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Geography of Bangladesh


Situated in South Asia, Bangladesh, before it became an independent state, was the eastern province of Pakistan, known as East Bengal and, later, as East Pakistan. Bangladesh is four times the size of Taiwan with a total area of 144,000 km² (55,598 mi²), extending 767 km (477 mi) south-southeast to north-northwest and 429 km (267 mi) east-northeast to west-southwest. Bangladesh is bordered on the west, north and east by India, on the southeast by Myanmar, and on the south by the Bay of Bengal, with a total boundary length of 4,246 km (2,638 mi). A border demarcation agreement was signed with Myanmar in May 1979. Demarcation of the marine boundary with India remains unresolved. Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka, is located near the centre of the country.

Bangladesh is a tropical country, situated mainly on the deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas. The Brahmaputra River, known locally as the Jamuna, unites with part of the Ganges to form the Padma, which, after its juncture with a third large river, the Meghna, flows into the Bay of Bengal. Offshoots of the Ganges-Padma, including the Burishwar, Garai, Kobadak, and Madhumati, also flow south to the Bay of Bengal. No part of the delta area is more than 150 m (500 ft) above sea level, and most of it is but a meter or two (a few feet) above sea level. Its soil consists mostly of fertile alluvium, which is intensively farmed; mineral deposits are negligible. During the rainy season flood water covers most of the land surface, damaging crops and injuring the economy. The northwestern section of the country, drained by the Tista (Teesta) River, is somewhat higher and less flat, but the only really hilly regions are in the east, notably in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the southeast and the Sylhet District to the northeast. Near the Myanmar border, in the extreme southeast, is the Keokradong, which at 1,230 m (4,034 ft) is the highest peak in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate. Annual rainfall is high, averaging from about 119 cm (47 in) up to 145 cm (57 in). There are three distinct seasons. The winter, which lasts from October through early March, is cool and dry, with temperature ranges from 5°C to 22°C (41°F to 72°F ); total winter rainfall averages about 18 cm (7 in) in the east and less than 8 cm (3 in) in the northwest. Temperatures rise rapidly in March, and during the summer season – March through May – average about 32°C (90°F). Rainfall also increases during this period. However, nearly 80% of the annual rainfall falls from May to September, the monsoon season, when moisture-laden winds blow from the south and southeast. Temperatures drop somewhat, seldom exceeding 31°C (88°F), but humidity remains high. In April through June and from October through November, tropical cyclones, accompanied by high seas and heavy flooding, are common. There were cyclones in May 1963, May and December 1965, October 1966, and most notably during the night of 12-13 November 1970, when a storm and resultant flooding killed more than 200,000 persons. A cyclone on 30 April 1991 left over 131,000 people dead and nine million homeless. Monsoon floods in 1974, 1980 and 1983 also devastated the country and caused many deaths, and a cyclonic storm on 24-25 May 1985 took more than 11,000 lives. The monsoon in August and September 1988 left three-fourths of the country flooded, 1,300 persons dead, and over three million people homeless, with damage to the country's infrastructure estimated at $1 billion.

Overpopulation has severely strained Bangladesh's limited natural resources. Nearly all arable land is already cultivated and forestland has been greatly reduced by agricultural expansion and by timber and firewood cutting. Between 1983 and 1993, forest and woodland declined by 12.5% to 1.9 million ha (4.7 million acres). As of 1995, total forest area was only 1 million ha. Bangladesh's environmental problems have been complicated by natural disasters that add to the strain on an agricultural system which supports one of the world's most populous countries. Water supply is also a major problem because of population size, lack of purification procedures, and the spread of untreated contaminants into the usable water supply by flood waters. To ease these problems, the government has established drainage, irrigation, and flood protection systems, and has drilled thousands of tube wells to supply safe drinking water in villages. As of 2001, safe water was available to 100% of the population.


Location : Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Myanmar and India
Geographic coordinates : 24 00 N, 90 00 E
Map references

: Asia

: total: 143,998 sq km
land: 130,168 sq km
water: 13,830 sq km
Area - comparative : four times the size of Taiwan
Land boundaries : total: 4,246 km
border countries: Myanmar 193 km, India 4,053 km

Coastline : 580 km
Maritime claims
: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: up to the outer limits of the continental margin
Climate : tropical; mild winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March to June); humid, warm rainy monsoon (June to October)
Terrain : mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast
Elevation extremes
: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Keokradong 1,230 m
Natural resources

: natural gas, arable land, timber, coal
Land use : arable land: 55.39%
permanent crops: 3.08%
other: 41.53% (2005)
Irrigated land

: 50,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
: 1,210.6 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
: total: 79.4 cu km/yr (3%/1%/96%)
per capita: 560 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
: droughts; cyclones; much of the country routinely inundated during the summer monsoon season
Environment - current issues
: many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land; water-borne diseases prevalent in surface water; water pollution, especially of fishing areas, results from the use of commercial pesticides; ground water contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic; intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country; soil degradation and erosion; deforestation; severe overpopulation
Environment - international agreements
: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note : most of the country is situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal




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