Modern Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in 1971 after breaking away and obtaining independence from Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War. The country's borders corresponded with the major portion of the ancient and historic region of Bengal in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, where civilization dates back over four millennia, to the Chalcolithic. The history of the region is closely intertwined with the history of Bengal and the broader history of the Indian subcontinent. Stone Age tools dating back to over 20,000 years ago have been found in the Greater Bengal region thus indicating human settlement in the region. After gaining its independence, Bangladesh became a republic within the Commonwealth and a secular democracy. In 1973, Bangladesh joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement and later joined the United Nations in 1974.
The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, with the President as Chief of State and Prime Minister as Head of Government. The President is elected to a five-year term and may serve two terms total. All citizens over 18 years of age can vote. The unicameral parliament is called the Jatiya Sangsad; its 300 members also serve five-year terms. The President officially appoints the Prime Minister, but he or she must be the representative of the majority coalition in parliament.
Bangladesh, with nearly 169 million inhabitants (as of 2019) on a landmass of 147,570 square kilometers, is among the most densely populated countries in the world. It remains a moderate-income country, with a per capita income of US$ 1909 (Atlas method) in FY 2019.
Geography is a strong determinant of Bangladesh. The country is bounded by India on the west, north, and north-east, Myanmar on the south-east, and the Bay of Bengal on the south. Eighty percent of its area consists of floodplains created by more than 300 rivers and channels, including three major rivers: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna. Bangladesh forms only a small part of a large regional hydrologic system—less than 10 percent of the river basin falls within the national territory. Its southern part is nestled in the Bay of Bengal with a 710 km long coastal belt that is home to nearly 35 million people.
Bangladesh lies between latitudes 20° and 27°N, and longitudes 88° and 93°E. Bangladesh is in the low-lying Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta. This delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (local name Padma), Brahmaputra (Jamuna also known as "Yamuna"), and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to empty into the Bay of Bengal. The alluvial soil deposited by these rivers has created some of the most fertile plains in the world. Bangladesh has 57 trans-boundary rivers, making water issues politically complicated to resolve. Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28 ft).
Hills rise above the plain only in the Chattogram Hill Tracts in the far southeast and the Sylhet division in the northeast. Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Bangladesh has a subtropical monsoonal climate characterized by heavy seasonal rainfall, moderately warm temperatures, and high humidity. Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and tidal bores affect the country almost every year. Bangladesh also is affected by major cyclones; on average 16 times a decade. Bangladesh’s geographical position and very high population density make it extremely vulnerable to natural disasters including floods, droughts, and cyclones. Global climate change has increased these vulnerabilities manifold.
The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok Range at 1,052 m (3,451 ft) in the Chattogram Hill Tracts to the southeast of the country. Cox's Bazar, south of the city of Chattogram, has a beach that stretches uninterrupted over 120 kilometers which is the longest in the world. Again, Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world, situated on the south-western part of the country under the districts of Bagerhat, Khulna and SaBDThira. The forest is very famous for the Royal Bengal Tigers and dotted Chitra deer.
Bangladesh finds itself at the low end of most global rankings on governance and anti-corruption. However, Bangladesh has managed to maintain relative peace and political stability. Economic performance has been relatively strong within this challenging governance environment. Only two-thirds to three-quarters of the Annual Development Plan (ADP) are implemented each year.
Administrative divisions of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is divided into eight administrative divisions, each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal, Chattogram, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Mymenshingh, Sylhet and Rangpur. Divisions are subdivided into districts (zilas). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh, each further subdivided into upazilas (subdistricts) or thana. The area within each police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is divided into several unions, with each union consisting of multiple villages. In the metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into wards, which are further divided into mahallas. There are no elected officials at the divisional, district or upazila levels, and the administration is composed only of government officials. Direct elections are held for each union (or ward), electing a chairperson and a number of members. In 1997, a parliamentary act was passed to reserve three seats (out of 12) in every union for female candidates.
Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. Other major cities like Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Bogura, Mymensingh and Rangpur are the divisional city hubs. These divisional cities including some other district cities have mayoral elections, while other municipalities elect a chairperson. Both Mayors and chairpersons are elected for a tenure of five years.
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