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You are in:  Nations > Asia > Bangladesh
Bangladesh*Bangladesh flag
Basic facts
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The country 
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Capital: Dhaka
Area: 147,570 sq km; 56,977 sq miles
Population: 131,269,860 (2001 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 20 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 80 per cent (1998 Estimate)
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Economy

Exports: Garments, jute and jute goods, leather, shrimp, fertilizers, tea

Industry: Jute manufacturing, cotton textiles, food processing, steel, fertilizer, petroleum products, wine and spirits, tobacco products

Agriculture: One of the world's largest exporters of jute; commercial products: jute, rice, wheat, tea, sugar cane, potatoes, beef, milk, poultry

Currency: 1 taka (Tk), consisting of 100 paisa

Natural resources: Natural gas, arable land, timber, marine salt, limestone

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The people

Ethnic: Bengali 98 per cent, other 2 per cent

Language: Bangla (official), English. Bangla (also known as Bengali), the official language, is also spoken in India's Bangla. Spoken Bangla has several distinct dialects, the most guttural of which are spoken in the Northeastern and southeastern districts of Bangladesh. Most Bangla dialects are soft and somewhat musical. People with a university education usually also speak English, but they often incorporate various colloquialisms derived from Bangla. The Bihari speak Urdu, an official language in Pakistan. Small groups along the southeastern border speak their own languages.

Religion: Muslim 83 per cent, Hindu 16 per cent, other 2 per cent. Bangladesh has the second largest Muslim population in the world; more than four-fifths of the people are Muslim, mostly Sunni Muslim. Most of the rest of the population is Hindu, although there are also Buddhist and Christian minorities.

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The history

Independence: 26 March 1971 (from Pakistan). Bangladesh was part of British India until independence in 1947. When India was partitioned, Bangladesh became part of the state of Pakistan and was known as East Pakistan. Economic neglect by the Pakistani central Government, coupled with political isolation, led to the emergence of a strong nationalist movement and in 1971 Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. Civil war followed, but India sided with Bangladesh and Pakistan was forced to accept the secession.

Government: In its early years as an independent state, Bangladesh had a parliamentary system with a Prime Minister as chief executive. In 1975 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's founding father, created a Presidential system, but Bangladeshis voted to re-establish a parliamentary system in a 1991 referendum. Under this system, the head of Government is the Prime Minister and the head of state is the President. The President is elected by the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) for a five-year term and plays a largely ceremonial role. The Jatiya Sangsad has 330 seats, 30 of which are reserved for women. There is no bar against someone holding more than one seat. The voting age is 18.

*Bangladesh
*Brunei
*India
*Malaysia
*Maldives
*Pakistan
*Singapore
*Sri Lanka
 
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