Sylhet

Introduction

Until 1947, Sylhet was part of the Indian state of Assam. After the partition of the Indian subcontinent, it became part of the Chittagong division, and in 1995, it became a separate division. It is bordered by the Indian states of Meghalaya, Tripura and Assam as well as the Mymensingh and Comilla divisions. Thirteen rivers flow through Sylhet, feeding its abundant tea plantations.

Demographics

The Division of Sylhet has a population of 9.9 million, and is predominantly (87.57%) rural. The literacy rate of the division is 45%, with most educational institutions (especially those of higher education) concentrated in Sylhet district. School attendance (ages 5 to 24) is more or less uniform for both men and women at 48%. In terms of faith, the population is majority Muslim (81.16%), followed by Hindu (17.80%), Christian (0.06%), Buddhist (0.02%) and others (0.96%).

Economy

Sylhet is a major tea-growing region and home to 150 tea gardens, including three of the largest tea gardens in the world. These tea plantations employ 300,000 people, of which over 75% are womenSylhet is also home to eight gas fields and the country’s only oil field. This division has the lowest average poverty rate in Bangladesh.

Politics

The main political parties in Sylhet are Awami League (AL), Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jatiya Party (JP). The administrative head of the division is the Divisional Commissioner, and the current Divisional Commissioner is Mohammed Jamal Uddin Ahmed.

 

Further Reading
Mominul Hoque, The History of Sylhet Division (Centre for Bangladesh Research UKSeptember 2001)

Chittagong

Introduction

Chittagong is geographically the largest division (zila or bibagh) of Bangladesh and was formed in 1984 out of 11 districts, including the port city of Chittagong after which it is named. It shares its borders with Dhaka, Sylhet and Barisal as well as Myanmar and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura. Three major rivers run through Chittagong: Karnafuli, Halda and Sangu.

Demographics

Chittagong has a population of 7.6 million, of which 54.3% are literate. Primary education, especially of girls, received a major boost under nationwide Education For All (EFA) policies. 86.9% of the population identifies as Muslim, 11% as Hindu and 1.5% as Buddhist. The entire division is serviced by only 205 union health centers, with 41 of those concentrated in the city of Chittagong alone.

 

ECONOMY

Chittagong is a key trading hub for Bangladesh, with 75% of the country’s total export and 80% of its total imports passing through it. Its economy constitutes 12% of the GDP of Bangladesh at $25.5 billion. Key industries include garments, textiles, electric and electronic goods, leather goods and shipbuilding.

The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) was established in 1995 and has a market cap of $30.42 billion

Politics

Chittagong Division is governed by the Divisional Commissioner; the office is currently held by Mohammed Ruhul Amin. Chittagong city is governed by the Chittagong City Corporation. It is headed by the current mayor Abu Jahed Mohammed Nasir Uddin, general secretary of the Awami League. The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) consisting of Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban were the site of an insurgent movement, led by the Parbattya Chattragram Jono Samhati Samitee (PCJSS). Its key grievances were against the state’s feudal practices, against the erasure of their culture, inadequate facilities for education and other social services as well as displacement in light of the Karnafuli irrigation project. The conflict came to an end with the signing of a Peace Accord on December 2, 1997 between the Bangladesh government and the PCJSS. The PJCSS has since fractured into a number of political parties that remain active in the hill tracts.

 

Further Reading

Amena Mohsin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003)

Structural Roots of Violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bhumitra Chakma Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 45, No. 12 (March 20-26, 2010): pp. 19-21