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National Capital Metropolis
Dhaka Metropolitan Area
Top: Dhaka Skyline; middle left: Ahsan Manzil; Curzon Hall; bottom left: Lalbag Kella; bottom right: Bangladesh Bank; middle right: Baitul Mukaram
Top: Dhaka Skyline; middle left: Ahsan Manzil; Curzon Hall; bottom left: Lalbag Kella; bottom right: Bangladesh Bank; middle right: Baitul Mukaram
Greater Dhaka administrative area in Bangladesh
Greater Dhaka administrative area in Bangladesh
Country  Bangladesh
Division Dhaka Division
District Dhaka District
Establishment 1608 CE
Granted city status 1947
 • National Capital Metropolis 815.8 km2 (315.0 sq mi)
 • Land 1,463.6 km2 (565.1 sq mi)
 • Water 48.56 km2 (18.75 sq mi)
Elevation[1] 4 m (13.12 ft)
Population (2013)[2]
 • National Capital Metropolis 14,399,000
 • Density 45,000/km2 (115,200/sq mi)
 • Metro 7,000,940 (2,008)
 • Demonym[3] Dhakaiya
 • Literacy rate 95.7%
Time zone BST (UTC+6)
Postal code 1000, 1100, 12xx, 13xx
National calling code +880
Calling code 02
GDP PPP (2014) $217 billion[4]
ISO 3166-2 BD-13
Website Dhaka North City Corporation
Dhaka South City Corporation

Dhaka (Bengali: ঢাকা, pronounced: ; English , ; formerly spelled as Dacca[5]) is the capital city of Bangladesh. It is the principal city of Dhaka Division and Dhaka District. Dhaka is the most populous city in Bangladesh and the tenth-largest city in the world, with a metropolitan area of 12 million inhabitants. It is the centre of the Greater Dhaka conurbation. Standing on the east bank of the Buriganga River, Dhaka is the political, economic and cultural heart of Bangladesh. It is one of the major cities of South Asia.[6] Historically known as the City of Mosques, it is also nicknamed as the Rickshaw Capital of the World, with its daily traffic of over 500,000 cycle rickshaws.[7][8][9]

Under Mughal rule in the 17th century, the city was known as Jahangir Nagar (named after the erstwhile emperor Jahangir). It was the capital of Mughal Bengal and a centre of the worldwide muslin trade. The modern city, however, developed chiefly under British rule in the 19th-century. Between 1905 and 1911, it served as the capital of the short lived British province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. With the Partition of British India in 1947, the city became the administrative capital of East Pakistan, and in 1971, the capital of an independent Bangladesh.[10][11][12][13]

Dhaka plays a central role in the Bangladeshi economy, alongside the port city of Chittagong. The city constitutes the political, cultural and scientific heart of the nation. It is home to acclaimed national landmarks, including the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, the University of Dhaka, the Liberation War Museum, the National Museum, the Shaheed Minar and the Lalbagh Fort.[14]

In recent decades, Dhaka has been experiencing an influx of people from across the nation, making it one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. The city has been attracting greater volumes of foreign investment and trade; and has been witnessing the modernization of transport and communications, with the Dhaka Metro and the Dhaka Elevated Expressway under construction. However, the city continues to face substantial challenges of congestion, poverty, overpopulation and pollution.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Early history 2.1
    • 20th century 2.2
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
    • Parks and lakes 3.2
  • Government 4
    • Civic administration 4.1
    • Capital city 4.2
  • Water management 5
  • Economy 6
  • Demographics 7
  • Culture 8
  • Education 9
  • Sports 10
  • Transport 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


The origins of the name for Dhaka are uncertain. Once dhak tree was very common in the area and the name may have originated from it. Alternatively, this name may refer to the hidden goddess Dhakeshwari, whose shrine is located in the south-western part of the city.[15] Another popular theory states that Dhaka refers to a membranophone instrument, dhak which was played by order of Subahdar Islam Khan I during the inaugurating of the Bengal capital in 1610.[16] Some references also say that it was derived from a Prakrit dialect called Dhaka Bhasa; or Dhakka, used in the Rajtarangini for a watch-station; or it is the same as Davaka, mentioned in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta as an eastern frontier kingdom.[17]


Early history

The Lalbagh Fort, built during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century
Francesco Renaldi's Muslim Woman, Dhaka, 1789

The existence of urban settlements in the area of modern Dhaka can be traced back to as early as the 1st century.[15] This small locality was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Kamarupa and the Pala Empire before passing the control over to the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 9th century.[18] The name of the city may have derived after the establishment of the Goddess Dhakeshwari's temple by Ballal Sena in the 12th century.[19] The town itself consisted of a few market centres like Lakshmi Bazar, Shankhari Bazar, Tanti Bazar, Patuatuli, Kumartuli, Bania Nagar and Goal Nagar. After the fall of the Sena Empire, Dhaka was successively ruled by the Sultanate of Bengal as well as interruption of governors from the Delhi Sultanate.

The Ahsan Manzil was once the palace the Dhaka Nawab Family; it is now a museum
The Dhaka riverfront in 1861

In 1576, much of Bengal came under the control of the Mughal Empire. At the time, Dhaka emerged as Mughal military base, prior to this, Chittagong was the leading city of Bengal.[20] The development of townships and housing had resulted into a significant growth in population, as the town was proclaimed the capital (Rajmahal) of Bengal under Mughal rule in 1608, during this time many mosques, forts and universities had been built and Muslims were excused from paying taxes, this allowed many Muslims from surrounding areas to swell up the town transforming it into a city, it was at this time Dhaka was known as a city rather than a town or Fort.[21][22][23] Mughal documents record subahdar Islam Khan as the first administrator of the city.[24] Islam Khan named the city "Jahangir Nagar" (شهر از جهانگیر; City of Jahangir) in honour of Emperor Jahangir, although this name was dropped soon after Jahangir's death. A major expansion of the city took place under the direction of a general Shaista Khan on orders from the Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.[22][23] The city then measured 19 by 13 kilometres (12 by 8 mi), with a population of nearly one million people and over a 100 universities and hundreds of mosques.[25] The British East India Company in 1765 gained the right to collect revenue (Diwani right) on behalf of the Mughal emperor. East India company became the imperial tax collector. As company's influence grew, East India Company later took on governing in 1793 when the Nawabs of Bengal were forced to relinquish all their authority over Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, and the city passed on to total control of East India company. The city's population shrank dramatically during this period as the prominence of Calcutta rose,[26] but substantive development and modernisation eventually followed. A modern civic water supply system was introduced in 1874 and electricity supply launched in 1878.[27][28] The Dhaka Cantonment was established near the city, serving as a base for British and Bengali soldiers.[23]

20th century

During the abortive Partition of Bengal in 1905, Dhaka was declared to be the capital of the newly established state of East Bengal and Assam, but Bengal was reunited in 1911.[21][22][23] Following the Partition of India in 1947, Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan. The city witnessed major communal violence following the partition of India.[23] A large proportion of the city's Hindu population departed for India, while the city received a large influx of Muslims. As the centre of regional politics, however, Dhaka saw an increasing number of political strikes and incidents of violence.[23] The adoption of Urdu as the sole official language of Pakistan led to protest marches involving large crowds. Known as the Bengali Language Movement, the protests resulted in Pakistani police firing which killed a number of peaceful student demonstrators.[29] Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Dhaka remained a hotbed of political activity, and the demands for autonomy for the Bengali population. And this population gradually gained momentum.[30]

The 1970 Bhola cyclone devastated much of the region, killed an estimated 500,000 people. The arrest of the Bengali liberation politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would also then spark powerful intensive political riots protests and violence against the military dictatorship regime of Pakistani Army officer Ayub Khan.[31] More than half the city was flooded and millions of people were marooned.[32] With public anger growing against ethnic discrimination and poor cyclone relief efforts from the central government, Bengali politician Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman held a nationalist gathering on 7 March 1971 at Ramna Racecourse.[23][29] An estimated one million people attended the gathering, leading to the 26 March declaration of Bangladesh's independence.[29]

The bodies of Bengali intellectuals killed during the 1971 genocide by the Pakistan Army and its allied militias from the Jamaat

In response, the

  • Official Dhaka City Corporation website
  • Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Dhaka
  • Banglapedia (the national encyclopedia of Bangladesh) article on Dhaka

Dhaka travel guide from Wikivoyage

External links

  • Iftikhar-ul-Awwal (edited) (2003) Photographic Album of Old Dhaka' (Ālokacitre sekālera Ḍhākā / আলোকচিত্রে সেকালের ঢাকা), 1st Edition (2003), Bangladesh National Museum: Dhaka, Pages: 132, ISBN 9845850065
  • Iftikhar-ul-Awwal (edited) (2003) ঐতিহাসিক ঢাকা মহানগরী: বিবর্তন ও সম্ভাবনা (Aitihāsika Ḍhākā mahānagarī, bibartana o sambhābanā), Translated title: 'The Historical City of Dhaka: Evolution and Prospects', 1st Edition (2003), Bangladesh National Museum: Dhaka, Pages:606, ISBN 9845850049
  • Sharuf Uddin Ahmed, ed. (1991). Dhaka -past present future. The Asiatic Society, Dhaka.  
  • Karim, Abdul (1992). History of Bengal, Mughal Period (I). Rajshahi. 
  • Pryer, Jane (2003). Poverty and Vulnerability in Dhaka Slums: The Urban Livelihood Study. Ashgate Publishing.  
  • Rabbani, Golam (1997). Dhaka, from Mughal outpost to metropolis. University Press, Dhaka.  
  • Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1948). History of Bengal (II). Dhaka. 
  • Taifoor, S.M. (1956). Glimpses of Old Dacca. Dhaka. 

Further reading

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  6. ^ World Bank (30 July 2010). Country Assistance Strategy for the People's Republic of Bangladesh for the Period FY11-14, page 4.
  7. ^ "Statistical Pocket Book, 2008" (PDF). Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Lawson, Alastair (5 October 2002). "Dhaka's beleaguered rickshaw wallahs". BBC News. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  9. ^ "everything about our city". Dhaka City. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Md Mashrur Rahman Mishu . (7 August 2010). "Historic Dhaka city: Past glory and present crisis". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Shay, Christopher (15 August 2011). "Travel - Saving Dhaka’s heritage: History, Bangladesh". BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "The World's Fastest-Growing Megacities". Forbes. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Danger in Dhaka, the fastest-growing city". BBC News. 7 July 2010. 
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  20. ^ Taru Bahl & M.H. Syed (2003). Encyclopaedia of the Muslim World. Anmol Publications PVT. p. 55.  
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  22. ^ a b c d Chowdhury, A.M. (23 April 2007). "Dhaka". Banglapedia. Retrieved 23 April 2007. 
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  24. ^ Francis Bradley Bradley-Birt (1906). The Romance of an Eastern Capital. Smith, Elder, & Co. p. 264.  
  25. ^ M. Atiqullah and F. Karim Khan (1965). Growth of Dacca City: Population and Area (1608–1981). Social Science Research Project, University of Dacca Press. p. 6. 
  26. ^ M. Atiqullah and F. Karim Khan (1965). Growth of Dacca City: Population and Area (1608–1981). Social Science Research Project, University of Dacca Press. p. 7. With the growth of Calcutta (founded by Job Charnock in 1690), the business centres started moving to Calcutta followed by flight of capital and labour force from Dacca. By 1800, Calcutta became a city of 500 thousands, (Ghosh, 1950 pp 53–54) and Dacca declined to 200 thousands, the population of 160 years before. 
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  41. ^ Hough, Michael (2004). Cities and natural process. Routledge. pp. 64–65.  
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  54. ^ Lawson, Alistair (30 October 2002). "Dhaka 'winning' waste disposal battle". BBC News. 
  55. ^ a b c Taqsem Khan:The performance challenges of Dhaka WASA, in Global Water Intelligence:Focusing on performance, Global Water Summit 2011, p. 50-52.
  56. ^ The Daily Star (26 April 2011). "Wasa awarded for improved management". Dhaka. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  57. ^ Azharul Haq, Khondaker (June 2006). "Water Management in Dhaka". Water Resources Development 22 (2): 291–311.  , p. 296
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See also

The Dhaka Metro feasibility study has been completed. A 21.5 kilometer, $1.7 Billion Phase 1, metro route is being negotiated by the Government with Japan International Cooperation Agency. The first route will start from Pallabi, northern suburb of Dhaka to Sayedabad, southern section of Dhaka.[121]

An elevated expressway system is under construction.[119] The Dhaka Elevated Expressway would run from Shahjalal International Airport-Kuril-Banani-Mohakhali-Tejgaon-Saatrasta-Moghbazar Rail Crossing-Khilgaon-Kamalapur-Golapbagh to Dhaka-Chittagong Highway at Kutubkhali Point. A longer second elevated expressway from Airport-Ashulia is currently undergoing feasibility study.[120]

The Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, located 15 km north of Dhaka city centre, is the largest and busiest airport in the nation.[116] It handles 52% of the country's arrivals and departures. Domestic service flies to Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Cox's Bazar, Jessore, Barisal, Saidpur and international services fly to major cities in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Western Europe.[117][118]

The Sadarghat Port on the banks of the Buriganga River serves for the transport of goods and passengers upriver and to other ports in Bangladesh.[115]

The Kamalapur Railway Station, the Airport (Biman Bandar) Railway Station, the Tejgaon Railway Station and the Cantonment Railway Station are the main railway stations providing trains on suburban and national routes operated by the state-run Bangladesh Railway.[113] Bangladesh Railway also runs a regular international train service between Dhaka and Kolkata. Since April 2013, Bangladesh Railway has been operating commuter rail services in suburban areas as well as to neighboring Narayanganj city using DEMU trains.[114]

As of 1986, Dhaka had 1,868 kilometres (1,161 mi) of paved roads.[111] The city is connected to the other parts of the country through highway and railway links. Highway links to the Indian cities of Kolkata and Agartala have been established by the BRTC which also runs regular bus services to those cities from Dhaka.[112]

Scooters, taxis and privately owned automobiles are rapidly becoming popular with the city's growing middle class. The government has overseen the replacement of two-stroke engine auto rickshaws with "Green auto-rickshaws" locally called CNG auto-rickshaw or Baby-taxi, which run on compressed natural gas.[109] Taxis plying in the Dhaka roads are of two types. Yellow taxis have slightly higher standards in terms of comfort but are more expensive. They are required to have air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Toyota Corollas. Blue and black taxis are cheaper and lack air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Maruti 800. As of April 2013, some 2,000-2,500 taxis of 11,260 registered ones were operating in the capital.[110] The Government decided to import 5,000 new taxis with the engine capacity of 1,500cc. The government also plans to raise the total number of taxis to 18,000 gradually.[110]

Dhaka is known as the rickshaw capital of the world.[104][105][106] Approximately 400,000 rickshaws run each day.[107] Cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws are the main mode of transport, with close to 400,000 rickshaws running each day – the largest number for any city in the world.[63][66] However, only about 85,000 rickshaws are licensed by the city government.[65][108] Relatively low-cost and non-polluting cycle rickshaws, nevertheless, cause traffic congestion and have been banned from many parts of the city. Public buses are operated by the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and by private companies and operators.

Steamers and ferries in Sadarghat Port


The Bangladesh Sports Control Board, responsible for promoting sports activities across the nation is based in Dhaka. Dhaka also has stadiums largely used for domestic events such as the Bangladesh Army Stadium, the Bir Sherestha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium, the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium and the Outer Stadium Ground.[102] The Dhaka University Ground and The BUET Sports Ground host many intercollegiate tournaments.[103] They are also used as practice ground by different football clubs and visiting foreign national football teams.

Dhaka has the distinction of having hosted the first official Test cricket match of the Pakistan cricket team in 1954 against India.[98] The Bangabandhu National Stadium was formerly the main venue for domestic and international cricket matches, but now exclusively hosts football matches.[98] It was used during Pakistan colonial era for Test matches when no Bengalis were selected in team and a matting pitch was used. It was the host for the opening ceremony[99] of the 2011 Cricket World Cup while the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium hosted 6 matches of the tournament including two quarter-final matches.[100] Dhaka also hosted South Asian Games for three times in 1985, 1993 and 2010. Dhaka is the first city to hold the games three times. The Bangabandhu National Stadium was the main venue for all three editions.[101] Dhaka also hosted ICC World Twenty20, along with Chittagong and Sylhet, held in 2014.

Cricket and football are the two most popular sports in Dhaka and across the nation.[96] Teams are fielded in intra-city and national competitions by a large number of schools, colleges and private entities. The Mohammedan Sports Club and Abahani are two of the most famous football and cricket teams, maintaining a fierce rivalry, specially in Bangladesh Premier League (football).[97] Dhaka Metropolis cricket team represents Dhaka city in National Cricket League, a region based domestic first-class cricket competition in Bangladesh. In domestic Twenty20 cricket, Dhaka has a Bangladesh Premier League franchise known as Dhaka Gladiators.


The British Council plays an important role helping students to achieve GCSE and A Level qualifications from examination boards in the United Kingdom. This is in addition to holding several examinations for professional bodies in the United Kingdom, including the UK medical Royal Colleges and Accountancy. Dhaka University Result

Alongside public institutes of higher education there are some forty-five private universities in Dhaka. Notable private universities include East West University, North South University, American International University – Bangladesh, BRAC University and Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (see:List of universities in Bangladesh), most of which are located in Mohakhali, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Bashundhara, Uttara and Dhanmondi areas of the city.

There are 52 universities in Dhaka. The Dhaka College is the oldest institution of higher education in the city and amongst the earliest established in British India, founded in 1841. Since independence, Dhaka has seen the establishment of a large number of public and private colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as a variety of doctoral programmes.[89] The University of Dhaka is one of the largest public university[90] in the nation with more than 30,000 students and 1,300 faculty staff. It was established in 1921 being the first university in the region. The university has 23 research centres and 70 departments, faculties and institutes.[91] Eminent seats of higher education include Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University. Dhaka Medical College and Sir Salimullah Medical College are two famous medical colleges in the nation.[92][93] Protests and strikes, and violence amongst police, students and political groups frequently disrupt public university campuses.[94][95] There are 2 other renowned Government medical colleges,one is Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College & another Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka has the largest number of schools, colleges and universities of any Bangladeshi city. The education system is divided into 5 levels: Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Junior (from grades 6 to 8), Secondary (from grades 9 to 10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary.[88] The five years of Primary education concludes with a Primary Education Completion (PEC) Examination, the three years of Junior education concludes with Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination, and next two years of Secondary education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of Higher Secondary or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) Examination.[88] Education is mainly offered in Bengali, but English is also widely taught and used. A large number of Muslim families send their children to attend part-time courses or even to pursue full-time religious education alongside other subjects, which is imparted in Bengali and Arabic in schools, colleges and madrasas.[88]

Dhaka College was established in 1841.


Dhaka is home to the prestigious learned bodies of the Bangla Academy and the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Major museums include the Bangladesh National Museum, the Liberation War Museum, the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and the Ahsan Manzil Palace.The Ekushey Book Fair is held annually in February in honour of the Bengali Language Movement, and is the largest book fair and literary festival in the country. The Art Institute Dhaka, the National Performing Arts Academy, the Chayanat Sangeet Vidyatan, the Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh and the Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (World Literature Center) are based in Dhaka. The Drik Picture Library and the Pathshala Institute are also located in Dhaka. The Hay Literary Festival of Dhaka and the Bengal-ITC SRA Classical Music Festival are held annually every November. Dhaka has a vibrant contemporary art scene and hosts the annual Dhaka Art Summit. Prominent galleries include Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, the Dhaka Art Center, the Bengal Art Lounge, the National Art Gallery, Gallery 21, Gallery Chitrak, Gallery Jolrong and the Drik Gallery.[87] The Old City of Dhaka is home to over 2000 buildings built between the 16th and 19th centuries, which form an eclectic part of the architectural heritage of Dhaka.

Bangladesh Betar is the state-run primary provider of radio services, and broadcasts a variety of programming in Bangla and English. In recent years many private radio networks, especially FM radio services, have been established in the city such as Radio Foorti FM 88.0, Radio Today FM 89.6, Radio Amar FM 88.4 and ABC Radio FM 89.2. Bangladesh Television is the state-run broadcasting network that provides a wide variety of programmes in Bangla and English. Cable and satellite networks such as Ekushey Television, Channel I, ATN Bangla, RTV, NTV and Independent Television (Bangladesh) are amongst the most popular channels. The main offices of most publishing houses in Bangladesh are based in Dhaka. Dhaka is home to the largest Bangladeshi newspapers, including the leading Bengali dailies Prothom Alo, Ittefaq, Inqilab, Janakantha, Amar Desh and Jugantor. The leading English-languages newspapers include The Daily Star, Dhaka Tribune, The Independent and New Age. Major English weeklies and magazines include Weekly Holiday, The Star and Dhaka Courier. [86]

Bengali New Year celebrations in Ramna Park

Despite the growing popularity of music groups and rock bands, traditional folk music remains widely popular.[81] The works of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and national anthem writer Rabindranath Tagore have a widespread following across Dhaka.[82] The Baily Road area is known as Natak Para (Theatre Neighbourhood) which is the centre of Dhaka's thriving theatre movement.[83] Indian and Western music and films are popular with large segments of Dhaka's population.[84] This area is also credited for the revival of the Jamdani due to the many local saree stores selling and promoting these locally hand-made age old traditional Bengali sarees. Jamdanis are 100% hand weaved and originate from the Persian and Mughal era. Jamdanis are produced by a traditional high quality cottage industry, which is slowly dying out due to the slow production process. A single medium range Jamdani saree may take as long as 3 months to complete.[85]

Bengali sweets in a Dhaka confectionery

Pohela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year, falls annually on April 14 and is popularly celebrated across the city.[77] Large crowds of people gather on the streets of Shahbag, Ramna Park and the campus of the University of Dhaka for celebrations. The most popular dressing style for women are sarees or salwar kameez, while men usually prefer western clothing to the traditional lungi. The Muslim festivals of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Ramadan, Muharram, Mawlid and Shab-e-Barat; the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Krishna Janmashtami; the Buddhist festival of Buddha Purnima; and the Christian festival of Boro Din (Christmas); witness widespread celebrations across the city. For much of recent history, Dhaka was characterised by roadside markets and small shops that sold a wide variety of goods.[78] Recent years have seen the widespread construction of shopping malls, multiplexes, hotels and restaurants attracting Dhaka's growing middle class and wealthy residents.[79] Along with Bangladeshi cuisine and South Asian variants, a large variety of Western and Chinese cuisine is served at numerous restaurants and eateries.[63] Though restaurants offering multinational cuisine and fastfood chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, Nando's and A&W have opened up in the city, Dhaka's delicacies such as Biriani from Haji's and Fakhruddin, Dhaka Cheese, Star Kabab, Burhani and phuchka are highly popular. The city has numerous venerable Bengali confectionery chains, including Banoful, Alauddin, Bikrampur Mishti Bhandar and Rashmela. Dhakai Bakarkhani is the traditional food/snack of the people of old Dhaka. It is famous for its quality and taste and it was highly praised by the royal court of the Mughal Empire in Delhi.[80]

The Ekushey Book Fair is held annually in February on the historic grounds of the Bangla Academy

[77] As the most populous city of Bangladesh, Dhaka has a vibrant cultural life. Annual celebrations for

Jamdani is a traditional fabric of Dhaka


Islam is the dominant religion of the city, with 83% of the population being Muslim, and a majority belonging to the Sunni sect. There is also a small Shia sect, and an Ahmadiya community. Hinduism is the second-largest religion and compromises 16% of the population, and smaller segments practice Buddhism and Christianity, with both at 0.5% each. The city also has Ismaili, Sikh and Bahai Faith communities.[76]

Bengali, the national language, is spoken by the predominant majority of Dhakaites. English is the principal second language and is used for law, commerce and education. There is a minority Urdu-speaking population from India and Pakistan. Dhaka is also home to over 300,000 Bihari refugees, who are descendants of displaced Muslims from eastern India during 1947 and sought refuge in East Pakistan. The correct population is ambiguous; although official figures estimate at least 40,000 residents,[73] it is estimated that there are at least 300,000 Urdu-speakers in all of Bangladesh, mostly residing in refugee camps in Dhaka.[74][75]

The city population is composed of people from virtually every region of Bangladesh. The long-standing inhabitants of the old city are known as Dhakaia and have a distinctive dialect and culture. Between 15,000 to 20,000 of the Rohingya, Santal, Khasi, Garo, Chakma and Mandi tribal peoples reside in the city.[72] Dhaka also has a large population of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Burmese and Sri Lankan expatriates working in executive jobs in different industries.

The literacy rate in Dhaka is also increasing fairly quickly. It was estimated at 62.3% in 2001. The literacy rate had gone up to 72.7% by 2010 which is significantly higher than the national average of 56.5%.[40]

The population of Dhaka (areas under the jurisdiction of the Dhaka City Corporation) stands at approximately 7.0 million. The city, in combination with localities forming the wider metropolitan area, is home to over 15 million as of 2013.[70] The population is growing by an estimated 4.2% per year, one of the highest rates amongst Asian cities.[65] The continuing growth reflects ongoing migration from rural areas to the Dhaka urban region, which accounted for 60% of the city's growth in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, the city's population has also grown with the expansion of city boundaries, a process that added more than a million people to the city in the 1980s.[65] According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dhaka will be home to 25 million people by the year 2025.[71]

The 19th century Tara Masjid is noted for star-studded design
NASA animation showing the urban growth of Dhaka from 1972 to 2001.


Dhaka is connected with the port city of Chittagong by the N1, the Bangladesh Railway and the Meghna-Sandwip Channel. The two metropolises form the financial and industrial centers of the country and are very interdependent. It also has vital economic linkages with other divisional towns and cities, including Khulna and Sylhet.

The unemployment rate in Dhaka is at a high 19%.[68] The city has a per-capita income of US$3,100 (the lowest among the world's megacities);[69] and an estimated 34% of households live below the poverty line. Dhaka faces tremendous challenges of congestion and inadequte infrastructure, which curtails its economic growth.

The textile industry.

City Centre Bangladesh in Motijheel is one of the tallest building in the country

Dhaka is situated in the economic and commercial heartland of Bangladesh. It is the seat of the Bangladesh Bank and the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The city registered a gross municipal product of US$85 billion in 2008. It has seen strong growth in finance, real estate, telecoms, insurance and technology. Dhaka is one of the fastest growing startup hubs in the world.[14] There is a large concentration of multinational companies. The main commercial areas of the city are Motijheel, Dilkusha, Kawran Bazar, Gulshan, Mohakhali and Banani. The city has a growing middle class, driving the market for modern consumer and luxury goods.[22][63]

Head office of Grameenphone, the country's largest telecoms operator


The utility plans to substitute surface water for groundwater through the construction of four large water treatment plants until 2020 at a cost of 1.8 billion USD (Saidabad Phase II and III, Padma/Pagla and Khilkhet). The treatment plants will draw water from more distant and less polluted rivers up to 160 km from the city. The four plants are expected to have a combined capacity of 1.63 million cubic metres per year, compared to a 2010 supply of 2.11 million cubic metre per year that is mainly from groundwater. As of 2011, funding had been secured for the first plant which is under construction thanks to a 250 million USD contribution from Danish development assistance.[55] In 2012 the government signed a contract with a Chinese company to build a water treatment plant at Munshiganj on the Padma River. The project costs 407 million USD, of which 290.8 million USD is financed by a soft loan from the Chinese government, the remainder coming from the Bangladeshi government.[62]

82% of the city's water supply is abstracted from groundwater through 577 deep tube wells, while four relatively small surface water treatment plants provide the remaining 18%.[57] Groundwater levels are dropping at two to three metres every year. The city's water table has sunk by 50 metres in the past four decades and the closest underground water is now over 60 metres below ground level.[58][59] The Asian Development Bank estimated in 2007 that by 2015 a severe supply shortage would occur if the utility did not reduce groundwater abstraction.[60] Nevertheless, DWASA announced in 2012 that it will develop a new wellfield with 46 wells providing 150,000 cubic metres of water per day at a cost of 63 million USD, of which 45 million USD will be financed by the government of South Korea.[61]

A lakefront neighborhood in North Dhaka

Aside from Chittagong, Dhaka has a water-borne sewage system, but this serves only 22% of the population while another 30% are served with septic tanks.[53] Only two-thirds of households in Dhaka are served by the city water supply system. More than 9.7 million tons of solid wastes are produced in Dhaka city each year. While private and government efforts have succeeded in collecting refuse city-wide and using it as manure, most solid wastes are often dumped untreated in nearby low-lying areas and water bodies.[54] The utility in charge of water and sanitation in Dhaka, DWASA, addresses these challenges with a number of measures. It says that in 2011 it achieved a continuous water supply 24 hours per day 7 days a week, an increase in revenues so that operating costs are more than covered, and a reduction of water losses from 53% in 2003 to 29% in 2010.[55] For these achievements DWASA, got a "Performer of the Year Award" at the Global Water Summit 2011 in Berlin.[56] In the future DWASA plans massive investment to replace dwindling groundwater resources with treated surface water from less polluted rivers located up to 160 km from the city.[55] In 2011 Bangladesh's capital development authority, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), made rainwater harvesting for new houses mandatory in an effort to address water scarcity and reduce flooding.

An amphitheater on Dhanmondi Lake

Water management

The city hosts United Nations country offices, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are located in Agargaon.

As the capital of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka hosts various executive, legislative, judicial and diplomatic institutions. The Bangabhaban is the official residence and workplace of the President of Bangladesh, who is the ceremonial head of state under the constitution. Louis Isedore Kahn's modernist capital complex in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar is home to the National Parliament House. The Gonobhaban, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, is situated on the north side of Parliament. The Prime Minister's Office is located in Tejgaon. Most ministries of the Government of Bangladesh are housed in the Bangladesh Secretariat. The Bangladesh Supreme Court, the Dhaka High Court and the Foreign Ministry are located in the colonial district of Ramna. The Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces Division are based in Dhaka Cantonment.

Capital city

To fight rising traffic congestion and population, the national government has recently implemented a policy for rapid urbanization of surrounding areas and beyond by the introduction of a ten-year relief on income tax for new construction of facilities and buildings outside Dhaka.[52]

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) was established in 1976 and has 6,000 personnel in 12 police stations.[39] With the rapid growth of the city, the force has been raised to 26,661 personnel and the establishment of 49 police stations has been completed.[39][51]

The Dhaka municipality was founded on 1 August 1864, and upgraded to "corporation" status in 1978.[47] The Dhaka City Corporation is a self-governing corporation which runs the affairs of the city. Recently (i.e. 2011), Dhaka City Corporation has been divided into two administrative parts – these are (1) Dhaka City Corporation-North and (2) Dhaka City Corporation-South – for ensuring better civic facilities. These two corporations are headed by two administrators. The incorporated area is divided into several wards, which have elected commissioners. The Dhaka Education Board is responsible for administering all public schools and most private schools with the exception of English-medium schools and madrassahs.[48][49] All madrassahs in Bangladesh are governed by a central board while English-medium schools are under separate educational and governance structures.[50]

Civic administration


Hatirjheel-Begunbari is a new place of recreation for city dwellers. Hatirjheel covering 320 acres (129 ha) is transformed into a place of festivity at night but with serenity settling down. Consultants from Civil Engineering Department of BUET and engineers of SWO of Bangladesh Army, Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Department and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha have worked hard to turn this project into reality.

There are many parks within Dhaka city, including Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Shishu Park, National Botanical Garden, Baldha Garden, Chandrima Uddan, Gulshan Park and Dhaka Zoo. There are lakes within city, such as Crescent lake, Dhanmondi lake, Baridhara-Gulshan lake, Banani lake, Uttara lake and Hatirjheel-Begunbari lake.

Parks and lakes

Dhaka experiences a hot, wet, and humid tropical climate. Under the Köppen climate classification, Dhaka has a tropical savanna climate. The city has a distinct monsoonal season, with an annual average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) and monthly means varying between 18 °C (64 °F) in January and 32 °C (90 °F) in May.[42] Approximately 87% of the annual average rainfall of 2,123 millimeters (83.6 inches) occurs between May and October.[42] Increasing air and water pollution emanating from traffic congestion and industrial waste are serious problems affecting public health and the quality of life in the city.[43] Water bodies and wetlands around Dhaka are facing destruction as these are being filled up to construct multi-storied buildings and other real estate developments. Coupled with pollution, such erosion of natural habitats threatens to destroy much of the regional biodiversity.[43]


Dhaka is located in central Bangladesh at , on the eastern banks of the Buriganga River. The city lies on the lower reaches of the Ganges Delta and covers a total area of 360 square kilometres (140 sq mi).[38] It consists of 49 thanasLalbagh, Kotwali, Hazaribagh, Sutrapur, Ramna, Motijheel, Paltan, Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Tejgaon, Gulshan, Mirpur, Pallabi, Shah Ali, Turaag, Sabujbagh, Dhaka Cantonment, Demra, Shyampur, Badda, Kafrul, Kamrangir char, Khilgaon, Uttara etc.[39] In total the city has 130 wards and 725 mohallas.[40] Dhaka District has an area of 1,463.60 square kilometres (565 sq mi) with a population of 18,305,671 in 2012; and is bounded by the districts of Gazipur, Tangail, Munshiganj, Rajbari, Narayanganj, Manikganj.[40] Tropical vegetation and moist soils characterize the land, which is flat and close to sea level. This leaves Dhaka susceptible to flooding during the monsoon seasons owing to heavy rainfall and cyclones.[41]

View of Dhaka from the International Space Station


. Also the Pakistani government tried to defend death row war criminals provoking upset among Bengalis leading to riots outside the Pakistan embassy. Shahbag Recently again there are more upheavals in Dhaka till date. In 2012–13 proceedings began to try war criminals and Jamaat collaborators for war crimes and collaborationism, rapes and massacres in 1971, and mass protests broke out among Jamaat collaborationist supporters who support 1971 atrocities. The Awami League supporters counter-protested. Hundreds died in riots and several thousands were injured, especially with the focus point in [37]

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