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Bangladesh at a Glance

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Capital:

Dhaka

Land:

133,910 sq km

Currency (code):

taka (BDT)

Exchange rates:

taka per US dollar - 69.893 (2007), 69.031 (2006), 64.328 (2005), 59.513 (2004), 58.15 (2003)

Population:

150,448,339 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure:

  1. 0-14 years: 33.1% (male 25,639,640/female 24,174,937)
  2. 15-64 years: 63.4% (male 48,659,087/female 46,712,687)
  3. 65 years and over: 3.5% (male 2,818,638/female 2,443,350) (2007 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.056% (2007 est.)

Religions:

Muslim 83%, Hindu 16%, other 1% (1998)

Climate:

Winter (October–March) is cool and mild; summer (March–June) is hot and humid. The monsoon season (June–October) brings most of Bangladesh’s yearly rain; floods, tidal waves, and cyclones are common.

Language:

Bangla, the country’s official language, is derived from Sanskrit but contains some Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and English vocabulary. People with a university education usually speak English. They incorporate into spoken English various colloquialisms derived from Bangla. The Biharis speak Urdu. Small ethnic groups along the southeast border and elsewhere speak their own languages. Due to the influence of Indian media, many Bangladeshis (especially the youth) can understand Hindi.

General Attitudes:

A calm, serious face is considered a sign of maturity. Therefore, while Bangladeshis might not smile in public, they are not being unfriendly. It is not customary to thank someone for a favor. Although the word dhannabad (thanks) exists, Bangladeshis avoid using it in everyday life. Instead, one returns the favor. However, people do use dhannabad in formal situations. Bangladeshis value the group more than the individual, so family needs come first. Friendships are expected to be strong and durable. Being connected to someone in power is highly valued.

Social classes play an integral but diminishing role in Bangladesh. For example, class is still an important factor in the choice of a marriage partner. The way a woman is treated by her husband’s family is often determined by her father’s wealth; if her father is poor, she may be treated poorly. One’s social image or status is guarded carefully, and individuals can become very angry if insulted or defamed. Fatalism plays an important role in people’s lives. Many are content to lead simple, modest lives without various material comforts.

Greetings:

Muslim Bangladeshis greet each other with the phrase Assalaamu alaikum (Peace be upon you). The response is Waalaikum assalaam (And peace be upon you). One may also raise the right hand to the forehead, palm curved and relaxed, in a salute-like gesture. Men also might shake hands, each holding his hand to his heart afterwards. One does not shake hands with, kiss, or embrace a member of the opposite sex in public. A common Hindu greeting is Nomoshkaar (Hello). At parting, a Muslim might say Khoda hafiz (May God be with you). Ashi (So long) is common for all groups.

In addressing others, Bangladeshis add different suffixes to names to show respect and closeness. For example, a man adds -bhabi (wife of older brother) to the name of his friend’s wife, even though they have no family ties. The terms “sister” and “brother” are used as commonly for friends and colleagues as for family members. Age difference mostly determines how to address another person. A person of the same age usually is addressed by name, whereas an older person (regardless of how few years separate the two) may be addressed by name plus a family-related suffix (e.g., older brother, uncle, older sister, aunt) or by the suffix alone. So, a young adult might address an older woman by adding -apa (older sister) to her name or simply by calling her apa.

Labor force:

69.4 million

Labor force - by occupation:

  1. agriculture: 63%
  2. industry: 11%
  3. services: 26% (FY95/96)

Unemployment rate:

2.5% (includes underemployment) (2007 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

8.8% (2007 est.)

Natural resources:

natural gas, arable land, timber, coal

Exports:

$11.25 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities:

garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood (2001)

Exports - partners:

US 24.9%, Germany 12.8%, UK 9.8%, France 5% (2006)

Imports:

$14.91 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs, petroleum products, cement

Imports - partners:

China 17.7%, India 12.5%, Kuwait 7.9%, Singapore 5.5%, Hong Kong 4.1% (2006)

 

References:

Bangladesh.” CultureGrams World Edition. 2008. ProQuest. <http://online.culturegrams.com>.

Bangladesh.” THE WORLD FACTBOOK. 2008. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. <https://www.cia.gov>.

Bangladesh.” Factsheet. May, 2007. Economist Intelligence Unit. <http://www.economist.com>

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