Bangladesh in 1982

The huge delta region was part of greater Bangladesh( Anga- Banga- Kalinga) formed at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems – now referred to as Bangladesh – was a loosely incorporated outpost of various empires centered on the Gangetic plain for much of the first millennium A.D. Muslim conversions and settlement in the region began in the 10th century, primarily from Arab and Persian traders and preachers. Europeans established trading posts in the area in the 16th century. Eventually the area known as Bengal, primarily Hindu in the western section and mostly Muslim in the eastern half, became part of British India. Partition in 1947 resulted in an eastern wing of Pakistan in the Muslim-majority area, which became East Pakistan. Calls for greater autonomy and animosity between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan led to a Bengali independence movement. That movement, led by the Awami League (AL) and supported by India, won the independence war for Bangladesh in 1971. The post-independence AL government faced daunting challenges and in 1975 it was overthrown by the military, triggering a series of military coups that resulted in a military-backed government and subsequent creation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in 1978. That government also ended in a coup in 1981, followed by military-backed rule until democratic elections occurred in 1991.


142,500 km2 ; 66% arable (including cultivated and fallow), 18% not available for cultivation, 16% forested

Land boundaries: 2,535 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 12 nm (economic including fishing 200 nm)

Coastline: 580 km


Population: 93,040,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 2.6%

Nationality: noun—Bangladeshi(s); adjective—Bangladesh

Ethnic divisions: predominantly Bengali; fewer than one million “Biharis” and fewer than one million tribals

Religion: 85% Muslim, about 12% Hindu, less than 1% Buddhist, Christian, or other

Language: Bengali

Literacy: 24.3% (1979-80)

Labor force: 30.7 million; extensive export of labor to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, and Kuwait; 80% of labor force is in agriculture, 15% services, 11% industry (FY79)


Official name: People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Type: independent republic since December 1971; Government of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman overthrown in August 1975; two other coups followed; after four years of martial law rule, presidential elections were held in June 1978 and a new parliament was elected in February 1979; President Ziaur Rahman assassinated in failed military coup on 30 May 1981; former Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar became President in election on 15 November 1981; martial law imposed 24 March 1982; government dissolved

Capital: Dacca

Political subdivisions: 19 districts, 413 thanas (counties), 4,365 unions (village groupings)

Legal system: based on English common law; constitution adopted December 1972; amended January 1975 to more authoritarian presidential system, changed by proclamation in April 1977 to reflect Islamic character of nation; further change, by proclamation in December 1978, to provide for the appointments of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as other ministers of Cabinet rank, and to further define the powers of the President

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 March

Branches: constitution provides for unicameral legislature, strong President; independent judiciary; President has substantial control over the judiciary

Government leader: President Abdus Sattar replaced by martial law administrator Lt. Gen. H. M. ERSHAD in March 1982 coup

Suffrage: universal over age 18

Elections: Second Parliament (House of the Nation) elected in February 1979; elections every five years; most recent presidential election November 1981

Political parties and leaders: Bangladesh Nationalist Party (formed September 1978), Abdus Sattar; Awami League, Sheikh Hasina Wajed; United People’s Party, Kazi Zafar Ahmed; Democratic League, Khondakar Mushtaque Ahmed; Muslim League, Khan A. Sabur; Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (National Socialist Party), M. A. Jalil; Bangladesh Communist Party (pro-Soviet), Manindra Moni Singh; numerous small parties; political activity banned following March 1982 coup

Communists: 2,500 members (est.)

Member of: ADB, Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization, Colombo Plan, Commonwealth, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMCO, ISCON, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO


GNP: $9.1 billion est. (FY79, current prices), $100 per capita; real growth, 4.4% (FY79)

Agriculture: large subsistence farming, heavily dependent on monsoon rainfall; main crops are jute and rice; shortages—grain, cotton, and oilseed

Fishing: catch 835,000 metric tons (FY78)

Major industries: jute manufactures, food processing and cotton textiles

Electric power: 1,302,000 kW capacity (1980); 1.750 billion kWh produced (1980), 20 kWh per capita

Exports: $759 million (f.o.b. 1980); raw and manufactured jute, leather, tea

Imports: $2,348 million (f.o.b. 1980); foodgrains, fuels, raw cotton, fertilizer, manufactured products

Major trade partners: exports—US 14%, USSR 8%; imports—US 19%, Japan 12% (FY79)

Budget: (FY81) domestic revenue, $2,379 million; expenditures, $2,203 million

Monetary conversion rate: 16 taka=US$1 (June 1981)

Fiscal year: 1 July-30 June


Railroads: 4,085 km total (1980); 2,198 km meter gauge (1.000 m),l,852 km broad gauge (1.676 m), 35 km narrow gauge (0.762 m), 300 km double track; government owned

Highways: 45,633 km total; 4,076 km paved, 2,693 km gravel, 38,864 km earth

Inland waterways: 7,000 km; river steamers navigate main waterways

Ports: 1 major (Chittagong), 2 minor

Pipelines: 854 km natural gas

Civil air: 9 major transport aircraft

Airfields: 23 total, 15 usable; 17 with permanent-surface runways; 4 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 7 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: adequate international radio-communications and landline service; fair domestic wire and microwave service; fair broadcast service; 100,000 (est.) telephones (0.1 per 100 popl.); 9 AM, 6 FM, 7 TV stations, and 1 ground satellite station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 21,456,000; 11,190,000 fit for military service

Military budget: for fiscal year ending 30 June 1982, $1.7 billion; about 10.8% of central government budget

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