Remnants of civilization in the greater Bengal region date back four thousand years, when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, and Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word `Bangla’ or `Bengal’ is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from Bang (Sanskrit Vanga), the Dravidian-speaking tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC.
The Kingdom of Gangaridai was founded as early as in the seventh century BC, which later merged with Bihar under the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the third to the sixth centuries AD. Following its collapse, a dynamic Bangalee named Shashanka founded an impressive yet short-lived kingdom. Shashanka is considered the first independent king in the history of Bangladesh. After a period of anarchy, the Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years commonly referred to as the `Golden Age of Bengal’. This was followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty.
Islam was introduced to Bengal in the twelfth century by Arab Muslim merchants and Sufi missionaries, and subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region. Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkic general, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal in the year 1204.
The region was ruled by dynasties of Sultans and land lord Bhuiyans for the next few hundred years. By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an important provincial centre of the Mughal administration.
European traders arrived late in the 15th century, and their influence grew until the British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Palashi in 1757. The bloody rebellion of 1857, known as the Sepoy Mutiny, resulted in transfer of authority to the Crown, with a British viceroy running the administration in British India.
Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones, with Dhaka as the capital of the eastern zone. When India was partitioned in 1947 Bengal was partitioned again along religious lines with the western part going to India and the eastern part joining Pakistan as province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with its capital in Dhaka. Dissatisfaction with the Centre over economic and cultural issues continued to rise even from the days of partition through the 1950s and 1960s, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bangalees under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The 6-points programme launched by Bangabandhu in 1966 crystallised into the demand for autonomy which led to the electoral victory for Awami League in the first ever general election in Pakistan in 1970. Following putting off the summoning of Parliament and consequent decline to hand over power by Pakistani Junta, Bangabandhu made his historic declaration on 7 March, 1971 about the struggle for freedom and the struggle for independence. In the early hours of 26th March 1971, as the Pakistan Army unleashed its genocide across Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formally declared the independence of Bangladesh and directed everyone to fight till the elimination of the last soldier of the Pakistan Army. Awami League leaders set up a provisional government, which formally took oath at Mujib Nagar in Kushtia district inside Bangladesh on 17 April 1971. The War of Liberation that started with the resistance on 26 March lasted for nine months. The Mukti Bahini (freedom force) was made up of Bangalee regulars and guerrillas. More than 3 million Bangalees were martyred and millions were injured during the war of liberation. The war ended in a decisive victory for Bangladesh when the Pakistan Army surrendered to the joint command of Bangladesh-India forces on 16 December 1971.
When a war ravaged country was going through massive reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts and marching forward as an independent, secular country to fulfill the aspirations of the people, on 15 August 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally murdered along with most of his family members by military adventurists and elements opposed to the guiding ethos of our freedom movement and the tide of history was turned back.
A series of bloody coups and counter-coups in the following three months saw the ascent to power of Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, who founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and reinstated religion based sectarian politics. General Zia’s rule ended when he was assassinated in 1981 by elements of the military. Lt. Gen. Hossain Mohammad Ershad assumed power in a bloodless coup in 1982 and ruled until 1990, when he was forced to resign in the face of a popular anti-autocratic movement. Since then, Bangladesh has reverted to a parliamentary democracy.
In the wake of rampant corruption, disorder and uncertainty about the credibility of general election under a caretaker government that conducted itself in a clearly partisan manner, on 11 January 2007, a new caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The new caretaker government held the general election on 29 December 2008 which were acknowledged internationally as free, fair and credible. The grand alliance led by the Awami League won the election with a landslide victory and formed the government on 6 January 2009.
In the wake of successful completion of the term of the Awami League led Government in 2013, a new free and fair election took place on 5 January 2014. The people of the country reiterated their faith in democracy and the politics of development led by Sheikh Hasina. The grand alliance led by the Awami League won a landslide victory in the election and formed the government to continue her progressive politics of development.
The 5 January 2014 election victory of the grand alliance led by the Awami League has been a reiteration of the people’s faith in democracy and a celebration of an inclusive, secular ethos. The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina got elected consecutively for the third term(total four terms) following general elections held on 30 December,2018 turining Sheikh Hasina as the longest serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is located in the north-eastern part of South Asia. The majestic Himalayas stand some distance to the north, while in the south lays the Bay of Bengal. West Bengal borders on the west and in the east lies the hilly and forested regions of Tripura, Mizoram (India) and Myanmar. These picturesque geographical boundaries frame a low lying plain of about 1,47,570 square kilometer, criss-crossed by innumerable rivers and streams. Mighty rivers are Padma (Ganges), Brahmaputra (Jamuna), Meghna and Karnafuli.
Bangladesh offers many tourist attractions, including archaeological sites, historical mosques and monuments, longest natural beach in the world, picturesque landscape, hill forests and wildlife, rolling tea gardens and tribes. The rich flora and fauna and colorful tribal life is very enchanting. Each part of the country offers distinctly different topography, flavors and delicacies. It is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, freshwater pink dolphins, historical temples made of red earth.
Some of popular known tourist attractions are: Srimangal, where miles of tea gardens are located, Mainamati, Mahasthangarh, Paharpur for archaeology, Rangamati, Kaptai and Cox's Bazar for sight seeing, and the Sundarbans for wild life and the largest Mangrove forest of the world, and, Foy's Lake for scenic beauty. To know more about tourism of activities in Bangladesh, please click here.
History of Bangladesh
The 13th and 15th Century
From the 13th century A.D. the Buddhists and Hindus were swamped by the flood of Muslim conquerors and the tide of Islam up to 18th century. Sometimes there were independent rulers like the Hussain Shahi and Ilyas Shahi dynasties, while at other times they ruled on behalf of the Imperial seat of Delhi.
From the 15th century, the Europeans, namely Portuguese, Dutch, French and British traders exerted an economic influence over the region. British political rule over the region began in 1757 A.D., when the last Muslim ruler of Bengal was defeated at Palassey. In 1947 the subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Present Bangladesh became the Eastern Wing of the then Pakistan. But the movement for autonomy of East Pakistan started within a couple of years because of language and cultural differences and economic disparity between the two wings.
The Language Movement
The Language Movement of 1952 to recognize Bangla as one of the state languages may be termed as the first step towards independence.Political and economic deprivation of the Bengalees prompted Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, to put forward in 1966 his historic six points, the "Magna Carta" which in effect structured the foundation for East Pakistan's future independence.
The War of Liberation
In the 1970 elections, even though the Awami League emerged as the largest party in Pakistan Parliament, it was not allowed to form the government by the ruling military junta. In the backdrop of a non-cooperation movement launched against the military regime by Awami League.
Bangabandhu declared at a historic public meeting held at Ramna Race Course (renamed Suhrawardy Uddyan) on 7 March, 1971, attended by around 2 million people, "The struggle this tune is the struggle for freedom, the struggle this tune is the struggle for independence." It was a defacto declaration of independence.
Thus in a preplanned manner on 25th March 1971. The Pakistan army embarked on what may be termed as history's worst genocide. A military crackdown was ordered, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken away to West Pakistan. But just before he was arrested he sent out a call for the liberation war to begin. Known as the Declaration of (i.e. War of Independence, this hurriedly written historic document read as follows:
"Pak Army suddenly attacked EPR Base at Pilkhana, Rajarbagh Police Line and killing citizens. Street battles are going on in every street of Dacca. Chittagong. I appeal to the nations of the world for help. Our freedom fighters are gallantly fighting with the enemies to free the motherland. I appeal and order you all in the name of Almighty Allah to fight to the last drop of blood to liberate the country. Ask Police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansar to stand by you and to fight. No compromise. Victory is ours. Drive out the enemies from the holy soil of motherland. Convey this message to all Awami League leaders, workers and other patriots and lovers of freedom. May Allah bless you. Joy Bangla".
After nine months of war, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered in Dhaka on 16th December. 1971 after killing an estimated three million people. Due to the heroic resistance and supreme sacrifices of the valiant freedom fighters Bangladesh finally became an independent sovereign state.
Father of the Nation Bangahandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founder- President of Bangladesh. He was subsequently assassinated on 15th August, 1975 by a group of conspirators.
Bangladesh Fast Facts
Official Name: People's Republic of Bangladesh
Nationality : Bangladeshi
Weekends: Friday & Saturday, some govt and non-govt offices remain open on Saturdays.
International Dialing Code: +880
Standard Time : BST (GMT +6 Hours)
Independence Day: 26th March
Victory Day: 16th December
Martyr's Day: 21st February (Also recognized as the International Mother Language Day)
Latitude between 20°34' and 26°38' North
Longitude between 88°01' and 92°41' East
147,570 sq. km. (land: 133,910 sq km, water: 10,090 sq km)
North - India (West Bengal and Meghalaya)
West - India (West Bengal)
East - India (Tripura and Assam) and Myanmar
South-Bay of Bengal.
Total: 4,246 km (border countries: Burma 193 km, India 4,053 km)
up to the outer limits of the continental margin
Exclusive economic zone:
Mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast
7 Divisions - Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur
Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Surma, Brahmaputra, Karnaphuli, Teesta, Sitalakhya, Rupsha, Madhumati, Gorai, Mahananda etc.
Winter 11° C - 20° C (October - February)
Summer 21° C - 38° C (March - September)
Rainfall : 1,100 mm to 3,400 mm (June - August)
Highest 99% (July)
Lowest 36% (December & January)
Population: 150 million (2011 Census Report by BBS)
Literacy Rate: 60%
Bangla (national language) spoken by 95%
English is widely understood and spoken.
Muslims - 86.6%,
Hindus - 12.1%,
Buddhists - 0.6%,
0-14 years#33.8% (male 23,069,242#female 21,995,457)
15-64 years: 62.8% (male 42,924,778; female 40,873,077)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 2,444,314; female 2,069,816)
Population Growth Rate: 1.59%
Birth Rate / 1000 : 25.12 births/1,000 population
Death Rate / 1000 : 8.47 deaths/1,000 population
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.18 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female
Fertility Rate: 2.72 children born/woman
Other indigenous minority (2%) including Chakmas, Marmas, Santals, Garos, Manipuri, Tripura, and Tanchangya.