Bangladesh is one of the smallest nations of the world and it is said to have been born twice – once as East Pakistan and once as Bangladesh. Historically described as ‘Golden Bengal’ for its agricultural affluence, the country had to struggle, post its independence in 1971, to get political and economic stability.
The riverine country of Bangladesh (“Land of the Bengals”) is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and its people are predominantly Muslim. Though economically still underdeveloped, Bangladesh is famous for its cultural richness. Handmade goods, rich literary heritage, classical and folk music, five world heritage sites and numerous archeological sites, make this country one of the cultural hotspots in South Asia.
Some key dates in the history of Bangladesh:
1947 – British colonial rule over India ends. A largely Muslim state comprising East and West Pakistan is established, either side of India. The two provinces are separated from each other by more than 1,500 km of Indian territory.
1971 – Independence after a nine-month war, with India backing the Bengali nationalists against Pakistan.
1973 – First parliamentary elections give the Awami League a landslide victory.
1975 – A military coup sees founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members killed, putting an end to civilian rule.
1979 – Second parliamentary elections bring former army chief Ziaur Rahman’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party to power.
1981 – President Ziaur Rahman assassinated during an abortive military coup.
1982 – General Hussain Muhammad Ershad assumes power in a coup. He suspends the constitution and political parties.
1991 – The country returns to a parliamentary system of government.
2006-2008 – Political crisis sees leaders of both major parties briefly detained.