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Official Name - People's Republic of Bangladesh
Land Area - 147,570 sq km
Population - 164 million (2010 estimate, EIU)
Capital City - Dhaka
Religion - State religion is Islam (89.7%). Significant Hindu minority (9.2%) and other religious minorities including Buddhists and Christians.
Languages - Bangla (or Bengali); Hindi and Urdu are minority languages, English is also used.
Currency - Taka
Exchange Rate - US$1 = Tk 74(Average 2011)
Political system - Parliamentary democracy
National government - Awami League (elected December 2008)
National legislature - Unicameral legislature, 300 members directly elected from territorial constituencies for a five-year term.
Last election - 29 December 2008
Next election due - 2014
Head of State - President Abdul Hamid
Head of Government - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Agriculture - Motia Chowdhury
Civil aviation & tourism - G M Quader
Commerce - Faruq Khan
Communication - Syed Abdul Hossain
Education - Nurul Islam Nahid
Finance - Abdul Maal Abdul Muhith
Fisheries and livestock - Abdul Latif Biswash
Food and disaster management - Abdur Razzak
Foreign affairs - Dipu Moni
Home affairs - Sahara Khatun
Industries - Dilip Barua
Labour and employment - Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain
Law, justice and parliamentary affairs - Shafique Ahmed
Local government and rural development - Syed Ashraful Islam
Planning - A K Khandaker
Shipping and inland water transport - Afsarul Amin
Textile and jute industry - Abdul Latif Siddiqui
Water resources - Ramesh Chandra Sen
Key Opposition MPs - Khaleda Zia (former Prime Minister)
Main Political Parties - Awami League (secular), Bangladesh National Party (conservative)
GDP**- US$108.1 billion (2011 actual, EIU)
GDP Per Capita** - US$659 (2011 actual, EIU)
Real GDP Growth** - 6.7% (2011 actual, EIU)
Exports** - US$23.8 billion (2011 actual, EIU)
Imports ** - US$31.7 billion (2011 actual, EIU)
Main exports - readymade garments, fish and prawns, jute products, leather
Inflation - 10.7% (2011 average, EIU)
Gross external debt - US$25.2 billion (2011. EIU estimate)
Current-account balance - 4.5% (2011 actual, EIU)
NZ Exports (FOB) NZ$158.6 million (annual value, for year ended December 2011)
Main Exports Milk powder - NZ$142.8m (90.0%)
Electrical equipment - NZ$4.6m (2.9%)
Waste steel- NZ$3.2m (2.0%)
Pip fruit - NZ$2.2m (1.4%)
Confidential - NZ$1.7m (1.1%)
NZ Imports (CIF) NZ$36.6m (annual value, for year ended December 2011)
Main Imports Woven garments - NZ$24.5m (66.9%)
Woollen garments - NZ$7.6m (20.8%)
Jute products - NZ$2.5m (6.8%)
Hats - NZ$0.9m (2.5%)
Misc garment accessories – NZ$0.5m (1.4%) top of page
Bangladesh occupied the eastern half of the historical Bengal province during the British colonial period. Bangladesh formed the region of East Pakistan, part of the new nation of Pakistan, after the partition of Bengal in 1947. Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan in 1971 after a brief conflict. The period immediately after independence was characterised by political fragility and catastrophic natural disasters.
Economic progress has returned since the restoration of democracy in 1991. Bangladesh’s economy was traditionally based on agricultural products, especially jute and tea, although in recent years growth has been driven by its garment manufacturing industry.
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy on secular lines. The President occupies a largely ceremonial position with the government led by the Prime Minister. The present Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, led the Awami League to a landslide victory in the 2008 elections, winning 230 out of 300 seats in parliament. The opposition Bangladesh National Party is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Relations between New Zealand and Bangladesh remain friendly, although interaction is limited, and ministerial contact occurs largely in the Commonwealth and United Nations contexts. New Zealand and Bangladesh are cricketing nations and our teams play frequently at international events and tour each others’ countries. There is a small Bangladeshi community in New Zealand (1,491 in 2006 census).
New Zealand does not have a bilateral aid programme for Bangladesh, although Bangladesh receives some funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme through emergency and disaster relief, UN, and NGO channels. New Zealand assisted Bangladesh following Cyclone Sidr in 2007 by making a contribution to the World Food Programme’s emergency appeal. New Zealand-based NGOs operating in Banagladesh can apply for funding through the New Zealand Aid Programme’s Sustainable Development Fund. Some Bangladesh scholarship students study in New Zealand through the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme administered by the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The New Zealand Government is represented to Bangladesh from the High Commission in New Delhi. Bangladesh is represented to New Zealand from its High Commission in Canberra.
Trade between New Zealand and Bangladesh is NZ$195 million in the year to December 2011 and the trade balance is largely in New Zealand’s favour. Bangladesh benefits from New Zealand’s policy to extend duty free access to the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).
New Zealand’s merchandise exports to Bangladesh are undergoing healthy growth and now total NZ$158 million (from NZ$43 million in 2008). Dairy products (mainly milk powder) are New Zealand’s principal export item to Bangladesh. Other opportunities exist in the energy and telecommunications sectors. Bangladesh merchandise exports to New Zealand total NZ$36 million, mainly comprising of garments.
High level political contacts are infrequent, and ministerial contact occurs largely in the Commonwealth and United Nations contexts.
The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Bangladesh [external link].