Situated in South Asia, Bangladesh, before it became an independent state, was the eastern province of Pakistan, known as East Bengal and, later, as East Pakistan. Bangladesh is slightly smaller than the state of Iowa with a total area of 144,000 sq km (55,598 sq mi), extending 767 km (477 mi) SSE–NNW and 429 km (267 mi) ENE–WSW. Bangladesh is bordered in the W, N, and E by India, on the SE by Myanmar (Burma), and on the S by the Bay of Bengal, with a total boundary length of 4,246 km (2,638 mi). A border demarcation agreement was signed with Myanmar in May 1979. Demarcation of the marine boundary with India remains unresolved. Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka, is located near the center of the country.

People's Republic of Bangladesh

Gana-Prajatantri Bangladesh

CAPITAL : Dhaka (formerly Dacca)

FLAG : The national flag is a red circle against a dark-green background.

ANTHEM : Amar Sonar Bangla (My Golden Bengal).

MONETARY UNIT : The taka (T) of 100 poisha is a paper currency set on a par with the Indian rupee. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 poisha, and notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 taka. T1 = $0.0173 (or $1 = T58.00) as of May 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Bangladesh adopted the metric system as of 1 July 1982. Customary numerical units include the lakh (equal to 100,000) and the crore (equal to 10 million).

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; National Mourning Day (Shaheel Day), 21 February; Independence Day, 26 March; May Day, 1 May; Victory Day, 16 December; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Jamat Wida, Shab-i-Bharat, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Durga Puja.

TIME : 6:00 PM = noon GMT.

FLORA AND FAUNA :Bangladesh has the plant and animal life typical of a tropical and riverine swamp. The landscape, which for most of the year is lush green, is dotted with palms and flowering trees. The large forest area of the Sunderbans in the southwest is the home of the endangered Bengal tiger; there are also cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, elephants, spotted deer, monkeys, boars, bears, pheasants, and many varieties of birds and waterfowl.

ARMED FORCES :In 2002, Bangladesh had an army of 120,000, a navy of 10,500, and an air force of 6,500. Paramilitary forces of border guards, armed police, and security guards totaled 63,200. Bangladesh is attempting to improve naval command primarily to combat piracy. The military budget in 1996–97 was $559 million or 1.8% of GDP.

Bangladesh participated in eight UN peacekeeping missions.

INSURANCE :The insurance business was nationalized in 1972, creating a government-controlled insurance corporation. The Ministry of Finance and Planning is the insurance regulatory body. Premiums are mainly in commercial or industrial fields. Life insurance remains limited to city dwellers and middle-class professionals. In 2001, there was $129 million in life insurance premiums written.

DEPENDENCIES :Bangladesh has no territories or colonies.

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