Bangladesh: An Introduction

Bangladesh is located in the north-eastern part of South Asia. The country has 4156 km border with India on the east, west and north; and by the Bay of Bengal in the south and has another 193 km with Myanmar on the south-east. The name ‘Bangladesh’ literally means the land of Bangla, the language of the inhabitants of Bangladesh.

The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established in course of the partition of the then Bengal and the Indian sub-continent in 1947 as it became the eastern part of the newly-formed state of Pakistan. It was physically separated from the western part by 1,600 km (994 miles) across India. Thereafter, political, cultural and linguistic discrimination as well as economic deprivation led to popular discontent and agitations against the rules in the then West Pakistan. The Bangalees started pressing for recognition of their linguistic and cultural identity, and eventually for autonomy and for statehood.

Bangladesh attained independence on 26 March 1971 as the culmination of decades of struggle for freedom and statehood under the inspiring and resolute leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. At his call, the Bangalee people rose in resistance against the occupation army of Pakistan and waged an epic war for the liberation of the land. The nine-month long war ended in the victory for the Bangalees over the Pakistan Army on 16 December 1971.

Bangladesh straddles the fertile Ganges Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin.The country commands a land area of about 1,47,570 square kilometres (56,977 square miles). Its alluvial plains provide fertile agricultural lands. The land-mass is largely a deltaic formation criss-crossed a network of rivers and canals. Vast green fields are bounded by sub-Himalayan table land in the north-west and folds low hills in the north-east and the south-east, with an average elevation of 244 and 610 metres respectively. The highest point is located in the south eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The capital city of Dhaka is the principal metropolis, founded around 400 years back. The other major cities and administrative centres are Chittagong, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet and Mymensingh, which, together with Dhaka, constitute the eight divisional headquarters. In total, there are 64 administrative districts and 488 upazilas (sub districts).

A principal resource of the country is her people who are widely recognized as resilient, youthful, innovative and entrepreneurial. Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world and is among the most densely populated countries i.e. having a population of around 159 million, with a density of 1,049 person per sq. km. Around seventy percent of the population live in the rural areas and fifty percent depend on agriculture for livelihood. Rice, fish and lentil constitute the common diet. Lungi (Sarong), vest, shirt, loose trousers (pajama) and Panjabi (Kurta) are common-wear for men and saree is the common dress for women. Western wear as well as sub-continental trends are in vogue as office wear.