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simply means "country of Bengal." The word Bengal, or Bangla, though has
an unknown origin. It may come from the name of a historic tribe of people that
lived in the region nearly 3,000 years ago. Others say the name refers to Bonga,
a sun god, or is named after Bong, a man who supposedly colonized the region for
the first time years ago.
Bangladesh is one of the world's lowest lying countries and during rainy season
it seems the entire country is a swamp covered with rickshaws and people who don't
even seem to notice the rising water levels or the mud. In fact, nearly the entire
country encompasses the delta of the Ganges River and hence the land is wet and
the animal life is plentiful. This location and the fertile lands have made this
an ideal location for settlement for millennia and even today the people remain
reliant on the lands and seas.
In this tropical climate, the people of Bangladesh have easy access to water and
food as crops are easy to grow and animals provide other food sources. Rice and
seafood seemed to have dominated the food in the past and even today many people
make a living by growing or catching food for the dinner table. However, with the
introduction of Islam the diet has changed to a degree as has the lifestyle. This
religion brought in new ideas and a new lifestyle, while changing how people interact
socially, dress, and behave; things that still exist today to some degree. Although
most people in Bangladesh are Muslim, the form of Islam practiced in Bangladesh
is fairly liberal compared to that of many Middle Eastern countries.
Although the lands and Islam have made the most impact on the core of the Bangladeshi
culture, modern technology and communication are rapidly changing this small country.
Many people have occupations that are reliant on technology as the British brought
the Industrial Revolution to the country in full force in the 1800s and Bangladesh
became a leading recipient in these new technologies as British India's capital
was in nearby Calcutta (West Bengal). This led to a more industrialized society
and a huge influx of jobs, which helped the population grow dramatically as urbanization
made nearly the entire country a suburb of Dhaka.
Today the country may seem over-crowded to a foreigner as people are coming and
going in every direction at nearly all times of day. The country continues to grow
both in population numbers as well as in economic success as the country is now
building up as Dhaka has an ever-changing skyline. This is constantly changing the
country's culture, however the root of the culture remains in the Ganges River
delta, Islam, and the traditional foods and dresses, which can still be seen today.
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