Street scene in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh

Social situation Growth not reaching everyone

In Bangladesh, around 160 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 (if one leaves aside the city states). Recent annual population growth has been 1.1 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. 

Despite this success, poverty reduction remains one of the Bangladesh government's primary tasks. On the current Human Development Index (HDI), Bangladesh ranks 135th out of 189 countries.

Basic services

There are still considerable gaps in the provision of basic services for the people of Bangladesh. 

For example, only 55 per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water supplies. Merely two-thirds 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 15 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

In its Vision 2021 strategy paper, the Bangladesh government has set an ambitious goal: Bangladesh is to reach the status of a "middle-income country" by 2021, the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. If this goal is to be achieved, a great many fundamental development constraints will still have to be overcome, however. Nevertheless, the World Bank already ranks Bangladesh as a "lower middle-income country", and has done since July 2015.

And in early 2018, Bangladesh qualified to leave the group defined by the United Nations as the "least developed countries" (LDCs). Should the positive trend in the country's economic and social development continue, Bangladesh will probably leave the LDC group of countries completely by 2024.