Bangladesh – Bengali
West Bengal – Bengali, English
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Amar Sonar Bangla
National symbols of Bangladesh
Fish and rice
Chingri malai curry
Bay of Bengal
Bengal (/bɛŋˈɡɔːl/; Bengali: বাংলা/বঙ্গ,
lit. 'Bānglā/Bôngô' [bɔŋgo]) is a geopolitical, cultural
and historical region in Asia, which is located in the eastern part of
Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal.
Geographically, it is made up by the
Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system,
the largest such formation in the world; along with mountains in its
north bordering the
Himalayan states of
Bhutan and east
Bengal is divided between the sovereign Republic of
Bangladesh, which covers two thirds of the region, and West Bengal
which is now part of India. In 2011, the population of
estimated to be 250 million, making it one of the most densely
populated regions in the world. An estimated 160 million
people live in Bangladesh, while 91.3 million people live in West
Bengal. The predominant ethno-linguistic group is the Bengali people,
who speak the Indo-Aryan Bengali language.
Bengali Muslims are the
majority in Bangladesh.
Bengali Hindus are the majority in West
Bengal proper, the Indian territories of Assam,
Bihar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, are also home to
significant communities with Bengali heritage.
Dense woodlands, including hilly rainforests, cover Bengal's northern
and eastern areas; while an elevated forested plateau covers its
central area. In the littoral southwest are the Sundarbans, the
world's largest mangrove forest and home of the
Bengal tiger. In the
coastal southeast lies Cox's Bazaar, the longest beach in the
world[vague], at 125 km (78 mi). The region has a monsoon
climate, which the
Bengali calendar divides into six seasons.
Bengal has played a major role in history. At times an independent
regional empire, the historical region was a leading power in
Asia and later the Islamic East, with extensive trade
networks. In antiquity, its kingdoms were known as seafaring nations.
Bengal was known to the Greeks as Gangaridai, notable for mighty
military power. According to Greek historians
Megasthenes and Arrian,
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great withdrew from South
Asia anticipating a
counterattack from an alliance of Gangaridai. Later writers noted
merchant shipping links between
Bengal and Roman Egypt.
Pala Empire was the last major
Buddhist imperial power in
the subcontinent, founded in 750 and becoming the dominant power in
Indian subcontinent by the 9th century, before
being replaced by the
Sena dynasty in the 12th century. Islam
was introduced during the Pala Empire, through trade with the Abbasid
Caliphate. The Islamic
Bengal Sultanate, founded in 1352, was
absorbed into the
Mughal Empire in 1576. The Mughal
province became a major global exporter, a center of
worldwide industries such as muslin, silk, pearl, cotton
textiles, and shipbuilding. It was conquered by the British
India Company in 1757 and became the
Bengal Presidency, which
experienced deindustrialization and famines under British rule.
Upon independence, the partition of
Bengal (1947) split the region
West Bengal in
India and East Pakistan, the latter becoming the
independent nation of
Bangladesh in 1971.
Bengali culture has been particularly influential in the fields of
philosophy, literature, music, shipbuilding, art, architecture,
sports, currency, commerce, politics and cuisine.
2.1 Geographic distinctions
2.1.1 North Bengal
2.1.2 Northeast Bengal
2.1.3 Central Bengal
2.1.4 South Bengal
2.1.5 Southeast Bengal
2.2 Places of interest
3 Flora and fauna
4.3 Medieval era
4.4 Mughal era (1576–1757)
4.5 Colonial era (1757–1947)
4.6 Post-partition (1947–present)
5 Historical maps and flags of states
6.2 Indian Bengal
6.3 Crossborder relations
9 Major cities
9.2 Major ports
9.3 Tourist attractions
10 Strategic importance
12 See also
15 External links
Main article: Names of Bengal
The name of
Bengal is derived from the ancient kingdom of
Banga, the earliest records of which date back to the
Mahabharata epic in the first millennium BCE. Theories on the
origin of the term Banga point to the
Proto-Dravidian Bong tribe that
settled in the area circa 1000 BCE and the
Austric word Bong
(Sun-god). The term Bangaladesa is used to describe the region
in 11th century South Indian records. The modern term
Bangla is prominent from the 14th century, which saw the establishment
of the Sultanate of Bengal, whose first ruler Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah
was known as the
Shah of Bangala. The Portuguese referred to the
region as Bengala in the Age of Discovery.
Main articles: Geography of
Bangladesh and Geography of West Bengal
Most of the
Bengal region lies in the Ganges-
Brahmaputra delta, but
there are highlands in its north, northeast and southeast. The Ganges
Delta arises from the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra,
Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The total area of
Bengal is 232,752 km2—
West Bengal is 88,752 km2
(34,267 sq mi) and
Bangladesh 147,570 km2
(56,977 sq mi).
The flat and fertile
Bangladesh Plain dominates the geography of
Chittagong Hill Tracts and
Sylhet regions are home to
most of the mountains in Bangladesh. Most parts of
within 10 metres (33 feet) above the sea level, and it is believed
that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to
rise by 1 metre (3.3 feet). Because of this low elevation, much of
this region is exceptionally vulnerable to seasonal flooding due to
monsoons. The highest point in
Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at 1,052
metres (3,451 feet). A major part of the coastline comprises a
marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the
world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the royal Bengal
tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered.
West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the
Himalayas in the north to the
Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal in the south. The state
has a total area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). The
Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state
belongs to the eastern Himalaya. This region contains Sandakfu
(3,636 m (11,929 ft))—the highest peak of the state.
Terai region separates this region from the plains, which
in turn transitions into the
Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh
region intervenes between the
Ganges delta in the east and the western
plateau and high lands. A small coastal region is on the extreme
south, while the
Sundarbans mangrove forests form a remarkable
geographical landmark at the
At least nine districts in
West Bengal and 42 districts in Bangladesh
have arsenic levels in groundwater above the World Health Organization
maximum permissible limit of 50 µg/L or 50 parts per billion and
the untreated water is unfit for human consumption. The water
causes arsenicosis, skin cancer and various other complications in the
A river in Bangladesh
A mustard and date palm farm in West Bengal
A tea garden in Bangladesh
Bengal in relation to historical regions in Asia
On a clear day, the snowy peaks of the
Nepal and Sikkim
can be seen from northern
Darjeeling district, West
North Bengal is a term used for the north-western part of Bangladesh
and northern part of West Bengal. The Bangladeshi part comprises
Rajshahi Division and Rangpur Division. Generally, it is the area
lying west of Jamuna River and north of Padma River, and includes the
Barind Tract. Politically, West Bengal's part comprises Jalpaiguri
Division (Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North
South Dinajpur and Malda) together and Bihar's parts include
Darjeeling Hills are also part of North Bengal.
Though only people of Jaipaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar
identifies themselves as North Bengali.
North Bengal is divided into
North Bengal is also noted for its rich
cultural heritage, including two
UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Aside
from the Bengali majority,
North Bengal is home to many other
communities including Nepalis, Santhal people, Lepchas and
Waterfalls are a common sight in the highlands of eastern Bangladesh
Northeast Bengal refers to the
Sylhet Division of
Barak Valley in the Indian state of Assam. The region is noted for
its distinctive fertile highland terrain, extensive tea plantations,
rainforests and wetlands. The Surma and
Barak rivers are the
geographic markers of the area. The city of
Sylhet is its largest
urban center, and the most spoken vernacular language in the region is
the Sylheti dialect of Bengali. The endonym of the region is
Srihatta. The region was ruled by the
Kamarupa and Harikela
kingdoms. It later became a district of the Mughal Empire. Alongside
the predominant Bengali population resides a small Bishnupriya
The region is the crossroads of
Bengal and northeast India.
Bengal refers to the
Dhaka Division of Bangladesh. It includes
Madhupur tract with a large Sal tree forest. The Padma
River cuts through the southern part of the region, separating the
greater Faridpur region. In the north lies the greater
Bengal covers southwestern
Bangladesh and the southern part of
the Indian state of West Bengal. The Bangladeshi part includes the
proposed Faridpur Division,
Khulna Division and Barisal
Division. The Indian part of South
Bengal includes 12
districts: Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, East Midnapur, West
Midnapur, Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, North
The Sundarbans, a major biodiversity hotspot, is located in South
Bangladesh hosts 60% of the forest, with the remain 40% in
Cox's Bazaar in
Bangladesh has the longest natural sea beach in the
Southeast Bengal refers to the hilly and coastal
Bengali-speaking areas of
Chittagong Division in southeastern
Bangladesh and the Indian state of Tripura. Southeast
Bengal is noted
for its thalassocratic and seafaring heritage. The area was dominated
by the Bengali
Samatata kingdoms in antiquity. It was
Arab traders as Harkand in the 9th century. During the
medieval period, the region was ruled by the Sultanate of Bengal, the
Kingdom of Tripura, the Kingdom of Mrauk U, the
Portuguese Empire and
the Mughal Empire, prior to the advent of British rule. The
Chittagonian dialect of Bengali is prevalent in coastal areas of
southeast Bengal. Along with its Bengali population, it is also home
Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups, including the Chakma, Marma,
Tanchangya, Tripuri and
Bengal is considered a bridge to Southeast Asia.
Places of interest
There are four
World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Sites in the region, including the
Sundarbans, the Somapura Mahavihara, the
Mosque City of Bagerhat
Mosque City of Bagerhat and
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Other prominent places include the
Bankura temple city, the Adina Mosque, the Caravanserai
Mosque, numerous taluqdar and zamindar palaces (like
Ahsan Manzil and
Cooch Behar Palace), the Lalbagh Fort, the Great Caravanserai ruins,
the Shaista Khan Caravanserai ruins, the
Kolkata Victoria Memorial,
Dhaka Parliament Building, archaeologically excavated ancient fort
cities in Mahasthangarh, Mainamati,
Wari-Bateshwar, the Jaldapara National Park, the Lawachara National
Teknaf Game Reserve
Teknaf Game Reserve and the
Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Cox's Bazaar in southeastern
Bangladesh is home to the longest natural
beach in the world and a growing surfing destination. St. Martin's
Island, off the coast of
Chittagong Division, is home to the sole
coral reef in Bengal.
Flora and fauna
A 2015 census of
Bengal tigers found 106 in
76 in West Bengal.
Bengal Plain, which covers most of
Bangladesh and West
Bengal, is one of the most fertile areas on Earth, with lush
vegetation and farmland dominating its landscape. Bengali villages are
buried among groves of mango, jack fruit, betel nut and date palm.
Rice, jute, mustard and sugarcane plantations are a common sight.
Water bodies and wetlands provide a habitat for many aquatic plants in
Brahmaputra delta. The northern part of the region features
Himalayan foothills (Dooars) with densely wooded Sal and other
tropical evergreen trees. Above an elevation of 1,000 metres
(3,300 ft), the forest becomes predominantly subtropical, with a
predominance of temperate-forest trees such as oaks, conifers and
rhododendrons. Sal woodland is also found across central Bangladesh,
particularly in the Bhawal National Park. The Lawachara National Park
is a rainforest in northeastern Bangladesh. The
Chittagong Hill Tracts
Bangladesh is noted for its high degree of
Sundarbans in the southwestern part of
Bengal is the
largest mangrove forest in the world and a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The region has over 89 species of mammals, 628 species of birds and
numerous species of fish. For Bangladesh, the water lily, the oriental
magpie-robin, the hilsa and mango tree are national symbols. For West
Bengal, the white-throated kingfisher, the chatim tree and the
night-flowering jasmine are state symbols. The
Bengal tiger is the
national animal of
Bangladesh and India. The fishing cat is the state
animal of West Bengal.
Part of a series on the
History of Bengal
Ancient Geopolitical units
Ancient and Classical dynasties
Medieval and Early Modern periods
Ilyas Shahi dynasty
Hussain Shahi dynasty
Twelve Bhuyan Confederacy
Kingdom of Mrauk U
Kingdom of Tripura
Kingdom of Bhurshut
Nawabs of Bengal
Maratha expeditions in Bengal
Bengal famine of 1770
Bengal famine of 1943
Direct Action Day
Indian Mutiny of 1857
Bengal and Assam
East Bengali refugees
East Pakistan riots
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Bangladesh famine of 1974
Barak Valley Language Movement
Bengali literary history
Architecture of Bengal
Main article: History of Bengal
Human settlement in
Bengal can be traced back 20,000 years.[citation
needed] Remnants of
Copper Age settlements date back 4,300
years. Archaeological evidence confirms that by the second
millennium BCE, rice-cultivating communities inhabited the region. By
the 11th century BCE, the people of the area lived in
systemically-aligned housing, used human cemeteries and manufactured
copper ornaments and fine black and red pottery. The Ganges,
Meghna rivers were natural arteries for communication
and transportation. Estuaries on the
Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal allowed for
maritime trade. The early
Iron Age saw the development of metal
weaponry, coinage, permanent field agriculture and irrigation.
From 600 BCE, the second wave of urbanization engulfed the north
Indian subcontinent, as part of the Northern Black Polished Ware
Hindu sculpture, 11th century
Bengal was divided between the regions of Varendra, Suhma,
Samatata and Harikela. Early Indian literature described
the region as a thalassocracy, with colonies in Southeast
Asia and the
Indian Ocean. For example, the first recorded king of Sri Lanka
was a Bengali prince called Vijaya. The region was known to the
ancient Greeks and Romans as Gangaridai. The Greek ambassador
Megasthenes chronicled its military strength and dominance of the
Ganges delta. The invasion army of
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was deterred by
the accounts of Gangaridai's power in 325 BCE. Later Roman
accounts noted maritime trade routes with Bengal.Another prominent
kingdom in Ancient
Pundravardhana which was located in
Bengal with its capital being located in modern-day Bogra,
the kingdom was prominently buddhist leaving behind historic Viharas
such as Mahasthangarh. In vedic mythology the royal
families of Magadha, Anga, Vanga,
Suhma and Kalinga were all related
and descended from one King.
Bengal was considered a part of
Magadha region, which was the
cradle of Indian arts and sciences. Currently the Maghada region is
divided into several states that are Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura,
Southern and Northwestern
West Bengal and East Bengal) 
The legacy of
Magadha includes the concept of zero, the invention of
Chess  and the theory of solar and lunar eclipses and the Earth
orbiting the Sun. Secular Sanskrit, or standard Old
Indo-Aryan, was spoken across Bengal. The
Bengali language evolved
from Old Indo-Aryan
Sanskrit dialects. The region was ruled by Hindu,
Jain dynasties, including the Mauryans, Guptas, Varmans,
Khadgas, Palas, Chandras and Senas among others. In the 9th century,
Arab Muslim traders frequented Bengali seaports and found the region
to be a thriving seafaring kingdom with well-developed coinage and
Pala Empire and
Inscriptions on the
Adina Mosque proclaim the builder Sikandar
"the wisest, the most just, the most perfect and most liberal of the
Sultans of Arabia, Persia and India."
Pala Empire was an imperial power in the Indian subcontinent,
which originated in the region of Bengal. They were followers of the
Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. The empire was founded with
the election of
Gopala as the emperor of Gauda in 750. At its
height in the early 9th century, the
Pala Empire was the dominant
power in the northern subcontinent, with its territory stretching
across parts of modern-day eastern Pakistan, northern and northeastern
Nepal and Bangladesh. The empire enjoyed relations with
the Srivijaya Empire, the Tibetan Empire, and the
Islam first appeared in
Bengal during Pala rule, as a
result of increased trade between
Bengal and the Middle East. The
Sena dynasty dethroned the
Pala Empire in the 12th
century, ending the reign of the last major
Buddhist imperial power in
Muslim conquests of the
Indian subcontinent absorbed
1204. The region was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate. Muslim
rule introduced agrarian reform, a new calendar and Sufism. The region
saw the rise of important city states in Sonargaon,
Lakhnauti. By 1352, Ilyas
Shah achieved the unification of an
independent Bengal. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Bengal
Sultanate was a major diplomatic, economic and military power in the
subcontinent. It developed the subcontinent's relations with China,
Egypt, the Timurid Empire and East Africa. In 1540, Sher
Shah Suri was
crowned Emperor of the northern subcontinent in the Bengali capital
Mughal era (1576–1757)
A woman in
Dhaka clad in fine Bengali muslin, 18th century.
Muslin trade in Bengal
Muslin trade in Bengal and Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire conquered
Bengal in the 16th century. The Bengal
Subah province in the
Mughal Empire was the wealthiest state in the
subcontinent. Bengal's trade and wealth impressed the Mughals so much
that it was described as the Paradise of the Nations by the Mughal
Emperors. The region was also notable for its powerful
semi-independent aristocrats such as taluqdars and zamindars,
including the Twelve Bhuiyans and the Nawabs of Bengal. It was
visited by several world explorers, including Ibn Battuta, Niccolo De
Conti and Admiral Zheng He.
Under Mughal rule,
Bengal was a center of the worldwide muslin, silk
and pearl trades. During the Mughal era, the most important center
of cotton production was Bengal, particularly around its capital city
of Dhaka, leading to muslin being called "daka" in distant markets
such as Central Asia. Domestically, much of
India depended on
Bengali products such as rice, silks and cotton textiles. Overseas,
Europeans depended on Bengali products such as cotton textiles, silks
Bengal accounted for 40% of Dutch imports from Asia, for
example, including more than 50% of textiles and around 80% of
silks. From Bengal, saltpeter was also shipped to Europe, opium
was sold in Indonesia, raw silk was exported to
Japan and the
Netherlands, cotton and silk textiles were exported to Europe,
Indonesia, and Japan, cotton cloth was exported to the Americas
and the Indian Ocean.
Bengal also had a large shipbuilding
industry. In terms of shipbuilding tonnage during the 16th–18th
centuries, the annual output of
Bengal alone totaled around 2,232,500
tons, larger than the combined output of the Dutch (450,000–550,000
tons), the British (340,000 tons), and North America (23,061
Since the 16th century, European traders traversed the sea routes to
Bengal, following the Portuguese conquests of Malacca and Goa. The
Portuguese established a settlement in
Chittagong with permission from
Bengal Sultanate in 1528, but were later expelled by the Mughals
in 1666. In the 18th-century, the Mughal Court rapidly disintegrated
due to Nader Shah's invasion and internal rebellions, allowing
European colonial powers to set up trading posts across the territory.
The British East
India Company eventually emerged as the foremost
military power in the region; and defeated the last independent Nawab
Bengal at the
Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey in 1757.
Colonial era (1757–1947)
Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey in 1757 ushered British rule
Bengal effective political and military power was transferred from
the old regime to the British East
India Company around 1757–65.
Company rule in
India began under the
named the capital of British
India in 1772. The presidency was run by
a military-civil administration, including the
Bengal Army, and had
the world's sixth earliest railway network. Great
struck several times during colonial rule (notably the Great Bengal
famine of 1770 and
Bengal famine of 1943). The Indian Rebellion of
1857 was initiated on the outskirts of Calcutta, and spread to Dhaka,
Sylhet and Agartala, in solidarity with
revolts in North India. The failure of the rebellion led to the
abolishment of the Mughal Court and direct rule by the British Raj.
The late 19th and early 20th century
Bengal Renaissance had a great
impact on the cultural and economic life of Bengal. Between 1905 and
1912, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal
into two zones, that included the short-lived province of Eastern
Assam based in Dacca and Shillong. Under British rule,
Bengal experienced deindustrialization.
In 1876, 200,000 people were killed in
Bengal by the Great Bangladesh
Bengal played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in
which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts to overthrow
British Raj began with the rebellion of Titumir, and reached a
Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose led the
Indian National Army
Indian National Army against
Bengal was also central in the rising political awareness
of the Muslim population—the All-
India Muslim League was established
Dhaka in 1906. The Muslim homeland movement pushed for a sovereign
state in eastern British
India with the
Lahore Resolution in 1943.
Hindu nationalism was also strong in Bengal, which was home to groups
Hindu Mahasabha. In spite of a last-ditch effort to form a
United Bengal, when
India gained independence in 1947,
partitioned along religious lines. The western part went to India
(and was named West Bengal) while the eastern part joined
a province called
East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan, giving
Bangladesh in 1971). The circumstances of partition were
bloody, with widespread religious riots in Bengal.
1970 Bhola cyclone
1970 Bhola cyclone which took the lives of 500,000 people in
Bengal, made it one of the most deadliest recorded cyclones.
West Bengal became one of India's most populous states. Calcutta, the
former capital of the British Raj, became the state capital of West
Bengal and continued to be India's largest city until the late 20th
century, when severe power shortages, strikes and a violent
Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure
in the 1960s and 70s, leading to a period of economic stagnation. West
Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the
1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National
Congress. The Left Front, led by the
Communist Party of India
(Marxist) (CPI(M)) governed the state for over three decades, which
was the world's longest elected
Communist administration in
history. Since the 2000s,
West Bengal has experienced an economic
rejuvenation, particularly in its IT industry.
The former royal palace of
Hill Tippera in Agartala
The princely state of Hill Tippera, that was under the suzerainty of
British India, was ruled by a Bengali-speaking monarchy. Following the
Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman, the princely state
acceded to the Union of
India on 15 October 1949 under the Tripura
Merger Agreement signed by
Regent Kanchan Prava Devi. By the
1950s, the region had a Bengali majority population due to the influx
of Hindus from
East Pakistan after partition. It became a Union
India in November 1953. It was granted full statehood
with an elected legislature in July 1963. An insurgency by indigenous
people affected the state for several years. The Left Front ruled the
state between 1978 and 1988, followed by a stint of Indian National
Congress rule until 1993, and then a return to the Communists.
Barak Valley joined the union of
India after its partition from
Sylhet in 1947 and has been a part of the state of Assam. One of the
most significant events in the region's history was the language
movement in 1961, in which the killing of agitators by state police
led to Bengali being recognized as one of the official languages of
Assam. The issue of Bengali settlement in the state has been a
contentious part of the
National Martyr's Memorial in Dhaka, built on memories of the martyrs
Bangladesh Liberation War.
The Bangabandhu Bridge on the river Jamuna, opened in 1998, is
currently the longest bridge in
East Bengal, which was later renamed to
East Pakistan in 1955, was
home to Pakistan's demographic majority and played an instrumental
role in the founding of the new state. Strategically,
Asia Treaty Organization under the Bengali prime
minister Mohammad Ali of
Bogra as a bulwark against communism.
However, tensions between East and West
Pakistan grew rapidly over
political exclusion, economic neglect and ethnic and linguistic
discrimination. The State of
Pakistan was subjected to years of
military rule due to fears of Bengali political supremacy under
democracy. Elected Bengali-led governments at the federal and
provincial levels, which were led by statesmen such as A. K. Fazlul
Huq and H. S. Suhrawardy, were deposed.
East Pakistan witnessed the rise of Bengali self determination calls
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and
Maulana Bhashani in the 1960s.
Rahman launched the
Six point movement
Six point movement for autonomy in 1966. After the
1970 national election, Rahman's party, the Awami League, had emerged
as the largest party in Pakistan's parliament. The erstwhile Pakistani
military junta refused to accept election results which triggered
civil disobedience across East Pakistan. The Pakistani military
responded by launching a genocide that caused the Bangladesh
Liberation War in 1971. The first Government of
Bangladesh and the
Mukti Bahini waged a guerrilla campaign with support from neighboring
India, which hosted millions of war refugees. Global support for the
East Pakistan increased due to the conflict's
humanitarian crisis, with the
Indian Armed Forces
Indian Armed Forces intervening in
support of the
Bangladesh Forces in the final two weeks of the war and
ensuring Pakistan's surrender.
Bangladesh adopted a secular democracy under its
new constitution in 1972.
Awami League premier Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
became the country's strongman and implemented many socialist
policies. A one party state was enacted in 1975. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
was assassinated later that year during a military coup that ushered
in sixteen years of military dictatorships and presidential
governments. The liberation war commander
Ziaur Rahman emerged as
Bangladesh's leader in the late 1970s. He reoriented the country's
foreign policy towards the West and restored free markets and the
multiparty polity. President Zia was assassinated in 1981 during a
failed military coup. He was eventually succeeded by his army chief
Hussain Muhammad Ershad. Lasting for nine years, Ershad's rule
witnessed continued pro-free market reforms and the devolution of some
authority to local government. The South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in
Dhaka in 1985. The
Jatiya Party government made
Islam the state religion in 1988.
A popular uprising restored parliamentary democracy in 1991. Since
Bangladesh has largely alternated between the premierships of
Sheikh Hasina of the
Awami League and
Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh
Nationalist Party, as well as technocratic caretaker governments.
Emergency rule was imposed by the military in 2007 and 2008 after
widespread street violence between the League and BNP. The restoration
of democratic government in 2009 was followed by the initiation of the
International Crimes Tribunal to prosecute surviving colloborators of
the 1971 genocide. Today, the country is an emerging economy, listed
as one of the
Next Eleven and experiencing growing industrial
development, but continues to face political, economic and social
Historical maps and flags of states
Bengal has been an independent territory during several periods in
history, while at other times, it has been part of larger empires.
Bengal has also been a regional empire, ruling over neighboring
regions like Bihar, Orissa, Arakan, and parts of North India, Assam
Gangaridai in Ptolemy's map, 1st century
The Pala Empire, 9th century
Bengal Sultanate, 16th century
Bihar in 1776 by James Rennell
Colonial Bengal, 19th century
Bengal and Assam, early 20th century
Map of West Bengal
Map of Bangladesh
Flag of Sultanate of Bengal
Calcutta Flag of 1906
Flag of Bangladesh
Politically, the region is divided between the People's Republic of
Bangladesh, an independent state, and the eastern provinces of the
Republic of India, including West Bengal,
Assam and Tripura.
Bangladesh and Indian
Bengal are socialist, with left
wing parties dominating the region's politics.
Main article: Bangladesh
Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the national parliament of Bangladesh
The state of
Bangladesh is a parliamentary republic based on the
Westminster system, with a written constitution and a President
elected by parliament for mostly ceremonial purposes. The government
is headed by a Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President from
among the popularly elected 300
Members of Parliament in the Jatiyo
Sangshad, the national parliament. The
Prime Minister is traditionally
the leader of the single largest party in the Jatiyo Sangshad. Under
Islam is recognized as the state religion; while
Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people of all other denomiations are
stated to enjoy equal rights. 90% of the country is Muslim, 9% Hindu,
0.5% Buddhist, 0.3% Christians, 0.2% other.
Between 1975 and 1990,
Bangladesh had a presidential system of
government. Since the 1990s, it was administered by non-political
technocratic caretaker governments on four occasions, the last being
under military-backed emergency rule in 2007 and 2008. The Awami
League and the
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are the two largest
political parties in Bangladesh. The Jatiya party once dominated the
country's politics in late 1980s is now a small player in the
political field. Former First lady
Khaleda Zia and former first
Sheikh Hasina have been non interim interchanging prime
minister since 1991.
Bangladesh is a prominent member of the United Nations, being the
largest contributor of peacekeeping forces in the world and a key
promoter of multilateral diplomacy. It is also a member of SAARC, the
Developing 8 Countries, BIMSTEC, the World Trade Organization, NAM,
OIC and the Commonwealth of Nations. A developing country with
high levels of poverty,
Bangladesh has achieved significant strides in
human development compared to its neighbors.
Main articles: West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam
Writers' Building, the official seat of the Government of West Bengal
Assam (home to the
Barak Valley) are
provincial states of the Republic of India, with local executives and
assemblies- features shared with other states in the Indian federal
system. The President of
India appoints a
Governor as the ceremonial
representative of the union government. The
Governor appoints the
Chief Minister on the nomination of the legislative assembly. The
Chief Minister is the traditionally the leader of the party or
coalition with most seats in the assembly.
President's rule is often
imposed in Indian states as a direct intervention of the union
government led by the
Prime Minister of India.
Each state has popularly elected members in the Indian lower house of
parliament, the Lok Sabha. Each state nominates members to the Indian
upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha.
The state legislative assemblies also play a key role in electing the
ceremonial President of India. The former President of India, Pranab
Mukherjee, was a native of
West Bengal and a leader of the Indian
The two major political forces in the Bengali-speaking zone of India
are the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress, with the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) and the
Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress being minor
Main article: Bangladesh-
Bangladesh are the world's second and eighth most populous
countries respectively. Bangladesh-
India relations began on a high
note in 1971 when
India played a major role in the liberation of
Bangladesh, with the Indian Bengali populace and media providing
overwhelming support to the independence movement in the former East
Pakistan. The two countries had a twenty five year friendship treaty
between 1972 and 1996. However, differences over river sharing, border
security and access to trade have long plagued the relationship. In
more recent years, a consensus has evolved in both countries on the
importance of developing good relations, as well as a strategic
partnership in South
Asia and beyond. Commercial, cultural and defense
cooperation have expanded since 2010, when Prime Ministers Sheikh
Manmohan Singh pledged to reinvigorate ties.
Bangladesh High Commission in
New Delhi operates a Deputy High
Kolkata and a consular office in Agartala.
India has a
High Commission in
Dhaka with consulates in
Chittagong and Rajshahi.
Frequent international air, bus and rail services connect major cities
Bangladesh and Indian Bengal, particularly the three largest
Kolkata and Chittagong. Undocumented immigration of
Bangladeshi workers is a controversial issue championed by right-wing
nationalist parties in
India but finds little sympathy in West
India has since fenced the border which has been
criticized by Bangladesh.
Main articles: Demographics of Bangladesh, Demographics of West
Bengal, and Languages of Bangladesh
Districts of Bangladesh
Districts of West Bengal
Bengali Muslims gathered at Eid Prayer.
Hindu priests performing
Durga Puja rituals
Bengal region is also one of most densely populated areas in the
world. With a population of 300 million,
Bengalis are the third
largest ethnic group in the world after the
Han Chinese and Arabs.
According to provisional results of 2011
Bangladesh census, the
Bangladesh was 142,319,000; however, CIA's The World
Factbook gives 163,654,860 as its population in a July 2013 estimate.
According to the provisional results of the 2011 Indian national
West Bengal has a population of 91,347,736. So, the Bengal
region, as of 2011, has at least 233 million people. This figures
give a population density of 1003.9/km2; making it among the most
densely populated areas in the world.
Buddhist Chakma people
Bengali is the main language spoken in Bengal. Many phonological,
lexical, and structural differences from the standard variety occur in
peripheral varieties of Bengali; these include Sylheti, Chittagonian,
Chakma, Rangpuri/Rajbangshi, Hajong, Rohingya, and Tangchangya.
English is often used for official work alongside Bengali.Other major
Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Assamese, and Nepali are
Bengalis as well.
In addition, there are several minority ethnolinguistic groups native
to the region. These include speakers of other Indo-Aryan languages
(e.g. Bishnupriya Manipuri, Oraon Sadri, various Bihari languages),
Tibeto-Burman languages (e.g. A'Tong, Chak, Koch, Garo, Megam, Meitei
Manipuri, Mizo, Mru, Pangkhua, Rakhine/Marma, Kok Borok, Riang,
Tippera, Usoi, various Chin languages),
Austroasiatic languages (e.g.
Khasi, Koda, Mundari, Pnar, Santali, War), and Dravidian languages
(e.g. Kurukh, Sauria Paharia).
Life expectancy is around 70.36 years for Bangladesh and 70.2 for
West Bengal. In terms of literacy,
West Bengal leads with 77%
literacy rate, in
Bangladesh the rate is approximately
71%.[note 1] The level of poverty in
West Bengal is at 19.98%,
Bangladesh it stands at 12.9%
West Bengal's has one of the lowest total fertility rates in India.
West Bengal's TFR of 1.6 roughly equals that of Canada.
About 20,000 people live on chars. Chars are temporary islands formed
by the deposition of sediments eroded off the banks of the
West Bengal which often disappear in the monsoon season. They are made
of very fertile soil. The inhabitants of the chars are not recognised
by the Government of
West Bengal on the grounds that it is not known
whether they are
Bengalis or Bangladeshi refugees. Consequently, no
identification documents are issued to char-dwellers who cannot
benefit from health care, barely survive because of very poor
sanitation and are prevented from emigrating to the mainland to find
jobs when they have turned 14. On a particular char it was reported
that 13% of women died at childbirth.
Main articles: Economy of
Bangladesh and Economy of West Bengal
Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics
Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize
Bangladesh Airlines is the largest airline of Bengal
Bengal has been the industrial leader of the
The region is one of the largest rice producing areas in the world,
West Bengal being India's largest rice producer and Bangladesh
being the world's fourth largest rice producer. Other key
crops include jute, tea, sugarcane and wheat. There are significant
reserves of limestone, natural gas and coal. Major industries include
textiles, leather goods, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, banking and
information and communication technology.
Three stock exchanges are located in the region, including the Dhaka
Stock Exchange, the
Chittagong Stock Exchange and the
Below is a comparison of economies in the region of Bengal
West Bengal (India)
US$1,602 per person
US$1,600 per person
India are the largest trading partners in South Asia,
with two-way trade valued at an estimated US$6.9 billion.
Much of this trade relationship is centered on some of the world's
busiest land ports on the Bangladesh-
India border, particularly the
West Bengal section.
The partition of
India severed the once strong economic links which
integrated the region. Decades later, frequent air, rail and bus
services are increasingly connecting cities in
Bangladesh and West
Bengal, as well as the wider region, including Northeast India, Nepal
and Bhutan. However the overall economic relationship remains
The following are the largest cities in
Bengal (in terms of
The National Parliament House in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, India
List of major cities in Bengal
14,543,124 (Statistical Metropolitan Area)
Shaheed Minar, Dhaka
14,035,959 (Urban Agglomeration)
Kolkata Victoria Memorial
4,009,423 (Statistical Metropolitan Area)
Colonial era Court
Islamic University of Technology, Gazipur
Kanchpur Industrial Area, Narayanganj
Govt. BL College, Daulatpur, Khulna
Administration Building of
Bangladesh Bank building in Rangpur
Durgapur Express Way
Modernised ISP, Asansol
Rose View Hotel, Sylhet
Siliguri City Center
Bangladesh Bank regional office, Sherpur Road, Bogra
Ujjayanta Palace, Agartala
New Mooring Terminal, Port of Chittagong
List of The Major Ports in Bengal
Port of Chittagong
Port of Haldia
Haldia, East Midnapur
Port of Mongla
Mongla, Bagerhat, Khulna
Port of Payra
Kalapara, Patuakhali, Barisal
Port of Kolkata
Port of Narayanganj
Hili Land Port
Bangla Hili, Hakimpur – Indian Hilli, Balurghat
Port of Benapole-Petrapole
Benapole, Sharsha – Petrapole, Bangaon
Jessore-North 24 Parganas
List of The Tourist Attraction of Bengal
world largest natural mangrove
Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, South 24 Parganas
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) from Sundarbans
Cox's Bazar Beach
world's longest sea beach
Cox's Bazar sea beach
Digha sea beach
Chittagong Hill Tracts
hilly areas with habitant different indigenous tribes
Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban
A view of Sajek, Rangamati
only swamp forest in
A View of Ratargul
A top view of Satchari national park
hilly area of foothills of Himalayas
A view of
The strategically important city of
Chittagong is home to the busiest
port on the Bay of Bengal
Bengal region is located at the crossroads of two huge economic
SAARC and ASEAN. It gives access to the sea for the
landlocked countries of
Nepal and Bhutan, as well as the Seven Sister
States of North East India. It is also located near China's southern
landlocked region, including
Yunnan and Tibet.
Bangladesh plan to expand onshore and offshore oil and
Bangladesh is Asia's seventh-largest natural gas
producer. Its maritime exclusive economic zone potentially holds many
of the largest gas reserves in the Asia-Pacific.
Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal is strategically important for its vital shipping
lanes and its central location between the Middle East and the
Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal Initiative, based in Dhaka, brings together
Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal,
Sri Lanka to
promote economic integration in the subregion. Other regional
groupings include the Bangladesh-China-India-
Myanmar Forum for
Regional Cooperation (BCIM) and the
Bengal is significant for its huge
Hindu and Muslim
Bengali Hindus make up the second largest linguistic
community in India.
Bengali Muslims are the world's second largest
Muslim ethnicity (after
Arab Muslims), and
Bangladesh is the world's
third largest Muslim-majority country (after
Indonesia and Pakistan).
Main article: Culture of Bengal
Part of a series on the
Culture of Bengal
History of Bengal
List of Bengalis
Bengali Language Movement
Ekushey Book Fair
Kolkata Book Fair
Bengal School of Art
Bangiya Sahitya Parishad
Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi
Bangla Academy Literary Award
Music and performing arts
Cinema of Bangladesh
Cinema of West Bengal
Main article: Bengali language
Bengali language developed between the 7th and 10th centuries from
Apabhraṃśa and Magadhi Prakrit. It is written using the
indigenous Bengali alphabet, a descendant of the ancient Brahmi
script. Bengali is the 7th most spoken language in the world. It is an
Indo-Aryan language and one of the easternmost branches of the
Indo-European language family. It is part of the Bengali-Assamese
languages. Bengali has greatly influenced other languages in the
region, including Assamese, Chakma, Nepali and Rohingya. It is the
sole state language of
Bangladesh and the second most spoken language
Bengali binds together a culturally diverse region and is an important
contributor to regional identity. The 1952 Bengali Language Movement
East Pakistan is commemorated by
UNESCO as International Mother
Language Day, as part of global efforts to preserve linguistic
Main article: History of the taka
A silver coin with Proto-Bengali script, 9th century
Bangladesh and West Bengal, currency is commonly denominated
as taka. The
Bangladesh taka is an official standard bearer of this
tradition, while the
Indian rupee is also written as taka in Bengali
script on all of its banknotes. The history of the taka dates back
Bengal was home one of the world's earliest coin currencies
in the first millennium BCE. Under the Delhi Sultanate, the taka was
Muhammad bin Tughluq
Muhammad bin Tughluq in 1329.
Bengal became the
stronghold of the taka. The silver currency was the most important
symbol of sovereignty of the Sultanate of Bengal. It was traded on the
Silk Road and replicated in
Nepal and China's Tibetan protectorate.
Pakistani rupee was scripted in Bengali as taka on its banknotes
until Bangladesh's creation in 1971.
Bengali literary history
History of Bengali literature
Bengali language authors
Chronological list – Alphabetic List
Writers – Novelists – Poets
Novel – Poetry –
Institutions and awards
Main articles: Bengali literature, Indian English literature, and
Bangladeshi English literature
Rabindranath Tagore, known as the Bengali Shakespeare, being hosted at
the Parliament of
Iran in the 1930s
Bengali literature has a rich heritage. It has a history stretching
back to the 3rd century BCE, when the main language was Sanskrit
written in the brahmi script. The
Bengali language and script evolved
circa 1000 CE from Magadhi Prakrit.
Bengal has a long tradition
in folk literature, evidenced by the Chôrjapôdô, Mangalkavya,
Maimansingha Gitika or Thakurmar Jhuli. Bengali
literature in the medieval age was often either religious (e.g.
Chandidas), or adaptations from other languages (e.g. Alaol). During
Bengal Renaissance of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
Bengali literature was modernised through the works of authors such as
Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra
Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Kazi
Satyendranath Dutta and Jibanananda Das. In the 20th
century, prominent modern Bengali writers included Syed Mujtaba Ali,
Jasimuddin, Manik Bandopadhyay, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay,
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Buddhadeb Bose,
Sunil Gangopadhyay and
Prominent contemporary Bengali writers in English include Amitav
Ghosh, Tahmima Anam,
Jhumpa Lahiri and
Zia Haider Rahman
Zia Haider Rahman among others.
Main article: Mother Bengal
Mother Bengal is a female personification of
Bengal which was
created during the
Bengali renaissance and later adopted by the
Bengali nationalists. The
Mother Bengal represents not only
biological motherness but its attributed characteristics as well –
protection, never ending love, consolation, care, the beginning and
the end of life. In Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem of
Rabindranath Tagore has used the word "Maa" (Mother)
numerous times to refer to the motherland i.e. Bengal. Despite her
popularity in patriotic songs and poems, her physical representations
and images are rare.
See also: Bangladeshi art
Bangladeshi paintings on sale at an art gallery in Dhaka
The Pala-Sena School of Art developed in
Bengal between the 8th and
12th centuries and is considered a high point of classical Asian
art. It included sculptures and paintings.
Bengal was noted for its production of the finest cotton
fabrics and saris, notably the Jamdani, which received warrants from
the Mughal court. The
Bengal School of painting flourished in
Shantiniketan in the
British Raj during the early 20th
century. Its practitioners were among the harbingers of modern
painting in India.
Zainul Abedin was the pioneer of modern
Bangladeshi art. The country has a thriving and internationally
acclaimed contemporary art scene.
Main article: Architecture of Bengal
Bungalows originated from Bengali architecture
Bengali architecture features terracotta buildings. Ancient
Bengali kingdoms laid the foundations of the region's architectural
heritage through the construction of monasteries and temples (for
example, the Somapura Mahavihara). During the sultanate period, a
distinct and glorious Islamic style of architecture developed the
region. Most Islamic buildings were small and highly artistic
terracotta mosques with multiple domes and no minarets.
also home to the largest mosque in South
Asia at Adina. Bengali
vernacular architecture is credited for inspiring the popularity of
Bengal region also has a rich heritage of Indo-Saracenic
architecture, including numerous taluqdar palaces and mansions. The
most prominent example of this style is the Victoria Memorial,
In the 1950s, Muzharul
Islam pioneered the modernist terracotta style
of architecture in South Asia. This was followed by the design of the
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by the renowned American architect Louis Kahn
in the 1960s, which was based on the aesthetic heritage of Bengali
architecture and geography.
A sculpture on
Fazlur Rahman Khan
Fazlur Rahman Khan at the
Sears Tower in the United
The Gupta dynasty, which is believed to have originated in North
Bengal, pioneered the invention of chess, the concept of zero, the
theory of Earth orbiting the Sun, the study of solar and lunar
eclipses and the flourishing of
Sanskrit literature and
Bengal was the leader of scientific endeavors in the
subcontinent during the British Raj. The educational reforms during
this period gave birth to many distinguished scientists in the region.
Jagadish Chandra Bose
Jagadish Chandra Bose pioneered the investigation of radio and
microwave optics, made very significant contributions to plant
science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the
IEEE named him one of the fathers of radio
science. He was the first person from the
Indian subcontinent to
receive a US patent, in 1904. In 1924–25, while researching at the
University of Dhaka, Prof
Satyendra Nath Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose well known for his works
in quantum mechanics, provided the foundation for Bose–Einstein
statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein
condensate. In the United States, the Bengali American
Fazlur Rahman Khan
Fazlur Rahman Khan emerged as the "father of tubular designs"
in skyscraper construction.
Main article: Music of Bengal
Baul musician. The
Baul ballads of
Bengal are classified by UNESCO
as humanity's intangible cultural heritage
Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bengali folk music.
The 19th century mystic poet Lalon
Shah is the most celebrated
practitioner of the tradition. Other folk music forms include
Bhatiali and Bhawaiya.
Hason Raja is a renowned folk poet of
Sylhet region. Folk music in
Bengal is often accompanied by the
ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Other instruments include the
dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. The region also has a rich heritage in
North Indian classical music.
Main article: Bengali cuisine
Bengali cuisine is the only traditionally developed multi-course
tradition from the Indian subcontinent.
Rice and fish are traditional
favourite foods, leading to a saying that "fish and rice make a
Bengali". Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes
Hilsa preparations, a favourite among Bengalis.
distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, including Rôshogolla,
Chômchôm, and several kinds of Pithe. The old city of
Dhaka is noted
for its distinct Indo-Islamic cuisine, including biryani, bakarkhani
and kebab dishes.
See also: Country boats in Bangladesh
18th century painting of a budgerow
There are 150 types of Bengali country boats plying the 700 rivers of
Bengal delta, the vast floodplain and many oxbow lakes. They vary
in design and size. The boats include the dinghy and sampan among
others. Country boats are a central element of
Bengali culture and
have inspired generations of artists and poets, including the ivory
artisans of the Mughal era. The country has a long shipbuilding
tradition, dating back many centuries. Wooden boats are made of timber
such as Jarul (dipterocarpus turbinatus), sal (shorea robusta),
sundari (heritiera fomes), and
Burma teak (tectons grandis). Medieval
Bengal was shipbuilding hub for the Mughal and Ottoman
navies. The British
Royal Navy later utilized Bengali
shipyards in the 19th-century, including for the Battle of Trafalgar.
Bengali women commonly wear the shaŗi and the salwar kameez, often
distinctly designed according to local cultural customs. In urban
areas, many women and men wear Western-style attire. Among men,
European dressing has greater acceptance. Men also wear traditional
costumes such as the kurta with dhoti or pyjama, often on religious
occasions. The lungi, a kind of long skirt, is widely worn by
Main articles: List of festivals of
West Bengal and List of festivals
Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the Hindus in
Bengal as well as
the most significant socio-cultural event of the region in
general. The two Eids and
Muharram are the important festivals
Christmas (called Borodin in Bengali) is also a major
festival where people irrespective of their beliefs and faiths
participate. Other major festivals include Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja,
Holi, Rath Jatra, Janmashtami,
Poila Boishakh and Poush Parbon.
Bangladesh has a diverse, outspoken and privately owned press, with
the largest circulated
Bengali language newspapers in the world.
English-language titles are popular in the urban readership. West
Bengal had 559 published newspapers in 2005, of which 430 were in
Bengali. Bengali cinema is divided between the media hubs of
Kolkata and Dhaka.
Cricket and football are popular sports in the
Local games include sports such as
Kho Kho and Kabaddi, the latter
being the national sport of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Bengali Games has been organised among the athletes
of the Bengali speaking areas of the two countries.
Bangladesh Liberation War
List of Bengalis
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