Bangladesh is a small country located at the terminus of the Himalayas. Home to vast floodplains, almost the entire nation is within ten feet of sea level. The extensive marshes have been home to rice farmers for millennia, and even today Bangladesh remains a net rice exporter although the primary engine of the economy has shifted to the manufacture of textiles. Bangladesh was the world’s largest producer of jute, a plant fiber similar to cotton in it’s properties and uses, and some of the local clothing is still produced using jute fibers. Tea and mustard are also grown in the dryer regions of the country, although rice remains the predominant crop. Bangladesh also receives a large amount of remittances from families working abroad.
Bangladesh was traditionally part of India, and consisted of a number of nations controlled by local princes and warlords. Frequented by traders, it became heavily populated by both Muslims and Hindus and was fought over for centuries due to the abundant and fertile rice farms of the area. During the British occupation the entire country was converted into plantations in order to clothe and feed the British, and a mixture of mismanagement, greed and environmental disaster led to a number of famines and revolts. When India won it’s independence from England, Bangladesh was declared to be the eastern part of Pakistan, although it later won it’s independence in a bloody civil war in the 1970s. Currently, the government is racked by corruption, and there is an effort by both grassroots organizers and international negotiators to eliminate the corruption.
Despite its agricultural and industrial economy, Bangladesh is increasingly working to increase the local tourist industry. Bangladesh is home to the largest mall complex in Southeast Asia, Bashundhara City. Home to over 2,500 shops, Bashundhara City offers almost every product on the market and is very friendly to foreigners and tourists. Many of the stores offer services in multiple languages and a great variety of restaurants are located throughout the building. Several of the world’s largest bridges can also be found straddling the slow rivers and thick marshlands of the southern portion of the country. The high-hill regions to the north are home to many of the world’s rarest jungle animals, most famously the Bengal tiger. Bangladesh has also made an effort to reconstruct it’s past, most notably its extensive mosques and large Hindu temples. Many of these buildings were damaged during the political turmoil of the 1970s, however an international effort has begun to ensure they are rebuilt and open to visitation.
This sort of effort has also helped to attract foreign investment, and many nations now see Bangladesh as an expanding country. While the vast majority of the country is still impoverished, efforts to reduce poverty have doubled the take-home pay of the average citizen and poverty has decreased 20% since 1990. Efforts to eliminate pollution and corruption have been praised as increasingly effective, and it is hoped that continuing tourism and international interest will help to bring the nation up to modern standards.
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