|With an area of about 144,000 sq km, Bangladesh is situated between latitudes
20~34' and 26~38' north and latitudes 88~01' and 92~41' east. The country is
bordered by India on the east, west and north and by the Bay of Bengal on the
south. There is also a small strip of frontier with Burma on the southeastern edge.
The land is a deltaic plain with a network of numerous rivers and canals.
|Culture||Bangladeshi daily life is replete with
traditions and festivals that reflect the
unique culture and tradition of
Bangladeshis. Some of the tradition and
customs are as ancient as prehistoric
days, while others are relatively recent.
The indigenous customs and festivals
that has been preserved and nurtured through the ages are principally center around agricultural practices. These include nabonno (the festival of the new harvest) and pawhela boishAkh (the Bengali new Year). Religion has also played a distinct role in shaping the mores and traditions of Bangladeshi life.
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country, and Islam's adherents in Bangladesh celebrate the joyous festival
of the two Eids, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Azha, the month of Ramadan, Shab-e-Qadr, Shab-e-Barat etc. Hindus in Bangladesh celebrate Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Janmastami. The Buddhists celebrate Buddho Purnima and the Christians Christmas. These are just a few of the religious festivals and feasts that Bangladeshis celebrate in their day to day life.
National occasions also mark Bangladeshi life, and these include Independence Day, Victory Day, and the historic Language Martyr's Day.
Social customs like birth, naming ceremony, marriage, and death too have a distinct Bangladeshi flavor with each ethnic and religious group having their own unique way to mark these traditions.
National Holiday List: The holiday list for 1999-2000:-
Traditional Holidays and Festivals Traditional holidays such as Bengali New Year's. Information about the
|Education||The literacy rate in Bangladesh is very low, with
significant disparity between female and male
literacy rates. However, with the inception of
Universal Primary Education program, the literacy
rates have been going up. The education system is
broken down into 4 levels, primary from grades 1 to
5, secondary from grades 6 to 10, higher secondary
from from grades 11 to 12, and tertiary.
In the 1990s there were about 50,000 primary
schools enrolling over 50 million students. There
were about 9000 secondary institutions. The five
years of lower secondary (grades six through ten)
concluded with a secondary school certificate
examination. Students who passed this
examination proceeded to two years of higher secondary or intermediate training,
which culminated in a higher secondary school examination after grade twelve.
Higher secondary school was viewed as preparation for college rather than as the
conclusion of high school. Development efforts in the late 1980s included
programs to provide low-cost vocational education to the rural populace.
|Liberation War||Declaration of Independence
The story behind the declaration of
Independence on March 26, 1971.
PM Tajuddin Ahmed's statement to the
world, April 17, 1971.
On April 17, 1971, the then acting
PM of Bangladesh made a statement
to the world to support the
Bangladesh cause for freedom.
The Bangali Holocaust
The hundreds of thousands who were
killed by the marauding Pakistani
army during the war. A statistical
Images of genocide.
Various eye witness accounts from
the liberation war.
US Congressional Records
Records from the US congress
regarding Bangladesh during the war.
The Surrender Document
About the final surrender by the
Pakistani Army to the combine allied
forces of Bangladesh and India.
Includes pictures of the surrender
ceremony and the actual Instrument
Remembering a Liberation War
Twenty five years ago, India and
Pakistan went to war over the issue
of Bangladesh. Mukti Bahini guerillas
and Indian soldiers swept past
Pakistani defences and forced the
Pakistani Army to surrender within
two weeks. On the western front,
Indians and Pakistanis fought a
series of even deadlier battles. This
1971 War web exhibition
commemorates that war...
Virtual Bangladesh : History : Overview
The area which is now Bangladesh has a
rich historical and cultural past, the
product of the repeated influx of varied
peoples, bringing with them the Dravidian,
Indo-Aryan, Mongol-Mughul, Arab,
Persian, Turkic, and European cultures.
About 1200 A.D., Muslim invaders under
Sufi influence, supplanted Hindu and
Buddhist dynasties, and converted most
of the population of the eastern areas of
Bengal to Islam. Since then, Islam has
played a crucial role in the region's history
and politics. In the 16th century, Bengal
was absorbed into the Mughul Empire.
Portuguese traders and missionaries reached Bengal in the latter part of the 15th
century. They were followed by representatives of the Dutch, the French, and the
British East India Companies. During the 18th and 19th centuries, especially after
the defeat of the French in 1757, the British gradually extended their commercial
contacts and administrative control beyond Calcutta into the remainder of Bengal
and northwesterly up the Ganges River valley. In 1859, the British Crown replaced
the East India Company, extending British dominion from Bengal in the east to the
Indus River in the west.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Muslim and Hindu leaders began to
press for a greater degree of independence. At the movement's forefront was the
largely Hindu Indian National Congress. Growing concern about Hindu domination
of the movement led Muslim leaders to form the All-India Muslim League in 1906.
In 1913, the League formally adopted the same goal as the Indian National
Congress: self-government for India within the British Empire. The Congress and
the League were unable, however, to agree on a formula to ensure the protection
of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights. Over the next 2 decades,
mounting tension between Hindus and Muslims led to a series of bitter
The idea of a separate Muslim state emerged in the 1930s. It gained popularity
among Indian Muslims after 1936, when the Muslim League suffered a decisive
electoral defeat in the first elections under the 1935 constitution. On March 23,
1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, publicly endorsed the
"Pakistan Resolution" that called for the creation of an independent state in
regions where Muslims were a majority.
At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom, under considerable international
pressure to reduce the size of its overseas empire, moved with increasing urgency
to grant India independence. The Congress Party and the Muslim League could
not, however, agree on the terms for drafting a constitution or establishing an
interim government. In June 1947, the UK declared it would grant full dominion
status to two successor states--India and Pakistan. Pakistan would consist of the
contiguous Muslim-majority districts of western British India, plus parts of Bengal.
The various princely states could freely join either India or Pakistan. These
arrangements resulted in a bifurcated Muslim nation separated by more than
1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) of Indian territory. West Pakistan comprised four
provinces and the capital, Lahore. East Pakistan was formed of a single province.
Each province had a legislature.
Pakistan's history for the next 26 years was marked by political instability and
economic difficulties. Dominion status was rejected in 1956 in favor of an "Islamic
Republic within the Commonwealth." Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and
the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962 and 1969 and 1972.
Frictions between West and East Pakistan culminated in a 1971 army crackdown
against the East Pakistan dissident movement led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
whose Awami League (AL) Party had won 167 seats out of 313 National
Assembly seats on a platform of greater autonomy for the eastern province.
Mujibur Rahman was arrested and his party
banned. Many of his aides and more than 10
million Bengali refugees fled to India, where they
established a provisional government. India and
Pakistan went to war in late November 1971. The
combined Indian-Bengali forces soon
overwhelmed Pakistan's small army contingent in
the East. By the time Pakistan's forces
surrendered on December 16, 1971, India had
taken numerous prisoners and gained control of a
large area of East Pakistan, which is now
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujib came to office
with immense personal popularity but had
difficulty quickly transforming this support into political legitimacy. The 1972
constitution created a strong prime ministership, an independent judiciary, and a
unicameral legislature on a modified British model. More importantly, it enunciated
as state policy the Awami League's four basic principles--nationalism, secularism,
socialism, and democracy.
The Awami League won a massive majority in the first parliamentary elections in
March 1973. It continued as a mass movement, espousing the cause that brought
Bangladesh into being and representing disparate and often incoherent elements
under the banner of Bangla nationalism. No other political party in Bangladesh's
early years was able to duplicate or challenge its broad-based appeal,
membership, or organizational strength.
The new government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the
country's war-ravaged economy and society. Economic conditions remained
tenuous, however, and food and health difficulties continued to be endemic. In
1974, Mujib proclaimed a state of emergency and amended the constitution to
limit the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, establish an executive
presidency, and institute a one-party system. Calling these changes the "Second
Revolution," Mujib assumed the presidency. All political parties were dissolved
except for a single new party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League
(BAKSAL), which all members of parliament were obliged to join.
Implementation of promised political reforms was slow, and
Mujib increasingly was criticized. In August 1975, he was
assassinated by mid-level army officers, and a new government,
headed by a former associate, Khandakar Moshtaque, was
formed. Successive military coups occurred on November 3 and
7, resulting in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ziaur
Rahman (Zia), as strongman. He pledged the army's support to
the civilian government headed by the president, Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at
Zia's behest, Sayem then promulgated martial law, naming himself Chief Martial
Law Administrator (CMLA).
Ziaur Rahman. Ziaur Rahman was elected for a 5-year term as
president in 1978. His government removed the remaining
restrictions on political parties and encouraged opposition
parties to participate in the pending parliamentary elections.
More than 30 parties vied in the parliamentary elections of
February 1979, but Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
won 207 of the 300 elected seats.
In 1981, Zia was assassinated by dissident elements of the military. Vice
President Justice Abdus Sattar was constitutionally sworn in as acting president.
He declared a new national emergency and called for elections within 6 months.
Sattar was elected president and won. Sattar was ineffective, however, and Army
Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad assumed power in a bloodless coup in March
Hussain Mohammed Ershad. Like his predecessors, Ershad dissolved parliament,
declared martial law, assumed the position of CMLA, suspended the constitution,
and banned political activity. Ershad reaffirmed Bangladesh's moderate,
non-aligned foreign policy.
In December 1983, he assumed the presidency. Over the ensuing months, Ershad
sought a formula for elections while dealing with potential threats to public order.
n January 1, 1986, full political rights, including the right to hold large public
rallies, were restored. At the same time, the Jatiyo (People's) Party (JP), designed
as Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law, was established.
Ershad resigned as chief of army staff, retired from military service, and was
elected president in October 1986. (Both the BNP and the AL refused to put up an
In July 1987, the opposition parties united for the first time in opposition to
government policies. Ershad declared a state of emergency in November,
dissolved parliament in December, and scheduled new parliamentary elections for
All major opposition parties refused to participate. Ershad's party won 251 of the
300 seats; three other political parties which did participate, as well as a number
of independent candidates, shared the remaining seats. This parliament passed a
large number of legislative bills, including a controversial amendment making Islam
the state religion.
By mid-1990, opposition to Ershad's rule had escalated. November and December
1990 were marked by general strikes, increased campus protests, public rallies,
and a general disintegration of law and order. Ershad resigned in December 1990.
On February 27, 1991, an interim government oversaw what may be one of the
most free and fair elections in the nation's history. The center-right Bangladesh
Nationalist Party won a plurality of seats and formed a coalition government with
the Islamic fundamentalist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
The new Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, was the widow of
the assassinated former president Ziaur Rahman. Before the
death of her husband in 1981, her participation in politics was
minimal. She joined the BNP in 1982 and became chairman of
the party in 1984.
In September 1991, the electorate approved changes to the
constitution, formally creating a parliamentary system and returning governing
power to the office of the prime minister, as in Bangladesh's original constitution.
In October 1991, members of parliament elected a new head of state, President
Abdur Rahman Biswas.
Opposition legislators resigned en masse in December 1994, trying to force
Khaleda to step down and allow early elections under a neutral caretaker
administration. She refused and the opposition staged a series of strikes and
shutdowns which economists say have slowed reforms and the pace of economic
recovery. President Abdur Rahman Biswas dissolved parliament last November
and called new elections for February 1996. He asked Khaleda Zia to stay in office
until a successor was chosen. The opposition parties vowed to not to take part in
the elections while Khaleda remained in office and boycotted the Feb. elections
They said the elections had been rigged to ensure the BNP a landslide victory.
They staged a series of crippling strikes and transport blockades, trying to force
Khaleda to annul the election and transfer power to a neutral caretaker
government. The new parliament bowed to opposition demands and passed a law
March 26 allowing the president to form a caretaker government, Former chief
justice Habibur Rahman was asked to head a caretaker government and
parliament was dissolved.
New elections were completed June 23, 1996 with the Awami
League garnering the highest number of seats. The leader of the
Awami League, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, was sworn in as the
new Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Justice Shahabuddin
Ahmed was elected unopposed to replace Biswas as the next
president of Bangladesh.
The People's Republic Of Bangladesh
Latitude between 20 degree 34' and 26 degree 39' north. Longitude between
88 degree 00' and 92 degree 41' east.
144,000 sq. km.
Bounded by India from the north, east and west and by the Bay of Bengal
and Burma from the south.
Main seasons : Winter (Nov - Feb), Summer (Mar - Jun), Monsoon (Jul -
Oct). Temp : Max 34 degree Celsius, Min 8 degree Celsius.
Lowest 47" and highest 136"
Dhaka (Present area 414 sq. km. Master plan 777 sq.km.)
Total estimated population 130 million.
Bangla. English is also widely spoken and understood
National Martyrs Day - February 21 Independence Day - March 26 Victory
Day - December 16
Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Brahmaputra, Madhumati, Surma and Kushiara
Jute, rice, tobacco, tea, sugarcane, vegetables, potato, pulses, etc.
Mango, banana, pineapple, jack-fruit, water-melon, green coconut, guava,
Jute, sugar, paper, textiles, fertilizers, cigeratte, cement, steel, natural gas,
oil-refinery, newsprint, power generation, rayon, matches, fishing and food
processing, leather, soap, carpet, timber, ship-building, telephone, etc.
Chittagong and Mongla
Zia international airport, Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet, domestic airports at
Chittagong, Jessore, Sylhet, Cox's Bazar, Rajshahi and Saidpur
220 Volts A.C. in all cities and towns
October to March
Main Tourist Attractions
Colorful tribal life, longest sea beach, centuries' old archeological sites,
home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, largest tea gardens, interesting riverine
Tropical in summer, and light-woolen in winter
The unit of currency is the Taka. Notes are in denominations of
1,2,5,10,20,50,100 and 500 Taka. Coins are 1,5,10,25,50 and 100 Paisa
(100 Paisa = 1 Taka)
Total area: 144,000 square kilometers; land area: 133,910 square kilometers
Land boundaries: 4,246 km total; Burma 193 km, India 4,053 km
Coastline: 580 km
Contiguous zone: 18 nm
Continental shelf: up to outer limits of continental margin
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Disputes: A portion of the boundary with India is in dispute; water sharing
problems with upstream riparian India over the Ganges
Climate: tropical; cool, dry winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March
to June); cool, rainy monsoon (June to October)
Terrain: mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast
arable land 67%
permanent crops 2%
meadows and pastures 4%
forest and woodland 16%
includes irrigated 14%
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