The history of Bangladesh is often described as a history of conflicts, power shifts and disasters. The earliest historical references to political life in the Bangladesh occur in writings recounting Alexander the Great's invasion of India in 326 BCE (Before the Common Era). Greek and Latin historians hypothesized that Alexander the Great withdrew from India anticipating the valiant counter attack from the empires of the Bengal region.
The first Muslims came to the area around 13th Century CE seizing control and establishing independent rule. During the 15th Century many European traders began coming to the region. The Portuguese came first, followed by the Dutch, French and then the British. At first the Europeans exerted only economic influence over South Asia, but by the late 1750's with the defeat of the last Muslim leader of Bengal, the British imposed political rule over the region as well. The British would control the area known as West Bengal for nearly two hundred years.
In 1945, at the close of World War II, the British were strongly pressured to reduce the size of their empire. Viceroy Lord Mountbattan was assigned the task of restoring the subcontinent's sovereignty. He worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi to unite the two major religious groups of the area, Hindus and Muslims. Despite Gandhi's even-handed approach, Muslims were concerned that an independent India would be dominated by Hindus. Considering an agreement between the two groups to be impossible, Mountbatten decided to partition the subcontinent. In June 1947 the United Kingdom declared it would grant full dominion status to two successor states: India and Pakistan. India would become the Hindu state and Pakistan, the Muslim state. The latter would consist of two non-continuous areas: Punjab in the west and Bengal in the east. For months following the partition, a horrific bloody exodus took place as Hindus moved out of both wings of Pakistan and into India; conversely, Muslims moved...
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