Bangladesh lies between the Hindustan and Indochina peninsulas in South Asia. To the north stretches the vast and rugged mountain landscape of the Himalayas, and to the south are the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal, part of the Indian Ocean. Bangladesh occupies an area of 144 000 square kilometers and borders two countries – India and Myanmar (Burma).
History. For nearly two and a half centuries, Bangladesh was a possession of Britain. The colonial period lasted approximately from 1700 to 1947. After it gained independence, the former colony was partitioned into two countries – India and Pakistan.
Pakistan itself also consisted of two different parts, which were distanced approximately 1500 kilometers from each other – West Pakistan and East Pakistan (today Bangladesh).
One of the main reasons for the separation of the eastern part of the country was a devastating cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1969.
The consequences of the tropical storm were extremely severe, with a large number of victims and enormous material damages. Although it was seriously destroyed, the poor eastern province didn’t receive any aid from the remote and far richer West Pakistan.
The mass outrage led to a bloody internal conflict, which is the reason for the separation of East Pakistan in 1971 and the birth of a new country called Bangladesh.
Nature. Mother Nature has blessed Bangladesh with a unique natural beauty. The country is almost entirely covered by extensive swampy lowlands and is crisscrossed by a dense network of rivers that form together the largest river delta in the world – that of the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers.
Because of the intense rainfalls, most rivers overflow their banks during the rainy season, and the situation is further complicated by the melting snow during the summer months in the Himalayas.
Because of all these geographical factors, each year at least two-thirds of territory of Bangladesh remains under water for months.
The only places that are spared from flooding are the hills of northeastern Bangladesh as well as the Southeast of the country, which is occupied by not very high mountains.
Right here, in the Mowdok Mountains, not far from the border with Myanmar, is located the highest peak in Bangladesh – Saka Hafong, 1,052 meters high.
Coastline. The coastline of Bangladesh is one of the most indented in Asia. It is a mosaic of thousands of small islands with little altitude, separated from each other by numerous river branches and canals.
They are covered with fertile alluvial soil, abundant water-loving vegetation and dense mangrove forests.
There are some nice beaches, although the marine water along the coast is not very transparent because of the large quantity of sediments which the rivers bring. To the southeast, not far from the border with Myanmar, is Cox’s Bazar Beach.
With its 95 km, it is the longest beach in Asia. It has a light sand with shades of gold, cream, beige and light brown.
Wildlife. Bangladesh is known for its amazing wildlife. Here are some rare species such as Bengal tigers, which are a symbol of the country, leopards (including black leopards), Asian black bears, sloth bears, sun bears, Asian elephants, Indian crocodiles, different kinds of monkeys (macaque, gray langur and others), nearly 466 different species of birds and a wide variety of amphibians and reptiles.
Climate. Bangladesh has a hot subequatorial monsoon climate. The dry season lasts from November to March, and it brings plenty of sunshine and temperatures between 25 and 30°C.
The monsoon season lasts from April to October and brings huge amounts of rainfall and higher temperatures, usually about 32 to 33 but sometimes over 40°C!
Bangladesh frequently suffers from the vagaries of the weather. Heavy and prolonged rainfalls during the rainy season very often cause severe damages and devastating floods, and most major rivers in the country often get out of their banks.
In this part of the year the country usually suffers from frequent and devastating cyclones, and the high humidity and heat create really unbearable conditions.
Population. In the 21st century, the territory of Bangladesh is one of the most populated regions on the planet. An area comparable to that of a medium-sized European country or U.S. state is home to more people in comparison with the common population even of large countries such as Mexico and Argentina together!
According to the World Bank, the population of Bangladesh in 2012 was 154,700,000 people. Official language is Bengali with its wide variety of dialects.
Although it is not officially recognized as a second official language, English enjoys great popularity and is spoken by the vast majority of local residents, especially in the larger cities.
The population of the South Asian country professes Islam (about 83%), Hinduism (approximately 16%) and other religions (mainly Christianity and traditional indigenous beliefs).
Economics. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Primitive agriculture is the basis of the local economy.
Most local residents are engaged in this sector, but what they produce in most cases is not even enough to provide food for their families, which in this part of the world are usually quite large with 5,6 or even 7 children.
In addition, the powerful cyclones that hit the country every year cause heavy damages to agriculture destroying much of the harvest. In the country are grown mostly rice, tea, sugarcane, tobacco and jute.
The mining of minerals such as coal and natural gas is also very important. The industry is generally poorly developed with the most important sectors being food processing and textile manufacturing.
Although Bangladesh is among the poorest countries in the world, the population is considered among the happiest on the planet.
Cuisine. In the preparation of traditional Bangladeshi dishes, which are known under the common name curry, are used a wide variety of strong and aromatic spices such as coriander, saffron, ginger, garlic and others.
For this reason the cuisine of the Asian country is much more fragrant in comparison with the cuisine of any country in Europe.
The everyday menu of the local residents consists of large amount of freshwater fish, and chicken, mutton and beef are the most popular meat products. You will probably be surprised by the huge consumption of fresh fruits and vegetable dishes.
Rice is the most popular staple food in Bangladesh, as it grows very well in hot and humid climates. Another staple food is the famous unleavened whole wheat bread called “ruti”.
The cuisine of Bangladesh is characterized by a wide variety of sweets in the preparation of which are also used many local aromatic spices such as cinnamon.
What to try while in Bangladesh? If you want to experience the authentic taste of Bangladesh, you should try one of the most popular meals and national dish in the Asian country.
It comes to a kind of delicious freshwater fish called ilish, wrapped and baked in banana leaves and served with a tasty paste of mustard seeds. For dessert you should try the traditional local rice cake with sweet fruit filling. It is advisable to try also a cup of fragrant local tea with milk.
Enjoy the huge variety of tropical fruits such as lychee, mango and papaya, which you can try at ridiculously low price and in very large quantities.
Where to go? Start your adventure from Dhaka, the exciting and colorful capital of the country. The city is a smaller version of the entire Bangladeshi society with its good and bad sides.
Visit the small town of Paharpur in the district of Naogaon, northwestern Bangladesh.
The settlement is famous for the excavation of the ancient monastery Somapura Mahavihara dating from the 8th century.
Because of its archaeological significance, the place is under the auspices of UNESCO. Major landmark of Bangladesh is the city of Cox’s Bazar, which is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in the Southeast of the country. This is the place to find the longest beach in Asia!
Be sure to visit also the Sundarbans – an area that is covered with the largest mangrove forest in the world today.
This is an important World Heritage Site and is located in southwestern Bangladesh, next to the border with India.
If you are a connoisseur of cultural monuments, you should go to Bagerhat town, known for its red brick Sixty Dome Mosque – a real masterpiece from the 15th century.
Do not miss the area of Bandarban, which is known as one of the most attractive places for tourism in the country because of its beautiful scenery and glorious Buddhist temples. Among the most exciting places of interest is also the city of Sylhet and its environs.
The place is attractive for its pleasant (lower) winter temperatures and picturesque tea plantations.
When to visit Bangladesh? The best time to visit Bangladesh is during the period November through February. January is considered to be the month with the most pleasant weather conditions.
The average daytime temperature during the period varies in pleasant ranges, and at night is sometimes even a bit cool.
How to get there? Bangladesh is an easily accessible destination. You can get there from various spots in Europe (eg London, Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Frankfurt), Asia (eg Hong Kong, Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, Bangkok), North America (New York) and many others.
Risks. If you are planning a trip to Bangladesh, it is advisable to travel outside the monsoon season when the threat of cyclones and floods is very serious!
If you decide to spend some time into the wild, you have to be careful because the country is home to some very dangerous predators as well as a large number of poisonous creatures.
Stay away from wild animals and do not feed them!
Health. Approximately 4-6 weeks before you travel to the Asian country is advisable to visit your GP. Tell him/her that you intend to visit Bangladesh and ask what immunizations are needed and recommended as well as how to take care of your health during your stay there.
Your doctor will inform you how to avoid health risks and will give you some more detailed advices based on your health status.
Keep in mind that many medicines are difficult or even impossible to find in the Asian country. For this reason it is good to have in advance everything you need.
What you need to buy mandatory before your trip is also a good mosquito repellent. These insects are a carrier of one of the most dangerous and widespread diseases in the country – malaria.
Security. Bangladesh is often described as a country with considerable political instability where the personal safety of tourists can not be fully guaranteed.
For this reason, the governments of some Western countries appeal against all but essential travels to the Asian country. It is believed that in many areas tourists are at an increased risk of being attacked and kidnapped.
On the other hand the widespread opinion is that Bangladesh is an interesting place to visit, because the country is very unknown and exciting and at the same time is an extremely hospitable tourist destination.
Most tourists unanimous describe the people in the country as very kind and friendly to foreigners.
After all, to visit the country or not is a matter of personal choice, but if you decide to take this adventure follow some common rules such as to avoid some of the most dangerous parts of Bangladesh, to travel only during the day, to be especially cautious outside the capital Dhaka and to avoid places of demonstrations, protests, clashes and others.
Curious facts. The lotus flower is the symbol of Bangladesh as well as one of the symbol of the eastern wisdom and philosophy. There is no other country in the world to offer such a huge population of this species of plant.