Bangladesh has a total area of 148.460 sq. km., which is a little more than three times the area of Denmark. Bangladesh borders with India to the west, north and east, and shares a southeastern border with Myanmar. To the south lies the Bay of Bengal.
Alluvial plains bounded to the north by the submontane regions of the Himalayas characterize the topography. The alluvial plain covers 90% of the country and never rises more than 10 meters above sea level. On average, Bangladesh is affected 16 times a decade by cyclones, which form in the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon season.
The areas in the northeast and eastern fringes adjacent to Assam, Tripura and Myanmar are broken by the forested hills of Sylhet and Chittagong. The great Himalayan Rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra divide the country into four major regions: northwest, southwest, central and eastern.
The population of Bangladesh is around 160 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Although urbanization is increasing, still 85% of the population lives in the rural areas. Dhaka is expanding rapidly with 14.4 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2013. Population growth rate in Bangladesh is 1.2 percent per annum.
Bangla, the national language, is an Indo-European language with a Sanskrit heritage and is distantly related to Latin. Bangla was very important in Bangladeshi history and the Language Movement kicked off the struggle for independence.
English is, except in the larger cities like Dhaka and Chittagong, little spoken and understood in the towns and hardly at all up-country. Senior government officials, however, do speak English. English has again become a compulsory subject in all schools.
In 1988 Islam became the official state religion. 83% Bangladeshis are Muslim (Sunni), 16% are Hindu, the remainder being Buddhist or Christian (2005).
Bangladeshis recognize six seasons:
Spring (dry-hot) from March to April
Early rainy season (“mango showers”) from May to June
Monsoon-summer from July to August
Autumn from September to October
Misty season from November to December
Wintertime from January to February.
Winter can be quite cold with temperatures dropping to as low as 3 C at night and summer can be as hot as 35 C or more during the day. A humidity of 90% to 95% can make April-September days quite unpleasant. Bangladesh has an annual rainfall of 1,250 mm in the northwest to 5,000 mm in the northeast.
The political system in Bangladesh consists of a unicameral parliament, consisting of 300 seats occupied by members directly elected from geographical constituencies for five-year terms, plus 50 seats reserved for women elected by sitting lawmakers.The prime minister is chief executive and head of the Council of Ministers (the cabinet), which she selects; the presidency is a largely ceremonial role, although the president appoints members of the cabinet and the judiciary and has the power to dissolve parliament.
Following the completion of its five year term, The Awami League (AL) led alliance was re-elected to form government at the Tenth Parliamentary Elections. However, the election that was held in January 2014, was boycotted by the main opposition parties including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led alliance. The two sides could not agree on the format of the election time government after the concept of a non-partisan caretaker government was abolished by the AL government through Constitutional reform.
Jatiya Party, led by the former President HM Ershad, having been an ally of the AL led alliance, is now the main opposition in Parliament. However, it also is part of the government as a number of its members are part of the Cabinet. The other members of Cabinet come from AL alliance of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and Worker’s Party.
Main political organisations: Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP): JSD; Workers Party of Bangladesh; LDP; Jamaat-e-Islami; Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP); AL; Jatiya Party;
President: Md. Abdul Hamid
Prime Minister: Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Finance Minister: Abul Maal Abdul Muhith
Foreign affairs Minister: Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali
Opposition parties in Bangladesh will regularly use parliamentary boycotts, street agitation and hartals (general strike) as a mean of protesting against the incumbent government. However, there is a limit on the number of days for which a member of parliament (MP) can boycott the legislature. Under the current rules, MPs stand to lose their seats if they are absent from the chamber for 90 consecutive days.
Since the January 2014 election, BNP has been calling for a fresh and more inclusive election. In trying to press the demand, the party has called for a number of general strikes and blockades. However, AL has ruled out any such possibility and seems intent to curb the protests and demonstrations with strict measures through law enforcing agencies. Political violence has increased significantly in the country and has the potential to rise further unless the political parties are able to come to a compromise.
Another potential source of tension is the war crimes tribunal that began its work in 2010. A number of senior leaders of BNP and Jamaat E Islami are accused of committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 war of Liberation with Pakistan. Many of these leaders have now been handed death penalties by the tribunal and one senior Jamaat leader has already been executed. Each death penalty decision by the tribunal followed with strikes called by Jammat resulting in clashes, injuries and deaths. Jamaat claim these trials are politically motivated while BNP has always insisted that it does not object to the trial in principle but questions its fairness.
Bangladesh’s foreign policy will remain focused on improving economic and diplomatic ties with India and China. Relations with India have improved substantially since the Awami League (AL) came to power. New agreements to combat terrorism, tackle cross-border crime and strengthen economic ties were signed in January 2010. China has, in recent years, become one of Bangladesh’s largest trading partners and remains its primary supplier of military equipment.
GNI (Gross National Income) pr. Capita was 1080 USD in 2014.
Foreign debt: 22,922 million USD (2011)
Foreign Direct Investments: 1598 million USD (2013)
Foreign aid: The total foreign aid to Bangladesh was estimated at app. USD 1.5 Billion in 2011, which corresponds to app. 45 percent of the national development budget. However, the share of grants has been on a gradual decline over the years, which means that the larger share of an incremental foreign financing is supposed to come in the form of loans.
During recent years the annual economic growth in Bangladesh has been around 6%. However, with a population growing with approximately 2.5 million people per year, an economic growth rate of approximately 8% is needed if the country is going to effectively reduce the large number of poor people in the country. Another contributing factore is the rising food prices on commodities caused by global market developments and a recent inflation increase of up to 12%.
Since September 2005, Bangladesh has recognized a two-day weekend: Friday and Saturday. Government offices are now open from Sunday to from 09.00 to 17.00, with a lunch break of 30 minutes.
Private offices follow more or less the same hours. Banks are open from 09.00 to 14.00, some even on Saturdays from 10.00 to 13.00, post offices from 09.00 to 16.00. Shops and markets are open throughout the day. On Fridays the shops remain open for only part of the day or just close down for prayers, varying from place to place. During the holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan) official government office hours vary and are announced each year.
The national currency is the Taka divided in 100 paisa.
1 USD is approximately 78 Taka
1 DKK is approximately 14 Taka
Click here to see the latest exchange rate.