History & Background
Bangladesh, officially called the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a newly formed state that represents a very ancient culture. It was mentioned in Mahabharata, an ancient epic of India sometime during the ninth or tenth century B.C. During the two centuries of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, it was the first territory colonized by the empire.
When the British left India after a long struggle for political independence, the country was divided into two nations: a Hindu-majority, secular India; and a Moslem-majority, sectarian Pakistan. Pakistan, too, was divided into two parts, more than 1,500 miles distant from each other. Eastern Bengal became East Pakistan, but the capital and ruling government leaders stayed in West Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan became increasingly impatient when they realized that valuable resources were being transferred from their region to West Pakistan. They also became restless because of ill treatment by the militaristic-bureaucratic West Pakistan elite, which led to a demand for secession in 1970 and, subsequently, the formation of a separate, autonomous state in 1972.
Bangladesh, despite its natural resources, industrial potential, and agricultural growth, has been facing massive socio-economic problems, making it one of the least developed countries in the world. Sometimes referred to as "an international bread basket," it has been affected by great natural disasters such as rainstorms, floods, and famines.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with more than 128 million people living in an area of 147,000 square kilometers (868 people per square kilometer). It has been plagued by high population growth, very low levels of literacy (less than 20 percent in 1970), and widespread poverty (originally with the per capita income of $150, and estimated at $280 in 2001).
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