Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with some 162 million people living in an area two thirds the size of the United Kingdom or about the size of New York State.  Less than one third of its population live in cities while the majority live in rural areas relying on a predominantly subsistence lifestyle.  GDP per capita is around US$1,700 (ppp) per annum compared with a world average of US$10,500.  Less than half the population have access to electricity.

  Bangladesh UK
Population 162m 63m
GDP/Capita $1700 $35,100
Economic Growth 6% 1.6%
Access to electricity 47% 100%
Source: Ministry of Finance 2010, CIA Factbook 2010, 2011

Bangladesh is a country of enormous potential.  It has the eighth largest work force in the world and is included in the “Next Eleven” countries that, after the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), were identified by Goldman Sachs as having the potential to become the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.  It has enjoyed more than 6% economic growth in real terms over the last five years as well as substantial improvements in measures of human development.  For example, between 1980 and 2006 life expectancy has improved from 48 years to 63 years and literacy rates have improved from 29% to 53%.