Bangladesh IS situated in the northeastern portion of the Indian subcontinent on the Bay of Bengal. It borders India on the west, north, and south and Myanmar on the southeast. The area of Bangladesh is 56,977 sq. mi. (147,579 sq. km.). It is a low-lying country, with numerous rivers situated principally on the large delta formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, and scattered hills on the northern and eastern borders.
Approximately 10 percent of Bangladesh is still forested with teak, banyan, and kapok, and forests in the tidal zone along the coast include mangroves and sometimes hardwood. Mangroves blunted the destructive power of a cyclone and tidal wave that hit Bangladesh in 1991. Mangroves are able to grow in salt water, but depend on nutrients from silt from inland rivers, and have the ability to adapt to changing conditions (including salinity and rough waves). The extended roots stabilize coasts, preventing erosion.
The climate of Bangladesh is humid and tropical, with warm temperatures throughout the year. The average annual temperature is about 77 degrees F (25 degrees C). Rainfall is heavy, ranging from 55 in. (140 cm.) around the central eastern border to more than 200 in. (508 cm.) in the northeast annually. The majority of annual precipitation falls during the monsoon season, accompanied by flooding from June to October, and by cyclones with accompanying storm surge waves from April to May and September to November.
Bangladesh supports more than 143 million people, and the population is expected to double by 2050. The staple food and chief crop is rice. Other important crops include jute, tea, sugarcane, and cotton.
The principal energy resource, natural gas, is found in several small fields in the northeast. There is a coalfield in the northwest, and large peat beds underlie most of the delta. Electricity is generated in thermal plants burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, or petroleum) and hydroelectric facilities.
Bangladesh already faces complex environmental problems, including air, water, and soil pollution, and the overuse of natural resources, which causes deforestation, desertification, and energy and water shortages. Three percent of households lack access to improved water supply and 52 percent lack improved sanitation. The impacts of global warming could exacerbate already stressed conditions in some areas as the increasing population and scarcity of land drive occupation of marginal forest lands and temporary river islands. Agricultural practices including overuse of farmland and chemical pesticides have resulted in soil damage and contamination of water sources.
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