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Thursday, 9 February 2012


Bangladesh is bounded north, west, and east by India, southeast by Myanmar, and south by the Bay of Bengal. It name means ‘Bengal nation.’

Present-day Bangladesh was formed into the eastern province of Pakistan when India was partitioned 1947.

Substantially different in culture, language, and geography from Western Pakistan, East Pakistan resented their political and military dominance. A movement for political autonomy gained strength as a result of West Pakistan's indifference, when flooding killed 500,000 in East Pakistan in 1970.

The Bangladesh Liberation War began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of March 25, 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel and resulted in the flight of 10 million East Pakistani refugees to India.

The violent crackdown by the Pakistan Army led to Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declaring East Pakistan's independence as the state of Bangladesh the following day.

Over 200 of East Pakistan '​s intellectuals were executed by the Pakistan Army and their local allies on December 14, 1971. (The date is commemorated in Bangladesh as Martyred Intellectuals Day.)

Rayerbazar killing field photographed immediately after the war, showing dead bodies of intellectuals image courtesy: Rashid Talukdar, Wikipedia Commons

The West Pakistani forces in East Pakistan surrendered after India intervened on the secessionists' side.

East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh on January 11, 1972. The republic of Bangladesh was proclaimed and rapidly gained international recognition. The national flag (see below) was adopted officially six days later.

Since the early 1980s claims have been made that the majority of the drinking water in the country was contaminated by arsenic, as a result of the tubewells program established in 1972 by international aid agencies which was supposed to guarantee safe drinking water, but instead bored down to a subterranean layer of arsenic. It was estimated that, in 1998, 75 million people were at risk from arsenic poisoning.

Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with more than 2,600 people per sq mi. Only 15% of the people live in urban areas.

Bangladesh, about the same size as Iowa, has about 24 million more people than Russia, the world's largest country!

On April 29, 1991, a  cyclone hit Bangladesh, killing more than 135,000 people. It was one of the worst disasters of the 20th century.

Bangladesh was hit by 159 cyclones between 1885-2015. It receives roughly 40% of the impact of total storm surges in the world.

A damaged village in Bangladesh following the cyclone

75% of women have their first child by the age of 17 and close to 73% of girls in Bangladesh are married by age 18.

In Bangladesh, children as young as 15 can be jailed for cheating on their finals.

The national anthem of Bangladesh includes the lines: "The fragrance from your mango groves Makes me wild with joy."

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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