High Commission for the People Republic of Bangladesh, Canberra
21 Culgoa Circuit, O Malley, ACT-2606, Canberra, Australia
- :61-6290 - 0511 / 6290 0522 / 6290 - 0533
Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign country on 16 December 1971 following a nine-month war of liberation. Dhaka (previously spelt Dacca) is its capital.
INFORMATION BRIEF Official name People's Republic of Bangladesh (Gana Prajatantri Bangladesh)
Government Parliamentary form of government, president is head of the State and prime minister is head of government.
UNO Member UNO membership no 136, admitted on 17 September, 1974.
Geographical location In South Asia, between 2034'to 2638' north latitude and 8801' to 9241' east longitude. Maximum extension is about 440 km in E-W direction and 760 km in NNW-SSE direction.
Time GMT +6.00 hours
Area and boundaries Area: 147,570 sq km. Boundaries: west bengal (India) on the west; West Bengal,assam and Meghalaya (all the Indian states) on the north; Indian states of Assam, tripura and Mizoram together with Myanmar on the east; and bay of bengal on the south. The total length of the land border is about 4,246 km, of which 93.9% is shared with India and the rest 6% with Myanmar. Limit of territorial water is 12 nautical miles (22.22 km) and the area of the high seas extending to 200 nautical miles (370.40 km) measured from the baselines constitutes the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Administrative units division 6 (Dhaka, chittagong, khulna, rajshahi, barisal, sylhet); district 64; upazila and thana 507, union 4,484, mouza 59,990, village 87,319; city corporation 6(Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal); municipality 223.
Physiography A humid lowlying alluvial region, Bangladesh is composed mainly of the great combined delta of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna rivers. It is one of the largest deltas in the world. The monotony of flatness has been relieved inland by two elevated tracts - the madhupur and the barind tracts, and on the northeast and southeast by rows of hills. Some 75% of the land is less than 3m above mean sea level (MSL) and vulnerable to floods and cyclones. The maximum elevation is 1,280m above MSL at Saichal Range in rangamati district. Tajingdong is the highest peak and called as Bijoy.
Rivers Total rivers including tributaries and distributaries are about 700 under three mighty river systems: ganges-padma river system, brahmaputra-jamuna river system and surma-meghna river system. Rivers of the southeastern hilly region are considered as the chittagong region river system. Principal rivers are: ganges, padma, brahmaputra, jamuna, surma, kushiyara, meghna, karnafuli, old brahmaputra, arial khan, buriganga, shitalakshya, tista, atrai, gorai, madhumati, kobadak, rupsa-pashur, feni.
Climate Sub-tropical monsoon. Average maximum and minimum winter temperatures are 29C and 11C respectively; average maximum and minimum summer temperatures are 34.C and 21.C respectively. Annual rainfall 1,194 mm to 3,454 mm. Highest humidity 80% to 100% (August-September), lowest 36% (February-March).
Archaeological sites paharpur (5 km west of Jamalganj railway station in Joypurhat district, actually the site includes the badalgachi upazila of Naogaon district), mahasthangarh (about 12 km north of Bogra town, the site includes partly shibganj and partly bogra sadar upazilas of Bogra district), bhasu vihara (about 4.8-6.4 km northwest of Mahasthangarh), mainamati (8 km west of Comilla town), halud vihara (about 14.5 km west-south-west of Paharpur), sitakot vihara (nawabganj upazila of Dinajpur district), Wari-Bateshwar (Narsingdi).
Tourist spots cox's Bazar, rangamati, chittagong, sylhet, Kuakata (patuakhali),sundarbans (Khulna).The 120-km long Cox's Bazar sea beach is considered to be the longest in the world. Kuakata is a unique beach for viewing sunrise as well as sun-setting.
Population (2001) total population 123.1 million; density 834 persons per sq km, annual growth rate (1991-2001) 1.47%, male-female ratio 106:100, urban population 28.8 million, rural population 94.34 million. Life expectancy at birth (1998) 61 years. At the point of ethnicity Bangladeshi people are amalgamation of Dravidian, Proto-Australoaid, Mongoloid, and Ariyan. Tribal people with a population of just over 1.2 million occupy mainly khagrachhari, bandarban, Rangamati, Chittagong, cox's bazar, habiganj, Sylhet, sunamganj, maulvi bazar, dinajpur, joypurhat, Rajshahi, naogaon, rangpur, bogra, nawabganj, mymensingh, netrokona, barguna and bhola districts. There are some 45 tribal groups in Bangladesh and among those chakma, garo, hajong, khasia, magh, santals, rakhain, manipuri, murong are not able
Religion Muslims 88.3%, Hindus 10.5%, Buddhists 0.6%, Christian 0.5% and others 0.1%.
Language National Language: Bangla (99.5% speak Bangla and 0.5% other dialects). English is the second most important language.
Literacy(7 years and above)65.5 % (2001).
Educational institutions Public university (1998)14,private university (2001)19,government medical college 16, private medical college 19, engineering college 6, polytechnic institute 21, college (general education) 2288, secondary school 14069 and primary school 65610.
Health facilities (1999)Hospitals 1,289(of which Upazila Health Complex and Rural Health Complexes are 398); hospital beds 43,143; registered physician 30,864; households per physician 674;
Employment and occupation (Labour Force Survey 1990-91, in million) technical and professional 1.46;administrative and managerial 0.19; clerical works 1.10; sales works 4.02; service works 1.68; agriculture, forestry and fisheries 34.35; production and transport 6.98; not adequately defined 0.38.
Artisans kamar (blacksmith), kumar (potter), tanti (weaver), modak or moyra (sweetmeat maker), sutradhar or chutar (carpenter), kalu (oil presser), kansaru (brazier), shankhari (shell cutter), swarnakar (goldsmith), gharami (house builder), kahar (palanquin bearer), karati (sawyer), patial(matmaker).
Mineral resources natural gas, coal, peat, limestone, hardrock, beach sand heavy mineral (zircon, rutile,Ilmenite, Garnet, Magnetite, Monazite, Leucoxene, Kyanite), glass sand, white clay, brick clay and metallic minerals.
Water resources Bangladesh is endowed with plenty of surface water and ground water resources. Surface water inflows of the country vary from a maximum of about 140,000 cumec in August to a minimum of about 7,000 cumec in February. The alluvial aquifer systems of Bangladesh are some of the most productive ground water reservoirs.Ground water in Bangladesh occurs at a very shallow depth where the recent river-borne sediments form prolific aquifers in the floodplains. In the higher terraces, the Barind and Madhupur tracts, the Pleistocene Dupi Tila sands act as aquifers. In the hilly areas, the Pliocene Tipam sands serve as aquifers. The ground water table over most of Bangladesh lies very close to the surface and fluctuates with the annual recharge discharge condition
Energy sources Fuelwood, natural gas, liquid petroleum fuels, coal, hydropower, solar power, biogas, etc.
Financial system one central bank (bangladesh bank), 45 commercial banks (4 nationalised commercial banks or NCBs), 27 private domestic banks and 13 foreign banks), 5 state-owned specialised banks, also known as development finance institutions (DFIs), 23 non-bank financial institutions, 27 merchant bankers, 556 money changers,the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB), 2 stock exchanges (the Dhaka Stock Exchange and Chittagong Stock Exchange),2 state-owned and 39 private sector insurance companies, about 10 leasing companies, Post Office Savings Bank and the Postal Life Insurance schemes. There are 145,000 co-operatives. Bangladesh Samabaya Bank Ltd is the apex institution of the co-operative sector. There are over 1,200 non-governmental and non-profit micro finance institutions.
Industries Jute, tea, textile, garments, paper, newsprint, fertiliser, leather and leather goods, cement, sugar, fish processing, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Existing: Chittagong EPZ (1983) and Dhaka EPZ. Proposed: Gazipur, Mongla, Ishwardi, Comilla, Saidpur and Sirajganj. The government has signed an agreement with the Republic of Korea to establish a Korean EPZ in Chittagong.
Exports Ready made garments, raw jute, jute manufactures, tea, leather and leather products, frozen shrimps and other fish products, newsprint, handicraft.
Imports Wheat, oil seeds, crude petroleum, raw cotton, edible oil, petroleum products, fertilser, cement, yarn.
Foreign trade Export: 5 billion US$; Import: 7 billion US$ (1999).
Currency Taka(Tk 65.00 = US module, July 2005)
Per-capita income US$376(2001-2002)
Transport and communication Metalled road 10,000 km; Railways 2,891 km. Water ways 8,900km.
Major Bridges bangabandhu jamuna multipurpose bridge, opened in June 1998 with a length of 4.8 km; Japan-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge (on the Meghna river at Gazaria upazila, Munshiganj); Bangladesh-UK Friendship Bridge (on the Meghna river at Bhairab upazila, Kishoreganj district) Meghna-Gumti Bridge (on the Meghna river at Daudkandi upazila, Comilla); Tarra Bridge (on the Dhaleshwari river at Ghior upazila, Manikganj); China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge 1 (on the Buriganga river in Dhaka); China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge 2 (on the Buriganga river in Dhaka); Shitalakshya Bridge, popularly known as Kanch�pur Bridge (on the Shitalakshya river at Sonargaon upazila, Narayanganj); karnafuli bridge (on the Karnafuli river at Chandgaon upazila, Chittagong) are notable
Railway Bridges hardinge bridge (on the Ganges river at Ishwardi upazila, pabna), Bhairab Bridge (on the Meghna river at bhairab upazila, kishoreganj); Tista Bridge (on the Tista river at kaunia upazila, Rangpur) are not able.
Major inland riverports Dhaka, Chandpur, Barisal, Khulna, Narayanganj, Bhairab Bazar, Ashuganj, Sirajganj.
Seaports Chittagong Port and Mongla Port.
Airports Zia International Airport, Dhaka; Amanat Shah International Airport, Chittagong; Osmany Airport, Sylhet; Cox's Bazar Airport; Jessore Airport; Barisal Airport; Rajshahi Airport; Saidpur Airport, Nilphamari; Ishwardi Airport, Pabna; Tejgaon STOL Port, Dhaka; Shamsernagar STOL Port, Maulvi Bazar; Comilla STOL Port, comilla; Lalmonirhat STOL Port; Thakurgaon STOL Port.
Radio stations Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet, Rangamati, Comilla and Thakurgaon.
TV stations Transmission centres: Dhaka and Chittagong. Relay stations: Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Natore, Mymensingh, Rangpur, Noakhali,Satkhira,Cox's Bazar,Rangamati and Thakurgaon.
Satellite station Three communication satellite ground receiving stations: Betbunia, Chittagong; Talibabad, Savar, Dhaka, Mohakhali,Dhaka.
The area which is now Bangladesh has a rich historical and cultural past, the product of the repeated influx of varied peoples, bringing with them the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Mongol-Mughul, Arab, Persian, Turkic, and European cultures. About 1200 A.D., Muslim invaders under Sufi influence, supplanted Hindu and Buddhist dynasties, and converted most of the population of the eastern areas of Bengal to Islam. Since then, Islam has played a crucial role in the region's history and politics. In the 16th century, Bengal was absorbed into the Mughul Empire.
Portuguese traders and missionaries reached Bengal in the latter part of the 15th century. They were followed by representatives of the Dutch, the French, and the British East India Companies. During the 18th and 19th centuries, especially after the defeat of the French in 1757, the British gradually extended their commercial contacts and administrative control beyond Calcutta into the remainder of Bengal and northwesterly up the Ganges River valley.In 1859, the British Crown replaced the East India Company, extending British dominion from Bengal in the east to the Indus River in the west.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Muslim and Hindu leaders began to press for a greater degree of independence. At the movement's forefront was the largely Hindu Indian National Congress. Growing concern about Hindu domination of the movement led Muslim leaders to form the All-India Muslim League in 1906. In 1913, the League formally adopted the same goal as the Indian National Congress: self-government for India within the British Empire. The Congress and the League were unable, however, to agree on a formula to ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights. Over the next 2 decades, mounting tension between Hindus and Muslims led to a series of bitter intercommunal conflicts.
The idea of a separate Muslim state emerged in the 1930s. It gained popularity among Indian Muslims after 1936, when the Muslim League suffered a decisive electoral defeat in the first elections under the 1935 constitution. On March 23, 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, publicly endorsed the "Pakistan Resolution" that called for the creation of an independent state in regions where Muslims were a majority.
At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom, under considerable international pressure to reduce the size of its overseas empire, moved with increasing urgency to grant India independence. The Congress Party and the Muslim League could not, however, agree on the terms for drafting a constitution or establishing an interim government. In June 1947, the UK declared it would grant full dominion status to two successor states--India and Pakistan. Pakistan would consist of the contiguous Muslim-majority districts of western British India, plus parts of Bengal. The various princely states could freely join either India or Pakistan. These arrangements resulted in a bifurcated Muslim nation separated by more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) of Indian territory. West Pakistan comprised four provinces and the capital, Lahore. East Pakistan was formed of a single province. Each province had a legislature. The capital of federal Pakistan was at Islamabad
Pakistan's history for the next 26 years was marked by political instability and economic difficulties. Dominion status was rejected in 1956 in favor of an "Islamic Republic within the Commonwealth." Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962 and 1969 and 1972. The government was dominated by Military and Oligarchies all rooted in the West. Significant amount of national revenues went towards developing the West at the expense of the East. The people of the Eastern wing began to feel increasingly dominated and exploited by the West. Frictions between West and East Pakistan culminated in a 1971 army crackdown against the East Pakistan dissident movement led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League (AL) Party had won 167 seats out of 313 National Assembly seats on a platform of greater autonomy for the eastern province.
Mujibur Rahman was arrested and his party banned. Many of his aides and more than 10 million Bengali refugees fled to India, where they established a provisional government. India and Pakistan went to war in late November 1971. The combined Indian-Bengali forces soon overwhelmed Pakistan's army contingent in the East. By the time Pakistan's forces surrendered on December 16, 1971, India had taken numerous prisoners and gained control of a large area of East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh.
Mujibur Rahman came to office with immense personal popularity but had difficulty quickly transforming this support into political legitimacy. The 1972 constitution created a strong prime ministership, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral legislature on a modified British model. More importantly, it enunciated as state policy the Awami League's four basic principles--nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy.
The Awami League won a massive majority in the first parliamentary elections in March 1973. It continued as a mass movement, espousing the cause that brought Bangladesh into being and representing disparate and often incoherent elements under the banner of Bangla nationalism. No other political party in Bangladesh's early years was able to duplicate or challenge its broad-based appeal, membership, or organizational strength.
The new government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the country's war-ravaged economy and society. Economic conditions remained tenuous, however, and food and health difficulties continued to be endemic. In 1974, Mujib proclaimed a state of emergency and amended the constitution to limit the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, establish an executive presidency, and institute a one-party system. Calling these changes the "Second Revolution," Mujib assumed the presidency. All political parties were dissolved except for a single new party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), which all members of parliament were obliged to join.
Implementation of promised political reforms was slow, and Mujib increasingly was criticized. In August 1975, he was assassinated by mid-level army officers, and a new government, headed by a former associate, Khandakar Moshtaque, was formed. Successive military coups occurred on November 3 and 7, resulting in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ziaur Rahman (Zia), as strongman. He pledged the army's support to the civilian government headed by the president, Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at Zia's behest, Sayem then promulgated martial law, naming himself Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA).
Ziaur Rahman was elected for a 5-year term as president in 1978. His government removed the remaining restrictions on political parties and encouraged opposition parties to participate in the pending parliamentary elections. More than 30 parties vied in the parliamentary elections of February 1979, but Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won 207 of the 300 elected seats.
In 1981, Zia was assassinated by dissident elements of the military. Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar was constitutionally sworn in as acting president. He declared a new national emergency and called for elections within 6 months. Sattar was elected president and won. Sattar was ineffective, however, and Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad assumed power in a bloodless coup in March 1982.
Like his predecessors, Ershad dissolved parliament, declared martial law, assumed the position of CMLA, suspended the constitution, and banned political activity. Ershad reaffirmed Bangladesh's moderate, non-aligned foreign policy.
In December 1983, he assumed the presidency. Over the ensuing months, Ershad sought a formula for elections while dealing with potential threats to public order.
In January 1,1986, full political rights, including the right to hold large public rallies, were restored. At the same time, the Jatiyo (People's) Party (JP), designed as Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law, was established. Ershad resigned as chief of army staff, retired from military service, and was elected president in October 1986. (Both the BNP and the AL refused to put up an opposing candidate.)
In July 1987, the opposition parties united for the first time in opposition to government policies. Ershad declared a state of emergency in November, dissolved parliament in December, and scheduled new parliamentary elections for March 1988.
All major opposition parties refused to participate. Ershad's party won 251 of the 300 seats; three other political parties which did participate, as well as a number of independent candidates, shared the remaining seats. This parliament passed a large number of legislative bills, including a controversial amendment making Islam the state religion.
By mid-1990, opposition to Ershad's rule had escalated. November and December 1990 were marked by general strikes, increased campus protests, public rallies, and a general disintegration of law and order. Ershad resigned in December 1990.
On February 27, 1991, an interim government oversaw what may be one of the most free and fair elections in the nation's history. The center-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party won a plurality of seats and formed a coalition government with the Islamic fundamentalist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
The new Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, was the widow of the assassinated former president Ziaur Rahman. Before the death of her husband in 1981, her participation in politics was minimal. She joined the BNP in 1982 and became chairman of the party in 1984. In September 1991, the electorate approved changes to the constitution, formally creating a parliamentary system and returning governing power to the office of the prime minister, as in Bangladesh's original constitution. In October 1991, members of parliament elected a new head of state, President Abdur Rahman Biswas.
Opposition legislators resigned en masse in December 1994, trying to force Khaleda to step down and allow early elections under a neutral caretaker administration. She refused and the opposition staged a series of strikes and shutdowns which economists say have slowed reforms and the pace of economic recovery. President Abdur Rahman Biswas dissolved parliament in November 1995 and called new elections for February 1996. He asked Khaleda Zia to stay in office until a successor was chosen. The opposition parties vowed to not to take part in the elections while Khaleda remained in office and boycotted the elections They said the elections had been rigged to ensure the BNP a landslide victory. They staged a series of crippling strikes and transport blockades, trying to force Khaleda to annul the election and transfer power to a neutral caretaker government. The new parliament bowed to opposition demands and passed a law March 26 allowing the president to form a caretaker government, Former chief justice Habibur Rahman was asked to head a caretaker government and parliament was dissolved.
Elections were completed June 23, 1996 with the Awami League garnering the highest number of seats. The leader of the Awami League, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed was elected unopposed to replace Biswas as the next president of Bangladesh.
The latter part of Awami League's tenure was marked by opposition boycott of the parliament and increasingly violent attempts at forcing early elections. However, Awami League completed its five year tenure and became the first govenment to complete its tenure in Bangladesh. New elections were held on October 1, 2001 under the aegis of a caretaker government as enshrined in the constitution of Bangladesh. These elections were won by a coalition of the BNP and three other parties led by Khaleda Zia. Begum Zia was subsequently sworn in as the Prime Minister. Political stability still appears to be a remote dream, since the Awami League alleges widespread rigging and vote manipulation and stayed away from the parliament. Independent and international observers have however termed the 2001 elections as free and fair.
The end of BNP's five year stint was also marked by a repeat (this time by the AL) of opposition boycott of the parliament and increasingly violent attempts at forcing early elections. There was severe lack of consensus between the government and the opposition regarding the head of the interim caretaker administration. Under Bangladesh's unique system, when an administration comes to the end of its term it hands over to an unelected interim government which has 90 days to organise elections. Violent protests broke out after the opposition objected to the nomination of ex-Chief Justice KM Hasan to head the interim administration as per the constitution. As a member of the BNP in his early days, his nomination was not palatable to them. On Saturday Mr Hasan pulled out just before he was due to be sworn in.
The president urged parties to find a replacement by Sunday afternoon. Mr Iajuddin Ahmed then held separate talks with party leaders, but failed to reach agreement on a compromise candidate. Finally, President Iajuddin Ahmed has been sworn in as head of an interim government after the main political parties failed to agree on a candidate. His decision to take the job without opposition backing is the last constitutional option available.
After increasingly violent clashes between political parties, a new caretaker government was sworn in with the backing of the armed forces. Erstwhile Bangadesh Bank governor Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed was sworn in as the Chief Adviser. An emergency was declared and the government suspended certain fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and detained a large number of politicians and others on suspicion of involvement in corruption and other crimes. The government announced elections would occur in late 2008.
On December 29, 2008 Bangladesh went to the polls and the nation elected the Grand Alliance which was led by Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and backed by Hussain Mohammed Ershad's Jatiya Party. The Awami League won an absolute majority on its own accrod. Khaleda Zia's BNP-led Four Party Alliance suffered a resounding defeat. Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister and formed the government.
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Bangladesh is situated at the unique juxtaposition of the composite, sprawling, interlinked Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GMB) river systems, the second largest river system in the world,which drains an area of 1,086,000 square kilometers from China, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Because of this unique geophysical location, the country has been endowed with rich biological diversity, hosting a rich variety of species superbly evolved to populate the ecosystems of the country. However, due to the various pressures of a growing population (with an already existing base of 145 million people), development interventions, gaps in policy and legislation, and conflicting institutional mandates, 95% of Bangladesh’s natural forests and 50% of its fresh water wetlands are lost or degraded. Bangladesh now has among the smallest areas of protected and intact forest in the world,consisting of 1.4% of its landmass.Many terrestrial wildlife species have been lost during the last 100 years.In addition,the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 2000 classified 40% of Bangladesh’s freshwater fish species as threatened with national extinction.
Bangladesh is an agricultural country with some three-fifths of the population engaged in farming. Jute and tea are the principal sources of earning foreign exchange.
Major impediments to their growth occur due to frequent cyclones and floods,State-owned enterprises,inadequate port facilities,a rapidly growing labour force that cannot be absorbed in agriculture,delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas),insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms.
For higher GDP growth, investments in both public and private sectors need to be accelerated. The prevailing political and economic stability has greatly encouraged investment in the private sector. The trend of foreign direct investment is very encouraging.
The government is committed to market economy and has been pursuing policies for supporting and encouraging private investment. A number of measures have been taken to strengthen the planning system and intensify reforms in the financial sector. The present government believes that the wastage of resources is a far greater obstacle to development than inadequacy of resources.
Industries: jute manufacturing, cotton textiles, garments, tea processing, paper newsprint, cement, chemical, light engineering, sugar, food processing, steel, fertilizer. Industrial production growth rate: 6.2% (2001).
Electricity-production: 13.493 billion kWh (2000).