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Home » Resources » Country Profile » Bangladesh


Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries, with its people crammed into a delta of rivers that empties into the Bay of Bengal.
Poverty is deep and widespread; almost half of the population live on less than one dollar a day. However, Bangladesh has reduced population growth and improved health and education.


The major employer is agriculture, but it is unable to meet the demand for jobs. Thus many Bangladeshis - in common with citizens from other countries in the region - seek work abroad, sometimes illegally. The country is trying to diversify its economy, with industrial development a priority. Overseas investors have pumped money into the manufacturing and energy sectors.
Onshore and offshore gas reserves hold out some chance of future prosperity. There has been a debate about whether the reserves should be reserved for domestic use or exported. Some international energy companies are involved in the gas sector.
Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh came into being only in 1971, when the two parts of Pakistan split after a bitter civil war which drew in neighbouring India.
Bangladesh spent 15 years under military rule and, although democracy was restored in 1990, the political scene remains volatile.
Analysts say the antagonism between the Awami League, which governed until July 2001, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party reflects personal animosity between their leaders rather than substantial ideological differences.
Political tensions have spilled over into violence in recent years. Scores of people have been killed in attacks at opposition gatherings and at public venues. Senior opposition figures have also been targeted.
Bangladesh has been criticised for its human rights record, with particular concern about assaults on women and allegations that police use torture against those in custody.
The low-lying country is vulnerable to flooding and cyclones. It stands to be badly affected by predicted rises in sea levels.


Population: 152.6 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Dhaka
Area: 143,998 sq km (55,598 sq miles)
Major language: Bengali
Major religions: Islam, Hinduism
Life expectancy: 61 years (men), 62 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 taka = 100 paisa
Main exports: Garments, fish, jute goods, leather products
GNI per capita: US $400 (World Bank, 2003)
Internet domain: .bd
International dialling code: +880

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