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State

Capital

Bangladesh

Dakha

Dacca

Currency unit

Taka

Connections

Empire

Islam

Population

Pakistan

Refugees

South Asia

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

Bangladesh is the eastern, Muslim, half of Bengal. The people speak one of the largest languages to develop from Sanskrit. The Hindu Bengalis in West Bengal are part of India. Bengal became part of the British Indian Empire. It was one of the first territories to be ruled by the East India Company. (see India) It had become independent from the Sultanate of Delhi from 1338 until conquered by the Mughals in 1576.

The British first arrived in 1651 to trade. British rule of Bengal began in 1765, based in Calcutta (Kolkata), now in India. The British partitioned Bengal in 1905 to separate the Hindus from the Muslims - East Bengal to be Muslim. The Muslim League, founded to press for a Muslim state eventually achieved as Pakistan, was founded at Dacca (Dakha) in 1906. The Provinces were rejoined again in 1912 and split again in 1947 when the east became East Pakistan. Many Muslims moved into the territory from India and the Hindus moved in the opposite direction. Among the Muslims who moved were some Urdu speakers from Bihar.

On independence in 1947 East Bengal became part of Pakistan. However, the two parts of Pakistan were separated by a thousand miles of India, which made it a difficult country to rule. Pakistan usually had military governments.

In 1970 after the fall of Ayub Khan, the longest military ruler of Pakistan, there was an election in the whole of Pakistan. The Awami League, the party of Bengali leader Mujib ur Rahman won a majority of seats in the all-Pakistan Parliament. The westerners, who filled most of the positions in the government refused to accept the result - that he should become Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Bengalis then declared independence and the Pakistan army tried to suppress the rebellion with great brutality. The country achieved independence in December 1971 after the Indian Army intervened and defeated the Pakistanis.

The Biharis were believed to have supported the Pakistanis and many were driven out of their homes, or killed. Since then they have been living in camps, unable to cross to Pakistan or return to India from where their ancestors came.

Since independence there have been a series of military governments. Mujib was assassinated in 1975 and his successor too. The present regime may be a veiled military regime, though after elections.

In 1991-2 there was an influx of Muslim refugees from Burma whose brutal military regime has been expelling them.

Languages

Bengali

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

At present an elected government led by the widow of a former prime minister. Military coups tend to follow elected governments in a pattern common in post-colonial countries.

In 2007 there is a political crisis as elections have been postponed by an interim government as a result of allegations of political corruption.

Interesting reading

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest and most crowded countries. The population continues to grow but already there is not enough land to provide a good living for everyone.

The economy is largely dependent on foreign aid, which means that whatever sovereignty the country apparently has, it is effectively controlled by the givers of aid.

A useful development is the Gramin Bank system lending small sums to the poor (99% repayment rate). The founder was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

The whole nation occupies the delta of the Ganges which is subject to flooding. The flooding appears to be increasing as trees are cut down in the catchment area (outside the control of Bangladesh). Population growth rate is down, but still well above replacement level.

Population pressure has caused people to live on islands which are composed of river silt and are easily submerged by storm surges. During tropical cyclones the wind blows down buildings and storm surges cover much of the land. In May 1991 possibly a 100,000 people are believed to have drowned.

If the sea level should rise by more than a few millimeters tens of millions would be in danger of being driven off their land or drowned and the land may be permanently flooded. Already certain combinations of wind and tide or heavy rain can cause flooding from the sea.

Flooding is believed to carry away iodine from the soil with the result that there is a widespread iodine deficiency in the people, leading to various health problems, including failure to develop, and physical and mental problems.

Oral Rehydration Therapy invented here (it prevents child deaths from diarrhea).

One of the world's most serious water poisoning problems has occurred here. In an attempt to give the mass of people access to clean water, tube wells were dug to tap deep water supplies. Only after these had been functioning for some time did it become apparent that the water was contaminated with arsenic from a layer in the rock at the level where the "fresh water" was drawn. Millions of people have been affected.

A rational policy would encourage fewer children - two or fewer per couple on average - to stabilise the population numbers and encourage a reduction.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Buddhist and Hindu minorities are discriminated against. e.g. Chittagong Hill Tracts, populated by Buddhist peoples, some of whom have fled to India and their land taken for Muslims.

In other areas Hindus are being driven out by intimidation from gangs associated with some of the Islamic fundamentalist parties in the government.

Rohingya (Muslim) refugees from Burma are not accepted despite their bad treatment in Burma.

Climate effects

One of the most vulnerable countries in the world to sea flooding. Possibly 100 million people live on land that would be submerged by modest sea level rise. Already Tropical storms at the time of high tide can submerge large areas temportarily, poisoning agricultural land with salt.

Last revised 25/07/12

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