Country of the World Bangladesh

About the country Bangladesh, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULER

BANGLADESH

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: Bangladesh, or "Bengal Nation," is located at the eastern edge of Asia's Indian subcontinent, on the delta and alluvial plain of the Padma River (which is the combination of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers). Except for the Chittagong Hills in the southeastern portion of the country, the land is flat. As much as one third of the country is flooded during the wet monsoon season.

Size: 55,598 sq. mi. (143,998 sq. km.). This includes 1,000 sq. mi. of permanent waterways.

Population: 82.4 million.

Who Rules: The Bangladesh military has governed the country under martial law since a series of military coups in 1975. Forty-two-year-old (as of 1978) Gen. Ziaur Rahman, or Zia, serves as president, chief martial law administrator, and army chief of staff. Zia canceled elections which he had originally promised for February, 1977, and instead staged a referendum in late May to endorse the military government. Reportedly, 80% of Bangladesh's 38 million eligible voters participated. Since Zia has suppressed all opposition parties and press, it was no surprise that nearly all the voters backed the government.

Zia's regime, however, is far from stable. Another poor harvest or natural disaster could easily bring down his government.

Who REALLY Rules: Bangladesh receives over $1 billion in food supplies and other economic assistance annually from a World Bank-led consortium of 16 capitalist nations and five international agencies. As a condition for its pledges of assistance, this Bangladesh Aid Group closely supervises the Bangladesh economy.

Because Bangladesh has an extremely high population density--at least 1,400 people per square mile--and few economic or natural resources, the government and foreign aid agencies vigorously promote family planning. Bangladesh's rural inhabitants already practice family planning, however. They "plan" to have 10 children so as to have a strong chance of having three surviving sons support them in their old age.

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