What Should I Know About Bangladesh?

Felicia Dye

The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is an extremely poor country in southern Asia that is almost completely surrounded by India. According to international standards, the country is poorly governed. It also has a reputation as being plagued with corruption. If you are planning to visit or to do business in the country, you should also consider that the United States (US) State Department says “although improving, infrastructure to support transportation, communications, and power supply is poorly developed.”

Poverty is widespread in Bangladesh.
Poverty is widespread in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a low-lying country, whose capital is named Dhaka. In addition to India, the country shares a small border area with Myanmar. Most people who fly directly to Bangladesh enter the country at Shahjalal International Airport, which is in Dhaka. If you are planning to visit, you may want to consider flying to India and crossing the border with land transportation, which is generally cheaper. It is also possible to cross the border from Myanmar using land transportation if you will be visiting that country first.

Bangladesh is almost completely surrounded by India.
Bangladesh is almost completely surrounded by India.

There are several other things that you may need to consider if you plan to visit or engage in business in Bangladesh. This overcrowded country is populated mostly by Muslims. Bangla is the official language, but only about half of the adult population is literate. Bangladeshi money is called taka. The country’s time zone is UTC (coordinated universal time) +6.

Typhoid fever is a disease risk in Bangladesh.
Typhoid fever is a disease risk in Bangladesh.

There are numerous environmental problems in Bangladesh. One that you may want to plan for is the condition of the water. Much of the country’s surface water and ground water is contaminated and polluted. As a result, there is a high risk that consumption or contact can result in illnesses such as hepatitis A and E, protozoal diarrhea, and leptospirosis. Other disease risks include typhoid fever and malaria.

Islam is the state religion in Bangladesh.
Islam is the state religion in Bangladesh.

If you plan to visit the northern or southern parts of the country, you may have problems accessing the amount of water that you are accustomed to. This is because water shortages are common in these areas. You may also have problems accessing landlines. Most telephone communication in the country is done with cellular phones. The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook describes the telephone systems as “inadequate for a modern country.”

Weather is another thing to consider. Nearly one third of the country floods every year. These floods are commonly caused by the summer monsoon. Cyclones and other troublesome natural events also occur periodically. In addition to this, high humidity is common.

Malaria is a significant problem in Bangladesh.
Malaria is a significant problem in Bangladesh.

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Discussion Comments


The actual scenario is not as chaotic as it seems from outside. I have relatives who had been there. Honestly, this is hardly a xenophobic or bigoted place, but rather a place with debonair, simple and amicable people. Although a bit spicy, people usually savor their delectable culinary dishes.


I have never been to India or Bangladesh, but I want to go sometime. I know for many poorer countries, and probably this includes Bangladesh, travel can be difficult; not only are there few options, but they are not always on time or otherwise reliable.


Two of my favorite restaurants are run by Bangladeshis and they make the best food I've had in my life.

They mainly serve rice and fish dishes which I've learned is the staple food in Bangladesh, especially in the South because it is closer to water. I think this is called Bengali cuisine in general and Bengalis in other countries also eat the same.

It's heavy on seafood but they also have a lot of meat dishes with curries and vegetables. I especially love their milk desserts like shandesh which are balls of sweet condensed milk and sugar.


@alisha-- I've been to both New Delhi in India and Dhaka and I think Bangladesh is in much worse condition. It's been about seven years though since I returned, so I'm not aware if any changes have been made since then.

First of all, Bangladesh is poorer than India, so there are more problems. I agree that both have serious hygiene, infrastructure and corruption issues. When I was in Dhaka, the electricity and water was off and on. In fact, some of the other expats would joke that the water in Bangladesh works like the government, sometimes!

Hygiene is a big problem, especially when it comes to food. Coming from the US, our stomachs were already extremely sensitive when compared to Southeast Asians. But in Bangladesh, hygiene is basically non-existent. I started eating vegetarian there after I witnessed the conditions in which animals were killed and maintained.

There are also no public toilets, and often people defecate in the open, usually in the fields. Corruption is deeply embedded, so if you need paperwork or some other service from a government office, you have to understand that it's never going to come through unless you bribe them.

My time in Bangladesh really required adjustment. It's best to go there really open-minded, comparing Bangladesh to other countries will just make the experience more difficult.


In college, one of my friends was from Bangladesh. From my discussions with him, I got the feeling that Bangladeshi culture is very similar to Indian culture, except that it is mainly Muslim and not as mixed as India.

My friend looked very Indian too and Bangladeshi food is similar to Indian food, in terms of spices, curries and rice.

After reading this article, I think the problems associated with Bangladesh is not too different than the ones in India. Since they are in the same geographic region, it's the same kind of weather and similar issues with transportation and water.

Knowing that India gets thousands of visitors every year, I don't see why it would be any more difficult for people to visit Bangladesh. I think going to India and then using bus or rail to go over and visit Bangladesh is a really good idea. I think it would be enjoyable and interesting to see what the differences are between the two.

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