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Bangladesh Over View:

Introduction

Europeans began to set up trading posts in the area of Bangladesh in the 16th century; eventually the British came to dominate the region and it became part of British India. In 1947, West Pakistan and East Bengal (both primarily Muslim) separated from India (largely Hindu) and jointly became the new country of Pakistan. East Bengal became East Pakistan in 1955, but the awkward arrangement of a two-part country with its territorial units separated by 1,600 km left the Bengalis marginalized and dissatisfied. East Pakistan seceded from its union with West Pakistan in 1971 and was renamed Bangladesh. A military-backed caretaker regime suspended planned parliamentary elections in January 2007 in an effort to reform the political system and root out corruption; the regime has pledged new democratic elections by the end of 2008. About a third of this extremely poor country floods annually during the monsoon rainy season, hampering economic development.     

Geography
Location           Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India
Geographic coordinates            24 00 N, 90 00 E
Area     Total: 144,000 sq km
Land: 133,910 sq km
Water: 10,090 sq km
Area - Ccomparative    Slightly smaller than Iowa
Land boundaries           Total: 4,246 km
Border countries: Burma 193 km, India 4,053 km
Coastline          580 km
Climate Tropical; mild winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March to June); humid, warm rainy monsoon (June to October)
Natural resources         Natural gas, arable land, timber, coal

People
Population        150,448,339 (July 2007 est.)
Population growth rate  2.056% (2007 est.)
Birth rate          29.36 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate        8.13 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Nationality        Noun: Bangladeshi(s)
Adjective: Bangladeshi
Ethnic groups    Bengali 98%, other 2% (includes tribal groups, non-Bengali Muslims) (1998)
Religions           Muslim 83%, Hindu 16%, other 1% (1998)
Languages        Bangla (official, also known as Bengali), English
Literacy            Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 43.1%
Male: 53.9%
Female: 31.8% (2003 est.)

Government
Country name   Conventional long form: People's Republic of Bangladesh
Conventional short form: Bangladesh
Local long form: Gana Prajatantri Banladesh
Local short form: Banladesh
Former: East Bengal, East Pakistan
Government type          Parliamentary democracy
Capital Name: Dhaka
Geographic coordinates: 23 43 N, 90 24 E
Time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions 6 divisions; Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet
Independence   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
Constitution      4 November 1972, effective 16 December 1972; suspended following coup of 24 March 1982, restored 10 November 1986; amended many times

Economy
Economy - overview     The economy has grown 5-6% over the past few years despite inefficient state-owned enterprises, delays in exploiting natural gas resources, insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and inefficiently-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. Garment exports and remittances from Bangladeshis working overseas, mainly in the Middle East and East Asia, fuel economic growth.
Exports - commodities  Garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood (2001)
Exports - partners         US 24.9%, Germany 12.8%, UK 9.8%, France 5% (2006)
Imports            $14.91 billion (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities  Machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs, petroleum products, cement
Imports - partners         China 17.7%, India 12.5%, Kuwait 7.9%, Singapore 5.5%, Hong Kong 4.1% (2006)
Currency (code)           Taka (BDT)
Exchange rates Taka per US dollar - 69.893 (2007), 69.031 (2006), 64.328 (2005), 59.513 (2004), 58.15 (2003)
Fiscal year        1 July - 30 June.


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