Once the wealthiest part of South Asia, Bengal (a rather nebulous territory that includes the country of Bangladesh and the Indian Provinces of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and some of the Hill States) is now having to recover its former status, having been robbed of most of its wealth and power first by Colonial Britain’s dictatorial agricultural policies and semi-feudal zemindar system and then by unfavourable administration by West Pakistan… but I digress – that part is in the history section of this website.
My sister Abeer once described Bangladesh as “desperately alive”. Like the rest of the subcontinent, you take the many good with the many bad. The bad – frequent flooding and natural disasters, bad roads, horrible infrastructure, ineffective government and rampant political corruption. The good – stunning landscapes, a rich diversity of flaura and fauna, great food, and rapid growth in technology.
Official Name: People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Independence Day: March 26, 1971
Area: 148,460 sq km (slightly smaller than Iowa)
Population: 156,186,882 (July 2009 est.)
Capital: Dhaka (pop: ~14mil)
People: 98% Bengali, 250k Bihari, < 1mil tribal
Languages: Bangla, English
Religions: 89.1% Muslim, 10.0% Hindu, 0.9% Other
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy
Prime Minister: Sheikh Hasina Wajed (Awami League)
President: Zillur Raman
GDP: US$224 billion (2008 est)
GDP per capita: US$1,500
Annual Growth: 4.9%
Inflation: 9.6% (2008 est)
Industries: cotton textiles, jute, garments, tea processing, paper newsprint, cement, chemical fertilizer, light engineering, sugar
Import Partners: China 15%, India 14.3%, Kuwait 8.3%, Singapore 6.2%, Hong Kong 4.2% (2007)
Export Partners: US 23%, Germany 13%, UK 9.1%, France 5.5%, Belgium 4% (2007)
Demographic information taken from the CIA World Factbook.