Environment in Bangladesh Essay

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Bangladesh i s formally called the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. It is a small, deltaic country located in South Asia, with India to the north, west, and east, Myanmar to the southeast, and the Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean) to the south. Bangladesh’s land area of about 144,000 square kilometers with 147 million people (2006 estimate) makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Agriculture forms the mainstay of the economy, and the majority of the population lives in rural areas, with increasing urban growth. The capital, Dhaka, is one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the world.

Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan after the Partition by British colonial rule in 1947. In 1971 it won its independence from Pakistan. Bangladesh has a parliamentary democracy, although several factors plague its rule: political instability, corruption, and poor governance. Economically, the country has made strides in developing a manufacturing base in ready-made garments (by exploiting cheap labor), along with production of other export items (such as shrimp, jute, and tea). As one of the poorest countries in the world (in terms of per capita income), development in areas of human resources, economy, literacy, and health remain enormous challenges for the government. Gender disparities in most arenas remain high, despite the country being one of the few in the world with a female head of state.

Three major rivers (Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna) and numerous smaller rivers and tributaries make the country very lush and flood-prone. The country is largely flat; most landmass is one to 10 feet above sea level. The monsoon climate also means that annual rainfall in the summer months is fairly high, which contributes to the floods. In addition, tropical cyclones that form seasonally in the Bay of Bengal also cause considerable flooding from storm surges. Such natural hazards are compounded by the extreme poverty and high density of dwellings, where the social and economic outfalls are considerable for a struggling population. Marginalization of poorer people into floodplains and coastal areas further increases their vulnerability to such hazards.

Environmental problems from deforestation and loss of biodiversity are also concerns in Bangladesh, as large tracts of land are often converted to agriculture as well as to support the illegal timber trade. Recent growth of shrimp aquaculture has resulted in the loss of areas of the Sundarban mangrove forest, which is a World Heritage Site and home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Surface water pollution has historically led to water-borne illnesses and high infant mortality rates from consumption of contaminated water. Recent changes to drinking groundwater has also come under threat from naturally occurring arsenic in the aquifer, thereby exposing over 30 million people to arsenic poisoning. Beyond water quality, water quantity also poses a problem in many areas with fluctuating groundwater tables, as well as seasonal water shortages. Disputes with neighboring India over controlling river flow remain politically contentious as a result. Air pollution from a growing number of vehicles and industries are also increasing in urban areas. As a result, many development projects in Bangladesh are focusing on the numerous environmental issues as part of overall development endeavors.


  1. Haroun Er Rashid, Geography of Bangladesh (University Press Ltd, 1991);
  2. Betsy Hartmann and James Boyce, A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladeshi Village (Zed Press, 1983);
  3. Rahman, Haque, and R. Haider, Environment and Development in Bangladesh (University Press Ltd.,1995).

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