|Area||143,998 sq km|
|Population||161,083,804 (est 2012)|
|Religions||Islam 90%. Hinduism 9%. other 1%.|
|Life expectancy||70.06 (est 2012)|
Bangladesh is a land of rich, natural beauty, boasting the world’s largest mangrove forest and longest beach, lush coastal vegetation and exotic wildlife. However, it is also one of the most populous and poorest countries in the world.
Although Bangladesh is a recently formed state (1971), it has roots in the ancient state of Banga and a written history of several thousand years. Bengal, the European name for the area, was part of the Indian empire under colonial rule until the region was partitioned in 1947, forming East and West Pakistan. Later in the century East Pakistan demanded regional autonomy.
This led to a war that lasted nine months; killing three million people and forcing a further ten million people to flee as refugees to India. With India’s help the Pakistani army was defeated, East Pakistan became separate from Pakistan, and Bangladesh was born. What followed was 15 years of military rule to be replaced in 1990 by a democratic government. 2008 saw the first general election since the army-backed caretaker government took power in January 2007.
As one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world, cyclones, flash floods, tidal surges, tornadoes and mudslides regularly claim many lives and destroy infrastructure.
Around 45 per cent of the country’s people live below the poverty line, with many living on less than 52p a day.
BMS involvement in Bangladesh
BMS World Mission’s involvement in what is now Bangladesh began in 1793 with William Carey. Today BMS works with the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (BBCS), which is responsible for work in the local churches, schools, hospitals, leprosy care and the training of pastors. BMS also sends medical personnel and teams to Bangladesh.
Located on the Padma river delta, Bangladesh is a fertile, alluvial plain where rice, tea and jute are grown. There are rainforests and swamps. Although the soil is rich, and sun and water plentiful, most people face economic hardship. A tropical monsoon climate predominates, with heavy summer rains from June to September, often accompanied by catastrophic cyclones and floods.
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country with a small Hindu population and very small Christian minority (around 0.5 per cent). About 50 per cent of the Christian community is Roman Catholic.
Baptists are the largest Protestant group and have been involved in Bangladesh since William Carey lived in the area. There are a number of Baptist groups and Baptist Unions present in Bangladesh.