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The country that inspired the Concert For Bangla Desh. The reasons for this concert were less cool than the concert, though.

Bangladesh (Harrison wrote it separately since that was how it was spelt at the time, but it’s only one word) can be seen as the Woobie of the region and rightly so, having endured some of the worst stuff nature and humanity has to throw to us.

Initially part of India, it was partitioned along with the northwestern provinces of British India to become Pakistan because of religious differences with the rest of the subcontinent. Bangladesh became East Pakistan, separated geographically from West Pakistan by… all of India. This awkward federation was off to a bad start from the beginning when West Pakistan imposed Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan, which irked the Bengali-speaking population of East Pakistan, who were also the most populous ethnic group of all within the two Pakistans. Not only that, but all the political, martial, and economic power was located in West Pakistan, leaving the eastern part powerless and relatively expendable, as was made clear in 1965 when Pakistan's then-dictator, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, declared that "the best defense of East Pakistan laid in West Pakistan".

Obviously that didn’t do too well with the Bengalis of East Pakistan and they began demanding their autonomy by requesting that Pakistan become a loose confederation rather than the unitary republic that it was at the time. After a great deal of negotiation, this was agreed to and in 1970, the general elections showed that the pro-Bengali Awami League had won. The West Pakistanis did not accept the result however and soon the Awami League leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was arrested. To make things worse, a typhoon hit the country around the same time. Angered by the political betrayal as well as the incompetant job of the central government to give relief to the province (hundreds of thousands died from the hurricane), the Bengalis declared themselves independent. In retaliation, West Pakistan cracked down on East Pakistan and began the execution of intellectuals and minorities. The Bengalis fled in terror into the neighboring Indian province of West Bengal. India, which feared having its lands adjacent to East Pakistan overrun with East Pakistanis, as well as for humanitarian and strategic reasons, began to intervene, eventually leading to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the liberation of Bangladesh.

In the newly independant state, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was its founder as well as first President. He ruled for the first few years but was soon deposed in a military coup that led to his death. Two counter-coups later, General Ziaur Rahman (no relation to Mujib) became the military ruler of Bangladesh, a position he held from 1976 to 1981 before he too was assassinated. The military continued its control over the state until the 1990s, when the widow of General Rahman and the daughter of Mujib became the leaders of the two largest parties in the country, and setting up a rivalry that continues to the present.

Bangladesh is still very poor and fairly corrupt. It also has a ridiculously high population for its size - 164 million and counting, making it the world's most densely peopled region and the 7th biggest country! (That's more people than RUSSIA.) However, it has been making strides as of late and now seems to be better off in many respects from Pakistan.

It lies at the intersection of two of the world's great rivers, the Ganga and Brahmaputra, which create a lush, very fertile delta. This rich farmland supports said huge population, although its low elevation also makes it highly vulnerable to cyclones and floods. It also boasts a history as one of India's artistic and cultural hotspots, though it shares that honor with neighboring West Bengal (the two were one region, Bengal, before Partition).

As an interesting fact the border region with West Bengal is somewhat... confusing. In an arrangement dating back to the Princely states there are sections of Bangladesh surrounded entirely in West Bengal and parts of West Bengal entirely in Bangladesh. To make matters more confusing these enclaves can have enclaves within them. It gets so bad there are parts of Bangladesh, inside part of India, inside part of Bangladesh, inside India. Given that this causes problems for people living in these areas the two governments (as of late 2011) have decided to abolish these areas completely and allow those living there to either change citizenship or be given funds to relocate.

The Bangladeshi flag

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