Geography of Bangladesh


Geography of Bangladesh : Quick look

Location : Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India. 

Geographic coordinates : 24 00 N, 90 00 E.

Map references : Asia 

Area :

Total : 144,000 sq km.

Land : 133,910 sq km.

Water : 10,090 sq km. 

Area-Comparative : Slightly smaller than Iowa. 

Land Boundaries :

Total : 4,246 km

Border Countries : Burma 193 km, India 4,053 km 

Coastline : 580 km. 

Maritime Claims :

Contiguous Zone : 18 nm.

Continental Shelf : Up to the outer limits of the continental margin.

Exclusive Economic Zone : 200 nm.

Territorial Sea : 12 nm. 

Climate :

Tropical; mild winter (October to March); hot, humid summer (March to June); humid, warm rainy monsoon (June to October)

Terrain : Mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast. 

Elevation Extremes :

Lowest Point : Indian Ocean 0 m.

Highest Point : Keokradong 1,230 m. 

Natural Resources : Natural gas, arable land, timber.

Land use :

Arable Land : 61%

Permanent Crops : 3%

Other : 36% (1998 est.)

Irrigated Land : 38,440 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural Hazards :

Droughts, cyclones; much of the country routinely flooded during the summer monsoon season.

Environment-Current Issues :

Many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land; limited access to potable water; water-borne diseases prevalent; water pollution especially of fishing areas results from the use of commercial pesticides; intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country; soil degradation; deforestation; severe overpopulation.

Environment-International Agreements :

Party to :

Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Transnational Issues 

Disputes-International :

Only a small portion of the boundary with India remains undelimited; discussions to demarcate the boundary, exchange 162 miniscule enclaves, and allocate divided villages remain stalled; skirmishes, illegal border trafficking, and violence along the border continue; Bangladesh has protested India's attempts to fence off high traffic sections of the porous boundary; Burmese attempts to construct a dam on the border stream in 2001 prompted an armed response halting construction; Burmese Muslim refugees migrate into Bangladesh straining meager resources.

Climate of Bangladesh :

Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon-type climate, with a hot and rainy summer and a dry winter. January is the coolest month with temperatures averaging near 26 deg C (78 d F) and April the warmest with temperatures from 33 to 36 deg C (91 to 96 deg F). The climate is one of the wettest in the world. Most places receive more than 1,525 mm of rain a year, and areas near the hills receive 5,080 mm). Most rains occur during the monsoon (June-September) and little in winter (November-February). 

Bangladesh is subject to devastating cyclones, originating over the Bay of Bengal, in the periods of April to May and September to November. Often accompanied by surging waves, these storms can cause great damage and loss of life. The cyclone of November 1970, in which about 500,000 lives were lost in Bangladesh, was one of the worst natural disasters of the country in the 20th century.

Bangladesh has warm temperatures throughout the year, with relatively little variation from month to month. January tends to be the coolest month and May the warmest. In Dhaka the average January temperature is about 19°C (about 66°F), and the average May temperature is about 29°C (about 84°F).

Required clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens throughout the year. Warmer clothes are needed in the evenings during the cool season. Waterproofs are necessary during the monsoon season.

Bangladesh : Environmental Issues

Environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources are often observed in Bangladesh due to poverty, over-population and lack of awareness on the subject. It is manifested by deforestation, destruction of wetlands, depletion of soil nutrients, etc. Natural calamities like floods, cyclones and tidal-bores also result in severe socio-economic and environmental damage. 

Waterborne diseases such as cholera are a serious threat to public health in Bangladesh. Until the 1970s, many of Bangladesh's people became sick from drinking polluted water drawn from surface rivers. Aid agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) built shallow wells throughout the country to help provide a safe source of drinking water to Bangladesh's poor. 

In the 1990s, however, it was discovered that many of these wells were contaminated by arsenic, a poison that occurs naturally in Bangladesh's alluvial soils. The World Bank estimates that 25 percent of the country's 4 million wells may be contaminated by arsenic. In 1998 the World Bank granted Bangladesh a $32.4 million credit to identify contaminated wells and develop alternative sources of safe drinking water.

In recent years, the government has taken some important steps towards protection of the environment, environmentally sound use of natural resources and pollution control, Adoption of National Environment Policy and formulation of National Conservation Strategy and the National Environment Management Action Plan are some of the measures undertaken by the government to integrate environment with development in a policy framework.

To take prompt legal action against environmental pollution, the government has recently set up Environment courts. The Environment Conservation Rules 1997 has also been passed by the Parliament. The Department of Environment is taking measures to carry out surveys on identification and control of polluting industries, river pollution and automobile pollution.

Bangladesh : Geographic Features

Bangladesh is situated in South Asia between India and Myanmar. With an area of 148,393 sq. km and a population of approx. 130 million, it occupies the apex of the arch formed by the Bay of Bengal into which drain a large number of rivers and their tributaries crisscrossing the country and making it a very fertile delta. 

However, a dominant feature of life is the annual cycle of overabundance of water in the monsoon and its scarcity in winter. But the phenomenon changes dramatically during the winter months of November to May when the flows in the three major rivers- Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna - decrease considerably and most of the streams and channels almost dry up leading to shortage of fresh water for use in agriculture, fishery, navigation and industries as well as for domestic use. 

Normal floods are regarded as highly beneficial for revitalizing the cropland. The people have also learnt the coping strategies to minimize their adverse effects. Various measures have been taken in the past to cope with the effects of catastrophic floods but not always effectively. Comprehensive multi-national studies have been made during the recent years under the World Bank coordinated Flood Action Plan to find more effective ways to mitigating such floods without causing environmental hazards.