Country Profile

  • Gained independence in 1971
  • With a population of approximately 156.6 million as of 2013 , Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries in the world.
  • The majority of the population are Muslim (around 88%), with the remaining percentage a mixture of Christian, Buddhist and Hindu.
  • Administratively, Bangladesh is divided into 7 Divisions, 64 Districts, 7 City Corporations, 308 Municipalities, 481 Upazilas, 599 Thanas and 4498 Unions.
  • Bangladesh rates 142 out of 187 countries with a HDI score of 0.558 indicating medium human development achievement(HDR, 2013)
  • A leading troop contributor country in UN peacekeeping having participated in 54 peacekeeping missions in 39 countries.

Development Context

Since liberation, Bangladesh has made significant economic progress in tandem with social development, particularly in areas of maternal and child mortality, education, disaster management, and rice self-sufficiency. Despite a challenging environment, the country attained real GDP growth rate of 6.18 per cent in the 2013 Fiscal Year. The latest poverty data is not yet available due to the five year interval between the Household and Income Expenditure Survey, however proxy data points to a declining poverty headcount . Overall in the last forty years, the poverty rate has declined by 60 per cent with the country’s real per capita income increasing by more than 130 per cent . Rice production has more than tripled to 35 million metric tonnes, despite shrinking farmland space, with the annual population growth brought down to 1.1 per cent.

The economy has experienced significant structural transformation with the $20 billion-plus export ready-made garments (RMG) sector . This economic growth has positioned the country to meet many of the MDG targets and is reflected in Bangladesh’s rise in the Human Development Index (HDI), increasing from 0.336 in 1980 to 0.558 in 2013, and annual HDI growth from 1.29 to 1.62 during the 2000s .

Nevertheless, Bangladesh remains a Least Developed Country (LDC), with 47 million people still living below the poverty line and another 28 million people living just above it . While economic growth has been strong it has been relatively uneven across areas, with convergences of deprivation and inequity in certain Districts, and which lag in MDG attainment.

Further, much of the labour force engages in informal, insecure, low-income and low-productivity jobs. Ownership of productive assets and inadequate access and quality of services also contribute to inequity and poverty, and while social protection programmes continue to expand they remain inadequate. Population dynamics and human mobility will be two factors that require management in Bangladesh’s development. While there has been an overall decline in the total fertility rate, access to reproductive health and protection of reproductive rights represent a critical challenge. However, population dynamics are not only limited to population size but also potential inequities. The country faces a youth bulge, which will require investment in human capital, services, and infrastructure in order to translate this bulge into a demographic window of opportunity. Concurrently, the population above the age of 60 is expected to double .

With the vast majority of the urban population migrants, and most likely living in poor settlements, urbanization will continue to pose a challenge in Bangladesh development, requiring adequate provision of social services, management of informal settlements, issues of land and tenure, and also addressing the drivers of migration such as creating economic opportunities and responding to climate and environmental changes. Bangladeshis also constitute a high percentage of global migrants, with remittance flows contributing to the national economy. Overseas migration and work comes with risks, including safety of workers overseas and health implications such as HIV, with infection rates highest amongst migrant workers than the general population.

In recognition of the long-term development challenges of the country, the Government has adopted its Vision 2021 and associated Perspective Plan 2010-2021, setting development targets to graduate into middle-income status. The implementation of the Vision 2021 is being done through two medium-development plans (the Sixth Five-Year Plan and the Seventh Five-Year Plan). Vision 2021 focuses on approaches that address income inequality, an intensive manufacturing sector, investment in human capital for overseas workers, girls and women’s health, education and empowerment, urbanization, social protection systems, environmental sustainability, and good governance.

  2. United Nations Development Assistance Framework Report, 2013
  3. General Economics Division, Planning Commission, Sixth Five-Year National Development Plan 2011-2015: Accelerating Growth and Reducing Poverty, Dhaka, 2011
  4. Wahiduddin Mahmud and Isher J. Ahluwalia (eds.) State of the Bangladesh Economy: Pluses and Minuses. Special Issue of Economic Political Weekly. Dhaka, 4 September 2004.
  5. UNDP Human Development Report, 2013.

About UN Bangladesh

UN country team (UNCT) consists of representatives from 23 UN agencies, funds and programmes, UNIC and UNDSS convened under UN Resident Coordinator (RC). More..

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Address and Location

  • Office of the UN Resident Coordinator
    UN Bangladesh
    UN Offices, 19th Floor
    IDB Bhaban
    Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar
    Dhaka 1207
  • Phone : (880-2) 55667788
  • Fax : (880-2) 8117811
  • Working Hours :
    Sun - Thur 0800h - 1630h
    [Bangladesh Local Time]