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Bangladesh Part 1 - Introduction

BANGLADESH | Tuesday, 13 July 2010 | Views [731]

A Beehive of Activity

Part 1

Bangladesh Trip Letter – December 2009

What do you think Bangladesh (BD) is like?  If you think it is flat, floods easily, poor, crowded, and hot, you are not far off.   It is all that and much more.  To get to know BD better requires a short introductory lesson on geography, geology, demography and history.  BD is located in South Asia in a precarious position (both geographical and politically).  It is bordered by India, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal .  There are several mountain ranges, like the Himalayas, and moderately high plateaus that drain into the flat, fertile land of BD.  This is a good and a bad thing.  The good thing is the soil is rich and grows rice, wheat, jute, tea, tobacco, and sugarcane.  The not so good thing is the flooding when there is a major snow melt in the mountains.  Also, BD lies in monsoon territory and it does not take much to flood a country which consists of mainly low and flat land.

                BD is 147,570 square kilometers.  Land makes up 81%, forest 13% and river 6%.  The population is approximately 158.6 million (2008 estimate) with an annual growth rate of 1.8% and density is reported to be 939 persons per square kilometer (2005).  Wikipedia lists BD coming in 9th as the most densely populated countries proceeded by Macau, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Vatican City, Malta, and Bermuda.  Walking out the door of the airport I sensed one could never be alone in BD with all the people waiting outside.  Crowds like this in the states would be indicative of a major sporting event or a Rolling Stones concert or the opening of a Krispie Kremes.   I was thankful for having a guardian angel to help me locate my BD friend in the crowd.

                Besides their agricultural resources, their mineral resources are natural gas, limestone, hard rock, coal, lignite, silica sand, white clay, and radioactive sand.  In case you are not familiar with radioactive sand, I will leave you to research that yourself.  It boils down to sand that is radioactive.  Major imports are wheat, oil seeds, crude petroleum, raw cotton, edible oil, petroleum products, fertilizer, cement, staple fiber, yarn, iron and steel.  Major exports include: garments, raw jute, jute manufactures, jute products, tea, leather and leather products, frozen shrimp, other fish products, newsprint, paper, naphtha, furnace oil, and urea (used in fertilizer).

                Life expectancy is 57 years of age for men and 63 for women (2009 est).  48% of the population is literate with 54% being men and 41% being women.  Birth rate is 2.74 children born per woman.  The national flag is a green rectangle with a red circle slightly off center.  The story behind the flag is “the red disk represents the rising sun and the sacrifice to achieve independence; the green field symbolizes the lush vegetation of Bangladesh”.

                I came to Bangladesh to visit a special friend, Sanwar.  I met him during my first week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when I hailed down a taxi.  He started out as a reliable and friendly taxi driver and quickly turned into a friend and guardian.   My time in BD was not the typical tourist trip but one showing the heart and soul of the country through the people.

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