Media and Telecoms Landscape Guide May 2012
Bangladesh is a flat and low-lying country that occasionally suffers from devastating tidal surges and floods. It is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The scale of human suffering caused by a combination of high winds, tidal surges and heavy rainstorms is sometimes immense. In 2009, Cyclone Ailia caused a tidal surge that flooded low-lying coastal areas and left about 500,000 homeless. 80% of Bangladesh consists of flood plain. 75% of the country’s land area is less than 10 metres above sea level. This makes Bangladesh vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. Flooding caused by rivers bursting their banks is a big problem in many areas. About 20 million people living in low-lying coastal areas are at risk of being flooded out of their homes by rising water levels and tidal surges. The capital, Dhaka, has population of about 16 million and is one of the largest cities in the world. But 73% of Bangladesh’s 164 million population still lives in rural areas. Most of the population relies on subsistence farming. Rice is the staple crop and the country’s main source of food. Bangladesh ranked 146 out of 187 states listed in the 2011 UN Human Development Index. According to the World Bank, 81% of the population lives in poverty [Type
Administrative divisions of Bangladesh Source: http://www.newspecialpictures.com/category/map-2/bangladesh-map/ [Type
The adult literacy rate was 56% in 2009, according to UNESCO. It estimated that 61% of men could read and write, but only 51% of women. Bangla or Bengali is spoken as a first language by 98% of the population. It is the official language of government Bangla is also spoken in the neighbouring West Bengal State of India, with which Bangladesh has close cultural and historical ties. Bengalis in both countries love their language and rich culture. Poets are national heroes, known to everyone. Most educated Bangladeshis still regard the city of Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), across the border in India, as the cultural capital of Bengal – a region that historically includes West Bengal and Bangladesh. Many Bangladeshi families still have strong links to West Bengal, having left part of their family there when they fled clashes between Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India in 1947. However, at a political level many Bangladeshis feel ambivalent about India. The intentions of this larger and more and more powerful neighbour are widely distrusted. Several local languages are spoken in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in South-eastern Bangladesh and in the extreme north of the country, where the influence of India’s neighbouring Assam region is pronounced. About 300,000 people in the troubled Chittagong Hill Tracts speak Chakma. The main international language spoken is English. This is a legacy of nearly two centuries of British colonial rule.
Bangladesh achieved independence from British colonial rule as part of the Islamic state of Pakistan in 1947. The territory was then known as East Pakistan, but it was physically separated from the rest of Pakistan by India. The teaching of English declined following independence from Pakistan in 1971 as Bangla was promoted for nationalist reasons. However, English continues to be widely used in government, business and the media. It is also widely spoken among the educated elite. English is now making a comeback. Many Bangladeshis regard fluency in the language as vital for getting well-paid jobs both at home and...