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Bangladesh

 
 
Bangladesh é um país do sul da Ásia. A capital é Daca [Dacca]. A principal religião é o Islamismo (Sunita) e o Hinduísmo. A língua nacional é o Bengali, o outro idioma principal é o Inglês. Os Europeus começaram a estabelecer postos de comércio na área de Bangladesh no século 16; eventualmente os Ingleses passaram a dominar a região e ela se tornou parte da Índia Britânica. Em 1947, o Paquistão Ocidental e Bengala Oriental (ambos de maioria Muçulmana), separaram-se da Índia (em grande parte Hindu) e em conjunto tornaram-se o novo país do Paquistão. Bengala Oriental tornou-se o Paquistão Oriental em 1955, mas o desajeitado arranjo de dois países com as suas unidades territoriais separadas por 1.600 km deixou os Bengalis marginalizados e insatisfeitos. O Paquistão Oriental se separou de sua união com o Paquistão Ocidental em 1971 e foi renomeado Bangladesh. Um regime provisório de emergência apoiado pelos militares suspendeu as eleições parlamentares previstas para Janeiro de 2007, em um esforço para reformar o sistema político e erradicar a corrupção. Em contraste com as greves e manifestações de rua violentos que marcaram a política de Bangladesh nos anos anteriores, as eleições parlamentares finalmente realizadas no final de Dezembro de 2008 foram na sua maioria pacíficas e o Sheikh Hasina Wajed foi reeleito primeiro-ministro. Cerca de um terço deste país extremamente pobre inunda anualmente durante a estação das chuvas de monção, prejudicando o desenvolvimento econômico. 
 

17/01/2017

Bangladesh's flag depicts a fiery red sun setting over a sea of green rice fields, symbolizing the scenic beauty of this South Asian country. While Bangladesh is indeed beautiful, it is also one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. Rivers supply it with the fertile soil that is its greatest resource. Yet they also bring the floods that are one of Bangladesh's greatest problems and the source of much of its people's misery.

Political instability has hindered Bangladesh's ability to deal with flooding and other problems. Since it declared its independence from Pakistan in 1971, this fledgling democracy has been beset by political assassinations, coups, election violence, and punishing boycotts. Despite these challenges, Bangladeshis are committed to a system of government that is acceptable both at home and in the international community, on which it relies for billions of dollars in aid each year.

THE LAND

Bangladesh—the name means "Bengal Nation" —lies astride the Bay of Bengal, where its jagged coastline runs for 357 mi. (575 km.). The Bay of Bengal, an arm of the Indian Ocean, is the only natural feature to dictate the shape of the 55,598 sq.-mi. (143,998 sq.-km.) country's irregular border. Political considerations and an attempt to keep communities intact guided Great Britain's hand in drawing that border when it carved two new nations—India and Pakistan—out of British India in 1947. As a result, Bangladesh, which the British called East Pakistan, is almost entirely surrounded by its giant neighbor, India. It shares a border with Myanmar (formerly Burma) on the southeast.

Four-fifths of Bangladesh occupies the large Bengal Delta, which is formed by three of the world's most powerful rivers—the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna. The delta is largely a flat floodplain that is crisscrossed by innumerable rivers and streams. When these waterways overflow during flood season, they deposit fertile soil along their banks. Bangladeshis use this soil to cultivate a variety of crops, including rice, the nation's chief agricultural product and food staple.

While most of Bangladesh lies less than 50 ft. (15 m.) above sea level, hilly areas exist in the far northeast and southeast corners of the country. The country's highest point, Keokradong, stands at 4,036 ft. (1,230 m.) high. The hills of Chittagong, a district to the east of the Bay of Bengal, are covered with tropical forests and teak, a valuable hardwood. Chittagong, Bangladesh's chief seaport, lies at the mouth of the Karnaphuli River, which runs through this district.

Bamboo grows throughout most of Bangladesh, as do mango, palm, and tamarind trees. Bengal tigers live in the Sundarbans, a swampy region in southwest Bangladesh.

CLIMATE

Bangladesh has a semitropical monsoon climate with two principal seasons—a hot, wet summer and a cooler, drier winter. The average temperature in April, usually the warmest month, is 82° F. (28° C.). In January, usually the coldest month, the temperature averages 64° F. (18° C.).

Bangladesh receives an enormous amount of rainfall. The rainy season lasts from mid-March to October. Monsoons—shifts in the direction of the prevailing winds—set in around mid-May. During the monsoon season, winds from the Bay of Bengal bring rain practically every day. The average annual rainfall is 100 in. (250 cm.) in the east, 65 in. (165 cm.) in the west, and as much as 250 in. (635 cm.) in the far northeast.

Monsoon rains often cause rivers to overflow and flood the surrounding countryside. In August and September of 1988, Bangladesh experienced the worst monsoon floods in its history. At one point, 75 percent of the country was underwater. More than 2,000 people died, and about 25 million others were left homeless as a result of the flooding.

Tropical cyclones often strike Bangladesh at the end of monsoon season. These fierce storms may be accompanied by huge tidal waves, or storm surges, that do their most damage to low-lying nations such as Bangladesh. In 1970, a cyclone and tidal wave that struck Bangladesh, then called East Pakistan, killed some 300,000 people, drowned millions of livestock, and destroyed most of the nation's fishing fleet. A 1985 cyclone killed an estimated 10,000 people.

THE PEOPLE

Bangladesh has a population of 169 million. It is one of the world's most densely populated nations, with an average of more than 2,000 persons per sq. mi. (806 persons per sq. km.). More than 80 percent of all Bangladeshis live in rural areas, chiefly in small villages, and try to make a living by farming. Their homes are one- or two-room bamboo houses with thatched roofs. There is little or no electricity or running water. The Sundarbans and the Chittagong Hill district are the least densely populated areas of Bangladesh.

About 20 percent of all Bangladeshis live in small, cramped wooden houses in Bangladesh's cities and towns. Though primarily a rural country, Bangladesh has more than a dozen cities with populations over 100,000. The largest of these is Dhaka (formerly Dacca), the capital. Continuously inhabited since the 400s, Dhaka now has 3.5 million people living in its metropolitan area. Chittagong, in the southeast, is the nation's second-largest city and chief port.

Bengalis.   Most Bangladeshis are descendants of people who migrated to the area thousands of years ago from lands now occupied by Myanmar, Tibet, and northern India. Ninety-eight percent of the Bangaldeshis are Bengalis—short, dark-skinned people, like their neighbors in the Indian state of West Bengal. The country's several minority groups include the Chakmas, the Marmas, the Mros, and the Tipperas, who live mainly in the Chittagong Hill district.

Unlike their mainly Hindu neighbors in West Bengal, most Bangladeshis are Muslims. In 1988, a constitutional amendment made Islam the state religion of Bangladesh, but stated that other religions could be practiced freely. About 10 percent of all Bangladeshis are Hindu, and about 1 percent are Buddhist or Christian.

Most people speak Bangla (also called Bengali), the official language. English is widely used in government, commerce, and higher education.

Hill People.   There has been a long and bloody conflict in the Chittagong Hill district between local tribespeople and the ethnic Bengalis who have been settling there in increasing numbers. The tribespeople, most of whom follow Buddhism, feel they must protect their culture and religion from the "flatlanders," as they call the Bengalis. The government is trying to ease tensions in the district by giving the people in the hills more freedom to run their own affairs. However, tribespeople insist that all nontribal people be removed from their district—a demand that will be hard for the land-starved Bengalis to meet.

Women.   Islam dominates social, political, and religious life in Bangladesh, and it heavily influences the lives of all Bangladeshis. The Muslim custom of purdah, which means "curtain," requires women to stay out of public view. Muslim women cover their heads with veils around strangers, avoid social contact with men they are not related to, and take part in few activities outside of their homes. Muslim men do much of the shopping for their families, and generally they have more freedom than their wives do. Hindu women have greater social freedom than Muslim women, although their legal rights are limited.

Two-thirds of all Bangladeshi women get married between the ages of 15 and 19, and during their lifetimes each may bear five or six children. While about 63 percent of all men can read and write, only 49 percent of all women can do so. On average, Bangladeshi women live for 60 years—one year less than men do.

Education.   In a country that has no law that requires children to go to school, only about half of all children attend primary school. Only about one in five Bangladeshis attends secondary school. Adult-education programs have helped to improve the overall literacy rate, which remains relatively low for Asia, but has increased in recent years.

Food.   Rice and fish are the most popular foods, and tea the most popular drink. Because of widespread poverty, however, many Bangladeshis do not have enough food to eat, and water is often the only drink available. Food shortages and unsanitary living conditions cause widespread disease. Malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes that thrive in Bangladesh's swampy regions, kills thousands of people each year.

Bengali Arts.   Despite their many hardships, Bangladeshis find time for art and literature. The country's warm evening air is often filled with the songs of Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet from India who became prominent in Bengali literature during the late 1800s. Plays based on religious stories are popular forms of entertainment, too.

Clothing.   Bengali women traditionally wear the sari, a straight piece of cloth draped around the body as a long dress, with a short blouse underneath. Muslim men usually wear the lungi, a tight, shirtlike garment. Hindu men wear the dhoti, a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and between the legs, and they often go shirtless in Bangladesh's hot climate.

THE ECONOMY

Since the 1980s the government has gradually liberalized the economy by making public businesses private, lowering tariffs, and attracting foreign investment. Despite some economic progress beginning in the mid-1990s, Bangladesh remains a very poor nation. Many Bangladeshis leave their country to work in Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The earnings they send home are important to Bangladesh's economy.

Services.   Service industries account for more just over one half of Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP). (GDP is the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country over a period of time, typically a year.) Leading service industries include banking and finance, education, health care, government, transport, and communications.

Industry

Industry contributes about 30 percent of GDP. The garment industry has grown rapidly. Other manufactures include cotton textiles, paper, cement, fertilizer, and sugar. Since the 1990s clothing has replaced jute (a plant fiber used for burlap, sacking, and twine) as the leading export. Jute mills turn jute fiber into string, burlap sacking, and carpet backing.

The processing of fish and shrimp for export is a growing industry. Other industries include the manufacture of paper, leather goods, cement, and fertilizer. Bangladesh exports garments, knitwear, agricultural products, frozen food (fish and seafood), jute and jute goods, and leather. Remittances from Bangladeshis who work abroad, mainly as guest workers in Arab nations of the Middle East, are another major source of foreign exchange.

Agriculture

Agriculture contributes about 17 percent of GDP, but almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agricultural sector. The most important crop is rice. Jute and tea are important cash crops. Other crops include sugarcane, wheat, mangoes, coconuts, pineapples, potatoes, spices, and oilseeds, from which cooking oil is derived. Livestock is also raised.

Transportation

Rivers and canals are the chief means of transportation, although there are paved highways and a rail system. In addition, there is an international airport in Dhaka and many smaller airports in other locations. Major ports are located in Chittagong, Dhaka, and Mongla (Chalna) Port.

Flood Control.   The floods that deposit fertile soil on Bangladesh's farmland are vitally important to the nation's economy. Yet there is no way to control the sort of severe flooding that has frequently caused extensive economic damage. This flooding has become an international concern. A number of countries have begun to examine ways to assist Bangladesh in managing these annual disasters. Suggested solutions range from building dams to dredging riverbeds to enable water to course through them without overflowing.

GOVERNMENT

Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy. The executive branch consists of a president, who is chief of state, and a prime minister, who is head of the government. The president is elected by the National Parliament for a five-year term and is eligible to compete for a second term. The cabinet is selected by the prime minister and appointed by the president.

The legislative branch consists of a 300-seat National Parliament or Jatiya Sangsad. It is elected by popular vote and its members serve five-year terms. The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, which is organized into the Appellate Division, with seven justices, and the High Court Division, with 99 justices. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president. Lower courts include civil courts, criminal courts, and special courts and tribunals.

HISTORY

The early history of Bengal, the region occupied by Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, is obscure. It is generally believed that about 1000 B.C., the Bang tribe, a Dravidian people, was pushed out of the upper Ganges Valley by advancing Indo-Aryans. The new territory occupied by the Bang later came to be known as Bengal. During the 3rd century B.C., the Maurya empire extended its domain over the area, and Buddhism spread under the rule of the emperor Asoka. Later, Bengal came under the control of the Hindu Gupta empire.

During the 800s, the Pala dynasty came to power. The three centuries of rule by the Pala kings is regarded as the classical period of Bengali history. The arts flowered, and a distinct Bengali culture took shape.

During the six centuries from the 1200s through the 1700s, Bengal was under Muslim rule. In this period, Islam spread rapidly in Bengal, especially in the eastern region that would become Bangladesh. Islam has played a crucial role in the region ever since. Nonetheless, rural Bengali Muslims who are descended from Hindus continue to practice ancient Hindu rites. And most Muslims and Hindus participate in each other's religious festivals.

During the 1700s, Bengal came under the control of the British, who ruled it as part of their Indian empire until 1947. In that year, Great Britain ended its rule in the Indian subcontinent. India received its independence, and at the insistence of the Muslim League, the separate nation of Pakistan was formed out of those parts of the subcontinent where the Muslims were a majority. East Bengal, which lay within the Bengal enclave of India, became the eastern wing—East Pakistan—of the new country. It was separated from the larger, western part of Pakistan by 1,000 mi. (1,600 km.) of Indian territory.

Early Years.   Most of the officials sent from West Pakistan to govern East Pakistan could not speak Bangla, and they tended to treat Bengalis with contempt. Many East Pakistanis felt they had traded one colonial ruler—Great Britain—for another. To hold the two distant parts of the country together, the Pakistani government, headquartered in West Pakistan, relied on Islam. It was a mistake. The government set out to eliminate Hindu influences from the Bengali language and culture, outraging East Pakistanis. Bengali university students in Dhaka rioted in 1952 to block a proposal to make Urdu, the main language of West Pakistan, the only official language of all of Pakistan. (Today, Bangladeshis commemorate the students who died in those riots every February 21, on Martyrs' Day). 

Civil War and Independence.   In legislative elections held in 1970, a majority of seats were won by the East Pakistani Awami League, which was led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), whose goals included greater autonomy for the eastern region. When, by postponing the opening of the legislature in 1971, the national government prevented the successful candidates from taking their seats, riots and other disorders broke out in East Pakistan. West Pakistani troops suppressed the riots harshly, and Sheikh Mujib was arrested. In the turmoil, some 10 million Bengalis fled into India.

Border incidents between Pakistan and India eventually led to a short but full-scale war, in which the West Pakistani forces were defeated. East Pakistan won its independence as Bangladesh, with Mujib becoming its first prime minister in 1972. He later became president.

Modern Times.   A war-ravaged Bangladesh was faced with enormous economic and social problems. Political disputes added to the country's disarray. In 1975, President Mujib was killed during a coup led by military officers. A series of martial-law governments followed, until, in 1977, General Ziaur Rahman (Zia) assumed the presidency. He was elected president in 1978, but was assassinated in an attempted coup in 1981.

In 1982, General Hossain Mohammed Ershad, the army chief of staff, took control of the government as president, chief martial-law administrator, and head of the Council of Ministers. After many postponements, Ershad allowed elections for Parliament in 1986. Of the two major opposition groups, only the Awami League agreed to participate in this election. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) declined. The progovernment Jatiya (People's) Party, set up by Ershad's backers for the transition to civilian rule, won a bare majority of seats. In August, Ershad retired from the military; and in October, he was elected president. Ershad ended martial law on November 10, 1986, the day Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution that held military leaders legally blameless for any action they took while running Bangladesh. The Jatiya Party won a large majority in a second parliamentary election in 1988. Renewed protests forced Ershad's resignation in December 1990.

Elections held in February 1991 were won by the Bangladesh National Party; its leader, Begum Khalida Zia, became Bangladesh's first woman prime minister. A new constitution adopted later that year returned Bangladesh to a parliamentary form of government with a largely ceremonial president. The opposition boycotted the February 1996 elections, and Zia resigned.

New elections in June 1996 were won by the Awami League, led by Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who became prime minister. Zia was returned to power in the October 2001 elections. The bitter rivalry between the two women created a legislative impasse and contributed to the rise of Islamic militancy. In 2002, Iajuddin Ahmed was sworn in as president.

One bright spot during these troubled times was the awarding of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank; they had pioneered the concept of microcredit (small loans that would enable the poor to better their lives).

Zia's term as prime minister ended in October 2006. That month President Ahmed took temporary control of the government to prepare for parliamentary elections in January 2007. In January, there were violent protests and threats to boycott the elections. So the elections were postponed.

The interim government began preparing for new national parliamentary elections. They were held in December 2008. The Awami League and its supporters captured 262 of 299 seats; the BNP and its allies won 32. In January 2009, Hasina Wajed, head of the Awami League, was sworn in as prime minister for a second time. The election once again made a woman prime minister of Bangladesh. Zillur Rahman succeeded Ahmed as president in February 2009.

Bangladesh and India signed an agreement in 2010 to fight against cross-border crime and terrorism. However, the two countries remained at odds over the sharing of river waters and their border in the Bay of Bengal. It was believed that the bay might contain rich deposits of oil and natural gas.

In 2011, several changes were made to the country's constitution. One change retained Islam as the state religion, but secularism and freedom of religion were added. This angered some hard-line Islamists within the military. A planned Islamist coup in January 2012 was foiled by the army. Later that year a special tribunal began trying key figures in the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. They were charged with collaborating with Pakistani death squads during Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971. The conviction of several party leaders for war crimes in 2013 led to violent protests.

In April 2013, the collapse of a garment factory in Dhaka killed 1,129 people and injured some 2,500. This catastrophe was the worst of a series of such accidents in Bangladesh. It drew attention to the terrible working conditions in factories supplying cheap goods to well-known international clothing brands.

Also in April 2013, Abdul Hamid, speaker of the parliament, was elected president by the parliament, after the death, in March, of President Zillur Rahman. A general election was scheduled for early 2014. In August 2013, the supreme court ruled that Jamaat-e-Islami would not be eligible to participate in the election. Subsequently, the BNP and other opposition parties led protests, sometimes accompanied by violence, demanding that a caretaker administration be installed to oversee the election. The government refused to follow this course. The poll, held on January 5, 2014, was therefore boycotted by the BNP. The Awami League won by far the largest share of 300 seats, many of which were uncontested, and Hasina remained prime minister.

P.P. Karan

Chairman Department of Geography, University of Kentucky


 



02/‎02/‎2018

Background:

The huge delta region formed at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems - now referred to as Bangladesh - was a loosely incorporated outpost of various empires centered on the Gangetic plain for much of the first millennium A.D. Muslim conversions and settlement in the region began in the 10th century, primarily from Arab and Persian traders and preachers. Europeans established trading posts in the area in the 16th century. Eventually the area known as Bengal, primarily Hindu in the western section and mostly Muslim in the eastern half, became part of British India. Partition in 1947 resulted in an eastern wing of Pakistan in the Muslim-majority area, which became East Pakistan. Calls for greater autonomy and animosity between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan led to a Bengali independence movement. That movement, led by the Awami League (AL) and supported by India, won the independence war for Bangladesh in 1971.

The post-independence AL government faced daunting challenges and in 1975 was overthrown by the military, triggering a series of military coups that resulted in a military-backed government and subsequent creation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in 1978. That government also ended in a coup in 1981, followed by military-backed rule until democratic elections occurred in 1991. The BNP and AL alternated in power between 1991 and 2013, with the exception of a military-backed, emergency caretaker regime that suspended parliamentary elections planned for January 2007 in an effort to reform the political system and root out corruption. That government returned the country to fully democratic rule in December 2008 with the election of the AL and Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA. In January 2014, the incumbent AL won the national election by an overwhelming majority after the BNP boycotted, extending HASINA's term as prime minister. With the help of international development assistance, Bangladesh has reduced the poverty rate from over half of the population to less than a third, achieved Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health, and made great progress in food security since independence. The economy has grown at an annual average of about 6% over the last two decades and the country reached World Bank lower-middle income status in 2015.

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Abdul HAMID (since 24 April 2013); note - Abdul HAMID served as acting president following the death of Zillur RAHMAN in March 2013; HAMID was subsequently indirectly elected by the National Parliament and sworn in 24 April 2013;

head of government: Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA (since 6 January 2009);

cabinet: Cabinet selected by the prime minister, appointed by the president;

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Parliament for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 April 2013 (next to be held by 2018); the president appoints as prime minister the majority party leader in the National Parliament;

election results: President Abdul HAMID (AL) elected by the National Parliament unopposed; Sheikh HASINA reappointed prime minister as leader of the majority AL party.

Economy - overview:

Bangladesh's economy has grown roughly 6% per year since 1996 despite prolonged periods of political instability, poor infrastructure, endemic corruption, insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the services sector, almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product.

Garment exports, the backbone of Bangladesh's industrial sector, accounted for more than 80% of total exports and surpassed $25 billion in 2016. The sector continues to grow, despite a series of high-profile factory accidents that have killed more than 1,000 workers and crippling strikes, including a nationwide transportation blockade orchestrated by the political opposition during the first several months of 2015. Steady export growth in the garment sector combined with remittances from overseas Bangladeshis - which totaled about $15 billion and 8% of GDP in 2015 - are key contributors to Bangladesh's sustained economic growth and rising foreign exchange reserves.

Disputes - international:

Bangladesh referred its maritime boundary claims with Burma and India to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea; Indian Prime Minister Singh's September 2011 visit to Bangladesh resulted in the signing of a Protocol to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh, which had called for the settlement of longstanding boundary disputes over undemarcated areas and the exchange of territorial enclaves, but which had never been implemented; Bangladesh struggles to accommodate 32,000 Rohingya, Burmese Muslim minority from Arakan State, living as refugees in Cox's Bazar; Burmese border authorities are constructing a 200 km (124 mi) wire fence designed to deter illegal cross-border transit and tensions from the military build-up along border;

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 900,500 (Burma) (2018) (includes an estimated 688,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled conflict since 25 August 2017);

IDPs: 426,000 (conflict, development, human rights violations, religious persecution, natural disasters) (2016);

Illicit drugs:

transit country for illegal drugs produced in neighboring countries.

 


 
 
 
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