Bangladesh – solemnity denotes maturity
Bangladesh is a country in south Asia and is bordered by India and Burma. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with 160 million people. Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh came into being only in 1971, when the two parts of Pakistan split after a bitter war which drew in neighbouring India. Bangladesh spent 15 years under military rule and, although democracy was restored in 1990, the political scene remains volatile.
The official language is Bangla, also known as Bengali. It is written in its own script, which has its roots in Sanskrit, and is the first language of more than 98% of the population. Many people in Bangladesh also speak English and Urdu.
Agriculture employs 95% of the population, however the major revenue is derived from the export of garments. Many Bangladeshis – in common with citizens from other countries in the region – seek work abroad, sometimes illegally.
The country is trying to diversify its economy, with industrial development a priority. Overseas investors have pumped money into manufacturing and the energy sector.
Onshore and offshore gas reserves could provide a chance for future prosperity. There has been a debate about whether the reserves should be kept for domestic use or exported. International companies are involved in the gas sector.
Bangladesh has been at the forefront of the least-developed countries in addressing gender disparity, partly due to the fact that since 1996 until the present day (with a break between 2001 and 2009) the country has had a female Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. Micro-financing has played a key role in rural and social development: 92% of the borrowers are women and 90% of them live in rural areas.
Business meetings in Bangladesh are usually formal and decisions are discussed rather than made. The people of Bangladesh seldom smile; this is not because they are unfriendly but because smiling is considered a sign of immaturity.
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Sources: Wikipedia, bbc.com, International Labour Organisation