The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a low-lying country in South East Asia with an extensive, densely vegetated coastline on the Bay of Bengal. In the monsoonal season, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers and their tributaries swell to consume one quarter of the land mass. Although this feeds an extensive network of highly fertile agricultural plains, it also causes great destruction to infrastructure and farms every year.
Culture in Bangladesh is extremely rich. Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam have penetrated traditional Bengal folklore, literature, philosophy and festivals. Tribal dances are very popular, involving male and female performers moving in time with musical favourites like Shari and Jari. Cuisine is well known for its aromatic, spice-infused curries and freshwater fish from the various deltas.
The ethnic makeup of Bangladesh is largely homogenous. 98% of the population are Bengali, whilst the remaining 2% are constituted of 27 officially recognised ethnic groups.
Urbanisation is occurring slowly as two thirds still populate rural areas, and international migration is marginally negative (meaning slightly more people are exiting the country than entering).
Bangladesh became independent from West Pakistan in 1971 and was founded as a secular, constitutional parliament. For twenty years it wrestled against political turmoil and military coups but in 1991 democracy was restored and the country has since experienced relative peace and positive economic growth. The republic is run by an elected parliament known as the Jatiyo Sangshad and plays an active role in international conferences.
Textiles fuel the industrial base of Bangladesh, accounting for more than 80% of export revenue last year. The sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of numerous labour strikes which brought nearly all economic activity to a halt, following unsafe working conditions that saw the death of more than a thousand workers in recent years.
Although agriculture employs almost half of the labour force, the majority of GDP is generated through services including telecommunication, information technology, tourism, construction and retail. However, globalisation and increasing competition in international trade endangers higher growth rates.
- Environment - The ever looming threat of climate change gives particular cause for concern for the 63 million Bangladeshi's who live below the poverty line, largely in makeshift shelters. Almost 75% of the population is dependent on subsistence farming and families are often forced to cultivate and live on flood-prone land. The devastation from increasingly frequent cyclones and floods has slowed economic development and had devastating and long-term consequences on these vulnerable communities, who are unable to take advantage of the economic opportunities available. The loss of homes, lives and livelihoods, combined with the threat of water-borne diseases, creates immense need for assistance.
- Public services – Although Bangladesh has done well to meet headline Millennium Development Goals, there are some apprehensions over the quality and durability of efforts beyond face value. Furthermore, where service standards have progressed forward in great leaps and bounds, there are grounds for concern over the potential for ever-widening inequality in access. Not unique to Bangladesh, this is a familiar byproduct of the growth process which must not be overlooked if all-inclusive poverty reduction is to be attained.
CIA WorldFact Book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
UNDP - http://www.bd.undp.org/content/bangladesh/en/home/countryinfo/
Official Bangladesh website - http://www.bangladesh.com/