Bangladesh. Population and Ancestry. Way of Life

Population and ancestry. Bangladesh is one of the largest countries in the world in population. Bangladesh is also one of the world's most densely populated countries.

Most of the people of Bangladesh are probably descendants of peoples who migrated to the area thousands of years ago from what are now Burma, Tibet, and northern India. The term Bangladeshis refers to all the people of Bangladesh. More than 95 percent of Bangladesh's population are Bengalis, a short, dark-skinned people. They speak a language also called Bengali.

Bangladesh also has several minority groups. They include various ethnic groups that live mainly in the Chattagram Hills of southeastern Bangladesh. The largest groups include the Chakmas, the Marmas, the Mros, and the Tipperas.

Way of life. Most Bangladeshis farm the land with simple tools and ancient methods, much as their ancestors did many years ago. Since the mid-1970's, however, there has been increasing use of fertilizers and new kinds of seeds.

Clusters of thatch-roofed houses dot the nation's countryside. Most rural villagers build homes made of bamboo. Atypical home consists of only one or two rooms. Few homes in rural areas have electricity or plumbing.

Most of the families in the cities and towns live crowded together in small wooden houses. Some wealthy city families have large brick or concrete homes. In urban slums, the houses are built of cardboard, scraps of wood, or sticks. The majority of Hindus and members of other minority groups live together in distinct neighborhoods.

Shoppers and vendors gather at open-air market-places, such as this one in Dhaka In many families, the men do most of the shopping, and the women stay home doing household chores

Many of the people of Bangladesh do not have enough food to eat. Although food production has increased since the mid-1970's, the nation neither raises nor imports enough to feed its large population. Few Bangladeshis have much variety in their meals. Rice and fish are the two most important foods. They are usually served together in a spicy curry sauce. Tea sweetened with sugar is a popular beverage, though some people may drink only water most of the time.

People throughout Bangladesh wear loose, light-weight clothing because of the warm, humid climate. Most of the women wear a sari, a long piece of plain or printed cloth wrapped around the waist and draped over one shoulder. A short blouse is worn underneath. Many Muslim men wear a lungi, a tight skirtlike garment. The dhoti, worn by Hindu men, is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and between the legs. Men may also wear shirts. People of rural areas generally go barefoot City dwellers may wear shoes or sandals.

Bangladeshis like to spend their leisure time chatting with friends and relatives. The men usually gather in cafes, and the women visit one another at home. The people enjoy the festivities held during various Muslim and Hindu religious holidays.

Religion affects much in the lives of most Bangladeshis, including food, marriage customs, and family relationships. About85 percent of the people are Muslims. The laws of Islam, the Muslim religion, forbid the eating of pork. Most Muslim parents arrange marriages for their children. A Muslim man may have up to four wives at a time. However, most Muslim men in Bangladesh are too poor to have more than one. The men in a Muslim family have far more authority and freedom than the women have. Many Muslim women avoid social contact with men who do not belong to their family, and they participate in few activities outside the home. They cover their heads with veils in the presence of strangers. In 1988, a constitutional amendment made Islam the state religion of Bangladesh. See Islam.

Less than 15 percent of the people of Bangladesh are Hindus. Hindus are divided into various social classes called castes. Each caste observes its own customs and rules of behavior. Caste regulations limit the extent to which members of one caste may associate with members of another caste. Hindu parents also arrange their children's marriages. Intermarriage between castes is rare. Hindu women have more social freedom than Muslim women do, though Hindu women have few legal rights. See Hinduism; Caste.

Most of the ethnic groups of the Chattagram Hills area practice Buddhism. Some groups combine Buddhist principles with local religious beliefs. Less than 1 percent of the people of Bangladesh are Christians.

Education. Most Bangladeshis 15 years of age or older cannot read or write. For Bangladesh's literacy rate, see Literacy (table: Literacy rates for selected countries). A law requires children from ages 6 to 10 to attend school. But the law is not strictly enforced, and many youngsters do not attend school.

The University of Dhaka is the nation's largest university. Dhaka is also the home of the Jahangirnagar Muslim University and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Other universities are in Chattagram, Mymensingh, and Rajshahi.

Health. Food shortages and unsanitary living conditions in Bangladesh contribute to widespread cholera, leprosy, tuberculosis, and other diseases. Mosquitoes that spread malaria thrive in the nation's swampy regions. Malaria kills thousands of Bangladeshis annually.

Bangladesh has a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medical supplies. The Red Cross and other organizations have sent medical teams and equipment in an attempt to improve health conditions.

The arts. Bengali literature has flourished for hundreds of years in the form of stories and folk ballads. These stories and ballads tell romantic legends and tales of everyday life. Dramas based on religious stories are popular forms of entertainment in Bangladesh. Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet born in India, became prominent in Bengali literature during the late 1800's. He still ranks as the most popular literary figure in Bangladesh. See Tagore, Rabindranath.

Much of the traditional architecture of Bangladesh developed under Muslim rule during the 1500's and 1600's. This style features domes, towers, and pointed arches. Traditional painting has the brilliant colors and elaborate decorations of Muslim religious art Some contemporary artists of Bangladesh use techniques of modern Western art in painting everyday scenes and people, as well as in abstract designs.






Date added: 2022-12-12; views: 172;


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