The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia that forms the eastern part of the ancient region of Bengal, with Bangladesh meaning "Bengal Land". Laying north of the Bay of Bengal, on land it borders India almost exclusively, save for a small section bordering Myanmar in the southeast.
|National motto: None|
|Prime minister||Begum Khaleda Zia[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 91st |
- Total (2002)
March 26, 1971
December 16, 1971
|Time zone||UTC +6|
|National anthem||Amar Sonar Bangla|
Bengal became islamic starting in the 13th century and developed into a wealthy centre of trade and industry under the Mogul Empire during the 16th century. European traders had arrived in the late 15th century and eventually the British East India Company controlled the region by the late 18th century, from which the British extended their rule over all of India. When Indian independence was achieved in 1947, it was divided in a predominantly Muslim Pakistan and a predominantly Hindu India.
Bengal was thus divided into an eastern part called East Pakistan and a western part, the Indian state of West Bengal. East Pakistan was dominated and frequently neglected by West Pakistan and tensions turned into a struggle for independence in 1971. The attempted repression of this movement in March resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Bengalis and a refugee problem that led to Indian intervention in December and, subsequently, independence from Pakistan.
The president, while head of state, holds a largely ceremonial post, with real power held by the prime minister, who is head of government. The president is elected by the legislature every 5 years and his normally limited powers are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government, mainly in controlling the transition to a new government.
The prime minister is appointed by the president and must be a member of parliament (MP) whom the president feels commands the confidence of the majority of other MPs. The cabinet is composed of ministers selected by the prime minister and appointed by the president.
The unicameral Bangladeshi parliament is the House of the Nation or Jatiya Sangsad, whose 300 members are elected by popular vote from single territorial constituencies for five-year terms of office. The highest judiciary body is the Supreme Court, of which the chief justices and other judges are appointed by the president.
Bangladesh is subdivided into 6 divisions, all named after their respective capitals:
Bangladesh consists mostly of a low-lying river delta located on the Indian subcontinent with a largely marshy jungle coastline on the Bay of Bengal known as the Sundarbans[?], home to the Bengal Tiger. The densely populated delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (local name Padma), Brahmaputra (Jamuna), and Meghna[?] rivers and their tributaries as they flow down from the Himalayas. Bangladesh's alluvial soil is highly fertile but vulnerable to both flood and drought. Hills rise above the plain only in the Chittagong Hill Tracts[?] (highest point: the Keokradong[?] at 1,230 m) in the far southeast and the Sylhet division[?] in the northeast.
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, the Bangladeshi climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March, a hot, humid summer from March to June, and a humid, warm rainy monsoon from June to October. Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and tidal bores affect the country almost every year, combined with the effects of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. Dhaka is the country's capital and largest city, other major cities include Chittagong[?], Rajshahi[?], and Khulna[?].
Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single most important product.
Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labour force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (such as natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms, caused by political infighting and corruption.
The Bangladeshi population is relatively homogenous and consists of about 98% ethnic Bengali, who speak Bengali or Bangla. Urdu-speaking, non-Bengali Muslims from other regions of India such as Bihar, as well as various tribal groups who live mostly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast, comprise the remainder.
Most Bangladeshis (about 83%) are Muslims, but Hindus constitute a sizable (16%) minority. There also are a small number of Buddhists, Christians, and animists. Bengali, a member of the Indo-Aryan languages and written in a script similar to Devanagari, is the official national language, but English is generally spoken in urban areas and used in (higher) education and government.
Bangladesh is plagued by overpopulation, while many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land. Resulting diseases and pollution form a problem, but more pressing is the contamination of ground water by naturally occurring arsenic, caused in part by public health efforts encouraging the drilling of wells as an alternative to using water from contaminated surface water. Arsenic poisoning affects about a quarter of the population.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|March 26||Independence Day|