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Country profile: Bangladesh

Poverty is deep and widespread; almost half of the population live on less than one dollar a day. However, Bangladesh has reduced population growth and made progress in the spheres of health and education.

OVERVIEW

The major employer is agriculture, but it is unable to meet the demand for jobs. Thus many Bangladeshis - in common with citizens from other countries in the region - seek work abroad, sometimes illegally. The country is trying to diversify its economy, with industrial development a priority. Overseas investors have pumped money into the manufacturing and energy sectors.

Onshore and offshore gas reserves hold out some chance of future prosperity. There has been a debate about whether the reserves should be reserved for domestic use or exported. Some international energy companies are involved in the gas sector.

Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh came into being only in 1971, when the two parts of Pakistan split after a bitter civil war which drew in neighbouring India. Bangladesh spent 15 years under military rule and, although democracy was restored in 1990, the political scene remains volatile

Analysts say the antagonism between the Awami League, which governed until July 2001, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party reflects personal animosity between their leaders rather than substantial ideological differences. Political tensions have spilled over into violence; hundreds of people have been killed in recent years. Attacks have targeted opposition rallies and public gatherings. Senior opposition figures have also been targeted.

Concern has grown about religious extremism in the traditionally moderate and tolerant country, which found apparent form in a string of bomb attacks in August 2005. The government, which long denied that it had a problem with militants, has outlawed two fringe Islamic organisations.

Bangladesh has been criticised for its human rights record, with particular concern about assaults on women and allegations that police use torture against those in custody.

The low-lying country is vulnerable to flooding and cyclones and it stands to be badly affected by predicted rises in sea levels.

  • Population: 152.6 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Dhaka
  • Area: 143,998 sq km (55,598 sq miles) >Major language: Bengali
  • Major religions: Islam, Hinduism
  • Life expectancy: 62 years (men), 63 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 taka = 100 paisa
  • Main exports: Garments, fish, jute goods, leather products
  • GNI per capita: US $440 (World Bank, 2006)
  • Internet domain: .bd
  • International dialling code: +880

    Source BBC: Tuesday, 11 April 2006

    Languages of Bangladesh

    People's Republic of Bangladesh. GaNa Praj„tantrÔ Bangladesh. Formerly East Pakistan. 141,340,476. Population density 2.026 per square mile. 531,000 speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages, 125,000 speakers of Austro-Asiatic languages (1991 J. Matisoff). National or official language: Bengali. Literacy rate: 24% to 25%. Also includes Eastern Panjabi (23,674), Gujarati, Hindi (346,000), Oriya (32,534), Sadri (200,000), Sauria Paharia (12,000), Urdu (600,000). Information mainly from B. Comrie 1987; J. Matisoff et al. 1996. Blind population: 1,085. Deaf population: 7,596,511. Deaf institutions: 14. The number of languages listed for Bangladesh is 39. Of those, all are living languages.

    Living languages

  • Arakanese [mhv]: 200,000 in Bangladesh (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk). Population includes 150,000 Marmar, 35,000 Rakhain (SIL 2002). Southeast, Chittagong Hills area. Marma is in the hills and Rakhine along the coast. Alternate names: Marama, "Maghi", "Mogh", "Magh", Mash, Marma. Dialects: Marma (Morma), Rakhine (Rakhain, Yakhain). Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Lolo-Burmese, Burmish, Southern More information.
  • Assamese [asm] : Alternate names: Asambe, Asami. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese More information.
  • Bengali [ben]: 100,000,000 in Bangladesh (1994 UBS). 211,000,000 including second-language speakers (1999 WA). Population total all countries: 171,070,202. Western. Also spoken in India, Malawi, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA. Alternate names: Banga-Bhasa, Bangala, Bangla. Dialects: Languages or dialects in the Bengali group according to Grierson: Central (Standard) Bengali, Western Bengali (Kharia Thar, Mal Paharia, Saraki), Southwestern Bengali, Northern Bengali (Koch, Siripuria), Rajbanshi, Bahe, Eastern Bengali (East Central, including Sylhetti), Haijong, Southeastern Bengali (Chakma), Ganda, Vanga, Chittagonian (possible dialect of Southeastern Bengali). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • 40,000 in Bangladesh (2003). Alternate names: Bishnupuriya, Bisna Puriya, Bishnupria Manipuri. Dialects: Rajar Gang, Madoi Gang. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Burmese [mya]: 300,000 in Bangladesh (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk). Area bordering Myanmar. Alternate names: Bama, Bamachaka, Myen. Dialects: Bomang. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Lolo-Burmese, Burmish, Southern
  • Chak [ckh] 5,500 in Bangladesh (2002). Most in Arakan Blue Mountains, Baishari, Banderbon, South, Nrrkhinsorithan, Bishar Chokpra. Alternate names: Sak. Classification: Unclassified
  • Chakma [ccp]: 312,207 in Bangladesh (2000 WCD). Population total all countries: 612,207. Southeast, Chittagong Hills area, and Chittagong City. Also spoken in India. Alternate names: Takam. Dialects: 6 dialects. Chakma of India understood with difficulty. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Chin, Asho [csh] :1,422 in Bangladesh (1981 census). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Sho, Shoa, Khyang, Khyeng, Qin. Dialects: Chittagong, Lemyo, Minbu, Saingbaun, Sandoway, Thayetmyo. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Southern, Sho
  • Chin, Bawm [bgr] :5,773 in Bangladesh (1981 census). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Bawn, Bawng, Bom, Bawm. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Central
  • Chin, Falam [flm] : Alternate names: Hallam Chin, Halam, Fallam, Falam. Dialects: Chorei, Zanniat. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Northern
  • Chin, Haka [cnh] : 1,264 in Bangladesh (2000 WCD). Alternate names: Haka, Baungshe, Lai. Dialects: Klangklang (Thlantlang), Zokhua, Shonshe. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Central
  • Chin, Khumi [cnk]: 1,188 in Bangladesh (1981 census). Alternate names: Khumi, Khami, Kami, Kumi, Khweymi, Khuni. Dialects: Khimi, Yindi (Yindu), Khami, Ngala. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Southern, Khumi
  • Chittagonian [cit] :14,000,000 in Bangladesh (1998 H. Ebersole). Chittagong Region. Also spoken in Myanmar. Alternate names: Chittagonian Bengali. Dialects: Rohinga (Akyab). Not inherently intelligible with Bengali, although considered to be a nonstandard Bengali dialect. A continuum of dialects from north to south, with a larger religious distinction between Muslim and others. An ethnic Bengali Muslim who speaks the Muslim variety of Chittagonian Bengali and was born in Arakan state, Myanmar, is called a 'Rohinga'. The dialect is intelligible to those born in southeastern Bangladesh. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Darlong [dln] 9,000 in Bangladesh. Population total all countries: 15,000. Also spoken in India. Alternate names: Dalong. Dialects: Also reported to be related to Tipura. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Central
  • Garo [grt]: 102,000 in Bangladesh (1993). Northeastern, Mymensingh plains, Tangail Shripur, Jamelpur, Netrakara, Sylhet, Dhaka. Alternate names: Garrow, Mande. Dialects: Abeng, Achik. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpho-Konyak-Bodo, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Garo
  • Hajong [haj] :Alternate names: Haijong. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Ho [hoc] Alternate names: Lanka Kol. Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Munda, North Munda, Kherwari, Mundari
  • Indian Sign Language [ins] : Classification: Deaf sign language
  • Khasi [kha]: Very few speakers of standard Khasi. Moulvibazar District, near Fenchuganj, Madhabkunda, Barlekha, Goalbari, Fultala, Alinagar, Islampur, Khajori, Rashidpur, Satgoan, Kamalganj, and Alinagar; Sylhet District, near Jaflong, Tamabil, Jaintiapur and north of Raipur; Hobiganj District. Alternate names: Kahasi, Khasiyas, Khuchia, Kyi, Cossyah, Khassee, Khasie. Dialects: Khasi (Cherrapunji), Lyngngam (Lngngam). Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Mon-Khmer, Northern Mon-Khmer, Khasian
  • Koch [kdq] : Alternate names: Koc, Kocch, Koce, Kochboli, Konch. Dialects: Banai, Harigaya, Satpariya, Tintekiya, Wanang. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpho-Konyak-Bodo, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Koch
  • Kok Borok [trp] :100,000 in Bangladesh (2001). Alternate names: Tripuri, Tripura, Tipura, Mrung, Usipi. Dialects: Jamatia, Noatia, Riang (Tipra), Halam, Debbarma. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpho-Konyak-Bodo, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Bodo
  • Kurux [kru] : Alternate names: Kurukh, Uraon, Oraoan. Classification: Dravidian, Northern
  • Megam [mef] :6,872 (2000 WCD). Northeastern Bangladesh. Alternate names: Migam. Dialects: Called a dialect of Garo, but may be a separate language. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpho-Konyak-Bodo, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Garo
  • meitei [mni] :15,000 in Bangladesh (2003). Sylhet. Alternate names: Meithei, Meithe, Mitei, Mithe, Meiteiron, Manipuri, Kathe, Kathi, Ponna. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Meitei
  • Mizo [lus] :1,041 in Bangladesh (1981 census). Mizo Hills, Chittagong, Sylhet. Alternate names: Lusai, Lushai, Lushei, Sailau, Hualngo, Whelngo, Lei. Dialects: Ralte, Dulien, Ngente, Mizo, Le. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Central
  • Mru [mro] :80,000 in Bangladesh (2002 SIL). Population total all countries: 81,231. Southeastern, Chittagong Hills; 200 villages. Also spoken in India. Alternate names: Murung, Mrung, Maru, Niopreng. Dialects: Lexical similarity 13% with Mro Chin. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Mru
  • Mundari [muw] :Alternate names: Munda, Mandari, Munari, Horo, Mondari, Colh. Dialects: Hasada', Latar, Naguri, Kera'. Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Munda, North Munda, Kherwari, Mundari
  • Pankhu [pkh]: 2,278 in Bangladesh (1981 census). Population total all countries: 2,512. Bandarban, Rangamati, Kagrachori, and some in Malumghat and Chittagong. Also spoken in India, Myanmar. Alternate names: Pankho, Panko, Pangkhu. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Central
  • Pnar [pbv] :4,000 in Bangladesh (2002). Along the India border in the northeast; Sylhet Division, Sylhet District, near Jaflong, Tamabil, Jaintiapur, and north of Raipur; Moulavi Bazar District, near Fenchuganj, Madhabkunda, Barlekha, Goalbari, Fultala, Alinagar, Islampur, Khajori, Rashidpur, Satgoan, Kamalganj. Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Mon-Khmer, Northern Mon-Khmer, Khasian
  • Rajbanshi [rjb] : 12,916 in Bangladesh (2000). Northwest regions of Bangladesh. Alternate names: Rajbangsi, Rajbansi, Tajpuri. Dialects: Bahe. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Riang [ria] :1,011 in Bangladesh (2000). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Reang, Kau Bru. Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpho-Konyak-Bodo, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Bodo
  • Sadri, Oraon [sdr] :165,683 (2000 WCD). Throughout Rajshahi Division; in Chittagong Division, Moulvibazar and Hobigani districts; and Khulna Division, Jhenaidah District (Jhenaidah Thana, Moheshpur Thana), Kushtia District (Mirpur Thana), Magura District (Magura Thana). Dialects: Borail Sadri, Nurpur Sadri, Uchai Sadri, Mokkan Tila Sadri. The dialects listed may need separate literature. Inherent intelligibility of 7 Sadri varieties on Borail ranges from 70% to 93%; of 8 varieties on Nurpur from 78% to 94%. Lexical similarity of 14 Sadri varieties with Borail Sadri ranges from 88% to 97%. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari
  • Santali [sat]: 157,000 in Bangladesh (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk). Ethnic population: 42,698. Alternate names: Hor, Satar, Santhali, Sandal, Sangtal, Santal, Har, Sonthal. Dialects: Karmali (Khole), Kamari-Santali, Lohari-Santali, Paharia, Mahali (Mahle) Manjhi. Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Munda, North Munda, Kherwari, Santali
  • Shendu [shl] :1,000 in Bangladesh (1980 UBS). Chittagong Hills. Also spoken in India. Alternate names: Khyen, Khyeng, Khieng, Shandu, Sandu. Dialects: Close to Asho, Khyang, Thayetmo, Minbu, Chinbon, Lemyo, Mara Chin (Lakher). Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Kuki-Chin-Naga, Kuki-Chin, Southern, Sho
  • Sylheti [syl] :7,000,000 in Bangladesh. Population total all countries: 10,300,000. Ethnic population: 8,000,000 or more. District of Sylhet, Sunamgani, Habigani, Moulvibazar. Sylhet is about 100 miles north of Dacca. Also spoken in Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, United Kingdom, USA. Alternate names: Sylhetti, Sylhetti Bangla, Sileti, Siloti, Syloti, Syloty. Dialects: Close to Bengali, Assamese. Lexical similarity 70% with Bengali. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Tangchangya [tnv] :17,695 (1981 census). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Tanchangya. Dialects: Close to Chakma. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bengali-Assamese
  • Tippera [tpe]: 100,000 (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Tippera-Bengali, Tipperah, Tipra, Tipura, Triperah, Tippurah, Tripura. Dialects: 36 dialects. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified
  • Usui [usi] 4,010 (1981 census). Chittagong Hills. Alternate names: Unshoi, Unsuiy, Ushoi. Dialects: Close to Tippera. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified
  • War [aml] 16,000 in Bangladesh (2003 SIL). Population total all countries: 28,000. Along the India border in the northeast; Sylhet Division, Sylhet District, near Jaflong, Tamabil, Jaintiapur, and north of Raipur; Moulavi Bazar District, near Fenchuganj, Madhabkunda, Barlekha, Goalbari, Fultala, Alinagar, Islampur, Khajori, Rashidpur, Satgoan, Kamalganj, Alinagar. Also spoken in India. Alternate names: Amwi, Waar. Dialects: War-Jaintia, War-Khasi. Probably distinct from War, a dialect of Khasi in India. 75% intelligibility of Khasi by War-Jaintia. Jirang is similar, and may be a dialect. Lexical similarity 70% to 75% between War-Jaintia and War-Khasi; War-Jaintia dialect 41% to 45% with Pnar (from scant data), 35% with standard Khasi. Classification: Austro-Asiatic, Mon-Khmer, Northern Mon-Khmer, Khasian

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