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The red sun of freedom on the flag represents the bloodshed to achieve independence and the green background symbolizes the lush countryside and the traditional colour of Islam.

Bangladesh flag

Bangladesh at a glance

South Asia
137 million (2003)
Geography: flat alluvial plains, hilly in south east
Climate: tropical monsoon
Religion: Muslim 83%, Hindu 16%
Language: Official: Bangla or Bengali; English and various tribal dialects
Parliamentary democracy

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Bangladesh covers an area of 144,000 square kilometers. It is mostly flat alluvial plains, criss-crossed by three main river systems, Padma (the Ganges), Jamuna (the Brahmaputra) and Meghna flowing down from the Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal making the largest delta in the world. The Chittagong Hills Tract in the southeast is the high region and includes Keokradong the highest peak of 1200 metres.


Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate marked by three seasons: summer from March to June, monsoon or rainy season from July to October and dry winter from November to February. High temperatures and high humidity mark the climate. Massive cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal occur frequently at the beginning of summer and the end of the monsoon season, during March - April and October - November.


Over 90% of the country is composed of alluvial plains less than 10 metres above sea level making it extremely flood-prone. Building can be quickly washed away as rivers move as much as one kilometre. There is about 10% forest cover consisting mainly of broadleaf, evergreen species in the hill regions and deciduous varieties such as acacia and banyan in the drier, plain areas. The Royal Bengal Tiger is found in Sundarbans in the west and elephants in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Black bears, langurs, gibbons, otters, mongooses, ox, bison and deer are commonly found. Bangladesh is home to more than 600 bird species including the kingfishers and fishing eagles.


Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries with 926.2 persons per square kilometre. About 14% of the population lives in urban areas. Dhaka, the capital city, has a population of about 10.2 million people. Other important cities are Chittagong (2.5 million) and Khulna (1.2 million). Tribal groups live mainly in the hill areas.
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Culture and ethnicity

Culturally and ethnically Bangladesh has a very homogenous population - about 98% of the population is Bengali. The Biharies are a small Urdu speaking Muslim community and the remaining 1% are tribal groups with their own dialects, dress and customs.

The basic social unit in rural areas is the extended household (bari), which have a shared kitchen (chulha). Women’s role in the society is subordinate to men and they generally have a limited access to education, formal jobs and markets despite producing most of the food.

Bangladesh has a rich cultural heritage with literature, poetry and music all playing important roles in society. Weaving and intricate needlework have a long history in traditional Bengali culture.


Health problems in Bangladesh stem from malnutrition and inadequate safe drinking water and sewage disposal. Ground water is often contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic. Diseases like cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, measles, malaria and pneumonia cause widespread illness and many young children die from these preventable illnesses. An immunisation program initiated by the Government has eradicated smallpox and contained cholera, and population control programs have reduced family size to about four children. The life expectancy at birth is 60 years.

Religion and beliefs

The majority population (87%) of Bangladesh is Muslim, predominantly Sunni. Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, is also popular. Hindus are 12% of the population and there are small groups of Buddhists and Christians. The tribal groups are generally animist, believing in spirits.

Food and shelter

Rice is the staple food of Bangladesh. It is accompanied with vegetables, lentils (dhals) and a little beef, mutton, chicken or fish cooked in a spicy sauce. Mustard seed and soy oils are important ingredients for curries. Bangladesh sweets are mostly milk based such as misthi dohi (sweetened yoghurt). Traditionally, houses are built with natural building materials: bamboo, mud and straw. Back to top


Wealth and poverty

Most people are subsistence farmers but with frequent flooding and limited market development about one third of the population lives under the poverty line. Inequality in distribution of income and consumption is high. There are four phones available to every thousand people. Bangladesh is a major recipient of foreign aid.

Education and work

The government provides free primary education for five years with special incentives for girls. Less than half the adult population can read and there is a significant difference between males (54%) and females (32%). The government also supports a number of madrasas, religious schools.

Over 60% of workforce is engaged in agriculture, 11% in industries and 26% in services. A rapidly growing labour force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture and delays in developing industries, power generation and slow economic reforms mean that the unemployment rate is a high 36% and many people work overseas, primarily in the Middle East.

Industries and products

Major industries are tea processing, cement, clothing, fertiliser, pharmaceutical and jute manufacture. The country has reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, and minerals such as limestone and uranium. With a large number of rivers the country also has a good potential for hydroelectric power generation. Bangladesh with its lush, beautiful landscape and a rich history offers a variety of attractions for tourists but tourism is limited and nearly half of its visitors are from India.


Bangladesh imports cost more than its exports earn. For year 2002 Bangladesh exports were worth $6.2 billion while imports were at $8.5 billion. Garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood are the main items of export. The main export destinations are USA, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Netherlands. Machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs, petroleum products, cement are main imports. The main import partners are India, Singapore, China, Japan and Hong Kong.

Back to topAchievements and challenges

Flooding and tropical cyclones are the major natural disasters faced by Bangladesh. Deforestation is threatening the mangrove forests of Sundarban which are home to the famous Royal Bengal Tigers.
The government has adopted the National Environmental Policy.
Since independence in 1971 Bangladesh has had political unrest.

Note: The above information are collected from internet (mostly from ) and put together. Information are not verified by proper authority.

Copyright @ 2005 Md. Mahbubul Amin Majumder. All rights reserved.