Pakistan and Bangladesh


  1. Regional Overview
  2. Pakistan
  3. Bangladesh
  4. Review Questions

Regional Overview

Common Past:  Pakistan and Bangladesh both have some of the same cultural heritage as India.  These two countries occupy parts of the major lowlands of southern Asia.  Also, the two countries share a dominance of Muslim beliefs.  Bangladesh and Pakistan were once a single country from 1947 until 1971, when a successful revolt in East Pakistan led to the formation of the separate country of Bangladesh. 

Differences:  The differences between Pakistan and Bangladesh outweigh their common features.  There are differences of physical environment-Pakistan is a country of arid lowlands and high mountains whereas Bangladesh is well watered and low-lying, apart from the small hilly eastern region inland of Chittagong.  In Pakistan, the management of scarce water resources is a major problem, while in Bangladesh, the annual problem of flooding is more significant.  The main differences are in the people and in the political evolution of the two countries since their1971 separation.  Bangladesh remained one of the world’s poorest countries while Pakistan built on its established base of agricultural and manufacturing products. 


Overview:  The country is roughly the size of Texas and Louisiana. Pakistan is bounded to the north and northeast by Afghanistan, India to the south, China to the southeast, and Iran to the northwest. Pakistan has four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, and Baluchistan.

Population:  Today Pakistan has a population of 146.5 million people and is growing rapidly, makes it one of the top ten populous countries in the world. Most of Pakistan's population is centered in the southern province of Punjab.  It is estimated that in the year 2025 the population will be about 275 million.  Pakistan lacks in an educated work force.  Its enrollment rates in primary and secondary education are only 30 percent, compared to 70 percent in India and over 80 percent in Indonesia and China.  Influence from the Muslim religion, feudal landlords, and poor government have kept the school population low.  Pakistan remains a largely rural country with 28 percent of the population living in cities.  Karachi is Pakistan's largest city with a population of over 10 million people and growing rapidly.  It is also Pakistan's major port and commercial center.  The Indus River which is the realm's evidence of oldest civilization, supplies Pakistan with most its water for irrigation. Most of the population is clustered around the Indus River. 

Physical Settings: The northern part of the country is covered with mountains. Mount Godwin Austen is located here, which is the second largest mountain in the world. The southwestern part of the country is mostly rocky, and the southeastern part of the country is a desert wasteland.

Climate: Overall, the weather is hot and humid. In some parts of the country, the temperature gets up to 45C or 107F. However, in the north, Pakistan also has places like Swaat and Mari that are tourist attractions due to the much cooler climates. Pakistan is also famous for its highest mountain peak (K2), which lies in northern Kashmiri mountains.

Culture: About 97% of Pakistani population is Muslim with 77% being Suni (the largest sect in Islam), and 20% being Shiite. Christians and Hindus make up the rest at 3% of the population. Urdu and English are the official languages of the country. The legal system is based on the English Common Law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Economic Development:  Pakistan is one of the world’s poorest countries.  Pakistan has adverse trade balances and depends on aid donations.  Pakistan’s higher output reflects its range of products from both agriculture and manufacturing.  In Pakistan, agriculture occupies about 60 percent of the labor force and its products account for 25 percent of the GDP.  Cotton is the main product of the country.  Other crops are wheat, rice, or sugarcane, and some farmers are beginning to look to more profitable crops, like fruit or vegetables.  One of Pakistan’s problems is that a lot of its best farmland is owned by small groups of wealthy people who treat it more like a source of political power rather than a source for greater productivity.  Pakistan has not developed other primary products.  The country has limited reserves of oil and natural gas.  Pakistan’s major chemical industry is built on deposits of gypsum, rock salt, and soda ash.  Fishing is also important on the coast but is not as well organized.  This country also has experience of manufacturing.  Textile manufacture is dominant, especially of cotton goods.  Other industries include food processing, chemicals, and car assembly. 

Regional Conflicts: The Jammu and Kashmir region has been the site of dispute for over half a century. The Kashmiri freedom fighters favor to join Pakistan while India has repeatedly oppressed their independence movement, which has cost both sides thousands of lives. Competition with India has turned Pakistan into a considerable military power in that region. In fact, Pakistan is one of the countries believed to have acquired nuclear technology. Both Pakistan and India have refused to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty because of fear of fear of each other.


Overview: Almost completely surrounded by India, Bangladesh with a population of 119.8 million people is the poorest country on the surface of the earth. Bangladesh is an independent country born in 1971 following a brief war with Pakistan. Its area is about the size of Wisconsin and the major cities are Dhaka (the capital) and Chittagong. In the early 1990s, Bangladesh was struck by a devastating hurricane (also called Cyclone in some parts of the world) that killed more than 300,000 people and swept most of the southeastern port of the city of Chittagong off the map. About 8 of the 10 most severe natural disasters, occurred in the 20th century, have struck this poor country. The reason that this country is so vulnerable to natural disasters is its location barely above the sea level. Poverty has not enabled Bangladesh to cope with the natural disasters. Inadequate escape routes and insufficient flood warning systems have made it harder for the people to escape the flooding.

Population: Today Bangladesh has a population of 125.7 million people and is estimated that in the year 2025 the population will be just over 200 million people.  Bangladesh has greater problems of feeding its growing population, an issue that stimulated it to institute effective family planning programs.  The shortage of jobs resulted in many laborers seeking jobs in the Persian Gulf countries and Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s.  Bangladesh is also a largely rural country with only 14 percent living in cities.

Physical Settings: Bangladesh is a fairly flat country that lies just about sea level through out most of the country. There are a few forests in the eastern part of the country, which contain many tropical plants and trees. The land is formed by delta action and fertile soils immediately be used for agriculture.

Climate: The climate is tropical; it has cool and dry winter while in summer it is hot and humid. Overpopulation has caused people to live on arable flood-prone land due to the heavy amount of rainfall that occurs during the year, as well as, the threat of monsoons wiping out the land.

Culture: Like Pakistan, Bangladesh is largely a Muslim dominated country. About 83% of the population is Muslim. The other 16% of the population is Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist among others. 98% of the people speak Bengali (The native language). English and Bengal are the official languages. The legal system is based on the British Common Law. The country is not as prosperous as Pakistan.

Economic Development:  Bangladesh is also one of the world’s poorest countries.  In Bangladesh, almost three-fourths of the labor force is engaged in farming, and their products make up 40 percent of the GDP and a third of the value of all exports.  Bangladesh grows over half of the jute that goes throughout the world trade, as well as rice, tea, and sugarcane.  Manufacturing has low significance in Bangladesh, although there are signs that it will grow.  The slow growth of agricultural production, 2 to 3 percent per year, cannot support the rapidly growing population.  Manufacturing also needs to rise above the current 7 percent increase per year.

Review Questions

1. The major river in Pakistan is the: A. Indus, B. Ganges, C. Brahmaputra, D. Tigris, E. Irrawaddy

2. Pakistan is: A. an Islamic Republic, B. a most arid country, C. different in many ways from its former federal partner East Pakistan, E. characterized by all of the above.

3. The most populated city in Pakistan is A. Lahor, B. Karachi, C. Islamabad, D. Peshawar

4. Bangladesh came into existence: A. following a war of independence against India, B. when British India was partitioned in 1947, C. as a refuge for Hindus, D. following a war of independence against Pakistan, E. out of the former Indian state of West Bengal

5. What is the main religion of Bangladesh?  A. Christian, B. Hindu, C. Muslim, D. Buddhist

6. The second largest South Asian country in population: A. India, B. Pakistan, C. Sri Lanka, D. Bangladesh, E. Nepal

7. Which of the following is not true of Bangladesh: A. the country is essentially a deltaic plain of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river, B. achieved independence from Pakistan in 1971, C. floods have ravaged the country killing over 300,000 people, D. the population of the country is mostly urban, E. 80% of the population is still malnourished although the country is approaching self-sufficiency in food supply.

8. Which of the following is not true of Pakistan: A. the country is well endowed with resources including oil, natural gas and iron, B. most of the agriculture is based on irrigation along the Indus river, C. has a variety of industry, including textiles, chemicals, automobiles and steel, D. moved its capital from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad, a forward capital.

Submitted by Halim Hassani November 26, 1996. Re-submitted by Fred Rieser on June 6, 1997. Re-submitted by Melissa Rowland on November 10, 1999.