macrohistory & world report

People's Republic of Bangladesh

Map of Bangladesh

Bangladesh (its capital, Dhaka)

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Bangladesh's economy has grown roughly 6% per year since 1996 despite political instability, poor infrastructure, corruption, insufficient power supplies, slow implementation of economic reforms, and the 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service 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 and 80% of total exports, surpassed $21 billion last year, 18% of GDP. The sector has remained resilient in recent years amidst a series of factory accidents that have killed over 1,000 workers and crippling strikes that shut down virtually all economic activity. Steady garment export growth combined with remittances from overseas Bangladeshis, which totaled almost $15 billion and 13% of GDP IN 2013, are the largest contributors to Bangladesh's current account surplus and record foreign exchange holdings."

Economic growth rate
2011: 6.3%
2010: 6.4%
2009: 5.9%

Labor force in agriculture
2008: 45%

Unemployment rate
2011: 5%

Export commodities
garments, knitwear, agricultural products, frozen food (fish and seafood), jute and jute goods, leather

Export partners
2009: US 22.1%, Germany 14.1%, UK 8.5%, France 6.8%, Netherlands 6.1%

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 98th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). More equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 3.4% of GDP


Living in an urban area:
2010: 28%

Net migration rate
2011: A net loss of 1.04 persons per 1,000 population. T

September 30, 2012: "The average Bangladeshi woman now has 2.2 children, down from 6 in 1980" (Nicholas Kristoff, NYT).

Ethnic groups
1998: Bengali 98%, other 2% (includes tribal groups, non-Bengali Muslims)

2004: Muslim 89.5%, Hindu 9.6%, other 0.9%

Literacy (fifteen or older and able to read and write)
2001 census: males 54%, females 41.4%


On the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India. South America. Slightly smaller than Indiana. Tropical and often hot and rainy, with mild winters. Much of the country is often flooded during the summer monsoon.

Recent History

Bangladesh was born in 1971 when Bengali East Pakistan seceded from its union with West Pakistan. Its full name is the People's Republic of Bangladesh. It is a parliamentary democracy.

According to Wikipedia, the center-left "Awami League was established as the Bengali alternative to the domination of the Muslim League in Pakistan. The President of the Awami League is a woman: Sheikh Hasina Wajed. She has been Bangladesh's prime minister since 6 January 2009.

June 2010:

Among the problems Bangladesh faces is sexual harassment euphemistically called "Eve teasing." The country's education ministry made June 13 "Eve Teasing Protection Day."

This followed a rise in suicides among girls. One 13-year-old, Nahfia Akhand Pinky, wrote a suicide note that described onlookers as laughing during her harassment on the street outside her home by a small group of young men. She wrote that "Nobody protested." She hanged herself.

An article in the BBC describes victims of sexual harassment as getting "virtually no help from law enforcement agencies. Families of the victims are left feeling hopeless and helpless." Men (fathers perhaps) who have protested the harassment have been murdered.

Harassment is prevalent in schools. The dropout rate among girls has been increasing as a means of escape, and, as an escape, parents have been pushing their daughters into early marriages.

Another problem: widespread arsenic poisoning, according to the World Health Organization "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history." This occurred after wells were installed in the 1970s to give people greater access to groundwater.

October 4, 2010

The High Court of Bangladesh is described by the BBC as having ruled that "no-one can be forced to wear the burka, or full Islamic headdress." The BBC adds that "The governing Awami League prides itself on its secular credentials."

Bangladesh's legal system is based on English common law.

Wikipedia: "In Bangladesh, where a modified Anglo-Indian civil and criminal legal system operates, there are no official sharia courts."

According to, the elections on December 29, 2008 gave the Awami League more than 260 seats out of approximately 290 plus seats, and the "Islamic fundamentalist parties were virtually wiped out." Also according to the elections "were free and fair without rigging."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.