more than 80 percent of the country’s export-import commerce). The second-busiest seaport is Mongla.
Bangladesh has three seaports and 22 river ports.===Energy and infrastructure===Bangladesh had an installed electrical capacity
of 10,289 MW in January 2014. About 56 percent of the country’s commercial energy is generated
by natural gas, followed by oil, hydropower and coal. Bangladesh has planned to import
hydropower from Bhutan and Nepal. Nuclear energy is being developed with Russian support
in the Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant project. The country ranks fifth worldwide in the number
of renewable energy green jobs, and solar panels are increasingly used to power urban
and off-grid rural areas.An estimated 98 percent of the country’s population had access to
improved water sources in 2004 (a high percentage for a low-income country), achieved largely
through the construction of hand pumps with support from external donors. However, in
1993 it was discovered that much of Bangladesh’s groundwater (the source of drinking water
for 97 percent of the rural population and a significant share of the urban population)
is naturally contaminated with arsenic. Another challenge is low cost recovery due
to low tariffs and poor economic efficiency, especially in urban areas (where water revenue
does not cover operating costs). An estimated 56 percent of the population had access to
adequate sanitation facilities in 2010. Community-led total sanitation, addressing the problem of
open defecation in rural areas, is credited with improving public health since its introduction
in 2000.===Science and technology===The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial
Research, founded in 1973, traces its roots to the East Pakistan Regional Laboratories
established in Dhaka (1955), Rajshahi (1965) and Chittagong (1967). Bangladesh’s space
agency, SPARRSO, was founded in 1983 with assistance from the United States. Bangladesh
launched Bangabandhu-1 the first Bangladeshi communications satellite in 2018. The Bangladesh
Atomic Energy Commission operates a TRIGA research reactor at its atomic-energy facility
in Savar. In 2015, Bangladesh was ranked the 26th global IT outsourcing destination.===Tourism===Bangladesh’s tourist attractions include historical
and monuments, resorts, beaches, picnic spots, forests and tribal people, wildlife of various
species. Activities for tourists include angling, water skiing, river cruising, hiking, rowing,
yachting, and sea bathing.The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported in 2013
that the travel and tourism industry in Bangladesh directly generated 1,281,500 jobs in 2012
or 1.8 percent of the country’s total employment, which ranked Bangladesh 157 out of 178 countries
worldwide. Direct and indirect employment in the industry totalled 2,714,500 jobs, or
3.7 percent of the country’s total employment. The WTTC predicted that by 2023, travel and
tourism will directly generate 1,785,000 jobs and support an overall total of 3,891,000
jobs, or 4.2 percent of the country’s total employment. This would represent an annual
growth rate in direct jobs of 2.9 percent. Domestic spending generated 97.7 percent of
direct travel and tourism gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012. Bangladesh’s world ranking
in 2012 for travel and tourism’s direct contribution to GDP, as a percentage of GDP, was 142 out
of 176.==Demographics==Estimates of the Bangladeshi population vary,
but UN data suggests 162,951,560 million. The 2011 census estimated 142.3 million, much
less than 2007–2010 estimates of Bangladesh’s population (150–170 million). Bangladesh
is the world’s eighth-most-populous nation. In 1951, its population was 44 million. Bangladesh
is the most densely-populated large country in the world, ranking 11th in population density
when small countries and city-states are included.The country’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, Bangladesh’s growth rate began
to slow. Its total fertility rate is now 2.55, lower than India’s (2.58) and Pakistan’s (3.07).
The population is relatively young, with 34 percent aged 15 or younger and five percent
65 or older. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 70 years in 2012. Despite the
rapid economic growth, 43% of the country still lives below the international poverty
line on less than $1.25 per day.Bengalis are 98 percent of the population. Of Bengalis,
Muslims are the majority, followed by Hindus, Christians and Buddhists.
The Adivasi population includes the Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Tripuri, Kuki, Khiang,
Khumi, Murang, Mru, Chak, Lushei, Bawm, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Santal, Munda
and Oraon tribes. The Chittagong Hill Tracts region experienced unrest and an insurgency
from 1975 to 1997 in an autonomy movement by its indigenous people. Although a peace
accord was signed in 1997, the region remains militarized.Bangladesh is home to a significant
Ismaili community. It hosts many Urdu-speaking immigrants, who migrated there after the partition
of India. Stranded Pakistanis were given citizenship by the Supreme Court in 2008.An estimated
over 670,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar District
in the southeast. The region has received influxes of Rohingya refugees during Burmese
military crackdowns in 1978, 1991, 2012 and 2016.===Urban centres===Dhaka is Bangladesh’s capital and largest
city. There are 12 city corporations which hold mayoral elections: Dhaka South, Dhaka
North, Chittagong, Comilla, Khulna, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Gazipur
and Narayanganj. Mayors are elected for five-year terms. Altogether there are 506 urban centres
in Bangladesh among which 43 cities have a population of more than 100000.===Languages===More than 98 percent of people in Bangladesh
speak Bengali, sometimes called Bangla, as their native language. Dialects of Bengali
are spoken in some parts of the country, which include non-standard dialects (sometimes viewed
as separate languages) such as Chatgaiya, Sylheti and Rangpuri. Pakistani Biharis, stranded
since 1971 and living in Bangladeshi camps, speak Urdu. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar,
living in Bangladeshi camps since 1978, speak Rohingya. Several indigenous minority languages
are also spoken. Bengali is the official language. However,
English is sometimes used secondarily for official purposes (especially in the legal
system). Although laws were historically written in English, they were not translated into
Bengali until 1987. Bangladesh’s constitution and laws now exist in English and Bengali.
English is used as a second language by the middle and upper classes, and is widely used
in higher education.===Religion===Islam is the largest and the official state
religion of Bangladesh, followed by 86.6 percent of the population. The country is home to
most Bengali Muslims, the second-largest ethnic group in the Muslim world. Most Bangladeshi
Muslims are Sunni, followed by Shia and Ahmadiya. About four percent are non-denominational
Muslims. Bangladesh has the fourth-largest Muslim population in the world, and is the
third-largest Muslim-majority country (after Indonesia and Pakistan). Sufism has a lengthy
heritage in the region. The largest gathering of Muslims in Bangladesh is the Bishwa Ijtema,
held annually by the Tablighi Jamaat. The Ijtema is the second-largest Muslim congregation
in the world, after the Hajj. Hinduism is followed by 12.1 percent of the
population; most are Bengali Hindus, and some are members of ethnic minority groups. Bangladeshi
Hindus are the country’s second-largest religious group and the third-largest Hindu community
in the world, after those in India and Nepal. Hindus in Bangladesh are fairly evenly distributed,
with concentrations in Gopalganj, Dinajpur, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Mymensingh, Khulna, Jessore,
Chittagong and parts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Despite their dwindling numbers, Hindus
are the second-largest religious community (after the Muslims) in Dhaka.
Buddhism is the third-largest religion, at 0.6 percent. Bangladeshi Buddhists are concentrated
among ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (particularly the Chakma, Marma and
Tanchangya peoples), and coastal Chittagong is home to a large number of Bengali Buddhists.
Christianity is the fourth-largest religion, at 0.4 percent.The Constitution of Bangladesh
declares Islam the state religion, but bans religion-based politics. It proclaims equal
recognition of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people of all faiths. In 1972, Bangladesh
was South Asia’s first constitutionally-secular country.===Education===Bangladesh has a low literacy rate, which
was estimated at 66.5 percent for males and 63.1 percent for females in 2014. The country’s
educational system is three-tiered and heavily subsidized, with the government operating
many schools at the primary, secondary and higher-secondary levels and subsidizing many
private schools. In the tertiary-education sector, the Bangladeshi government funds over
15 state universities through the University Grants Commission. The education system is divided into five
levels: primary (first to fifth grade), junior secondary (sixth to eighth grade), secondary
(ninth and tenth grade), higher secondary (11th and 12th grade) and tertiary. Five years
of secondary education end with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination; since
2009, the Primary Education Closing (PEC) examination has also been given. Students
who pass the PEC examination proceed to four years of secondary or matriculation training,
culminating in the SSC examination. Students who pass the PEC examination proceed
to three years of junior-secondary education, culminating in the Junior School Certificate
(JSC) examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of secondary
education, culminating in the SSC examination. Students who pass this examination proceed
to two years of higher-secondary education, culminating in the Higher Secondary School
Certificate (HSC) examination.Education is primarily in Bengali, but English is commonly
taught and used. Many Muslim families send their children to part-time courses or full-time
religious education in Bengali and Arabic in madrasas.Bangladesh conforms with 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 of three general
types: public (government-owned and -subsidized), private (privately 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, and the University of Dhaka (established in 1921) is the oldest. Islamic University
of Technology, commonly known as IUT, is a subsidiary of the Organisation of the Islamic
Cooperation (OIC, representing 57 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America).
Asian University for Women in Chittagong is the preeminent South Asian liberal-arts university
for women, representing 14 Asian countries; its faculty hails from notable academic institutions
in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. BUET, CUET, KUET and
RUET are Bangladesh’s four public engineering universities. BUTex and DUET are two specialized
engineering universities; BUTex specializes in textile engineering, and DUET offers higher
education to diploma engineers. The NITER is a specialized public-private partnership
institute which provides higher education in textile engineering. Science and technology
universities include SUST, PUST, JUST and NSTU. Bangladeshi universities are accredited
by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), created by Presidential
Order 10 in 1973.Medical education is provided by 29 government and private medical colleges.
All medical colleges are affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Bangladesh’s 2015 literacy rate rose to 71 percent due to education modernization and
improved funding, with 16,087 schools and 2,363 colleges receiving Monthly Pay Order
(MPO) facilities. According to education minister Nurul Islam Nahid, 27,558 madrasas and technical
and vocational institutions were enlisted for the facility. 6,036 educational institutions
were outside MPO coverage, and the government enlisted 1,624 private schools for MPO in
2010.===Health===Health and education levels remain relatively
low, although they have improved as poverty levels have decreased. In rural areas, village
doctors with little or no formal training constitute 62 percent of healthcare providers
practising “modern medicine”; formally-trained providers make up four percent of the total
health workforce. A Future Health Systems survey indicated significant deficiencies
in the treatment practices of village doctors, with widespread harmful and inappropriate
drug prescribing. Receiving health care from informal providers is encouraged.A 2007 study
of 1,000 households in rural Bangladesh found that direct payments to formal and informal
healthcare providers and indirect costs (loss of earnings because of illness) associated
with illness were deterrents to accessing healthcare from qualified providers. A community
survey of 6,183 individuals in rural Bangladesh found a gender difference in treatment-seeking
behaviour, with women less likely to seek treatment than to men. The use of skilled
birth attendant (SBA) services, however, rose from 2005 to 2007 among women from all socioeconomic
quintiles except the highest. A health watch, a pilot community-empowerment tool, was successfully
developed and implemented in south-eastern Bangladesh to improve the uptake and monitoring
of public-health services.Bangladesh’s poor health conditions are attributed to the lack
of healthcare provision by the government. According to a 2010 World Bank report, 2009
healthcare spending was 3.35 percent of the country’s GDP. The number of hospital beds
is 3 per 10,000 population. Government spending on healthcare that year was 7.9 percent of
the total budget; out-of-pocket expenditures totaled 96.5 percent.Malnutrition has been
a persistent problem in Bangladesh, with the World Bank ranking the country first in the
number of malnourished children worldwide. Twenty-six percent of the population (two-thirds
of children under the age of five) are undernourished, and 46 percent of children are moderately
or severely underweight. Forty-three to 60 percent of children under five are smaller
than normal; one in five preschool children are vitamin-A deficient, and one in two are
anemic. More than 45 percent of rural families and 76 percent of urban families were below
the acceptable caloric-intake level.==Culture=====
Visual arts===The recorded history of art in Bangladesh
can be traced to the 3rd century BCE, when terracotta sculptures were made in the region.
In classical antiquity, a notable school of sculptural Hindu, Jain and Buddhist art developed
in the Pala Empire and the Sena dynasty. Islamic art evolved since the 14th century. The architecture
of the Bengal Sultanate saw a distinct style of domed mosques with complex niche pillars
that had no minarets. Mughal Bengal’s most celebrated artistic tradition was the weaving
of Jamdani motifs on fine muslin, which is now classified by UNESCO as an intangible
cultural heritage. Jamdani motifs were similar to Iranian textile art (buta motifs) and Western
textile art (paisley). The Jamdani weavers in Dhaka received imperial patronage. Ivory
and brass were also widely used in Mughal art. Pottery is widely used in Bengali culture.
The modern art movement in Bangladesh took shape during the 1950s, particularly with
the pioneering works of Zainul Abedin. East Bengal developed its own modernist painting
and sculpture traditions, which were distinct from the art movements in West Bengal. The
Art Institute Dhaka has been an important center for visual art in the region. Its annual
Bengali New Year parade was enlisted as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in
2016. Modern Bangladesh has produced many of South
Asia’s leading painters, including SM Sultan, Mohammad Kibria, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Kanak
Chanpa Chakma, Kafil Ahmed, Saifuddin Ahmed, Qayyum Chowdhury, Rashid Choudhury, Quamrul
Hassan, Rafiqun Nabi and Syed Jahangir, among others. Novera Ahmed and Nitun Kundu were
the country’s pioneers of modernist sculpture. The Chobi Mela is the largest photography
festival in Asia.===Literature===The oldest evidence of writing in Bangladesh
is the Mahasthan Brahmi Inscription, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE. In the
Gupta Empire, Sanskrit literature thrived in the region. Bengali developed from Sanskrit
and Magadhi Prakrit in the 11th century. Bengali literature is a millennium-old tradition;
the Charyapada are the earliest examples of Bengali poetry. Sufi spiritualism inspired
many Bengali Muslim writers. During the Bengal Sultanate, medieval Bengali writers were influenced
by Arabic and Persian works. Syed Alaol was a noted secular poet and translator. The Chandidas
are an example of the Bangladeshi folk literature that developed during the Middle Ages. The
Bengal Renaissance shaped the emergence of modern Bengali literature, including novels,
short stories and science fiction. Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European laureate
of the Nobel Prize in Literature and is described as the Bengali Shakespeare. Kazi Nazrul Islam
was a revolutionary poet who espoused spiritual rebellion against colonialism and fascism.
Begum Rokeya was a pioneer of Bengali writing in English, with her early of work of feminist
science fiction. Other renaissance icons included Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Sarat Chandra
Chattopadhyay. The writer Syed Mujtaba Ali is noted for his
cosmopolitan Bengali worldview. Humayun Ahmed was a popular writer of modern Bangladeshi
magical realism and science fiction. Jasimuddin was a renowned pastoral poet. Shamsur Rahman
was the poet laureate of Bangladesh for many years. Al Mahmud is considered one of the
greatest Bengali poets to have emerged in the 20th century. Farrukh Ahmed, Sufia Kamal,
Kaiser Haq and Nirmalendu Goon are important figures of modern Bangladeshi poetry. Notable
writers of Bangladeshi novels include Mir Mosharraf Hossain, Akhteruzzaman Elias, Syed
Waliullah, Shahidullah Kaiser, Shawkat Osman, Selina Hossain, Taslima Nasreen, Haripada
Datta, Razia Khan, Anisul Hoque, Bipradash Barua, Tahmima Anam, Neamat Imam, Monica Ali,
and Zia Haider Rahman. Many Bangladeshi writers, such as Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, K. Anis Ahmed
and Farah Ghuznavi are acclaimed for their short stories.
The annual Ekushey Book Fair and Dhaka Literature Festival, organized by the Bangla Academy,
are among the largest literary festivals in South Asia.===Women in Bangladesh===Although, as of 2015, several women occupied
major political office in Bangladesh, its women continue to live under a patriarchal
social regime where violence is common. Whereas in India and Pakistan women participate less
in the workforce as their education increases, the reverse is the case in Bangladesh.Bengal
has a long history of feminist activism dating back to the 19th century. Begum Rokeya and
Faizunnessa Chowdhurani played an important role in emancipating Bengali Muslim women
from purdah, prior to the country’s division, as well as promoting girls’ education. Several
women were elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in the British Raj. The first women’s
magazine, Begum, was published in 1948. In 2008, Bangladeshi female workforce participation
stood at 26%. Women dominate blue collar jobs in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Agriculture,
social services, healthcare and education are also major occupations for Bangladeshi
women, while their employment in white collar positions has steadily increased.===Architecture===The architectural traditions of Bangladesh
have a 2,500-year-old heritage. Terracotta architecture is a distinct feature of Bengal.
Pre-Islamic Bengali architecture reached its pinnacle in the Pala Empire, when the Pala
School of Sculptural Art established grand structures such as the Somapura Mahavihara.
Islamic architecture began developing under the Bengal Sultanate, when local terracotta
styles influenced medieval mosque construction. The Adina Mosque of united Bengal was the
largest mosque built on the Indian subcontinent. The Sixty Dome Mosque was the largest medieval
mosque built in Bangladesh, and is a fine example of Turkic-Bengali architecture. The
Mughal style replaced indigenous architecture when Bengal became a province of the Mughal
Empire and influenced the development of urban housing. The Kantajew Temple and Dhakeshwari
Temple are excellent examples of late medieval Hindu temple architecture. Indo-Saracenic
Revival architecture, based on Indo-Islamic styles, flourished during the British period.
The zamindar gentry in Bangladesh built numerous Indo-Saracenic palaces and country mansions,
such as the Ahsan Manzil, Tajhat Palace, Dighapatia Palace, Puthia Rajbari and Natore Rajbari.
Bengali vernacular architecture is noted for pioneering the bungalow. Bangladeshi villages
consist of thatched roofed houses made of natural materials like mud, straw, wood and
bamboo. In modern times, village bungalows are increasingly made of tin.
Muzharul Islam was the pioneer of Bangladeshi modern architecture. His varied works set
the course of modern architectural practice in the country. Islam brought leading global
architects, including Louis Kahn, Richard Neutra, Stanley Tigerman, Paul Rudolph, Robert
Boughey and Konstantinos Doxiadis, to work in erstwhile East Pakistan. Louis Kahn was
chosen to design the National Parliament Complex in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. Kahn’s monumental
designs, combining regional red brick aesthetics, his own concrete and marble brutalism and
the use of lakes to represent Bengali geography, are regarded as one of the masterpieces of
the 20th century. In more recent times, award-winning architects like Rafiq Azam have set the course
of contemporary architecture by adopting influences from the works of Islam and Kahn.===Performing arts===Theatre in Bangladesh includes various forms
with a history dating back to the 4th century CE. It includes narrative forms, song and
dance forms, supra-personae forms, performances with scroll paintings, puppet theatre and
processional forms. The Jatra is the most popular form of Bengali folk theatre.
The dance traditions of Bangladesh include indigenous tribal and Bengali dance forms,
as well as classical Indian dances, including the Kathak, Odissi and Manipuri dances.
The music of Bangladesh features the Baul mystical tradition, listed by UNESCO as a
Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Numerous lyric-based musical traditions, varying
from one region to the next, exist, including Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya. Folk music
is accompanied by a one-stringed instrument known as the ektara. Other instruments include
the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. Bengali classical music includes Tagore songs and
Nazrul geeti. Bangladesh has a rich tradition of Indian classical music, which uses instruments
like the sitar, tabla, sarod and santoor. Musician Ayub Bachchu is credited with popularizing
Bengali rock music in Bangladesh.===Textiles===The Nakshi Kantha is a centuries-old embroidery
tradition for quilts, said to be indigenous to eastern Bengal (i.e. Bangladesh). The sari
is the national dress for Bangladeshi women. Mughal Dhaka was renowned for producing the
finest Muslin saris, including the famed Dhakai and Jamdani, the weaving of which is listed
by UNESCO as one of the masterpieces of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Bangladesh also
produces the Rajshahi silk. The shalwar kameez is also widely worn by Bangladeshi women.
In urban areas some women can be seen in western clothing. The kurta and sherwani are the national
dress of Bangladeshi men; the lungi and dhoti are worn by them in informal settings. Aside
from ethnic wear, domestically tailored suits and neckties are customarily worn by the country’s
men in offices, in schools and at social events. The handloom industry supplies 60–65% of
the country’s clothing demand. The Bengali ethnic fashion industry has flourished in
the changing environment of the fashion world. The retailer Aarong is one of the most successful
ethnic wear brands in South Asia. The development of the Bangladesh textile industry, which
supplies leading international brands, has promoted the production and retail of modern
Western attire locally, with the country now having a number of expanding local brands
like Westecs and Yellow. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garments exporter.
Among Bangladesh’s fashion designers, Bibi Russell has received international acclaim
for her “Fashion for Development” shows.===Cuisine===White rice is the staple of Bangladeshi cuisine,
along with many vegetables and lentils. Rice preparations also include Bengali biryanis,
pulaos, and khichuris. Mustard sauce, ghee, sunflower oil and fruit chutneys are widely
used in Bangladeshi cooking. Fish is the main source of protein in Bengali cuisine. The
Hilsa is the national fish and immensely popular across Bangladesh. Other kinds of fish eaten
include rohu, butterfish, catfish, tilapia and barramundi. Fish eggs are a gourmet delicacy.
Seafood holds an important place in Bengali cuisine, especially lobsters, shrimps and
dried fish. Meat consumption includes chicken, beef, mutton, venison, duck and squab. In
Chittagong, Mezban feasts are a popular tradition featuring the serving of hot beef curry. In
Sylhet, the shatkora lemons are used to marinate dishes. In the tribal Hill Tracts, bamboo
shoot cooking is prevalent. Bangladesh has a vast spread of desserts, including distinctive
sweets like Rôshogolla, Rôshomalai, Chomchom, Mishti Doi and Kalojaam. Pithas are traditional
boiled desserts made with rice or fruits. Halwa is served during religious festivities.
Naan, paratha, luchi and bakarkhani are the main local breads. Black tea is offered to
guests as a gesture of welcome. Kebabs are widely popular across Bangladesh, particularly
seekh kebabs, chicken tikka and shashliks. Bangladesh shares its culinary heritage with
the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal. The two regions have several differences,
however. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, meat consumption is greater; whereas in Hindu-majority
West Bengal, vegetarianism is more prevalent. The Bangladeshi diaspora dominates the South
Asian restaurant industry in many Western countries, particularly in the United Kingdom.===Festivals===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 Parbon both of
which are Bengali harvest festivals. The Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha,
Milad un Nabi, Muharram, Chand Raat, Shab-e-Barat; the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja, Janmashtami
and Rath Yatra; the Buddhist festival of Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama
Buddha, and Christian festival of Christmas are national holidays in Bangladesh and see
the most widespread celebrations in the country. Alongside 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 that draw the participation
of citizens from all levels of Bangladeshi society.===Sports===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. They
have however struggled, recording only ten test match victories: one against Australia,
one against England, one against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, five against Zimbabwe (one in
2005, one in 2013 in Zimbabwe, and three in 2014), two in a 2–0 series victory over
the West Indies in the West Indies in 2009. Six of Bangladesh’s ten test match victories
came in between the years 2014 to 2017. The team has been more successful in One Day
International cricket (ODI). They reached the quarter-final of the 2015 Cricket World
Cup. They also reached the semi-final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. They whitewashed
Pakistan in a home ODI series in 2015 followed by home ODI series wins against India and
South Africa. They also won home ODI series by 4–0 in 2010 against New Zealand and whitewashed
them in the home ODI series in 2013. In July 2010, they celebrated their first-ever win
over England in England. 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. They also hosted the 2014 ICC
World Twenty20 championship. Bangladesh hosted the Asia Cup on four occasions in 2000, 2012,
2014, and 2016. In 2012 Asia Cup, Bangladesh beat India and Sri Lanka but lost the final
game against Pakistan. However, it was the first time Bangladesh had advanced to the
final of any top-class international cricket tournament. They reached the final again at
the 2016 Asia Cup and 2018 Asia Cup. 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.Women’s sports saw tremendous progress in the 2010s
decade in Bangladesh. In 2018 the Bangladesh women’s national cricket team the 2018 Women’s
Twenty20 Asia Cup defeating India women’s national cricket team in the final.Kabaddi
– very popular in Bangladesh – is the national game. Other popular sports include
field hockey, tennis, badminton, handball, football, chess, shooting, angling. The National
Sports Council regulates 42 different sporting federations. On 04 November 2018, Bangladesh
national under-15 football team won the 2018 SAFF U-15 Championship, defeating Pakistan
national under-15 football team in the final. Bangladesh has five grandmasters in chess.
Among them, Niaz Murshed was the first grandmaster in South Asia. In another achievement, Margarita
Mamun, a Russian rhythmic gymnast of Bangladeshi origin, won gold medal in 2016 Summer Olympics
and became world champion in the years 2013 and 2014.===Media and cinema===The Bangladeshi press is diverse, outspoken
and privately owned. Over 200 newspapers are published in the country. Bangladesh Betar
is the state-run radio service. The British Broadcasting Corporation operates the popular
BBC Bangla news and current affairs service. Bengali broadcasts from Voice of America are
also very popular. Bangladesh Television (BTV) is the state-owned television network. There
more than 20 privately owned television networks, including several news channels. Freedom of
the media remains a major concern, due to government attempts at censorship and the
harassment of journalists. The cinema of Bangladesh dates back to 1898,
when films began screening at the Crown Theatre in Dhaka. The first bioscope on the subcontinent
was established in Dhaka that year. The Dhaka Nawab Family patronized the production of
several silent films in the 1920s and 30s. In 1931, the East Bengal Cinematograph Society
released the first full-length feature film in Bangladesh, titled the Last Kiss. The first
feature film in East Pakistan, Mukh O Mukhosh, was released in 1956. During the 1960s, 25–30
films were produced annually in Dhaka. By the 2000s, Bangladesh produced 80–100 films
a year. While the Bangladeshi film industry has achieved limited commercial success, the
country has produced notable independent filmmakers. Zahir Raihan was a prominent documentary-maker
who was assassinated in 1971. The late Tareque Masud is regarded as one of Bangladesh’s outstanding
directors due to his numerous productions on historical and social issues. Masud was
honored by FIPRESCI at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for his film The Clay Bird. Tanvir
Mokammel, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Humayun Ahmed, Alamgir Kabir, and Chashi Nazrul Islam
are some of the prominent directors of Bangladeshi cinema.===Museums and libraries===The Varendra Research Museum is the oldest
museum in Bangladesh. It houses important collections from both the pre-Islamic and
Islamic periods, including the sculptures of the Pala-Sena School of Art and the Indus
Valley Civilization; as well as Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian manuscripts and inscriptions.
The Ahsan Manzil, the former residence of the Nawab of Dhaka, is a national museum housing
collections from the British Raj. It was the site of the founding conference of the All
India Muslim League and hosted many British Viceroys in Dhaka.
The Tajhat Palace Museum preserves artifacts of the rich cultural heritage of North Bengal,
including Hindu-Buddhist sculptures and Islamic manuscripts. The Mymensingh Museum houses
the personal antique collections of Bengali aristocrats in central Bengal. The Ethnological
Museum of Chittagong showcases the lifestyle of various tribes in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh
National Museum is located in Ramna, Dhaka and has a rich collection of antiquities.
The Liberation War Museum documents the Bangladeshi struggle for independence and the 1971 genocide.
In ancient times, manuscripts were written on palm leaves, tree barks, parchment vellum
and terracotta plates and preserved at monasteries known as viharas. The Hussain Shahi dynasty
established royal libraries during the Bengal Sultanate. Libraries were established in each
district of Bengal by the zamindar gentry during the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th
century. The trend of establishing libraries continued until the beginning of World War
II. In 1854, four major public libraries were opened, including the Bogra Woodburn Library,
the Rangpur Public Library, the Jessore Institute Public Library and the Barisal Public Library.
The Northbrook Hall Public Library was established in Dhaka in 1882 in honour of Lord Northbrook,
the Governor-General. Other libraries established in the British period included the Victoria
Public Library, Natore (1901), the Sirajganj Public Library (1882), the Rajshahi Public
Library (1884), the Comilla Birchandra Library (1885), the Shah Makhdum Institute Public
Library, Rajshahi (1891), the Noakhali Town Hall Public Library (1896), the Prize Memorial
Library, Sylhet (1897), the Chittagong Municipality Public Library (1904) and the Varendra Research
Library (1910). The Great Bengal Library Association was formed in 1925. The Central Public Library
of Dhaka was established in 1959. The National Library of Bangladesh was established in 1972.
The World Literature Center, founded by Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Abdullah Abu Sayeed,
is noted for operating numerous mobile libraries across Bangladesh and was awarded the UNESCO
Jon Amos Comenius Medal.==See also==Index of Bangladesh-related articles
Outline of Bangladesh List of Bangladeshi People
List of Bangladeshi Americans List of Bengalis
List of British Bangladeshis List of Bangladeshi actors
List of Bangladeshi architects List of Bangladeshi painters
List of Bangladeshi poets List of Bangladesh-related topics
List of Bangladesh Test cricketers List of Bangladeshi writers==
References====
Cited sources==Ahmed, Salahuddin (2004). Bangladesh: Past
and Present. APH Publishing. ISBN 9788176484695. Baxter, C (1997). Bangladesh, from a Nation
to a State. Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-3632-9. OCLC 47885632.
Lewis, David (2011). Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society. Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 978-1-139-50257-3.==Further reading====
External links==Government Official website
Official Site of The Tourism Board of Bangladesh Official Site of Bangladesh Investment Development
AuthorityGeneral information “Bangladesh”. The World Factbook. Central
Intelligence Agency. Bangladesh from the BBC News
Bangladesh from UCB Libraries GovPubs Bangladesh at Curlie
Bangladesh Encyclopædia Britannica entry Wikimedia Atlas of Bangladesh
Geographic data related to Bangladesh at OpenStreetMap Key Development Forecasts for Bangladesh from
International Futures

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