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My motherland

Bangladesh appeared on the world map as an independent and sovereign state on December 16, 1971 following the victory at the War of Liberation with Pakistan, Bangladesh is a member of the United Nations (UN) and its various specialized bodies and agencies including ESCAP. She is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) including their various affiliated organs.
Bangladesh has multiparty parliamentary from of democracy, where the Prime Minister is the head of government. The 330 seat National Parliament, known as the ‘Jatiya Sangshad’ has a normal term of 5 years. The constitutional Head of State is the President. Bangladesh, which has a thousand years of recorded history, has a rich and varied cultural heritage, and is well known for its music, poetry and paintings.
The country has a total area of 1,47,570 sq. km. It is a deltaic plain, cress-crossed by a number of mighty rivers like the Padma-Ganga, Brahmputra-Jamuna, Meghna and their tributaries and distributories. Bangladesh lies between 20.240-26.380 N latitude and 88.010-92.500 E longitude. It is fenced by the Bay of Bengal on the south and by India on the north, east and the west. There is a small strip of frontier with Myanmar (Burma) on the southeastern edge. Located in one of the wettest regions of the world, Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate characterized by rain bearing winds, warm temperatures and high humidity. The country has mainly four seasons: Winter (Dec-Feb), Summer (Mar-May), Monsoon (June-Sept) and Autumn (Oct-Nov). Bangladesh has been subject to climatic extremities. Especially during summer and monsoon, tropical cyclones, storms and tidal bores cause widespread damage and destruction.
This is a land of 126 million people comprising 86.6% Muslims, 12.1% Hindus, 0.8% Buddhists, 0.7% Christians and others. Over 98% of the people speak in Bangla, although English is widely used. The country is divided into six administrative divisions namely Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet. A division is composed of a number of districts. Altogether there are 64 districts in Bangladesh. The districts are further divided into 490 thanas. Several union councils constitute a thana and there are 15-20 villages is each thana. The local government is conducted by elected bodies known in urban areas as Pourasavas (municipality) and in rural areas as Union Parisads, headed by an elected Chairman. Dhaka is the capital and the largest metropolitan city of the country.
Economic Development has always been constrained mainly by large population and one of the highest densities of the world (over 830 persons a square kilometer). The population growth rate is over 2% a year despite high government priority given to population control and family planning.
Development has also been impeded by a series of external shocks and recurring natural disasters like cyclone, floods etc.
Agriculture generates about one third of GDP, provides employment of over 60% of the labor force and accounts for about half the value of export earnings. She is marginally deficit in food grain. The services sector accounts for about 52% of value added, agriculture 31% and Industry 17%. Bangladesh import more than it exports. Aid and remittances from overseas works finance the external deficit. Exports of garments have increased significantly in recent years, but import growth has continued unabated. Bangladesh has a few proven mineral resources, except deposit of enormous natural gas.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries of the world with a per capita income of US $ 300. Bangladesh’s economy has grown by over 4.5 per year in real terms since the mid 1970s. With population growth of around 2% annually per capital incomes has risen by 2.5% per year. Also employment has been unable to keep up with increase in the labor force. Poverty continuous to be widespread, with more than 50% of the population estimated to be living below the poverty line. Its people have a life expectancy of 58 years. Mortality rate of the children under 5 in Bangladesh is one of the highest in the world. About 60 percent of the children experience moderate to severe malnutrition and the people in general suffer from endemic health problems. Approximately 53 percent of the population is illiterate.
The major economic resources of Bangladesh are notably the fertile land, abundant water resources and ample human resource. But due to paucity of capital, modern technology and skilled labour force, gainful utilization of the work force has not been possible in the past. The trend in the ration of population to physicians and hospital beds, although improving, is still low. Availability of nurses is very low. Therefore, there is a strong need to improve availability of physicians, hospital beds and nurses, in addition to the need for better quality of medical services
On the contrary, Bangladesh is also recognized as a country with lots of potentials reflected in the capacity to live with disasters, discovery and promotion of oral dehydration solution, introduction of micro-credit schemes, fertility reduction and many other, the rest of the world is benefiting from. Bangladesh is also a world leader for innovative NGO programs which work in partnership with the government providing many services, including, skill training, non-formal education, health and family planning, water supply and sanitation.
The rate of population growth declined from over 2.5 percent in 1971 to 1.8 percent in 1996. Total Facility Rate (TFR) declined from 6.3 in 1975 to 3.4 in 1996, infant mortality rate declined from 140 per thousand live births in 1975 to 78 per thousand in 1996 and maternal mortality rate from 6.2 in 1981 to 4.4 per 10000 live births in 1996. Contraceptive prevalence rate went up from 8 per cent in 1975 to over 48 per cent in 1996. Life expectancy at birth rose from 45 years in 1970 to 58 in 1996. There have been some impressive achievements in the area of primary health care and sanitation also. Expanded programme of immunization increased its coverage from 2 percent in 1985 to 77 per cent in 1996. Dramatic improvement in the use of oral Dehydration Therapy (ORT) has also improved child survival significantly.
Over 90 per cent of the people in the rural areas now use safe drinking water compared with 56 per cent only in 1975 of latrine. There has also been improvement in the coverage of the sanitary methods (if recent problem of arsenic is not accounted for) from 9 percent in 1991 to 37 per cent in 1996.
Public expenditure on health, education and safety nets have increased considerably and will continue to rise, Since 1990, the share of Annual Development Program (ADP) devoted to the social sector has more than doubled. Bangladesh have made substantial progress in health and family planning. Fertility declined owing to the increase in the use of contraceptives.

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