Bangladesh: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Bangladesh.



Location--Bangladesh, or "Bengal Nation," is located at the eastern edge of Asia's Indian subcontinent, on the delta and alluvial plain of the Padma (Ganges-Brahmaputra) River. It is surrounded by India on the west, north, and south, Burma on the southeast, and the Bay of Bengal on the south.

How Created--Somewhere around the 5th century B.C., Aryan people, originally from Central Asia, migrated to Bengal and intermixed with its aboriginal inhabitants. The area came under Buddhist influence in the 3rd century B.C., remaining so until the 12th century A.D., when Hindus achieved dominance. In the 13th and 14th centuries Muslim Turks and Afghans ruled Bengal. Finally, the Mogul empire united the entire subcontinent, including Bengal, in the 16th century.

The British East India Company established the 1st European settlement in Bengal in 1633. By the end of the 17th century, with Mogul influence in Bengal declining, the Nawab of Bengal (a local prince within the Mogul empire) made a fortune selling land to the British.

In 1756 the French encouraged the Nawab of Bengal to drive out the British. With French help, the Bengalis seized Fort William, the East India Company's Calcutta outpost. The Nawab imprisoned the English under harsh conditions in what came to be known as the "Black Hole of Calcutta."

The East India Company mounted a counterattack in 1757, under the command of Lord Robert Clive. He fought off the French and defeated the Bengalis at the Battle of Plassey. Upon entering Dacca, the Bengali capital, in 1757, he said, "This city is as extensive, populous, and rich as the city of London."

Following an anticolonial uprising throughout India in 1857, the East India Company turned its Indian territories directly over to the British Crown in 1858.

In 1947 the British granted independence to India and Pakistan. Pakistan, the Muslim state, included the eastern half of Bengal plus a few adjacent districts from Assam and the western part of Punjab, as well as other far west provinces. The 2 sections of Pakistan were divided by over 1,000 mi. of Indian territory.

Though Bengalis formed a majority of Pakistan's population, West Pakistanis ran the government and West Pakistan businessmen gained control of East Bengal's industry.

In 1970 the Awami League, which campaigned for Bengali autonomy, won all but 2 seats in the East Pakistan delegation to the national assembly. Though the Awami League did not run candidates in the West, the East's population edge gave it a majority. Realizing that Awami League rule meant division of Pakistan for all purposes other than defense and foreign affairs, General Yahya Khan delayed the March, 1971, opening of the national assembly. Bengal rose in anger, but the Awami League leadership refused to declare independence.

On March 25, 1971, the Federal Pakistani Army "intervened" to restore order in East Pakistan. They arrested the Awami League's leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In the ensuing months the Army killed tens or hundreds of thousands of Bengalis, raped and looted, and drove millions of Bengalis from their homes (many to refugee camps in India). India stepped in, recognized an Awami League government in exile and supported Bengali guerrillas. In December, the Indian Army invaded East Bengal while the Indian Navy and Air Force blockaded the ports. Isolated Pakistani troops in Dacca surrendered on December 16, 1971. Indian troops withdrew, leaving the new nation of Bangladesh under Awami League rule.

Size--55,126 sq. mi. (142,776 sq. km.).

Population--80 million: Bengali, 98.4%; Urdu, Hindu, and others, 1.6%. 80% Muslim, 18% Hindu.

Who Rules-A 315-member elected parliament, a President, and a Prime Minister.

Who REALLY Rules--The Awami League-barely-with much "advice" given by the World Bank. In January, 1975, the parliament outlawed all political parties except the Awami League.

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