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Bangladesh is a country in South Asia, located on the fertile Bengal delta. It is bordered by the Republic of India to its north, west and east, by the Union of Myanmar (Burma) to its south-east and by the Bay of Bengal to its south. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of Nepal and the Kingdom of Bhutan by the narrow Indian Siliguri Corridor. Together with the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh means “Country of Bengal” in the official Bengali language.
The borders of modern Bangladesh took shape during the Partition of Bengal and British India in 1947, when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed state of Pakistan. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and economic neglect by the politically dominant western-wing, movements like popular agitation, nationalism and civil disobedience lead to the Bangladesh Liberation War in the region in 1971 which resulted in separation and Independence of the region from Pakistan into an independent Bangladesh. After independence, the new state proclaimed a secular, multiparty democracy. However, it endured poverty, famine, political turmoil and numerous military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress, although the country’s main political parties remain bitterly polarized.
Bangladesh is a parliamentary republic with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad. With a population of more than 160 million people in a territory of 56,977 sq mi, Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country, as well as one of the world’s most densely populated countries. The Bengalis form the country’s predominant ethnic group, whereas the indigenous peoples in northern and southeastern districts form a significant and diverse ethnic minority. The Bengal delta region has a long and rich cultural heritage and was a hub of the southern Silk Route. The four largest religions in the country are Islam (89%), Hinduism (9%), Buddhism (1%) and Christianity (0.5%).
Bangladesh is identified as a Next Eleven economy. According to the United Nations in 2010, the country is making major strides in human development, including significant progress in areas of gender equity, universal primary education, women empowerment, reducing population growth, food production, health and renewable energy. The poverty rate has declined considerably since independence, and per-capita incomes have doubled from 1975-levels. Major cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong have been the driving forces behind much of the recent growth. However, the country continues to face a number of major political and social challenges, including endemic bureaucratic and political corruption, widespread poverty, political instability, overpopulation and vulnerability to global climate change.
More than three-quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come from the garment industry in 2005. The industry began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s because of cheap labour and low conversion cost. In 2011–12 fiscal year the industry exported US$18 billion worth of products where in 2002 the exported amount was US$5 billion. Bangladesh has been ranked as the 4th largest clothing exporter by the WTO (The World Trade Organization) whereas, according to The Economist Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest clothes-export industry. The industry now employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women.
There has also been a significant growth to Bangladesh’s ship building industry in the last few years. The required ships and vessels in the country are being produced by the local shipbuilders. Furthermore, they have already started taking orders and executing them perfectly for foreign companies from Germany, Denmark and other European countries who prefer the cheap market of Bangladesh over their local market. The Khulna Shipyard have successfully completed building a Khulna Class LPC(Large Patrol Craft) and a LCVP(Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) for the Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Army respectively, the cost being almost half of their import price. They are to build 5 more LPCs of the same class in the coming year.
The tourism sector in Bangladesh has experienced massive growth in recent years. The majority of growth is contributed by local tourists. It is believed to be a major tourist destination if properly advertised. Nonetheless, few government and private initiatives have been taken to attract foreign tourists.
Though small in area, Bangladesh is quite rich in heritage with numerous historical and archeological sites. It has the longest natural unbroken sea beach and five World Heritage Sites. Among those are famous eighty one domed Shat Gombuj Mosque in Bagerhat, made by great Muslim saint Khan Jahan Ali in the 15th century; world’s largest Mangrove forest Sundarbans which is also renowned for its world famous Royal Bengal Tiger.
There are several exotic archaeological sites in the northern parts of Bangladesh, including the temple city Puthia in Rajshahi; the largest and most ancient archaeological site, Mahasthangarh in Bogra; Among the best known Buddhist viharas in the Indian Subcontinent and one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, Paharpur in Naogaon, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985; Kantaji Temple, the most ornamental terracota Hindu temple in Bangladesh and many rajbaris or palaces of old zamindars. There are historic mosques too with vast architectural beauty like Shona Mosque built in 1493, Bagha Mosque, in 1523, Sixty Dome Mosque in 1459, etc.
Bangladesh has the largest shopping mall in South Asia, which is 13th largest in the world. It is Bashundhara City Shopping Mall which is situated at Karwan Bazar in Dhaka.