History of Bangladesh
From the 13th century A.D. the Buddhists and Hindus were swamped by the flood of Muslim conquerors and the tide of Islam up to 18th century. Sometimes there were independent rulers like the Hussain Shahi and Ilyas Shahi dynasties, while at other times they ruled on behalf of the Imperial seat of Delhi.
From the 15th century, the Europeans, namely Portuguese, Dutch, French and British traders exerted an economic influence over the region. British political rule over the region began in 1757 A.D., when the last Muslim ruler of Bengal was defeated at Palassey. In 1947 the subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Present Bangladesh became the Eastern Wing of the then Pakistan. But the movement for autonomy of East Pakistan started within a couple of years because of language and cultural differences and economic disparity between the two wings.
The Language Movement
The Language Movement of 1952 to recognize Bangla as a state language may be termed as the first step towards independence.
Political and economic deprivation of the Bengalees prompted Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, to put forward in 1966 his historic six points, the "Magna Carta" which in effect structured the foundation for East Pakistan's future independence.
The War of Liberation
In the 1970 elections, even though the Awami League emerged as the largest party in Pakistan Parliament, it was not allowed to form the government by the ruling military junta. In the backdrop of a non-cooperation movement launched against the military regime by Awami League.
Bangabandhu declared at a historic public meeting held at Ramna Race Course (renamed Suhrawardy Uddyan) on 7 March, 1971, attended by around 2 million people, "The struggle this tune is the struggle for freedom, the struggle this tune is the struggle for independence." It was a defacto declaration of independence.
Thus in a preplanned manner on 25th March 1971. The Pakistan army embarked on what may be termed as history's worst genocide. A military crackdown was ordered, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken away to West Pakistan. But just before he was arrested he sent out a call for the liberation war to begin. Known as the Declaration of (lie War of Independence, this hurriedly written historic document read as follows:
"Pak Army suddenly attacked EPR Base at Pilkhana, Rajarbagh Police Line and killing citizens. Street battles are going on in every street of Dacca. Chittagong. I appeal to the nations of the world for help. Our freedom fighters are gallantly fighting with the enemies to free the motherland. I appeal and order you all in the name of Almighty Allah to fight to the last drop of blood to liberate the country. Ask Police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansar to stand by you and to fight. No compromise. Victory is ours. Drive out the enemies from the holy soil of motherland. Convey this message to all Awami League leaders, workers and other patriots and lovers of freedom. May Allah bless you. Joy Bangla".
After nine months of war, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered in Dhaka on 16th December. 1971 after killing an estimated three million people. Due to the heroic resistance and supreme sacrifices of the valiant freedom fighters Bangladesh finally became an independent sovereign state.
Father of the Nation Bangahandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founder- president of Bangladesh. He was subsequently assassinated on 15th August, 1975 by a group of conspirators.
Bangladesh Country Profile
If you ever wanted to experience the living reality of the idiom 'when it rains, it pours', Bangladesh is the place to be. During the yearly south Asian monsoon, almost all the water collected by the Himalayas in Nepal, north/northeast India and Bhutan transits through Bangladesh on its journey to the Bay of Bengal, depositing life-giving minerals to the soil all along the Ganges Delta, the largest river delta in the world. It is here that the mountains literally crumble to the sea. This has resulted in Bangladesh's flatland alluvial topography, which is the defining characteristic of the country except in the hilly regions of the southeast and northeast. The mighty Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers are called the Padma and the Jamuna in Bangladesh, and both of these massive rivers join several other smaller tributaries to eventually become the Lower Meghna, forming the great Gangetic Delta. At its widest point near Bhola Island, the river stretches to a yawning 12km-vide breadth on its final leg towards the sca. Se-2n _`-cm a boat, the distinctions between land, river, ocean and sky become decidedly uncertain.
As the rivers have gradually shaped and reshaped this land, they have shaped the destinies of its people. It would be a mistake to picture the historic locations of Bangladesh's rivers according to current maps. For instance, the Brahmaputra used to flow east of Dhaka's present location before a major flood caused it to change course over a 30-year span during the mid-18th century. Simultaneously, the Ganges has also undergone similar changes, as it used to flow through West Bengal via the Hooghly River (today much smaller than it used to be).
Nowhere is this destiny more uncertain than in the country's two disaster-prone areas. Firstly, the coast bordering the Bay of Bengal is vulnerable to tidal surges from cyclones. Secondly, the country's char areas, or river islands, are also extremely prone to seasonal flooding. These islands lie mostly in the northern reaches of the Jamuna River of Rajshahi Division; many inhabited islands are destroyed and reformed each year by flooding. Despite the fact most of the islands are little more than infertile sandbars, poverty forces millions of people to live on them under the risk that their houses could be swept away each year.
In the Lower Meghna region, another area of exposure lies directly adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. Here, two processes of land loss and land accretion happen simultaneously. While the Meghna tears away strips of land beneath the villages each year, its decreasing speed causes it to deposit massive amounts of Himalayan silt into the bay, forming new land that becomes populated almost immediately despite the fact that the precious land doesn't become fully fertile for years. Some geologists even claim that Bangladesh is 'gaining landmass', putting the supposed doomsday scenario of climate change into question.
Where the land ends, the Bay of Bengal begins. Most of the sea adjacent to Bangladesh is quite shallow, a result of sedimentation from the region's mighty rivers. About 50km of the coast from the Sundarbans Forest is a deep undersea canyon known as the 'Swatch-of-No-Ground', where the sea floor drops to a depth of over 1,200m at some points. The swatch transports nutrient-rich sediments from the continental shelf to the deep-sea alluvial fan making up the bay. The abundance of these nutrients results in a relatively abundant population of cetaceans at the swatch.
In terms of forest cover, Bangladesh's natural places are sadly few and far between. While the world's largest mangrove forest at Sundarban remains protected, many of Bangladesh's other national parks have not fared so well. Thankfully, with increasing stability and economic development, conservation programmes are finally starting to get off the ground.
As you start travelling eastward, Bangladesh's geographic portrait takes on a new perspective. While most of the country lies at or just above sea level, the flat landscape gives way to low undulating hills in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the hilly regions of Sylhet, some of which climb to 1,000m above sea level. This landscape is the result of the Indian tectonic plate pushing up against the Asian landmass, the same phenomenon that has resulted in the creation of the Himalayas. Visits to this area offer an experience of the true diversity that Bangladesh possesses, both geographically and culturally.
Finally, the region's last major significant geographical feature is a massive 120krn-long strip of beach lining tile internal eastern coastline of Bangladesh, said to be the longest natural beach in the world (at 254km, Brazil's Cassino Beach is longer, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is partly manmade). Starting at Cox's Bazaar, the white sand stretches all the way down to the Teknaf Peninsula, poking up again briefly at the coral reef island of St Martin's. Most of this beach lies undeveloped except at Cox's Bazaar, where native mangrove forests have long been replaced by jungles of hotels.
|Official Name||The People's Republic of Bangladesh|
|Geographical Location||Latitude between 20o34' and 26o38' North
Longitude between 88o01' and 92o41' East
|Area||147,570 sq. km.|
|Boundaries||North - India (West Bengal and Meghalaya), West - India (West Bengal) East - India (Tripura and Assam) and Myanmar, South-Bay of Bengal.|
|Other Major Cities||Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal|
|Standard Time||GMT +6 Hours|
|Climate Variation||Winter 11o C - 20o C (October - February)
Summer 21o C - 38o C (March - September)
|Rainfall||1100 mm to 3400mm (June - August)|
|Humidity||Highest 99% (July)
Lowest 36% (December & January)
|Language||Bangla (national language). Spoken by 95%, other dialects 5%, English is widely understood and spoken.|
|Principal Crops||Rice, Jute, Tea, Wheat, Sugarcane, Pulses, Mustard, Potato, Vegetables.|
|Principal Rivers||Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Surma, Brahmaputra, Karnaphuli, Teesta, Sitalakhya, Rupsha, Madhumati, Gorai, Mahananda etc.|
|Principal Industries||Garments, Tea, Ceramics, Cement, Leather, Jute, Textiles, Electric and Electronics, Medicine, Fishing.|
|Principal Exports||Garments, Knitwear, Frozen Shrimps, Tea, Leather and Leather products, Jute and Jute products, Ceramics etc.|
|Principal Imports||Wheat, Fertilizer, Petroleum goods, Cotton, Edible Oil etc.|
|Electricity||220 Volts AC in all cities and towns|
|Currency||Taka, having 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 in notes and 5,2,1 in coins. Exchange Rate : US$ 1 = Taka 68.00|
|Religion||Muslims - 86.6%, Hindus - 12.1%, Buddhists - 0.6%, Christians 0.4% and others 0.3%.|
|Government||Parliamentary form of Government President is the head of the state while the government elected by the people is headed by the Prime Minster.|
|Business Hours||Government Office Hours: 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Friday & Saturday closed. Some Private business houses work on Saturday.|
|Best Tourist Season||October to March.|
Culture of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a melting pot of races. She, therefore, has a mixed culture. Her deep rooted heritage is amply reflected in her architecture, literature, dance, drama, music and painting. Bangladeshi culture is influenced by three great religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam in successive order, with Islam having the most pervading and lasting impact. Like a colorful montage, the cultural tradition of the country is a happy blending of many variants, unique in diversity but in essence greatly symmetrical.
A series of festivals varying from race to race are observed here. Some of the Muslim rites are Eid-e-Miladunnabi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram etc. Hindus observe Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Kali Puja and many other pujas. Christmas ( popularly called Baradin in Bangla ) is observed by Christians. Also there are some common festivities, which are observed countrywide by people irrespective of races. Pahela Baishakh (the first day of Bangla year) is such a festival. National festivals are Independence Day (26th March), 21st February (the National Mourning Day and World Mother Language Day), The Victory Day (16th December), Rabindra & Nazrul Jayanti etc.
Bangalees have a rich literary heritage. The earliest available specimen of Bengali literature is about a thousand years old. During the mediaeval period. Bengali Literature developed considerably with the patronage of Muslim rulers. Chandi Das, Daulat Kazi and Alaol are some of the famous poets of the period. The era of modern Bengali Literature began in the late nineteenth century Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate is a vital part of Bangalee culture. Kazi Nazrul Islam, Michael Madhusudan Datta. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhaya, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya, Mir Mosharraf Hossain and Kazi Ahdul Wadud are the pioneers of modern Bengali Literature.
The traditional music in Bangladesh shares the perspectives of that of the Indian sub-continent. Music in Bangladesh can be divided into three distinct categories -classical, folk and modern. The classical music, both vocal and instrumental is rooted in the remote past of the sub-continent. Ustad Alauddin Khan and Ustad Ayet Ali Khan are two names in classical instrumental music who are internationally known.
The store of folk song abounds in spiritual lyrics of Lalan Shah, Hasan Raja, Romesh Shill and many anonymous lyricists. Bangla music arena is enriched with Jari, Shari, Bhatiali, Murshidi and other types of folk songs. Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet are Bangalees' precious heritage. Modern music is also practiced widely. Contemporary patterns have more inclinations to west. Pop song and band groups are also coming up mainly in Dhaka City.
Bangladesh has a good number of musical instruments originally of her own. Originally country musical instruments include, Banshi (bamboo flute), Dhole (wooden drums), Ektara (a single stringed instrument), Dotara (a four stringed instrument), Mandira (a pair of metal bawls used as rhythm instrument), Khanjani, Sharinda etc. Now-a-days western instruments such as Guitar, Drums, Saxophone, Synthesizer etc. are being used alongside country instruments.
There is a rich tradition of modern painting which was pioneered by Zainul Abedin, Kamrul Hassan, Anwarul Haque, Shafiuddin Ahmed and S. M. Sultan. Zainul Abedin earned international fame for his sketches on famine of 1943 in Bangladesh. Other famous artists of Bangladesh are Abdur Razzak, Qayyum Chowdhury, Murtaza Baseer, Aminul Islam, Debdas Chakraborty, Kazi Abdul Baset, Syed Jahangir, and Mohammad Kibria
Drama in Bangladesh has an old tradition and is very popular. In Dhaka more than a dozen theater groups have been regularly staging locally written plays as well as those adopted from famous writers, mainly of European origin. Popular theatre groups are Dhaka Theatre, Nagarik Nattya Sampraday and Theatre. In Dhaka, Baily Road area is known as 'Natak Para' where drama shows are regularly held. Public Library Auditorium and Museum Auditorium are famous for holding cultural shows. Dhaka University area is a pivotal part of cultural activities.
Classical forms of the sub-continent predominate in Bangladeshi dance. The folk, tribal and Middle Eastern traits are also common. Among the tribal dances, particularly popular are Monipuri and Santal. Rural girls are in the habit of dancing that does not require any grammar or regulations. Bangla songs like jari and shari are presented accompanied with dance of both male and female performers.
Jatra(Folk Drama) is another vital chapter of Bangalee culture. It depicts mythological episodes of love and tragedy. Legendary plays of heroism are also popular, particularly in the rural areas. In near past jatra was the biggest entertainment means for the rural Bangalees and in that sense for 80% of the population since the same percentage of the population lived in rural Bangladesh. Now-a-days jatra has been placed in the back seat in the entertainment era. Gradually western culture is occupying the place of traditional culture like jatra.
Bangladeshi women habitually wear Sarees. Jamdani was once world famous for it's most artistic and expensive ornamental fabric. Moslin, a fine and artistic type of cloth was well-known worldwide. Naksi Kantha, embroidered quilted patchwork cloth produced by the village women, is still familiar in villages and towns simultaneously. A common hairstyle is Beni (twisted bun) that Bangalee women are fond of. Traditionally males wear Panjabis, Fatuas and Pajamas. Hindus wear Dhuty for religious purposes. Now-a-days common dresses of males are shirts and pants.
Government and non-government organizations like Bangla Academy, Nazrul Institute, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Fine arts Institute, Chhayanat etc. play significant role to flourish Bangladeshi art and culture providing encouragement in music, drama, dance, recitation, art etc. Many other cultural organizations are also popularizing Bangladeshi art and culture.
VISAS AND ENTRY REQUIREMENTS All foreign visitors to Bangladesh require a visa. Tourist visas are the easiest to obtain. Depending on the office you're dealing with, they can be issued for periods of up to two months (Australians can get six months), and whatever the length of your stay it is suggested that you apply for the maximum amount of time permitted, or at least specify a date. Most consular offices will request a letter of invitation along with the visa; this could be a letter from the tour operator or the contact that you may be visiting.
In case of business visa, they can be issued for periods up to six months, and require a letter introducing your company along with a letter from your proposed business partner stating the purpose of your visit.
Visa fees vary from nationality to nationality as Bangladesh practices a reciprocal fee system. The visa fee is same for both the Bangladeshi and foreign nationals. You can check the fee schedule on the immigration website (www.dip.gov.bd). Some common visa fees are:£40/52/75 for single-/double-/multiple-entry visas for UK nationals; US$131 for US nationals, regardless of length or number of entries; CAD$80/158 for single/multiple-entry visas for Canadian nationals; and AUD$150 for single-/double/multiple-entry visas for Australian nationals (in the case of Australia, all visa types are the same price).
In case of long-term visa ISSUES Employment and NGO visas employer in Bangladesh should help you with obtaining the necessary paperwork.
If you obtain a visa that expires during your stay, begin the process for visa extension as soon as you are settled in Bangladesh. Security clearances and work permits are required for most visa extensions. If your visa does expire you will have to pay a fine, a rate variable depending on your work and host organisation. You will also require an exit visa to leave Bangladesh.
Landing permit As of 22 March 2008, the majority of nationals from Western countries (US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia) could obtain a 'Landing Permit on Arrival' if you arrive in Dhaka with no visa, and while it may not be checked, you should also carry printed proof of your onward travel arrangements. With US$50, you can simply buy this landing permit when you arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, and you should be granted a 15-day stay, which you can overstay for a few days, or even a couple of weeks and pay the Tk200 per day overstay fee. The permit would normally be issued to visitors hailing from most Western countries, especially when they arrive from a country with no resident Bangladeshi mission. The airport immigration telephone number at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is +880 2 891 4226.
Visa extensions Visa processing is handled at the Department of Immigration and Passports (Passport Bhaban, E7 Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, www.dip.gov.bd; visa drop-off 0 10.00-13.00 and pickup (D 14.00-16.00).
Landing permits and transit visas are non-extendable. Tourist visas can be extended for up to 30 days. A starting point of reference should be the department's website, where you will find a link at the bottom left under 'Visa Policy' where all the requirements for each visa are listed. Also, there is a link provided for the necessary 'Visa Fees' on the left sidebar and the 'Visa Form' on the right. Here's a checklist for you to begin your travel smoothly:
- Passport photocopy
- Visa page photocopy
- Photocopy of the page containing your entry stamp
- One passport photo
- Visa fee (depends on nationality: UK US$65 for single entry, US$168 for multiple; US US$131 for single/multiple; Canada Tk3,300 for single or Tk6,600 for multiple)
- While it depends on the visa required, most require a letter from your employer and security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. NGO visas require a work permit from the NGO bureau. Keep your original paperwork and make photocopies for processing
List of Taxable Baggage Items
|Imported goods, other than personal and household items are taxable.|
|Each person is allowed two suitcases not exceeding 65 kg total as personal and household luggage. However, if the 3rd suitcase is of Magazines which are used for education purpose are not taxable.|
|Imported items which are used for commercial purposes are taxable|
|Bangladesh citizens are not allowed to import Alcohol/Alcoholic beverages.|
The following items which may be imported as personal/Household items, are taxable as per the tax mentioned in brackets.
|Television||(a) up to 21" Tk. 5000/-
(b) up to 25" Tk. 7500/-
(c) up to 29" Tk. 10,000/-
|VCR/VCP/ Satellite receiver||Tk. 3000/-|
|VCD/DVD/LD/MD Player||Tk. 4000/-|
|Music center||(a) with general CD and detached Speaker Tk. 2000/-
(b) Component system (CD/VCD/DVD/LD/MD set) Tk.8000/-
(c) Detachable ` (CD/VCD/DVD/LD/MD Set) Tk.15,000/-
|Refrigerator /Deep Freezer||Tk. 5000/-|
|Dish Washer/Washing /Knitting Machine||Tk.3000/-|
|Electric Sewing Machine/Knitting Machine||Tk. 1000/-|
|General Photocopier/ Photo Enlarger||Tk. 10,000/-|
|Aircooler/AirConditioner||(a) Window type Tk. 10,000/-
(b) Split type Tk. 25,000/-
|Fax Machine||Tk. 5000/-|
|Oven||(a) Microwave oven Tk. 2000/-
(b) Gas oven with burner Tk. 5000/-
|Dish Antena||Tk. 7000/-|
|Gold bar or bullion (Maximum 5 kg)||Tk. 300 (per 11.664 gm)|
|Silver bar or bullion (Maximum 20 kg)||Tk. 6/ (per 11.664gm)|
|Mobile/Cellular Telephone||Tk. 5000/-|
|Airgun/Air rifle||Tk. 2000/-|
|Candelabrum||Tk. 300/- per point|
|Carpet up to 15 square metere||Tk. 500sq. meter.|
Schedule-2 Duty & Tax free goods
|Cassette Player/Two-in-one||Disk man/Walkman (Audio)||Portable Audio CD player|
|Desktop (with Printer & UPS)||Laptop (with Printer & UPS)||Video Camera|
|Still Camera||General telephone Set||Push button telephone Set|
|Cordless telephone Set||General/Electric Oven||Rice Cooker|
|Pressure Cooker||Blender/Juicer/Cofee Maker||General Type writer|
|Electric Type writer||Sewing Machine (manual)||Table/Pedestal Fan|
|Sports materials (personal use)||200gms gold/silver ornaments (Not more than 12 pcs of each item)||One Cartoon Cigarette (200 stick).|
Geography of Bangladesh
Most of the areas of Bangladesh lies within the broad delta formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Lands are exceedingly flat, low-lying, and subject to annual flooding. Much fertile, alluvial soil is deposited by the floodwaters. The only significant area of hilly terrain, constituting less than one-tenth of the nation's territory, is the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the narrow southeastern panhandle of the country. There, on the border with Burma, is Mowdok Mual (1003 m/3292 ft), the country's highest peak. Small, scattered hills lie along or near the eastern and northern borders with India. The eroded remnants of two old alluvial terraces-the Madhupur Tract, in the north central part of the country, and The Barind, straddling the northwestern boundary with India- attain elevations of about 30 m (about 100 ft). The soil here is much less fertile than the annually replenished alluvium of the surrounding floodplain.
Rivers and Lakes
Bangladesh is a land of rivers that crisscrossed throughout the mostly flat territories of the country. They include hundreds of brooks and a good number of big ones. The Ganges (Ganga) is known as the Padma below the point where it is joined by the Jamuna River, the name given to the lowermost portion of the main channel of the Brahmaputra. The combined stream is then called the Meghna below its confluence with a much smaller tributary of the same name. In the dry season the numerous deltaic distributaries that lace the terrain may be several kilometers wide as they near the Bay of Bengal, whereas at the height of the summer monsoon season they coalesce into an extremely broad expanse of silt-laden water. In much of the delta, therefore, homes must be constructed on earthen platforms or embankments high enough to remain above the level of all but the highest floods. In non-monsoon months the exposed ground is pocked with water-filled borrow pits, or tanks, from which the mud for the embankments was excavated. Throughout the country there are bils, haors and lakes that meet the need of drinking, bathing and irrigating water.
Traditionally Bangladeshis subdivide the year into six seasons: Grismo (summer), Barsha (rainy), Sharat (autumn), Hemanto (cool), Sheet (winter), and Bashonto (spring). For practical purposes, however, three seasons are distinguishable: summer , rainy, and winter.
Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon-type climate, with a hot and rainy summer and a dry winter. January is the coolest month with temperatures averaging near 26 deg C (78 d F) and April the warmest with temperatures from 33 to 36 deg C (91 to 96 deg F). The climate is one of the wettest in the world. Most places receive more than 1,525 mm of rain a year, and areas near the hills receive 5,080 mm ). Most rains occur during the monsoon (June-September) and little in winter (November-February).
Bangladesh is subject to devastating cyclones, originating over the Bay of Bengal, in the periods of April to May and September to November. Often accompanied by surging waves, these storms can cause great damage and loss of life. The cyclone of November 1970, in which about 500,000 lives were lost in Bangladesh, was one of the worst natural disasters of the country in the 20th century.
In Dhaka the average temperature in January is about 19° C (about 66° F), and in May about 29° C (about 84° F).
Bangladesh is not so rich in mineral resources. The principal energy resource, natural gas, is found in several small fields in the northeastern part. With the assistance of some foreign especially American companies gas expedition has increased. There is a coalfield in the northwest and large peat beds underlie most of the delta. Limestone and pottery clays are found in the northeastern Bangladesh.
Many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land; limited access to potable water; water-borne diseases prevalent; water pollution especially of fishing areas results from the use of commercial pesticides; intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country; soil degradation; deforestation; severe overpopulation.
Disputes-international: Only a small portion of the boundary with India remains undelimited; discussions to demarcate the boundary, exchange 162 miniscule enclaves, and allocate divided villages remain stalled; skirmishes, illegal border trafficking, and violence along the border continue; Bangladesh has protested India's attempts to fence off high traffic sections of the porous boundary; Burmese attempts to construct a dam on the border stream in 2001 prompted an armed response halting construction; Burmese Muslim refugees migrate into Bangladesh straining meager resources.
Division of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative divisions, each named after their respective divisional headquarters: