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Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), one of the world's most densely-populated countries, occupies low-lying Ganges and Brahmaputra river deltas which drain the Himalayas.

Each monsoon season, large areas of Bangladesh flood, often with disastrous consequences for thousands or even millions of already impoverished people, and hampering badly-needed economic development.                           

Bangladesh is densely populated and flood prone

If current predictions of climate change prove accurate, a large proportion of Bangladesh is at risk of being permanently inundated by water, displacing many millions of people. 

While almost half the population live on less than $1 per day, the government has recently brought in measures to lower the birth rate and raise educational standards.  Yet Bangladesh also struggles with corruption and poor infrastructure, both of which are further hindrances to economic growth. 

Outside of Dhaka, most Bangladeshis are still reliant on agriculture, notably rice crops. Many move to other countries to find work. The worldwide population of Bengalis is thought to exceed 200 million.

Traditionally moderate and tolerant, Bangladesh has in recent years experienced increasing numbers of incidents of both political tensions spilling over into violence, and of religious extremism, with some militant Islamist groups being banned by the government.                 

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Bangladesh map

Area (size): 55,600 square miles  (a little over two-thirds size of UK) Capital city: Dhaka

Population: 160 million, of whom Bengali 98%. Languages: Bangla (or Bengali) - official; also English

Religion: Muslim (over 85%); Hindu. Small Christian minority

Christians in Bangladesh

While officially there is religious freedom in Bangladesh, in reality Christians - as well as Hindus, Buddhists and other minority faiths - have faced increasing levels of Islamist pressure and even persecution.

Yet among ordinary people there is often an openness to the gospel, perhaps resulting from disillusionment with life's hardships. For example, many tribal peoples who follow 'folk' Islam fear their way of life is threatened by the spread of the country's huge populace. Pray for local believers working among these communities.  

Overall, the Christian church in Bangladesh - though small - is represented by many denominations, and has grown more quickly than the country's population growth rate.