Bangladesh is a sub-Himalayan country situated in the north-eastern part of South Asia. It lies between Latitudes 20Ëš34’ and 26Ëš38’ North, and Longitudes 88Ëš01’ and 92Ëš41’ East. The country is bordered by India on the East, west and the north, and by the Bay of Bengal in the south and a small border strip with Mayanmar on the south-east.
Bangladesh, located on the eastern fringe of South Asia, is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Mayanmar to the far southeast and by the Bany of Bengal to the south. The name Bangladesh means ‘Country of Bengal’ in the official language.
The border of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 km (994 miles) across India. Political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic neglect led to popular agitations against West Pakistan, first for recognition of linguistic and cultural identity, then for autonomy and ultimately for statehood.
Bangladesh straddles the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and is the seventh most populous country and is among the most populated countries in the world. The country is subject to annual monsoon floods and cyclones. Bangladesh has made significant progress in human development in the areas of literacy, gender parity in schooling and reduction of population growth. 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 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation. At his call, the Bengali people rose in resistance against the occupation army of Pakistan and waged an epic war for the liberation of this land. The nine-month long war culminated in victory for the Bengalis over Pakistan Army on 16 December 1971.
The country has a land area of about 1, 47,570 square kilometers (56,977 square miles). Its alluvial plains provide fertile agricultural lands. The land-mass is largely a deltaic formation of three mighty rivers-the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, with a network of numerous rivers and canals. Vast green fields are bounded by sub-Himalayan table land in the north-west, and folds of 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-east Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Capital city of Dhaka is the principal metropolis and is 400 years old. The other major cities and administrative centres are Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet which, together with Dhaka, are the six Divisional headquarters. There are 64 administrative districts and 481 upazilas (sub districts).
The Principal resources of the country are the people of Bangladesh, whose unity, resilience ad entrepreneurial creativity have engined the nation’s growth and forward march. The population currently stands at around 145 million with a density of 977 per square kilometer. Around 75 percent of the population live in the rural areas and 50 percent depend on agriculture for their 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 Sarees are the common dress for womenfolk. Western wear as well as sub continental trends are in vogue as office wear. There are around 2.5 million tribal people belonging to distinctive ethnic groups, the majority of whom live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. They maintain their language and cultural identity.
Social life in Bangladesh is marked by communal peace and harmony. The four major faiths practiced in Bangladesh are Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Muslims constitute about 89.2% of the population and the Hindus 9.2%. The rest comprise of Buddhists, Christians and animists. The Constitution guarantees religious and cultural freedom to all citizens of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate. Its six calendar seasons are climatically characterized by roughly four periods in a year: cool (December- February), hot (March-May), Monsoon (June-September) and mild (October-November). The average temperature across the country usually ranges between 11Ëšc and 29Ëšc in cold months and between 21Ëšc and 34Ëšc during warmer months. Annual rainfall varies from 160 cm to 200 cm in the west, 200 cm to 400 cm in the south-east and 250 cm to 400 cm in the north-east.
Per-capita (inflation adjusted) GDP has more than doubled since 1975, and the poverty rate has fallen by 20% since the early 1990s. The country is listed among the ‘Next Eleven’ economies. Dhaka, the capital, and other urban centres have been the driving force behind this growth.
The state language of Bangladesh is Bengali. The national anthem comprises of first ten lines of the song ‘Amar Sonar bangla’ by Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore.
The national flag of the republic consists of a circle coloured red resting on a rectangular background of bottle green. The emblem of the republic is the national flower Shapla (Water Lily, nymphoea nouchali) resting on water having on each side a sheaf of paddy surmounted by three connected leaves of jute with two stars on each side of the leaves.
The capital of Bangladesh is Dhaka. The local currency is Taka (Tk.), comprising of 100 Poisa (US$=69.8). Bangladesh standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT, with Daylight Saving Time during summer.
The state has three basic organs, viz. the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The President is the Head of State and is elected by the members of parliament. The executive power of the republic is exercised by or on the advice of the Prime minister, who commands the support of majority members of parliament. The Parliament or Jatiya Sangsad has 345 members, of whom 300 are elected directly while 45 seats reserved for women are elected by the MPs themselves. The Supreme Court sits at the apex of the country’s judiciary and consists of the Appellate and Hgh Court Divisions.
The judiciary has now been completely separated from the executive in accordance with the Constitutional provisions. The elected leaders govern Bangladesh with the aid of a permanent bureaucracy.