Begum Khaleda Zia-ur Rahman
(pronounced "BAY-guhm cah-LEED-ah ZEE-ah-ur Rah-MAHN")
"We must live up to the people's expectation about the country's law and order."
Among the world's poorest nations, the People's Republic of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) is located in southern Asia. Nearly surrounded by India, except for a short southeastern frontier with Myanmar (Burma) and a southern coastline of 575 km (357 mi) on the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh has a total area of 144,000 sq km (55,600 sq mi), roughly the size of Wisconsin. Most of this area is a flat alluvial plain, consisting of the delta of three major river systems: the Ganges (or Parma), the Brahmaputra (or Jamuna), and the Meghna. Alluvial deposits from these rivers make the region extremely fertile for growing rice, the country's most important food crop, and jute, the most important cash crop.
The population of Bangladesh was estimated at around 133 million in 2001. With over 825 persons per sq km (2,137 per sq mi), Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. More than 98% of the people are ethnic Bengalis who speak Bangla, the country's official language. Minorities include Urdu-speaking Biharis and tribal groups living in the Chittagong Hills. Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim nation and Islam is the state religion. Hindus, who number about 21 million, make up the country's largest religious minority.
Bangladesh has a developing economy which is primarily agrarian; over 60% of the people earn their livelihood farming rice, jute, sugarcane, wheat, and tea. Economic progress and diversification have been hobbled by a burgeoning population, few natural resources, lack of skilled labor, and a limited industrial base. Moreover, recurring cyclones, floods and other natural disasters that adversely affect agricultural production also take a toll on the nation's economic performance. All these factors combine to make Bangladesh heavily dependent on foreign aid and assistance. The country's main exports are garments, jute and jute goods, leather goods, and fish products. Its principal trading partners are the European Union (EU), the United States, India, and Japan. The unit of currency is the taka .
Office of the Prime Minister