Bangladesh, Officially called the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, is a country located in South Asia. Its territory is almost completely surrounded by India, except for a small strip to the southeast where it borders Myanmar. Geographically, the country is situated on the fertile ground of the Ganges Delta, which is why it is subject to annual floods caused by monsoons and cyclones. Together with the Indian province of West Bengal, it constitutes the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. In fact, in Bengali, the name “Bangladesh” means “country of Bengal”. According to Countryaah, Bangladesh has 157.8 million residents.
Dhaka (ঢাকা), Khulna (খুলনা), Rajshahi (রাজশাহী), Sylhet (সিলেট) and Rangpur (রংপুর).
These divisions are divided into districts (zilas). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh, which in turn are divided into sub-districts (upazilas or thanas). The administration area of every police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is made up of several unions, which consist of several villages. In metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into neighborhoods, which are divided into mahallas.
There are no elected officials or officers at the division, district, or upazila level, and the administration consists only of central government officials. However, in each union or neighborhood local elections are held to elect their representatives to the central government.
In 1997, a parliamentary act was approved to reserve three seats (out of twelve) for women in local councils.
This delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (whose local name is Padma or Pôdda), Brahmaputra (Jamuna or Jomuna) and Meghna rivers, with their respective tributaries. The Ganges joins with the Jamuna (the main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later with the Meghna to finally flow into the Bay of Bengal. The alluvial soil deposited by these rivers gave rise to some of the most fertile plains in the world. Bangladesh has 58 transboundary rivers, making water a politically complicated issue to resolve, in most cases due to conflicts with India. Most of the national territory is less than 12 meters above sea level, and it is believed that around 50% of its territory would be flooded if the sea level rose by just one meter.
Since the early 1960s, in the southeast of the country they have conducted experiments to “building with nature”. By implementing a series of cross dams, the natural accumulation of silt has created new lands.
In the late 1970s, with Dutch funding, the government began to support the development of this new type of land. The effort has evolved into a multilateral operation for the construction of roads, sewers, embankments, cyclone shelters and ponds, as well as the distribution of land to peasants.
By early 2010, the program has allocated about 10,927 hectares of land to more than 21,000 families.
A monsoon season spanning June through October supplies most of the country’s rainfall. Natural disasters, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes and tidal waves occur almost every year, and are combined with the effects of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion.
In September 1998, the country suffered one of the most severe floods in the history of the modern world. As the three main rivers of the country overflowed, their waters destroyed more than 300,000 houses, 9,700 kilometers of roads and 2,700 kilometers of embankment. 1,000 people died and more than 30 million were left homeless, with 135,000 head of livestock killed and 50 square kilometers of cultivated land destroyed. In total, two-thirds of the country was flooded. There were several reasons for the severity of the floods: First, there were unusually high rains during the monsoon.
Second, the Himalayas produced a very high amount of meltwater in that year. Third, the trees that would usually hold back rainwater had been cut down for firewood or to make room for livestock.
Bangladesh is now recognized as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural hazards brought about by increased rains, rising sea levels and tropical cyclones are expected to intensify, each seriously affecting agriculture, food and water supplies, health and housing. Sea level rise is believed to create more than 20 million climate refugees in the coming decades.
Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its export market share peaked in World War II and in the late 1940s it accounted for 80% of export earnings, and even in the early 1970s it still accounted for 70% of that figure. However, around the world polypropylene products began to be used as a substitute for jute products, and this industry began to decline. Bangladesh also has significant quantities of rice (chaul), tea (cha) and mustard, all of which are export products.
Despite the fact that two-thirds of the population is engaged in agriculture, more than three-quarters of export earnings come from the textile industry, which began to attract foreign investors in the 1980s, largely due to part to cheap labor and low taxes.
In 2002, this industry exported more than five billion dollars in products and currently employs more than three million workers, of which 90% are women. A large part of the country’s foreign exchange earnings also come from remittances sent by Bangladeshis living abroad. Barriers to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, incompetence of parastatals, aging port facilities, growth in the workforce that has outpaced the number of jobs, inefficient use of energy resources (such as natural gas), insufficient power sources, slow implementation of economic reforms, internal political struggles and corruption.