What is Bangladesh?
Bangladesh (The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh) was once
known as East Pakistan, which was a region controlled by (and
politically and economically bullied by) West Pakistan. The name
"Bangladesh" means "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali
language. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes
up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal.
Bangladesh has a long history spanning thousands of years. A
land replete with history, it finally achieved independence in the
year 1971 after a protracted 9-month war (the Bangladesh Liberation
After many years of exploitation, both politically and
economically, the Bengali national sentiments led to the massive
victory of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Pakistan National Elections
of 1970. The ruling oligarchs in West Pakistan balked at having to
give up the reigns of power to East Pakistanis. This led to armed
resistance in which nationalists were supported by India, eventully
leading to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. (December 3 - 16, 1971).
Although the independence of Bangladesh had been formally declared
on March 26, 1971, the war actually established this as a political
fact. More than 90,000 Pakistani POW's were repatriated to West
Bangladesh is bordered by India on all sides except for a small
border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of
Bengal to the south.
The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the
partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became the
eastern wing of the newly-formed Pakistan. However, it was
separated from the western wing by 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) as
the two Pakistans were on opposite sides of India.
Geographically the country straddles the fertile
Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subject to annual monsoon floods
History of the State
Political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic
neglect led to popular agitations against West Pakistan, which led
to the war for independence in 1971 and the establishment of
Bangladesh, with the help of India. However, the new state had to
endure famines, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well
as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of
democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative stability and
economic progress. However, political rule has been suspended under
emergency law since January 11, 2007.
Bangladesh is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, SAARC,
BIMSTEC, the OIC, and the D-8. As the World Bank notes in its July
2005 Country Brief, the country has made significant progress in
human development in the areas of literacy, gender parity in
schooling and reduction of population growth.However, Bangladesh
continues to face a number of major challenges, including
widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and
discrimination against women and religious and ethnic