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capital and largest city of Bangladesh

downtown Dhaka
downtown Dhaka

Dhaka lies near the geographic center of the country, on the Buriganga River. The city proper covers an area of about 60 sq mi (about 154 sq km); the metropolitan area covers about 565 sq mi (about 1,463 sq km). The population of the city is about 6.7 million; that of the metropolitan area is about 12.3 million.

Dhaka highlighted on map
Dhaka highlighted on map


The city now known as Dhaka was founded as the capital of the Province of Islam Khan Chisti (Bengal) during the reign of Mughal Emperor Zahangir, who called it Zahangirnagor, in 1608. It remained under Mughal control until 1704. In 1765, the city came under the control of the British East India Company, which renamed it Dacca.

In 1905, the city became the capital of a new province comprising East Bengal and Assam. Upon the partition of India in 1947, it became the provincial capital of East Pakistan. It became the capital of Bangladesh upon its independence from Pakistan in 1971. The spelling of the city's name was changed to Dhaka in 1982.


Principal industries of Dhaka include textiles (jute, muslin and cotton), food processing (especially rice), and the manufacture of various consumer goods. Many international banking, finance, telecommunications, and services corporations have facilities in and around the city.


The City of Dhaka is governed by a city corporation, with day-to-day executive power vested in and exercised by a Mayor, who is elected by popular vote every five years. The incorporated area is divided into several wards, each of which has an elected commissioner.

Higher Education

Dhaka is home to Dhaka College, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Bangladesh (founded in 1840), as well as the University of Dhaka (1921). Other major institutions of higher learning in the city include Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, and Sir Salimullah Medical College.

Sites and Attractions

Bahadur Shah Park was built to commemorate the martyrs of the first war of independence, 1857-1859. It is said that revolting sepoys and their civil compatriots were publicly hanged here.

Bangabandhu Memorial Museum was once the residence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of Bangladesh. Today it contains a rare collection of personal effects and photographs of his lifetime.

The Central Shahid Minar (Monument of Bangladesh Nationalism) commemorates the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952. All subsequent movements for Bangladesh independence owe their origin to this movement.

The Jatiyo Shogshod (National Parliament) was designed by the noted American architect Louis Khan.
National Parliament

Jatiyo Sritee Shoudhow (National Memorial), located in the suburb of Savar, commemorates the many unknown martyrs of the first war of independence (1857).
Jatiyo Sritee Shoudhow

Lalbagh Fort was begun in 1678 by Prince Azam, third son of the last Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb. Construction continued under his son Nawab Shaista Khan, but was suspended upon the death of his favorite daughter, Bibi Pari. During the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, the fort was the site of a bloody battle between 260 Sepoys backed by civilians and British forces. Attractions inside the fort's walls include the mausoleum of Bibi Pari and a museum.
Lalbagh Fort

The National Museum contains sculptures and paintings from the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim periods; inscriptions of Quran in Arabic and Persian letters; Bengali works in Arabic script; and many other national treasures.

Suhrawardy Uddyan, formerly known as the Race Course, was where the oath for independence of Bangladesh was taken on March 7, 1971. It is also where the commander of occupation forces surrendered to Bangladesh, on December 16, 1971.

Tara Masjid (Star Mosque) gets its name from a glittering mosaic of broken china. The mosque was originally built in the 18th century; the mosaic was added later by a zealous and pious businessman.
Tara Masjid (Star Mosque)

See Also

British East India Company
Sepoy Rebellion

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The Robinson Library >> Bangladesh

This page was last updated on 10/26/2018.