Street scene in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh

Social situation Growth not reaching everyone

In Bangladesh, around 165 million people live on only 148,000 square kilometres of land – equivalent to about 40 per cent of the area of Germany. It is the world's most densely populated country. Recent annual population growth has been one per cent.


Between 2000 and 2016, the proportion of people living below the national poverty line was halved, from 48.9 per cent to 24.3 per cent (newer figures are not available). Despite this success, poverty reduction remains one of the Bangladesh government's primary tasks. On the current Human Development Index (HDI), Bangladesh ranks 129th out of 191 countries. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has undone this progress.

Basic services

There are still considerable gaps in the provision of basic services for the people of Bangladesh. For example, only 58.5 per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water supplies. Merely a little more than 75 per cent of pregnant women receive medical care, and only about half of all babies born are delivered by medically trained personnel. About a quarter of adults are unable to read or write, and only about 13 per cent of the population use the internet.

Situation of women

Women in Bangladesh still face many instances of discrimination. There are very few women in politics or business, in particular in rural areas. Domestic violence against women is widespread, and the country's legislation on marriage, separation and divorce places women at a legal disadvantage. Moreover, Bangladesh is one of the countries with the highest incidence of child marriages. Two out of three girls are under the age of 18 when they get married.

Ambitious development goals

The Bangladesh government has achieved its goal from the country’s Vision 2021 strategy paper: In 2021, in the country’s 50th year of independence and following the third successful round of review by the United Nations, the graduation of Bangladesh from the group of least developed countries (LDCs) was confirmed. The World Bank has now classified the country as a lower-middle-income economy. The government is aiming to achieve higher middle-income country status by 2031. If this goal is to be achieved, a great many fundamental development constraints will still have to be overcome, however.