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Sunday 22nd October
Bangladesh Facts
Bangladesh means the land of the Bengalis.

The Republic of Bangladesh was only established in 1971 but there has been a civilization in the region for four thousand years.

Cyclones are a natural hazard in Bangladesh.

Cyclone shelters are crucial to saving lives; they need to be easy to reach and centrally located as there is not much time to get to a shelter once a cyclone begins.

Bangladesh also suffers regularly from substantial flooding caused by monsoon rains and melting snows from the Himalayas.

It is thought that the 1970 cyclone may have killed up to five hundred thousand people.

George Harrison organized a concert to raise money for the victims of Bangladesh floods. He also recorded a single called Bangladesh which reached the top twenty in the UK pop charts (1971).

In 1988 Bangladesh experienced one of its worst floods leaving many millions of people homeless.

In 1991 a cyclonic tidal wave killed around one hundred and forty thousand people in Bangladesh.

1998 saw floods which devastated two-thirds of the country.

Tropical Cyclone Sidr hit the Bangladeshi coast in November 2007. Huge waves swept up to thirty miles inland causing devastation. Many thousands of people lost their lives.

If global warming brings about climatic change, sea levels could rise by up to a metre. If this happens, low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and the Netherlands could find much of their territory underwater.

Bangladesh has one of the largest coastal mangrove forests in the world; it forms part of the Sundarbans National Park, a World Heritage site.

Waterborne diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis, intestinal parasites and typhoid are prevalent in Bangladesh.

Over the years, aid agencies including the World Bank have provided over a million tubewells (made by sinking concrete pipes in the ground until they reach underground water reserves) to provide water for people in Bangladesh. The wells helped prevent the spread of cholera from contaminated water in shallow wells, ponds and rivers.

It has been discovered that water from the tubewells contains high concentrations of naturally occurring arsenic that causes various types of cancer. In many villages up to a third of the people are believed to have some degree of arsenic poisoning.

Bangladesh has a number of archaeological and historical sites dating back as far as the third century BC, but the frequent floods and the damp climate have destroyed much of the country's heritage.

Mahasthangarh is Bangladesh's oldest known city site.

In Sylhet, the hilly region of north east Bangladesh, there are a number of megalithic monuments, similar to those found in Europe.

In the fourteenth century the armies of Timur (Tamburlaine) conquered Bengal; in the sixteenth century Bobur, a descendant of Genghis Khan, became the first of the Mughal monarchs, ruling from 1526 to 1530. (Both Timur and Bobur were from present-day Uzbekistan).

The Mughal Empire was an important Islamic Empire. Shah Jehan is probably the most well known Mughal Emperor, famous for building India's beautiful Taj Mahal.

The British East India Company was formed 1613 and had its first trading post in Gujarat. The most famous employee of the Company was Robert Clive who started work as a clerk and rose to become the Governor of Bengal.

In 1905 an administrative division of Bengal resulted in the Muslims leaving the Indian National Congress Party and setting up the All India Muslim League; this was an important step in the political movement which led to the partition of India and Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujib, the first leader of independent Bangladesh, was assassinated in a military coup (1975).

President Zia of Bangladesh was assassinated in 1981. Ten years later his wife was elected as Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a member of the Commonwealth.

On 26 December 2004, a quake occurred under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia (8.9 on the Richter scale); this produced tsunamis causing flooding and destruction in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the east coast of Africa (Kenya and Somalia).

Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, which Mr Yunus founded, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The bank provides lending schemes for the poor, especially women, living in Bangladesh.

In November 2007 thousands of people were killed by Cyclone Sidr.

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