Country Listing

Bangladesh Table of Contents


Government and Politics

Government: Presidential form of government with popularly elected president and appointed prime minister. 1972 Constitution amended numerous times to reflect new political realities. Unicameral Parliament (known as Jatiyo Sangsad, or House of the People) with 300 members. Elections held in March 1988.

Politics: Authoritarian or military regimes have run Bangladesh almost since its inception. Regime in power traditionally controls government and Parliament through single national political party: under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1972-75), the Awami League (People's League); under Ziaur Rahman (1977-81), the Bangladesh Nationalist Party; and under Hussain Muhammad Ershad (since 1982), the Jatiyo Party (National Party). Numerous opposition parties joined periodically in fractious alliances against party in power. In 1988 most important were Awami League, centrist Bangladesh Nationalist Party, leftist Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (National Socialist Party), and conservative, pro-Islamic Jamaat e Islami (Congregation of Islam). Student and workers' wings of these and other parties important players in national politics.

Justice: Supreme Court headed by chief justice. Two Supreme Court divisions: High Court Division with seven regional benches, and Appellate Division in Dhaka. Grass-roots judicial system at village level. British-style criminal codes, amended in Pakistan and Bangladesh eras.

Administrative Divisions: Divided into four administration divisions headed by commissioners. Divisions divided into twenty-one regions, further subdivided into sixty-four districts (zilas). Urban subdivisions in 1988 included four municipal corporations (Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, and Khulna--which corresponded to the four divisions in name), eightyseven municipalities (pourashavas), and thirty townships (thanas). Rural subdivisions included 460 subdistricts (upazilas) and 4,401 unions. Popularly elected representative councils (parishads) at various administrative levels except divisions and regions.

Foreign Affairs: Heavily dependent on massive infusions of foreign development aid, Bangladesh maintains neutral policy. Maintains friendly relations with United States, Soviet Union, and China; close relations with Muslim nations; and proper but watchful relations with neighboring India. Member of Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization, Asian Development Bank, Colombo Plan, Commonwealth of Nations, Customs Cooperation Council, Group of 77, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Olympic Committee, International Rice Council, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, INTERPOL, Islamic Development Bank, Nonaligned Movement, Organization of the Islamic Conference, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, United Nations and all its affiliated agencies, World Federation of Trade Unions, and World Tourism Organization.

Data as of September 1988