Fertile and particularly rich in waterways, the Bengali plain is affected by agricultural exploitation and only a small part still hosts woods or forests: the eastern area is characterized by the presence of bamboo, exploited in the paper industry; the central marshy areas host deciduous essences (Madhpur jungle); to the S, in the Sundarbans, is the mangrove forest, one of the largest in the world, which UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. In Bangladesh it is possible to find animals such as tigers, leopards, Asian elephants, monkeys, gibbons, lemurs, turtles, crocodiles and numerous species of fish and birds, including the sad starling, kingfisher and vulture. The greatest environmental risks are related to water pollution, especially due to pesticides used in agriculture and arsenic naturally present in the soil, in addition to deforestation and land use. Protected areas make up 1.8% of the territory and governments have made constant efforts, since the 1970s, to protect the country’s biodiversity. There are 9 national parks, 7 wildlife oases as well as a hunting reserve and other protected areas for various reasons. Visit behealthybytomorrow.com for Asia flora and fauna.
Despite the marked growth in GDP (over 6% in 2006) and the reduction of the imbalance in the trade balance, Bangladesh is still in conditions of extreme poverty, and relies largely on international aid and emigrant remittances. In fact, the GDP amounts to 94,507 million US $ and allows a per capita value of just US $ 574 (2009), among the lowest in all of Asia. Two thirds of the active population are employed in agriculture, and the country’s resources are predominantly agricultural, both those directly destined for food (rice), and those processed by the textile industry (cotton, jute), sugar and tobacco. Agricultural production, however, disadvantaged by the irregularity of rainfall and the fragmentation of properties, is unable to satisfy domestic demand, and Bangladesh, as mentioned, must systematically resort to international support. The attempts, still in progress, to implement productive reforms, with the adoption of high-yield rice varieties or with the implementation of water regulation interventions (to improve irrigation and to prevent recurring very severe floods) have hinted at some growth in production but have also led to controversial results. On the one hand, the varieties of rice adopted appear to resist less well than those traditionally cultivated, and require fertilizers and pesticides in such quantities as to cause serious phenomena of water pollution (with repercussions on the human population and on the river fish, a very important food source); on the other hand, canalization interventions and dams were not always able to counteract the most massive floods and, on the contrary, the effects of recent floods appeared even more serious than in the past, probably due to the regimentation of the waterways. Livestock farming is widespread, in particular that of birds, goats and cattle, the latter mostly used in field work. In 2007, the country was faced with the problem of avian flu which hit chicken and duck farms hard. The increase in fishing is also significant, especially in inland waters. However, most of the catch is sold dried and salted. The role of industry continues to remain very modest, essentially based on the processing of agricultural products (weaving mills, sugar factories, tobacco factories) and forestry (paper mills), to which are added some chemical, engineering, rubber, cement and glass complexes. etc. The manufacturing activities have achieved, in recent years, a notable development, especially in the textile sector, of clothing and leather, largely export-oriented thanks to the process of production relocation implemented by the European and American industrialized countries. There are numerous artisan factories, present almost everywhere in the country: Dacca is one of the centers of hand weaving of cotton and silk, but the traditional product is the muslin, which for centuries has made the city famous. On the contrary, the production of fertilizers, food and metalworking is destined for the internal market. Alongside the modest traditional mineral resources, coal and oil, natural gas fields have recently been identified, which have gradually come into production. However, the electricity produced is not sufficient for the needs of the country. The service sector is the one that has recorded the most consistent growth: almost half of the GDP comes from it, even if it only occupies a small part of the workforce. In the 1970s, the Bengali Nobel laureate banker and economist Muhammad Yunus developed the idea of micro-credit, financing the entrepreneurial initiative of small groups of poor women, a model now exported to many other countries. Foreign trade has increased considerably, also thanks to the strengthened economic ties with neighboring states. The main items of exports concern mainly clothing and accessories, knitted fabrics, raw and processed jute, fish, while machinery, minerals and metals, vehicles, fabrics, chemicals are imported. The European Union is the main recipient of exports, while the countries from which most of the imports come from are China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. Communications refer to the ports of Chittagong, Chalna and Mongla and the airports of Dacca / Zia and Chittagong.