Facts about the People's Republic of Bangladesh

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3 Bangladesh
Tapan Sarker
3.1 Introduction
The People's Republic of Bangladesh, republic of southern Asia, in the northeastern portion of the Indian subcontinent, bordered on the west, north, and east by India, on the southeast by Burma (Myanmar), and on the south by the Bay of Bengal. The area of the country is 147,570 sq km with a population of 126 million. It lies roughly between 20°34′ and 26°36′ North latitude and between 88°01′ and 92°41′ east longitude (Appendix-A1). The capital and largest city of Bangladesh is Dhaka. Geographically, historically and culturally Bangladesh forms the larger and more populous part of the world. The plains of Bangladesh are watered by one of the most remarkable network of rivers in the world, the important rivers being Padma, Meghna, Brahmaputra and Jamuna. With thousand of years of history behind it, Bangladesh has a rich and varied existence. She made her debut centuries ago as a Greenland of prosperity where the fine Muslin cloth was woven. Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Armenians, Arabs, Portuguese had already visited Bengal, when the English finally established their suzerainty over her in 1757. After partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, when the area that now forms Bangladesh became a part of Pakistan, the people of Bangladesh were subjected to a system of economic exploitation, cultural and political subjugation forcing Bangladeshis to rise in rebellion which resulted in the emergence of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as a free and sovereign nation in 1971 after nine month-long war of liberation. Demographic Features

The country’s population is almost evenly distributed throughout its 64 districts except for the three Hill Tracts districts which are rather sparsely inhabited. Regionally, the eastern districts have a slightly higher density than the western ones. On average, a district has a population of about 1.8 million, a thana 230,000, a union 25,000 and a village 2,000. There are 490 thanas, 4,451 unions and 59,990 villages. The number of households is about 20 million. On average, a household consists of 5.6 persons. The tribal people, who lead a simple life, are generally self-reliant, producing their own food and drinks and weaving their own clothes. There are 4 metropolitan cities and 119 municipalities in the country. The level of urbanization is low at 20%. This leaves 80% of the country’s total population of about 126 million to live in the rural areas which primarily depend on a poorly developed agriculture for livelihood. The capital city of Dhaka has an estimated population of 8.58 million. The annual growth rate of the population has come down to 1.75% with the acceptance of family planning practices rising to 48.7%. The crude birth rate per 1000 is 25.6 and the death rate is 8.1. Life expectancy at birth is 59.5 years. The rate of child mortality per 1000 has come down to 76.8 and that of maternal mortality to 4.5. About 96.3% families in the country have now access to safe drinking water. The sex ratio is 106 males for every 100 females. The density of population per square kilometer is 800. Some 44.3% of the people are literate with about 5 million having passed secondary school level and another 1.27 million being graduates. The primary school enrollment rate has risen to 86% and the rate for secondary school enrollment to 33%. To intensify promotion of compulsory primary education, the food-for education programme has been extended to over 16,000 schools.

Table 3.1 Demographic Indicators of Bangladesh Total Population | 1995 | 1990 | 1998 | Total Populations (millions) Annual population Growth Rate % (Change) Life Expectancy at Birth (years) Female Male Population Below Poverty Line | 97.5 2.1 56.0 55.0 49.0 | 109.6 2.0 55.7 56.5 47.5 | 126.0 1.67 58.1 57.6 47.5 | Source: ADB Report, Dec 1999

Labor Force
Occupationally, 75 percent of the civilian labor force, which is currently estimated at 56 million, is directly or...
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