This South Asian nation is home to 163,187,000 people, making it the eighth-most populous country in the world. It’s far from being one of the largest though; at 56,990 square miles it’s about one-tenth of the size of Alaska, making it the 92nd largest country in the world. Looking to learn more? Here are a few interesting facts about Bangladesh that might surprise you.
Seven interesting facts about Bangladesh
1. It’s home to the world’s largest mangrove forest
The Unesco-protected Sundarbans mangrove forest is the largest in the world. It covers a staggering 140,000 hectares (539 square miles) and sits on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. A network of today waterways, mudflats and tiny islands criss-cross their way across the park, with three wildlife sanctuaries in the south. It’s home to a variety of endangered species and internationally recognized for its high biodiversity of mangrove flora and fauna.
Inhabitants include over 360 bird species, the Bengal tiger, the estuarine crocodile, the Indian python and Irawadi dolphins. It’s still relatively off-the-beaten-track for tourists though, due to difficult access and limited accommodation. Storms, cyclones and today surge up to 7.5 metres are offputting too.
2. Bangladesh has one of the longest beaches in the world
Beaches might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but Bangladesh is actually home to the third-longest beach in the world. Cox’s Bazar Beach offers 75-miles of uninterrupted sandy beach. Only Praia do Cassino in Brazil and Ninety Mile beach in Australia are longer than Cox Bazar. The beach takes its name from Captain Hiram Cox of the British East India Company, who founded the sandy stretch in 1869.
Each section of the beach has a different name, but some of the most popular spots include Laboni Beach, Humchari Beach and Inani Beach. Crowds thin the further south you go, so if you’re looking for a slice of isolated tropical paradise it’s worth the extra schlep. Keep in mind that this is a Muslim country, so modest attire for men and women – even when swimming – is essential.
3. There are approximately 700 rivers flowing through Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a real river country, threaded together by over 700 rivers. In fact, three of the largest rivers in Asia flow through Bangladesh – the Ganges, the Meghna and the Brahmaputra. This makes for a lush green landscape, with an impressive diversity of wildlife. Travelling by boat is one of the best and easiest ways to explore the country. One of the most iconic experiences in Bangladesh is an overnight boat trip aboard ‘The Rocket’, a paddleboard ferry that’s glided between Dhaka and Khulna for over a century.
In 2019, the Bangladeshi Supreme Court gave every single one of its rivers legal rights to life after pollution became unmanageable. Now, anyone who damages the river can be taken to court by the National River Conservation Commission. They’ll be tried as if they would be if they’d harmed a living entity.
4. But that means it’s one of the world’s hardest hit countries by climate change
When the 2020 monsoon season hit Bangladesh, about a quarter of the country was underwater within weeks. Nearly 1.3 million homes were damaged and hundreds of thousands of people were marooned. Bangladesh is prone to flooding due to the number of rivers crisscrossing the country. Now, faced with the inevitability of future climate change, the flooding will only become more extreme. Almost 80% of Bangladesh is a flood plain, with most of the country only a metre or less above sea level. The government has called it “planetary energy” and is experimenting with new solutions to mitigate dangerous consequences.
5. Bangladesh is a relatively new country
Bangladesh – officially titled the People’s Republic of Bangladesh – became an independent country in 1971. It became part of East Pakistan for nearly three decades following British colonial rule in the 1940s. After the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, the Bengali national and self-determination movement instigated a revolution. The war ended on 16 December 1971 and resulted in the country’s independence. In 1991, the country restored its Democratic government.
6. It has a fearsome national animal
The Royal Bengal Tiger – sometimes known as the Indian Tiger – is Bangladesh’s national animal. In eastern Asian culture, tigers represent royalty, fearlessness and wrath. The East Bengal Regiment is nicknamed’ Bengal Tigers’ and the regiment’s logo is a tiger face. The Bangladesh Cricket Board‘s logo also features a Bengal tiger.
There are around 300–500 tigers in Bangladesh today. Poaching is a huge threat, but so are rising sea levels and climate change. Recent research claims the Royal Bengal Tigers of the Sundarbans could be extinct in 50 years.
7. It has more than four seasons
Bangladesh has the nickname ‘The Land of Six Seasons’ for good reason. The country really does have six seasons: Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Late Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each season has distinctive characteristics and the Bengali calendar marks each with a festival. The summer is hot and sunny, while winter is foggy with shorter days. Unsurprisingly, the rainy season is… rainy. Spring, also known as King, is a crowdpleaser. The flowers are at their fullest and smell their sweetest.