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Quick Facts
Governmentparliamentary democracy
Currencytaka (BDT)
Areatotal: 144,000 sq km
land: 133,910 sq km
water: 10,090 sq km
Population133,376,684 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageBangla (official, also known as Bengali), English
ReligionMuslim 83%, Hindu 16%, other 1% (1998)

Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 when Bengali East Pakistan seceded from its union with West Pakistan. About a third of this extremely poor country floods annually during the monsoon rainy season due to the three rivers crossing through the country, the biggest being the Ganges.


Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India
Geographic coordinates 
24 00 N, 90 00 E
Map references 
total: 144,000 sq km
land: 133,910 sq km
water: 10,090 sq km
Area - comparative 
slightly smaller than Iowa
Land boundaries 
total: 4,246 km
border countries: Burma 193 km, India 4,053 km
580 km
tropical; mild winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March to June); humid, warm rainy monsoon (June to October)
mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Keokradong 1,230 m
Natural resources 
natural gas, arable land, timber, coal
Land use 
arable land: 60.7%
permanent crops: 2.61%
other: 36.69% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
38,440 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
droughts, cyclones; much of the country routinely inundated during the summer monsoon season
Environment - current issues 
many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land; water-borne diseases prevalent in surface water; water pollution, especially of fishing areas, results from the use of commercial pesticides; ground water contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic; intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country; soil degradation and erosion; deforestation; severe overpopulation
Geography - note 
most of the country is situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal


133,376,684 (July 2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
1.59% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
25.12 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
8.47 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
68.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 60.92 years
female: 60.74 years (2002 est.)
male: 61.08 years
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
0.02% (1999 est.)
noun: Bangladeshi(s)
adjective: Bangladeshi
Ethnic groups 
Bengali 98%, tribal groups, non-Bengali Muslims (1998)
Muslim 83%, Hindu 16%, other 1% (1998)
Bangla (official, also known as Bengali), English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 56%
male: 63%
female: 49% (2000 est.)


Country name 
conventional long form: People's Republic of Bangladesh
conventional short form: Bangladesh
former: East Pakistan
Government type 
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions 
5 divisions; Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi; note - there may be one additional division named Sylhet
16 December 1971 (from West Pakistan); note - 26 March 1971 is the date of independence from West Pakistan, 16 December 1971 is known as Victory Day and commemorates the official creation of the state of Bangladesh
National holiday 
Independence Day, 26 March (1971); note - 26 March 1971 is the date of independence from West Pakistan, 16 December 1971 is Victory Day and commemorates the official creation of the state of Bangladesh
4 November 1972, effective 16 December 1972, suspended following coup of 24 March 1982, restored 10 November 1986, amended many times
Legal system 
based on English common law
18 years of age; universal
Flag description 
green with a large red disk slightly to the hoist side of center; the red sun of freedom represents the blood shed to achieve independence; the green field symbolizes the lush countryside, and secondarily, the traditional color of Islam


Economy - overview 
Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single most important product. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and corruption at all levels of government. Progress also has been blocked by opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups. The BNP government, led by Prime Minister Khaleda ZIA, has the parliamentary strength to push through needed reforms, but the party's level of political will to do so has been lacking.
Population below poverty line 
Labor force 
64.1 million (1998)
note: extensive export of labor to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Qatar, and Malaysia; workers' remittances estimated at $1.71 billion in 1998-99 (1998)
Labor force - by occupation 
agriculture 63%, services 26%, industry 11% (FY95/96)
Unemployment rate 
35% (2001 est.)
cotton textiles, jute, garments, tea processing, paper newsprint, cement, chemical fertilizer, light engineering, sugar
Electricity - production 
13.493 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 92%
hydro: 8%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Agriculture - products 
rice, jute, tea, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, tobacco, pulses, oilseeds, spices, fruit; beef, milk, poultry
Exports - commodities 
garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood
Imports - commodities 
machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, raw cotton, food, crude oil and petroleum products, cement
taka (BDT)
Currency code 
Exchange rates 
taka per US dollar - 57.756 (January 2002), 55.807 (2001), 52.142 (2000), 49.085 (1999), 46.906 (1998), 43.892 (1997)
Fiscal year 
1 July - 30 June



Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. There are three types of electrical outlets likely to be found in Bangladesh. They are the old British standard BS-546, the newer British standard BS-1363 and the European standard CEE-7/16 "Europlug". There is no single recognized standard. Hence, you may encounter any or all of these outlet types there. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack adapters for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Bangladesh.


Telephones - main lines in use 
500,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
283,000 (2000)
Telephone system 
general assessment: totally inadequate for a modern country
domestic: modernizing; introducing digital systems; trunk systems include VHF and UHF microwave radio relay links, and some fiber-optic cable in cities
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); international radiotelephone communications and landline service to neighboring countries (2000)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 12, FM 12, shortwave 2 (1999)
6.15 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
15 (1999)
770,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
10 (2000)
Internet users 
150,000 (2002)


total: 2,745 km
broad gauge: 923 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,822 km 1.000-m gauge (2000 est.)
total: 201,182 km
paved: 19,112 km
unpaved: 182,070 km (1997)
up to 8,046 km depending on season
note: includes 3,058 km main cargo routes
natural gas 1,250 km
Ports and harbors 
Chittagong, Dhaka, Mongla Port, Narayanganj (2001)
18 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 15
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 6 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2002)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
only a small portion of the boundary with India remains undelimited; discussions to demarcate the boundary, exchange 162 miniscule enclaves, and allocate divided villages remain stalled; skirmishes, illegal border trafficking, and violence along the border continue; Bangladesh has protested India's attempts to fence off high traffic sections of the porous boundary; Burmese attempts to construct a dam on the border stream in 2001 prompted an armed response halting construction; Burmese Muslim refugees migrate into Bangladesh straining meager resources
Illicit drugs 
transit country for illegal drugs produced in neighboring countries