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Bangladesh

Bangladesh spent 15 years under military rule and, although democracy was restored in 1990, the political scene remains volatile. Most of the country is formed by the alluvial plain of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system - the largest delta in the world; water flow is second only to that of the Amazon. To the east of the delta lie the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Flooding is normal and life has adapted to take account of this. Occasionally, excessive flooding, as in 1988, 1998 and 2004, causes widespread destruction and loss of life.

Practical Information

Area: 147 570 km² (56 977 miles²)

Capital: Dhaka. Population: 11.6 million

Population: 152.6 million

Currency: Bangladesh Taka (BDT) = 100 paisa

Government: Republic. Gained independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Tipping: Most services expect a tip in hotels; give 10% for restaurant staff.

Time zone: GMT + 6

Languages: Bengali (Bangla)

Additional descriptions

Bangladesh: Social customs

In someone’s home it is acceptable to sit crossed-legged on cushions or the sofa. If a visitor wishes to bring a gift, money must not be given as it may cause offence. Religious customs should be respectedRead more by guests. There are severe penalties for possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. some drugs-related offences are punishable by death. For instance, women should not be specifically photographed unless it is certain that there will be no objection. Women should wear trousers or long skirts; revealing clothes should be avoided, particularly when visiting religious places. Dress is generally informal for men, though modesty must be maintained. Same-sex relations are illegal.Photography: In rural areas, people are becoming more used to tourists; however, permission should be requested before photographs are taken of individuals. Do not photograph military installations.

Bangladesh: Food and local specialties

There are plenty of good restaurants in Dhaka and main towns around the country. Western food can be found in most hotels and in some large restaurants. Things to know: Alcohol is expensive and strict Muslim customs severely limit availability and drinking times, although leading hotels have bars which will serve alcohol. The national specialties are: Curries such as korma, bhuna, masala gosht, kashmiri and tikka. Dishes are usually served with rice, naan or paratha (griddle-fried flat breads). Kebabs are widely available. Seafood and fresh-water fish are in natural abundance and smoked hilsa, fresh bhetki, chingri and prawns are definitely worth trying. Desserts tend to be sweet and milky, such as misti dhohi (sweetened yoghurt), zorda (sweet rice with nuts) and ros malai (round sweets floating in thick milk). Chai (milky sweet tea). Lassi (yoghurt drink). Coconut water. Read more Muslim customs severely limit availability and drinking times, although leading hotels have bars which will serve alcohol. The national specialties are: Curries such as korma, bhuna, masala gosht, kashmiri and tikka. Dishes are usually served with rice, naan or paratha (griddle-fried flat breads). Kebabs are widely available. Seafood and fresh-water fish are in natural abundance and smoked hilsa, fresh bhetki, chingri and prawns are definitely worth trying. Desserts tend to be sweet and milky, such as misti dhohi (sweetened yoghurt), zorda (sweet rice with nuts) and ros malai (round sweets floating in thick milk). Chai (milky sweet tea). Lassi (yoghurt drink). Coconut water.

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