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Missionary Spotlight – Bangladesh – Features

January 1998

Area: 55.6 thousand square miles. Bounded by India, Myanmar (Burma) and the Bay of Bengal.

Physical: Bangladesh occupies the delta and floodplains of the rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra. With three-quarters of the land less than ten feet above sea level, violent monsoons and high annual rainfall (100 inches) cause frequent, serious flooding. Increased salinity in the delta has destroyed fisheries, contaminated drinking-water and damaged forests.

Population: Over 132 million, including Bengali – 97%; tribal groups – 1%; others, including Bihari and Urdu – 2%. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with more than 2,255 people per square mile. Most live in rural communities. Life expectancy is 53 years. There is frequent, widespread loss of life due to natural disasters.

Capital: Dhaka (Dacca) – 6.7 million. Port – Chittagong – 2.3 million (1995 figures).

Languages: Mainly Bengali (official language) and English, although there are 37 different language groups. Literacy is 43% for men and 22% for women.

Economy: An agricultural economy, producing rice and tea and more than half the world’s jute. Textiles are also exported. Bangladesh is heavily dependent on foreign aid. GNP is $180 per person (less than one per cent of USA figure).

Religions: Sunni Muslim – 87%; Hindu – 11.7%; Buddhist – 0.6%; Roman Catholic – 0.2%; Protestant – 0.2%; others, including tribal animist – 0.3%.

Protestant denominations: Baptist (various), All in One Christ Fellowship, Evangelical (various groups), Lutheran, Church of Bangladesh (Anglican), Presbyterian and Assemblies of God. 0.1% of the population (130,000) claim to be evangelicals.