Editor's note: The woman who has been found alive in the rubble of a residential building in Nairobi, Kenya, is one of an estimated 80 people missing since it suddenly collapsed Friday amid heavy flooding, killing 33. It's possible she may not be the last to survive the tragedy: a woman was rescued 17 days after the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, and there have been similar stories of survival in the aftermath of the 2007 Haiti earthquake, among others. - Tricia
Bangladesh (/ˌbæŋɡləˈdɛʃ/; /ˌbɑːŋɡləˈdɛʃ/; বাংলাদেশ, pronounced: [ˈbaŋlad̪eʃ], lit. "The land of Bengal"), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônôprôjatôntri Bangladesh), is a sovereign country in South Asia. It forms the major part of the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. Located at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is bordered by India and Myanmar and is separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the narrow Siliguri Corridor. Bangladesh is the world's eighth-most populous country, the fifth most populous in Asia and the third-most populous among Muslim-majority countries. The official Bengali language is the sixth most-spoken native language in the world, which Bangladesh shares with the neighboring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.
Three of Asia's largest rivers, the Ganges (locally known as the Padma), the Brahmaputra (locally known as the Jamuna) and the Meghna, flow through Bangladesh and form the fertile Bengal delta- the largest delta in the world. With rich biodiversity, Bangladesh is home to 700 rivers, most of the world's largest mangrove forest; rainforested and tea-growing highlands; a 600 km (370 mi) coastline with one of the world's longest beaches; and various islands, including a coral reef. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, ranking alongside South Korea and Monaco. Urban centers are spread across the country, with the capital Dhaka and the port city Chittagong being the most prominent. The predominant ethnic group are Bengalis, along with numerous minorities, including Chakmas, Garos, Marmas, Tanchangyas, Bisnupriya Manipuris, Santhals, Biharis, Oraons, Tripuris, Mundas, Rakhines and Rohingyas. The religion of state and the majority is Islam, followed by Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.
Civilization has flourished in the Bengal delta for millennia. The region was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Gangaridai. An entrepot of the historic Silk Road, especially the worldwide muslin trade, the people of the delta developed their own language, script, literature, music, art and architecture. The area was Islamised under the influence of Sufism, particularly during the medieval Bengal Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. Nationalism, social reforms and the arts developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries under British colonialism, and the region played an important role in the anti-colonial movement of the subcontinent.
The Partition of British India, including the partition of Bengal, established the present-day borders of Bangladesh in 1947, when East Bengal became part of the Dominion of Pakistan; later becoming East Pakistan in 1955. It was separated from West Pakistan by 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) of Indian territory. East Pakistan was home to the country's demographic majority, its legislative capital and its most exported commodities. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and economic neglect by the politically dominant western wing; Bengali civil disobedience led to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, involving India, Pakistan and the Provisional Government of Bangladesh, with its military wing, the Mukti Bahini. In subsequent decades, the new state endured challenges of poverty, natural disasters, corruption, overpopulation, illiteracy, political instability and military coups. However, Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in social indicators of human development, including improved gender parity, universal primary education, maternal and child health, food production and population control. The poverty rate has reduced from 57% in 1990 to 25.6% in 2014.
A major developing country, Bangladesh is a Next Eleven emerging economy. It is a constitutional unitary parliamentary republic, with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad. Bangladesh has the third-largest economy and military in South Asia after India and Pakistan. It is a founding member of SAARC and hosts the headquarters of the Bay of Bengal Initiative. The country is the world's largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping. It is a member of the Developing 8 Countries, the OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Group of 77, the Non Aligned Movement, BCIM, the Indian Ocean Rim Association and BBIN. The country has significant natural resources, including natural gas, limestone and coal. Agriculture mainly produces rice, jute and tea. Bangladesh's major trading partners include Japan, the United States, the European Union and the surrounding nations of China, Malaysia and India.