Before being born into Bangladesh, Bengal was divided into two provinces — West Bengal and East Bengal — on 3 July 1946 in preparation for the partition of India to maintain the Hindu majority in West Bengal and Muslim majority in East Bengal. On 15 August 1947 West Bengal became a part of India, and East Bengal became a part of Pakistan. In 1955 most of the western wings were combined to form a new West Pakistan province while East Bengal became the new province as East Pakistan. This system lasted till 1971.
The Bengali Language Movement or Bhasha Andolan advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of Pakistan reached its climax on 21 February 1952. After years of conflict, the Central Government of Pakistan granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. In 2000, UNESCO declared 21 February the International Mother Language Day for the whole world to celebrate the day in tribute to the Language Movement in Bangladesh. It is now a national holiday.
Political disturbance and the Civil War began in demand for independence at the call of Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman in 1971. Military forces arrested Mujibur Rahman on 26 March 1971 and that night East Pakistan declared Independence in broadcasting by Ziaur Rahman in Mujibur’s name. The violence of the war attracted international attention. About one million refugees fled to neighbouring India. The exile government took oath for the new State Bangladesh on 17 April 1971. Bangladesh Liberation Movement lasted for 9 months. Indian Army assisted Bangladeshi Forces, negotiated a ceasefire and remained in Bangladesh to secure peace, until 19 March 1972. The Awami League came to power with Mujib as the first Prime Minister. The parliamentary election was held in 1973. The Awami League gained an absolute majority. But on 15 August 1975, the mid-level military officers staged a coup and assassinated Mujib and most of his family members (two daughters were out of the country).
Vice President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was sworn in as President. Thereafter the country experienced two army coups on 3 November and 7 November 1975. A state of emergency was declared to restore law and order, In 1977 General Ziaur Rahman took over the presidency. In 1978 he founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which elevated the role of Islam in the State. Zia’s rule ended when he was assassinated in 1981 in a military coup.
Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Mujib, returned to the country in 1981 and became the head of the Awami League. In the meantime, General Ershad gained power in a military coup on 24 March 1982, and ruled until 6 December 1990, Parliamentary democracy was reestablished in 1991. Begum Khaleda Zia became the first female Prime Minister in Bangladesh. In 1996 Awami League headed by Sheikh Hasina won the election. After its turn, BNP won again in 2001. And BNP resigned in October 2006. A caretaker government took over the charge. The Awami League headed by Sheikh Hasina won by two-thirds in the next election, and Hasina took oath on 6 January 2009.
Now Bangladesh is a unitary state with parliamentary democracy. The Constitution of the country was drafted in 1972, and it has so far undergone 15 amendments. The highest judicial body of the country is the Supreme Court. Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nation in 1974.
The country has been divided into 7 administrative divisions—Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Rangpur. Divisions are subdivided into districts (Zila). There are 64 Zilas, each further subdivided into Upazilas or thana. Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh.
One significant contribution to the development of the country has been widespread propagation of the microcredit system introduced by Md Yunus. And he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The population of Bangladesh as of census 2011 is 142.3 million.
Bangladesh now follows the secular government system in a democratic State. Bengali is the mother tongue and official language with English having its due importance.
Islam is the largest religion in Bangladesh. Muslims constitute 89.5% of the total population while Hindus constitute 9.6%. The literacy rate is still low as it is 61.3% at present. However, the country boasts of a rich Bengali literary heritage.
Kabadi is the national game, but cricket is the most popular sport in Bangladesh.