The most densely populated nation on earth, Bangladesh is home to 163 million people living within an area that is two-thirds the size of Victoria.
Situated in the Bengal Basin, most of Bangladesh is a flood plain with one third of the land covered in rivers, lakes or swamps. Agriculture is sustained by annual flooding, which regularly displaces the country’s poorest people.
Traditionally most Bangladeshis have lived rurally, working their own small farms or laboring for others. Widespread poverty and population growth has driven urbanisation in recent years, and Bangladesh’s economy has been expanding thanks to the country’s burgeoning manufacturing industries, and in particular, the garment industry.
Despite the challenges, Bangladesh is a dynamic and entrepreneurial country which has made good progress in development in recent years.
But life in Bangladesh for the poorest of poor – the landless rural population and the illiterate – is extremely hard. With irregular incomes and no financial safety net, many families simply do not know where their next meal will come from.
Inadequate health care leaves many disabled by preventable diseases or accidents, and widespread lack of education renders a huge number of people completely disempowered – unable to develop their future or that of their nation.
Despite significant improvements, more than 63 million people (ie over 30%) live below the poverty line with 21 million Bangladeshis living in extreme poverty.
For more information on Bangladesh, explore the UN Development Program (http://www.bd.undp.org/content/bangladesh/en/home/countryinfo/) or Virtual Bangladesh (http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/).