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Bangladesh Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Bangladesh Map

Introduction

Background

The huge delta region formed at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems - now referred to as Bangladesh - was a loosely incorporated outpost of various empires centered on the Gangetic plain for much of the first millennium A.D. Muslim conversions and settlement in the region began in the 10th century, primarily from Arab and Persian traders and preachers. Europeans established trading posts in the area in the 16th century. Eventually the area known as Bengal, primarily Hindu in the western section and mostly Muslim in the eastern half, became part of British India. Partition in 1947 resulted in an eastern wing of Pakistan in the Muslim-majority area, which became East Pakistan. Calls for greater autonomy and animosity between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan led to a Bengali independence movement. That movement, led by the Awami League (AL) and supported by India, won the independence war for Bangladesh in 1971.

The post-independence AL government faced daunting challenges and in 1975 it was overthrown by the military, triggering a series of military coups that resulted in a military-backed government and subsequent creation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in 1978. That government also ended in a coup in 1981, followed by military-backed rule until democratic elections occurred in 1991. The BNP and AL have alternated in power since 1991, with the exception of a military-backed, emergency caretaker regime that suspended parliamentary elections planned for January 2007 in an effort to reform the political system and root out corruption. That government returned the country to fully democratic rule in December 2008 with the election of the AL and Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA. In January 2014, the incumbent AL won the national election by an overwhelming majority after the BNP boycotted the election, which extended HASINA's term as prime minister. In December 2018, HASINA secured a third consecutive term (fourth overall) with the AL coalition securing 96% of available seats, amid widespread claims of election irregularities. With the help of international development assistance, Bangladesh has reduced the poverty rate from over half of the population to less than a third, achieved Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health, and made great progress in food security since independence. The economy has grown at an annual average of about 6% for the last two decades and the country reached World Bank lower-middle income status in 2014.

Geography

Location

Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India

Geographic coordinates

24 00 N, 90 00 E

Map references

Asia

Area

total: 148,460 sq km

land: 130,170 sq km

water: 18,290 sq km

country comparison to the world: 94

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Pennsylvania and New Jersey combined; slightly smaller than Iowa

Land boundaries

total: 4,413 km

border countries (2): Burma 271 km, India 4142 km

Coastline

580 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 18 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: to the outer limits of the continental margin

Climate

tropical; mild winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March to June); humid, warm rainy monsoon (June to October)

Terrain

mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast

Elevation

mean elevation: 85 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: Keokradong 1,230 m

Natural resources

natural gas, arable land, timber, coal

Land use

agricultural land: 70.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 59% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 6.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 4.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 11.1% (2018 est.)

other: 18.8% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

53,000 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

droughts; cyclones; much of the country routinely inundated during the summer monsoon season

Geography - note

most of the country is situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal

People and Society

Population

164,098,818 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Nationality

noun: Bangladeshi(s)

adjective: Bangladeshi

Ethnic groups

Bengali at least 98%, other indigenous ethnic groups 1.1% (2011 est.)

note: Bangladesh's government recognizes 27 indigenous ethnic groups under the 2010 Cultural Institution for Small Anthropological Groups Act; other sources estimate there are about 75 ethnic groups; critics of the 2011 census claim that it underestimates the size of Bangladesh's ethnic population

Languages

Bangla 98.8% (official, also known as Bengali), other 1.2% (2011 est.)

Religions

Muslim 89.1%, Hindu 10%, other 0.9% (includes Buddhist, Christian) (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: People's Republic of Bangladesh

conventional short form: Bangladesh

local long form: Gana Prajatantri Bangladesh

local short form: Bangladesh

former: East Bengal, East Pakistan

etymology: the name - a compound of the Bengali words "Bangla" (Bengal) and "desh" (country) - means "Country of Bengal"

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Dhaka

geographic coordinates: 23 43 N, 90 24 E

time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the origins of the name are unclear, but some sources state that the city's site was originally called "dhakka," meaning "watchtower," and that the area served as a watch-station for Bengal rulers

Administrative divisions

8 divisions; Barishal, Chattogram, Dhaka, Khulna, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet

Independence

16 December 1971 (from Pakistan)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 March (1971); Victory Day, 16 December (1971); note - 26 March 1971 is the date of the Awami League's declaration of an independent Bangladesh, and 16 December (Victory Day) memorializes the military victory over Pakistan and the official creation of the state of Bangladesh

Constitution

history: previous 1935, 1956, 1962 (preindependence); latest enacted 4 November 1972, effective 16 December 1972, suspended March 1982, restored November 1986

amendments: proposed by the House of the Nation; approval requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the House membership and assent of the president of the republic; amended many times, last in 2018

Legal system

mixed legal system of mostly English common law and Islamic law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Bangladesh

dual citizenship recognized: yes, but limited to select countries

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Abdul HAMID (since 24 April 2013); note - Abdul HAMID served as acting president following the death of Zillur RAHMAN in March 2013; HAMID was subsequently indirectly elected by the National Parliament and sworn in 24 April 2013

head of government: Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA (since 6 January 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet selected by the prime minister, appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Parliament for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 February 2018 (next to be held by 2023); the president appoints as prime minister the majority party leader in the National Parliament

election results: President Abdul HAMID (AL) reelected by the National Parliament unopposed for a second term; Sheikh HASINA reappointed prime minister as leader of the majority AL party following parliamentary elections in 2018

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of the Nation or Jatiya Sangsad (350 seats; 300 members in single-seat territorial constituencies directly elected by simple majority popular vote; 50 members - reserved for women only - indirectly elected by the elected members by proportional representation vote using single transferable vote; all members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 30 December 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party as of January 2020 - AL 299, JP 27, BNP 7, other 10, independent 4, vacant 3; composition - men 274, women 73, percent of women 21%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of Bangladesh (organized into the Appellate Division with 7 justices and the High Court Division with 99 justices)

judge selection and term of office: chief justice and justices appointed by the president; justices serve until retirement at age 67

subordinate courts: civil courts include: Assistant Judge's Court; Joint District Judge's Court; Additional District Judge's Court; District Judge's Court; criminal courts include: Court of Sessions; Court of Metropolitan Sessions; Metropolitan Magistrate Courts; Magistrate Court; special courts/tribunals

Political parties and leaders

Awami League or AL [Sheikh HASINA]
Bangladesh Nationalist Front or BNF [Abdul Kalam AZADI]
Bangladesh Nationalist Party or BNP [Khaleda ZIA]
Bangladesh Tariqat Federation or BTF [Syed Nozibul Bashar MAIZBHANDARI]
Jamaat-i-Islami Bangladesh or JIB (Makbul AHMAD)
Jatiya Party or JP (Ershad faction) [Hussain Mohammad ERSHAD]
Jatiya Party or JP (Manju faction) [Anwar Hossain MANJU]
Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Oli AHMED]
National Socialist Party or JSD [KHALEQUZZAMAN]
Workers Party or WP [Rashed Khan MENON]

International organization participation

ADB, ARF, BIMSTEC, C, CD, CICA (observer), CP, D-8, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NAM, OIC, OPCW, PCA, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador M Shahidul ISLAM (since 17 February 2021)

chancery: 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 244-0183

FAX: [1] (202) 244-2771

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Earl Robert MILLER (since 29 November 2018)

telephone: [880] (2) 5566-2000

embassy: Madani Avenue, Baridhara, Dhaka 1212

mailing address: G. P. O. Box 323, Dhaka 1000

FAX: [880] (2) 5566-2915

Flag description

green field with a large red disk shifted slightly to the hoist side of center; the red disk represents the rising sun and the sacrifice to achieve independence; the green field symbolizes the lush vegetation of Bangladesh

National symbol(s)

Bengal tiger, water lily; national colors: green, red

National anthem

name: "Amar Shonar Bangla" (My Golden Bengal)

lyrics/music: Rabindranath TAGORE

note: adopted 1971; Rabindranath TAGORE, a Nobel laureate, also wrote India's national anthem

Economy

Economic overview

Bangladesh's economy has grown roughly 6% per year since 2005 despite prolonged periods of political instability, poor infrastructure, endemic corruption, insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the services sector, almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product.

Garments, the backbone of Bangladesh's industrial sector, accounted for more than 80% of total exports in FY 2016-17. The industrial sector continues to grow, despite the need for improvements in factory safety conditions. Steady export growth in the garment sector, combined with $13 billion in remittances from overseas Bangladeshis, contributed to Bangladesh's rising foreign exchange reserves in FY 2016-17. Recent improvements to energy infrastructure, including the start of liquefied natural gas imports in 2018, represent a major step forward in resolving a key growth bottleneck.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,433,460

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 163,559,380

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 101.55 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: slow to moderate growth in mobile subscriber rate; regulator's recent budget allowance and telecoms investment in LTE infrastructure is leading the way to the migration of 5G; fixed broadband penetration in Bangladesh remains very low mainly due to the dominance of the mobile platform (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity remains less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly and now exceeds 101 telephones per 100 persons; mobile subscriber growth is anticipated over the next five years to 2023; strong local competition (2019)

international: country code - 880; landing points for the SeaMeWe-4 and SeaMeWe-5 fiber-optic submarine cable system that provides links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 6; international radiotelephone communications and landline service to neighboring countries (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

state-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) broadcasts throughout the country. Some channels, such as BTV World, operate via satellite. The government also owns a medium wave radio channel and some private FM radio broadcast news channels. Of the 41 Bangladesh approved TV stations, 26 are currently being used to broadcast. Of those, 23 operate under private management via cable distribution. Collectively, TV channels can reach more than 50 million people across the country.

Internet country code

.bd

Internet users

total: 23,917,950

percent of population: 15% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 32

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 10,237,003

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 30

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 5,984,155 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 63.82 million mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

S2 (2016)

Airports

total: 18 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 137

Airports - with paved runways

total: 16 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 6 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

under 914 m: 5 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Heliports

3 (2013)

Pipelines

2950 km gas (2013)

Railways

total: 2,460 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 1,801 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)

broad gauge: 659 km 1.676-m gauge (2014)

country comparison to the world: 68

Roadways

total: 369,105 km (2018)

paved: 110,311 km (2018)

unpaved: 258,794 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 20

Waterways

8,370 km (includes up to 3,060 km of main cargo routes; network reduced to 5,200 km in the dry season) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 16

Merchant marine

total: 427

by type: bulk carrier 46, container ship 4, general cargo 118, oil tanker 142, other 117 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 44

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Chattogram

container port(s) (TEUs): Chattogram (2,566,597) (2017)

river port(s): Mongla Port (Sela River)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Bangladesh Defense Force: Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force; Ministry of Home Affairs: Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Bangladesh Coast Guard, Rapid Action Battalion, Ansars, Village Defense Party (VDP) (2021)

note: the Rapid Action Battalion, Ansars, and VDP are paramilitary organizations for internal security

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2019)

1.3% of GDP (2018)

1.2% of GDP (2017)

1.4% of GDP (2016)

1.4% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 101

Military and security service personnel strengths

information on the size of the Bangladesh Defense Force vary; approximately 165,000 total active personnel (135,000 Army; 15,000 Navy; 15,000 Air Force) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Bangladesh Defense Force inventory is comprised of mostly Chinese and Russian equipment; since 2010, China is the leading supplier of arms to Bangladesh; Bangladesh is currently undertaking a significant defense modernization program, with a focus on naval acquisitions (2020)

Military deployments

1,300 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 1,675 Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); 115 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 1,350 Mali (MINUSMA); 1,550 South Sudan (UNMISS) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

16-21 years of age for voluntary military service; Bangladeshi nationality and 10th grade education required; officers: 17-21 years of age, Bangladeshi nationality, and 12th grade education required (2018)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial waters of Bangladesh remain a risk for armed robbery against ships; attacks increased in 2020 when four ships were boarded as opposed to no attacks in 2019

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in Bangladesh; al-Qa'ida; al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent (2020)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Bangladesh referred its maritime boundary claims with Burma and India to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea; Indian Prime Minister Singh's September 2011 visit to Bangladesh resulted in the signing of a Protocol to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh, which had called for the settlement of longstanding boundary disputes over undemarcated areas and the exchange of territorial enclaves, but which had never been implemented; Bangladesh struggles to accommodate 912,000 Rohingya, Burmese Muslim minority from Rakhine State, living as refugees in Cox's Bazar; Burmese border authorities are constructing a 200 km (124 mi) wire fence designed to deter illegal cross-border transit and tensions from the military build-up along border

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 861,545 (Burma) (2020) (includes an estimated 712,152 Rohingya refugees who have fled conflict since 25 August 2017)

IDPs: 427,000 (conflict, development, human rights violations, religious persecution, natural disasters) (2019)

Illicit drugs

transit country for illegal drugs produced in neighboring countries

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