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Bangladesh
Bangladesh
© Sergei Uriadnikov / 123RF
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Things to see in Bangladesh
By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Landscapes

One of the characteristicss of Bangladesh is that its relief is realtively flat. The result is that it suffers from frequent floods during the monsoon season (June to October), when all of the rivers that descend the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau flow into the Bay of Bengal. Three major rivers traverse the country: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, creating a mountainous and waterlogged 579 million miČ basin. However, rerouted by the Himalayas, they all flow into the Bay of Bengal. Being an ultra-flat country 12 times smaller than Bangladesh, this explains the many floods.
Essentially consisting of silt, Bangladesh has a very particular geography. Because of its flat relief and frequent floods, islands of silt, as unstable as they are fertile, are regularly formed. The locals, who do not have much land, quickly take root on these islands, cultivate them and then live on them. This is thus how a huge mangrove swamp (the largest in the world) has been created, becoming a refuge for human beings and many types of plant and animal species.
Mainly composed of fertile plains, although there are a few hilly areas, Bangladesh is best discovered by boat via the numerous rivers that feed the country.

Arts and culture

The culture of Bangladesh is a learned mix of several cultures and religions dating back 2,500 years. Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism are the different religions which have influenced the arts of Bangladesh.
Artisanry holds an important place in the culture of Bangladesh; you can find unique styles in the fabrics, jewellery, woodwork, metal crafts and pottery.
The country has a rich literary heritage represented by various poets and very creative popular literature.
Music and dance are also part of the daily life, although the latter, of Indian inspiration, is not well-received by conservative religious authorities. There is a rich tradition of folk songs here, with the lyrics evoking spirituality, mysticism, devotion and, especially, love. The country's typical musical instruments are the bamboo flute, the drums, the ektara (a one-stringed instrument), the dotara (a two or four-stringed instrument) and the mandira (small metal percussion instruments).

Monuments

Bangladesh has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years and is the birthplace of Buddhism. Over time, Islam has become the country's official religion. Nevertheless, Bangladesh still holds some important Buddhist temples, each more fascinating than the next. Also, native Buddhist tribes still live in certain regions of the country.
Once upon a time, the Bangladesh region was one of the richest in southern Asia and had a very rich cultural life. After that, the country belonged to the British (from the 16th century to the Second World War), and then Pakistan, until it finally gained independence in 1971.
The history of Bangladesh can be compared to a sponge, absorbing the different religions and cultures of the people who have occupied its regions and ending up with a saturated synthesis of them all. Although remains bearing weatness of this past splendour are still visible, they are also marked by the many destructions linked to the wars and floods.

The fauna

Bangladesh's tropical climate and fauna are similar to those of India. You may therefore see snakes, crocodiles, monkeys, gibbons, mongoose, leopards, bears, deer and hundreds of birds and fish! Not to mention cockroaches, huge mosquitoes and tiny, very aggressive ants. Beware, their venom itches and burns for hours!
However, Bangladesh's emblematic animal is, of course, the royal Bengal tiger. It is a magnificent animal that is the pride of the country but that is also very feared. Indeed, the country's inhabitants say that it has a preference for human flesh. Since it is constantly being hunted, today it is a threatened species.
St. Martin's Island is home to the only coral colonies found in Bangladesh.

The flora

The flora of Bangladesh is typically tropical; you will find banana trees, different kinds of palm trees, coconut, mango and date trees, huge trees with leaves, vines and a multitude of plants with flowers.
Fruit trees are particularly abundant and some are even used for commercial means, such as the mango, gewa, salt and garyan. Other fruit trees are famous for their dates, bamboo and palms.
A majority of the coastline is covered with mangrove forests. Arable land covers two thirds of the country while only 10% is covered with wooded areas.