Modern Bangladesh
Ancient Bangladesh/British India


156,118,464 (July 2010 est.)
Per Capia Income

$1,700 (2010 est.)
Land Area
Eastern Bengal/ East Pakistan
143,998 sq. km
Political System/Gov't
Controlled by the British gov't
Parliamentary Democracy

Machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs, petroleum products, cement

Garments, frozen fish and seafood, jute and jute goods, leather
Cultural Traditions

Muslims celebrate Īd al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. A Hindu festival is Durga Puja, celebrating the goddess Durga. Most Muslim families have arranged marriages. Muslim men are allowed up to 4 wives, but most cannot afford more than 1. Muslim men have more authority and freedom than women. Women have very little freedom and rarely leave their homes, and their cover their head with vales. Most of the Hindus are at the same rank in the CASTE system, and it is less structured than India. Hindu women have slightly more freedom than Muslim women, but they also have arranged marriages.

Late 1100's- Muslims from Central Asia invaded and established a sultanate in northern India, which eventually extended its control over Bengal. Bengal was divided up and governed by independent Muslim rulers.
1576- Bengal was conquered by (also Muslim) Mughal emperor Akbar.
1576->1700's- Muslim arts and architecture flourished under Mughal rule. Buddhists and Hindus converted to Islam. Mughal emperors appointed nawabs (governors) to rule over the provinces of the empire.
1600's- European trade was established in Bengal, but with much resistance from the nawabs.
1700's- Hindu groups in central and and western India rebelled against the Mughal empire and it began to break down. Simultaneously, Bengal and other provinces gradually became independent partly due to the increasing control and power gained by the nawabs. European influence increased.
1757- The East India Company (created by the British gov't to develop trade with India and the Far East) gained control of Bengal.
1773- Calcutta (in western Bengal) became the capital of India.
1857- Indian rebellion against the British gov't due to their neglecting of citizens welfare. Rebellion failed.
1858- All territory including Bengal under the control of the British gov't became known as British India. Western Bengal (Hindu majority) advanced rapidly, gaining economic and political power; but eastern Bengal (Muslim majority) did not.
1905- Bengal was divided into two sections (West Bengal and East Bengal) by the viceroy of British India. Nationalist Bengali and Hindus strongly opposed this. Muslims initially opposed it but came to be in favor of it. This caused massive conflict and bloody riots between Hindus and Muslims.
1911- Division was reversed, but the conflict between Hindus and Muslims remained.
1940's- Riots continued. Leaders of The Muslim League (political organization formed in 1906) demanded independent Muslim lands in northwestern and northeastern India.
1947- Pakistan was established as an independent nation. Bengal was once again divided between Pakistan and India. Eastern Bengal became East Pakistan.
East Pakistan contained over 50% of Pakistan's population, but West Pakistan controlled the gov't, economy, and military. The country had extreme cultural diversity which caused massive conflict and inequality between the two regions.
November 1970- A cyclone and storm surge struck East Pakistan, killing 300,000-500,000 people. The gov't was accused of delaying the shipment of relief supplies to the affected areas.
December 1970- Elections were held throughout Pakistan to for an assembly that would serve as a legislature and write a new constitution. The majority of the seats were filled by the Awami League, a party lead by Sheik Mujiber Rahman (Sheik Mujib). They strongly supported increased self-government for East Pakistan.
March 1st, 1971- President Yahya Kahn postponed the first meeting of the assembly which provoked the East Pakistanis and caused them to protest, but army troops were sent to stop them. Sheik Mujib was imprisoned in West Pakistan. Civil war broke out between East Pakistan and West Pakistan soon after.
March 26th, 1971- East Pakistan was established as an independent nation called Bangladesh. They formed a guerrilla army to fight off the government troops. Thousands of civilians died in the bloody war and millions of refugees went to India.
December 1971- Indians joined forced with Bangladesh and they overpowered West Pakistan.
1972- Sheik Mujib was released and he became the first prime minister of Bangladesh. The country was very weak and poor. Millions of people were homeless and everything was in ruins.
January 1975- The constitution was amended to give the president all executive power. Sheik mujib became president and suspended all opposing political parties, declaring Bangladesh to be a one party state.
August 1975- Mujib was assassinated by military leaders and they took over the government. They ruled under marital law. Ziaur Rahman (Zia) became the head of the marital law government.
1978- Zia was elected president.
1979- Zia became head of the Bangladesh Nationalist party. Marital law was ended and a new Parliament was made.
1981- Zia was assassinated. Vice president Abdus Sattar became president.
1982- The government was once again taken over by military leaders. The constitution was suspended and marital law was reestablished by Lieutenant General H. M. Ershad.
1982-1984- Ershad banned the activity of political parties.
May 1986- Ershad allowed the first primary elections to take place since 1796
August 1986- Ershad resigned from the army to run for president as a civilian
October 1986- Ershad was elected president of Bangladesh.
November 1986- Parliment passed a law to protect Ershad from prosecution for past actions.
1990- Violent protests were held against Ershad by thousands of civilians.
December 1990- Ershad resigned.
February 1991- Kahleda Zia (widow of president Zia), leader of the BNP, was elected prime minister. She was the first woman to serve as prime minister in Bangladesh.
September 1991- The Constitution was amended and all executive power was returned to the prime minister.
February 1996- The BNP won the parliamentary elections, but the elections were marred by election fraud, violence at the polls, and low voter turnout.
June 1996- Elections were held again and the Awami League won the majority of the seats. Sheik Hansia Wajed (daughter of Sheik Mujib and leader of Awami League) became prime minister.
1998- Islam was established as the state religion of Bangladesh.
2001- The BNP was returned to power in the parliamentary elections.Kahdela Zia became prime minister again.
October 2006- Zia's term ended. President Iajuddin Ahmed became temporary head of the gov't to supervise elections which continued to be rigged.
January 2007- Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency and resigned from his post. A military backed caretaker took over.
December 2008- The Awami League won 230 outof 300 seats in the Parliamentary elections.
January 2009- Sheik Hastia was sworn in as prime minister and restored democratic rule to the country.

Excerpt from:
In an interview this week, Mrs. Hasina called the mutiny “a big conspiracy” against her agenda to establish a secular democracy in this Muslim-majority nation of 150 million. She struck a note of defiant resolve.
“No one will stop me,” she said. “I will continue.” Then she raised her eyebrows and offered a hint of a smile. “We have to unearth all these conspiracies.” ...
...She said she was keen to hunt down and punish those responsible for the mutiny. She suggested that several factions unhappy with her agenda could have been responsible, including Islamist militants, whom she has vowed to crush.
“There are many elements,” she said in her first extensive interview since the Feb. 25 siege. “These terrorist groups are very much active. This incident gives us a lesson. It can happen again.”
After two years of army-backed rule in the country, Mrs. Hasina’s won a resounding majority of the parliamentary seats in elections last December, after campaigning on a slate of provocative promises. She said she would root out Islamist guerillas, put on trial those suspected of conspiring against Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, nurture friendly relations with India and stop anti-Indian insurgents from using Bangladeshi soil to launch attacks against New Delhi.
The election drew a turnout of around 80 percent and was cited as among the most credible and least violent here in recent years.
Then came the massacre...

More articles:
Bangladesh news site:


  • The capital is Dhaka
  • Situated in southern Asia, Bangladesh is almost entirely surrounded by India, apart from a small shared border with Myanmar (formerly Burma) and a southern coast on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Climate- Tropical; warm, humid, rainy. Rainy season from mid-May to October.
  • Currency- Taka
  • National language- Bengali
  • Many ethnic subgroups


Excerpt from main page:
(This is a response to a negative comment)
When I’m in Bangladesh, in virtually every village, I end up having to emphasize three things. And only by emphasizing these three things do I avoid sentiments and attitudes like those from people like Shahnur:

  • I have to emphasize that I am not an NGO (nongovernmental organization). What I’m doing is as just a guy.
  • I have to emphasize that I have blood ties to Bangladesh.
  • I have to prove and emphasize that I respect Islam.
With a population of over 150 million people, Bangladesh is by no means a country of uniform consensus. But, prevalent negative attitudes and perceptions towards NGOs and aid workers is something I feel has been under-reported, insufficiently documented, and poorly-studied.

CULTURE & HARDSHIPSOverpopulation: Bangladesh has the 6th highest population density on the planet, with 156,118,464 people squeezed into 143,998 sq. km. Poverty: Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 50% of its citizens are living at or below the poverty line. The country lacks sufficient food and natural resources, leaving many Bangladeshis with little to no means to food, clean water, shelter, and other basic services like healthcare. As a result of this economic depravation, Bangladeshi children are forced to work in hazardous environments for very low salaries just to keep their family from dying of starvation.

Education: Most Bangladeshis 15 years of age or older cannot read and write. A law requires children to attend school for five years, beginning at age 6. But the law is not strictly enforced, and many youngsters do not attend school.

The University of Dhaka is the nation’s largest university. Dhaka is also the home of the Jahangirnagar Muslim University and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Other universities are in Chittagong, Mymensingh, and Rajshahi.

Health: Food shortages and unsanitary living conditions in Bangladesh contribute to outbreaks of cholera and other diseases of the digestive system, leprosy, tuberculosis, and other illnesses. Mosquitoes that spread malaria thrive in the nation’s swampy regions. Malaria kills thousands of Bangladeshis annually.
Millions of Bangladeshis have no source for healthy drinking water. For years, the people of the region obtained drinking water from shallow sources such as ponds and rivers. But this water was often contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. In the late 1900’s, international agencies helped install wells to avoid this problem. Unfortunately, water drawn from many of these wells is contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic, a poisonous chemical.

Bangladesh lacks enough hospitals and other health facilities for its large population. Because the country has more waterways than roads, speedboats serve as ambulances in some areas.

The Arts: Bengali literature has flourished for hundreds of years in the form of stories and folk ballads. These stories and ballads tell romantic legends and tales of everyday life. Dramas based on religious stories are popular forms of entertainment in Bangladesh. Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet born in India, became prominent in Bengali literature during the late 1800’s. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 and remains a greatly respected literary figure.

Much of the traditional architecture of Bangladesh developed under Muslim rule during the 1500’s and 1600’s. This style features domes, towers, and pointed arches. Traditional painting uses the brilliant colors and elaborate decorations of Muslim religious art. Some contemporary artists of Bangladesh use techniques of modern Western art in painting everyday scenes and people, as well as in abstract designs.
Dahka market
Handmade School, 2004–06 , Rudrapur, Bangladesh


Bangladeshis have created a cosmopolitan society that is one of the most diverse in the world. For most of its history,Bangladesh was linked to India and present-day Pakistan, so many of the nation's traditions are linked to those countries. These India-Pakistan connections have helped form Bengalis' liberal social and political traditions that make Bangladesh stand apart from its Muslim counterparts in other parts of the world. Outsiders traveling to Bangladesh have noted the nation's religious harmony and deep bonding between ethnic groups. Unlike some Muslim nations, Bangladesh is a very tolerant society. Thus, key religious events across the nation's major religious groups are observed by all Bangladeshis in their own way.

SUMMARY Bangladesh is primarily a Muslim nation, but its diversity and the tolerance it has for other religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, and other small religions makes it united and strong. Islam arrived in Bangladesh, although it was known as Bangla at the time, in the late 1100's when India was invaded by Muslims and Islam has been a big part of the nation's culture and society ever since.