Title:         

Background Note: Bangladesh

PA Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Description: Historical, Political and Economic Overviews of the Countries of the World Date: Dec, 15 199212/15/92 Category: Country Data Region: South Asia Country: Bangladesh Subject: Travel, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Cultural Exchange, State Department [TEXT]

Official Name: People's Republic of Bangladesh

PROFILE

Geography
Area:
143,998 sq. km. (55,813 sq. mi., about the size of Wisconsin).
Cities:
Capital--Dhaka (pop. 7 million). Other cities-- Chittagong (2.8 million), Khulna (1.8 million), Rajshahi (1 million).
Terrain:
Mainly flat alluvial plain, with hills in the southeast.
Climate:
Semitropical, monsoon.
People
Nationality:
Noun and adjective--Bangladeshi(s).
Population (1991):
116 million.
Annual growth rate:
2.4%.
Ethnic groups:
Bengali 98%, tribals, non-Bengali Muslims.
Religions:
Muslim 83%; Hindu 16%; Christian, Buddhist, others 1%.
Languages:
Bangla (official, also known as Bengali), English.
Education:
Attendance--73% (primary school), 26% (secondary school). Literacy--47% for males; 22% for females.
Health (1991):
Life expectancy--54 yrs. male, 52 yrs. female.
Work force (35 million):
Agriculture--74%. Services-- 15%. Industry-11%.
Government
Type:
Parliamentary democracy.
Independence (in present form):
1971.
Constitution:
1972 (as amended).
Branches:
Executive--prime minister, president. Legislative--unicameral parliament (330 members). Judicial--civil court system on British model.
Administrative subdivisions:
divisions, districts, subdistricts, unions, villages.
Political Parties:
30-40 active political parties. Only 4 parties have more than 10 members in the current parliament: the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Awami League (AL), the Jamaat-E-Islami (JI), and the Jatiyo Party (JP).
Suffrage:
Universal at 18.
Flag:
Red circle on dark green field.
Economy
GDP (1991):
$23 billion.
Real annual growth rate (1991):
3.6%.
Per capita GDP:
$198.
Natural resources:
Natural gas, water.
Agriculture (37% of GDP):
Products--rice, jute, tea, sugar, wheat.
Industry (17% of GDP):
Types--jute goods, garments, frozen shrimp, textiles, fertilizer, sugar, tea, leather, metal re- processing, pharmaceuticals, newsprint.
Trade (1991):
Exports--$1.7 billion: ready-made garments, jute goods, leather, frozen fish, shrimp, raw jute, tea. Exports to US (1991 est.)--$515 million. Imports--$3.5 billion: capital goods, foodgrains, petroleum, consumer goods, fertilizer, chemicals, vegetable oils, textiles. Imports from US (1991 est.)--$140 million.
Official exchange rate (1992):
Taka 39=US$1.

PEOPLE

Bangladesh, or "Bengal Nation," is the most densely populated agricultural country in the world. With a per capita gross domestic product of $198 (1991), it is also one of the poorest. Bangladesh's 116 million people are concentrated in an area about the size of Wisconsin. Its population growth rate is currently estimated at 2.4% annually; a conservative estimate projects a population of 140 million by the year 2000. At present, 44% of the population is under 15 years of age. Urbanization is proceeding rapidly, and it is estimated that only 30% of the population entering the labor force in the future will be absorbed into agriculture, although many will likely find other kinds of work in rural areas. The areas around the capital city, Dhaka, and around Comilla are the most densely settled. The Sundarbans, an area of thick tropical jungle inland from the coastline on the Bay of Bengal, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts on the southeastern border with Burma and India, are the least densely populated areas. About 98% of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengali and speak Bangla. Urdu-speaking, non-Bengali Muslims of Indian origin and various tribal groups, mostly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, comprise the remainder. Most Bangladeshis (about 83%) are Muslims, but Hindus constitute a sizable (16%) minority. There are also a small number of Buddhists, Christians, and animists. English is spoken in urban areas and among the educated.

HISTORY

The area which is now Bangladesh has a rich historical and cultural past, the product of the repeated influx of varied peoples, bringing with them the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Mongol-Mughul, Arab, Persian, Turkic, and European cultures. About 1200 A.D., Muslim invaders under Sufi influence, supplanted Hindu and Buddhist dynasties, and converted most of the population of the eastern areas of Bengal to Islam. Since then, Islam has played a crucial role in the region's history and politics. In the 16th century, Bengal was absorbed into the Mughul Empire. Portuguese traders and missionaries reached Bengal in the latter part of the 15th century. They were followed by representatives of the Dutch, the French, and the British East India Companies. During the 18th and 19th centuries, especially after the defeat of the French in 1757, the British gradually extended their commercial contacts and administrative control beyond Calcutta into the remainder of Bengal and northwesterly up the Ganges River valley. In 1859, the British Crown replaced the East India Company, extending British dominion from Bengal in the east to the Indus River in the west. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Muslim and Hindu leaders began to press for a greater degree of independence. At the movement's forefront was the largely Hindu Indian National Congress. Growing concern about Hindu domination of the movement led Muslim leaders to form the All-India Muslim League in 1906. In 1913, the League formally adopted the same goal as the Indian National Congress: self-government for India within the British Empire. The Congress and the League were unable, however, to agree on a formula to ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights. Over the next 2 decades, mounting tension between Hindus and Muslims led to a series of bitter intercommunal conflicts.
Pakistan and Partition
The idea of a separate Muslim state emerged in the 1930s. It gained popularity among Indian Muslims after 1936, when the Muslim League suffered a decisive electoral defeat in the first elections under the 1935 constitution. On March 23, 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, publicly endorsed the "Pakistan Resolution" that called for the creation of an independent state in regions where Muslims were a majority. At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom, under considerable international pressure to reduce the size of its overseas empire, moved with increasing urgency to grant India independence. The Congress Party and the Muslim League could not, however, agree on the terms for drafting a constitution or establishing an interim government. In June 1947, the UK declared it would grant full dominion status to two successor states--India and Pakistan. Pakistan would consist of the contiguous Muslim-majority districts of western British India, plus parts of Bengal. The various princely states could freely join either India or Pakistan. These arrangements resulted in a bifurcated Muslim nation separated by more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) of Indian territory. West Pakistan comprised four provinces and the capital, Lahore. East Pakistan was formed of a single province. Each province had a legislature.
East and West Pakistan
Pakistan's history for the next 26 years was marked by political instability and economic difficulties. Dominion status was rejected in 1956 in favor of an "Islamic Republic within the Commonwealth." Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962 and 1969 and 1972. Frictions between West and East Pakistan culminated in a 1971 army crackdown against the East Pakistan dissident movement led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League (AL) Party had won 167 seats out of 313 National Assembly seats on a platform of greater autonomy for the eastern province. Mujibur Rahman was arrested and his party banned. Many of his aides and more than 1 million Bengali refugees fled to India, where they established a provisional government. India and Pakistan went to war in late November 1971. The combined Indian-Bengali forces soon overwhelmed Pakistan's small army contingent in the East. By the time Pakistan's forces surrendered on December 16, 1971, India had taken numerous prisoners and gained control of a large area of East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh.
Bangladesh
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujib came to office with immense personal popularity but had difficulty quickly transforming this support into political legitimacy. The 1972 constitution created a strong prime ministership, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral legislature on a modified British model. More importantly, it enunciated as state policy the Awami League's four basic principles--nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy. The Awami League won a massive majority in the first parliamentary elections in March 1973. It continued as a mass movement, espousing the cause that brought Bangladesh into being and representing disparate and often incoherent elements under the banner of Bangla nationalism. No other political party in Bangladesh's early years was able to duplicate or challenge its broad-based appeal, membership, or organizational strength. The new government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the country's war-ravaged economy and society. Economic conditions remained tenuous, however, and food and health difficulties continued to be endemic. In 1974, Mujib proclaimed a state of emergency and amended the constitution to limit the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, establish an executive presidency, and institute a one-party system. Calling these changes the "Second Revolution," Mujib assumed the presidency. All political parties were dissolved except for a single new party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), which all members of parliament were obliged to join. Implementation of promised political reforms was slow, and Mujib increasingly was criticized. In August 1975, he was assassinated by mid-level army officers, and a new government, headed by a former associate, Khandakar Moshtaque, was formed. Successive military coups occurred on November 3 and 7, resulting in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ziaur Rahman (Zia), as strongman. He pledged the army's support to the civilian government headed by the president, Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at Zia's behest, Sayem then promulgated martial law, naming himself Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). Ziaur Rahman. Ziaur Rahman was elected for a 5-year term as president in 1978. His government removed the remaining restrictions on political parties and encouraged opposition parties to participate in the pending parliamentary elections. More than 30 parties vied in the parliamentary elections of February 1979, but Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won 207 of the 300 elected seats. In 1981, Zia was assassinated by dissident elements of the military. Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar was constitutionally sworn in as acting president. He declared a new national emergency and called for elections within 6 months. Sattar was elected president and won. Sattar was ineffective, however, and Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad assumed power in a bloodless coup in March 1982. Hussain Mohammed Ershad. Like his predecessors, Ershad dissolved parliament, declared martial law, assumed the position of CMLA, suspended the constitution, and banned political activity. Ershad reaffirmed Bangladesh's moderate, non-aligned foreign policy. In December 1983, he assumed the presidency. Over the ensuing months, Ershad sought a formula for elections while dealing with potential threats to public order. On January 1, 1986, full political rights, including the right to hold large public rallies, were restored. At the same time, the Jatiyo (People's) Party (JP), designed as Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law, was established. Ershad resigned as chief of army staff, retired from military service, and was elected president in October 1986. (Both the BNP and the AL refused to put up an opposing candidate.) In July 1987, the opposition parties united for the first time in opposition to government policies. Ershad declared a state of emergency in November, dissolved parliament in December, and scheduled new parliamentary elections for March 1988. All major opposition parties refused to participate. Ershad's party won 251 of the 300 seats; three other political parties which did participate, as well as a number of independent candidates, shared the remaining seats. This parliament passed a large number of legislative bills, including a controversial amendment making Islam the state religion. By mid-1990, opposition to Ershad's rule had escalated. November and December 1990 were marked by general strikes, increased campus protests, public rallies, and a general disintegration of law and order. Ershad resigned in December 1990.

GOVERNMENT

On February 27, 1991, an interim government oversaw what may be the most free and fair elections in the nation's history. The center- right Bangladesh Nationalist Party won a plurality of seats and formed a coalition government with the Islamic fundamentalist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The new Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, was the widow of the assassinated former president Ziaur Rahman. Before the death of her husband in 1981, her participation in politics was minimal. She joined the BNP in 1982 and became chairman of the party in 1984. Besides presently serving as Prime Minister, she holds the Defense and Establishment ministries. In September 1991, the electorate approved changes to the constitution, formally creating a parliamentary system and returning governing power to the office of the prime minister, as in Bangladesh's original constitution. In October 1991, members of parliament elected a new head of state, President Abdur Rahman Biswas.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Begum Khaleda ZiaPresident (head of state)--Abdur Rahman BiswasForeign Minister--Mustafizur RahmanAmbassador to the United States--Abul AhsanAmbassador to the United Nations-- Humayun Kabir Bangladesh maintains an embassy in the United States at 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-342-8372; fax. 202-333-4971) and a consulate general at the Bangladesh Mission to the United Nations, 821 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-867-3434; 212-972-4038).

ECONOMY

As one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries, Bangladesh struggles constantly to produce or import enough food for its rapidly increasing population. An estimated 10-15% of the population is at serious nutritional risk; the majority faces food insecurity. Bangladesh's predominantly agricultural economy depends heavily on an erratic monsoonal cycle, which leads to periodic flooding and drought. Although improving, Bangladesh's transportation, communications, and power systems are poorly developed. Bangladesh has virtually no mineral resources except for an estimated 17 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves (which meets two-thirds of Bangladesh's commercial energy needs); coal reserves estimated at 250 million metric tons in the northwest; and estimated oil reserves of 7.5 million barrels. It has a weak industrial base and a largely unskilled labor force. At its founding in 1971, Bangladesh, with the help of massive infusions of donor relief and development aid, slowly began to turn its attention again to developing new industrial capacity and rehabilitating its economy. The statist economic model adopted by its early (Pakistani and Bangladeshi) leadership, however, including the nationalization of the key jute industry, had resulted in inefficiency and economic stagnation. Beginning in 1975, the government gradually increased private sector participation in the economy, including privatization of more than 30 state enterprises. However, rapid population growth, inefficiency in the public sector, and restricted natural resources and capital hindered development. In the mid-1980s encouraging, if halting, signs of progress appeared. Economic policies to encourage private enterprise and investment, denationalize public industries (including jute, textiles, and banking), reinstate budgetary discipline, and liberalize the import regime were accelerated. In 1985, the government also began an economic structural adjustment program with the International Monetary Fund. Economic reform efforts have continued under the Zia Government. Inflation fell in 1992 to an estimated 5%--down from 8% in 1991. Foreign exchange reserves ($1.5 billion in May 1992) are higher than had been expected, because of improving export performance and continued high levels of remittances from overseas workers. The exchange rate has remained generally stable, although the taka was devalued by about 8% in 1991 to compensate for the effect of inflation. The new government has improved revenue collection by means of a value-added tax. On the other hand, privatization of public-sector industries continues at a slow pace, due in part to worker unrest in affected industries. The government also has proven unable to resist demands for wage hikes in government-owned industries. Growth has been slowed by an antiquated banking system which has impeded access to capital, a serious problem in rural areas, where many farmers have difficulty getting access to credit at reasonable rates.
Agriculture
Most Bangladeshis earn their livings directly or indirectly from agriculture. Rice and jute are the primary crops; wheat is assuming greater importance; and tea is grown in hilly regions of the northeast. Bangladesh's fertile soil and normally ample water supply yield three rice crops in many areas. Through better flood control and irrigation measures, more intensive use of fertilizers and high-yielding seed varieties, increased price incentives, and improved distribution and rural credit networks, Bangladesh's labor-intensive agricultural sector has achieved steady increases in foodgrain production. Foodgrain production in 1992 was about 20 million metric tons, a 5% increase over the previous year. Rice is Bangladesh's principal crop, although yields per hectare are among the lowest in Asia. While rice output rose 3.2% in 1992, much recent growth in foodgrain output can be attributed to the irrigated spring crop, which has increased steadily due to the greater availability of fertilizer and irrigation equipment. Wheat production also is expected to rise from 900,000 to about 1 million metric tons in 1992. Jute, which historically has accounted for the bulk of Bangladesh's export receipts, faces an uncertain future due to competition from synthetic fiber substitutes. Fishing, especially for shrimp, has become an increasingly important source of export earnings. Overpopulation and underemployment remain serious problems, and finding alternative sources of employment for landless peasants is a continuing challenge.
Industry
Although small, the industrial sector contributes significantly to export receipts; it also provides employment and a market for cash crops. Jute products--mainly burlap sacking and carpet backing for export--and cotton textiles for domestic consumption predominate. Since the early 1980s production of ready-made garments for the US market has grown rapidly. Bangladesh is the fifth largest supplier of cotton apparel to the United States, and it has begun exporting to West European markets. Breaking up ships for scrap, using methods that are highly labor intensive, now meets most of Bangladesh's domestic steel needs. Other industries include sugar, tea, leather goods, newsprint, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizer production. The industrial (and foreign exchange) impact of the discovery of modest reserves of oil in 1986 remains to be assessed. The government continues to court foreign investment. To this end, the United States and Bangladesh signed a bilateral investment treaty which took effect in 1989. Bangladesh also has established an export processing zone (EPZ) in Chittagong and plans to create additional zones. The government has offered special incentives and simplified procedures for potential investors.
Aid and Trade
Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has received more than $22 billion in grant aid and loan commitments from foreign donors, about $15 billion of which has been disbursed. Major donors include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UN Development Program, the United States, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and a number of West European countries. As of 1991, the United States had provided more than $3.3 billion in food and development assistance. Food aid provides food, promotes production, and helps stabilize prices. Other US programs target family planning and health, agricultural development, and rural unemployment. In 1991, the US forgave Bangladesh $293 million of development assistance debt. Bangladesh historically has run a large trade deficit, about $1.5 billion annually during the late 1980s. This was financed largely through foreign assistance. The balance of payments swung into surplus in 1990-91 because of increased exports of garments and depressed domestic demand for imports. In recent years, remittances from workers in the Middle East have been Bangladesh's most important source of foreign exchange earnings. The US trade balance with Bangladesh has been negative since 1986, due largely to imports of ready-made garments. Jute carpet backing is the other major US import. US exports to Bangladesh include wheat, fertilizer, cotton, communications equipment, and aircraft and medical supplies, some of which is financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

DEFENSE

The 100,000-member, 6-division army is organized along British lines. It is supported by artillery, armor, and combat units. In addition to traditional defense roles, the army has been called on to provide support to civil authorities for internal security. Recognition of economic and fiscal constraints has led to the establishment of paramilitary and auxiliary forces. In addition to 7in-country military training, some advanced and technical training is done abroad, including grant aid training in the United States. China and Pakistan are major defense suppliers to Bangladesh.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy, emphasizing multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. Bangladesh was admitted to the United Nations in 1974 and served on the Security Council in 1978. Dhaka actively participates in international conferences, especially those dealing with population, food, and development issues. In 1982-83, Bangladesh chaired the "Group of 77," an informal association encompassing most of the world's developing nations. Since 1975, Bangladesh has sought close relations with other Islamic states and friendly relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 1983, it hosted the foreign ministers meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It contributed 2,300 troops to the Gulf war coalition in 1991 and has taken a leading role in the Group of 42 Least Developed Countries.
Other Nations
India.
India is Bangladesh's most important neighbor; geographic, cultural, historic, and commercial ties are strong. During and immediately after the Bangladesh independence struggle in 1971, India supported the East Bengali nationalists, assisted refugees from East Pakistan, intervened militarily to help bring about the independence of Bangladesh, and furnished relief and reconstruction aid. Indo-Bangladesh relations have not been without strains. Long- standing transborder water resource issues are contentious issues, particularly control of river flooding and the equitable division of dry-season water on which both countries' economies depend. A bilateral water-sharing agreement for the Ganges River lapsed in 1988 and has not been renewed. Both nations have, however, begun to cooperate on the issue of flood warning and preparedness. Discussions on the return to Bangladesh of tribal refugees, who fled into India beginning in 1986 to escape violence caused by an insurgency in their homeland in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, continue as well.
Pakistan.
Bangladesh enjoys warm relations with Pakistan, despite the inauspicious early days of their relationship. Landmarks in their reconciliation are: -- An August 1973 agreement between India and Pakistan on repatriation, including 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war stranded in 1971;-- A February 1974 accord by Dhaka and Islamabad on mutual recognition (followed more than 2 years later by establishment of formal diplomatic relations);-- The organization by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees of an airlift that moved almost 250,000 Bengalis from Pakistan to Bangladesh and non- Bengalis from Bangladesh to Pakistan; and-- Exchanges of high- level visits, including a visit by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, to Bangladesh in 1989 and a visit by Prime Minister Zia to Pakistan in 1992. Still to be resolved are the division of assets from the pre-1971 period and the status of more than 250,000 non-Bengali Muslims (known as "Biharis" or "stranded Pakistanis") remaining in Bangladesh but seeking resettlement in Pakistan.
Other South Asian Countries.
Bangladesh maintains friendly relations with Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It strongly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Dhaka played an instrumental role in the establishment of SAARC, and at the Bangalore summit in November 1986, Abul Ahsan, now Ambassador to the US, was chosen the organization's first Secretary General. Bilateral ties with Burma are also good, despite border strains near the Chittagong Hill tracts and a recent influx of over 270,000 Muslim refugees from predominantly Buddhist Burma.
Russia.
The former Soviet Union supported India's actions during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and was among the first to recognize Bangladesh. Moscow initially contributed considerable relief and rehabilitation aid to the new nation. After Sheikh Mujib was assassinated and replaced by military regimes, however, Soviet-Bangladesh relations cooled. In 1989, the USSR ranked 14th among total aid donors to Bangladesh. The Soviet-financed Ghorasal thermal power station is Bangladesh's largest electric power station. Several barter trade agreements have been allowed to lapse since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Bangladesh cautiously began to open diplomatic relations with the Central Asian states in the spring of 1992.
China.
China traditionally has been more important to Bangladesh than the former USSR. Since China recognized Bangladesh in 1975, relations have centered on trade, cultural activities, military and civilian aid, and exchanges of high-level visits, beginning in January 1977 with President Zia's trip to Beijing. The largest and most visible symbol of bilateral amity is the Bangladesh-China "Friendship Bridge" completed in 1989, near Dhaka.

US-BANGLADESH RELATIONS

Although the US relationship with Bangladesh was initially constrained due to strong US ties with Pakistan, US-Bangladesh friendship and support developed quickly. Currently, US-Bangladesh relations are excellent, as demonstrated by the visits to Washington in August 1980 by President Zia, in 1983, 1988, and 1990 by President Ershad, and in May 1992 by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. US policies have focused primarily on efforts to promote Bangladesh's economic development and the strength of its democratic institutions. This US economic aid program totaled about $133 million in 1992 (1972-91 the US provided more than $3.3 billion). In addition to symbolizing long-standing American humanitarian concern for the people of Bangladesh, US economic and food aid programs, which began as emergency relief following the 1971 war, now concentrate on long-term development. Objectives of US assistance include increasing agricultural production, providing new employment opportunities, and helping reduce population growth. Relations between Bangladesh and the United States were further strengthened by the participation of Bangladeshi troops in the Gulf war coalition, and the assistance of a US naval task force is credited with having saved as many as 200,000 lives after a disastrous cyclone in March 1991.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador--William B. Milam Deputy Chief of Mission--Lee O. Coldren Political Counselor--Jeffrey J. Lunstead Economic/Commercial Counselor--Philip Carter Administrative Counselor--Allan V. Ellsbury Consular Officer--Edward J. Wehrli AID Director--Mary Kilgour Public Affairs Officer--Michael Korff Defense Attache--LTC Steven R. Robinson Agricultural Attache--Daniel Conable (Resident in New Delhi) The embassy and the USAID mission, are located in the Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Avenue, Baridhara, GPO Box 323, Dhaka (tel. 011- 880-2-884700, telex 642319 AEDKA BJ, telefax 011-880-2- 883744; the USAID telefax number is 011-880-2-883648). The official workweek is Sunday through Thursday.

TRAVEL NOTES

Customs and immigration:
US tourists do not need visas for stays of up to 14 days if they have an onward ticket. Visas are required for longer visits and for business travelers.
Climate and clothing:
Wear lightweight clothing for most of the hot, wet period; medium weight clothing for the short winter (Dec.-Feb.).
Health:
Health and visa requirements change; check latest information before traveling. Basic medical facilities are available in Dhaka. Pharmacies can fill simple prescriptions. Tetanus, typhoid, and polio immunizations are recommended; malaria suppressants for travel outside of Dhaka are also recommended.
Telecommunications:
Internal and external telephone, telegraph, telex, and mail services are available. Direct-dialing is possible to Western Europe and the United States. Bangladesh is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Transportation:
International and domestic airline service is adequate, and railroad service is limited. Road transport is crowded but adequate to most major cities; river transport is extensive.

HOW TO ORDER BACKGROUND NOTES IN PAPER

Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC December 1992 -- Editor: Josephine C. Brooks -- Managing Editor: Peter Knecht Department of State Publication 8698 -- Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office,Washington, DC 20402. Contents of this publication are not copyrighted unless indicated. If not copyrighted, the material may be reproduced without consent; citation of the publication as the source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copuyrighted material (including graphics) must be obtained from the original source. (###)