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Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is one of the world’s most populated cities. Located in an eponymous district and division, it lies along the east bank of the Buriganga River in the heart of the Bengal delta. The city is a microcosm of the entire country, with diverse religious and ethnic communities. Its name was romanised as Dacca until the current spelling was adopted in 1983. It is the largest city in the Bengal region. It is also a major city of South Asia and among the OIC states.

Being the centre of the independence movements of Bangladesh, Dhaka also hosts some significant national monuments and structures. There are a number of annual cultural events held in Dhaka like Pohela Falgun, Pohela Baishakh and Ekushe Book Fair which add a unique flavour to the city. The modernization and development of Dhaka during the last couple of decades and a corrupt governing and middle class has made the development of international five star chain hotels profitable and spurred the building of some of the largest shopping malls in the world. There are some cracking amusement parks and a surplus of cheap labour has meant that international restaurant chains are cheaper here than in the neighbouring countries.

Population: 7.001 million (2008)
Area: 104.2 mi²

Currency

The Taka is the currency of Bangladesh and is subdivided into 100 poisha. The most commonly used symbol for the Taka is Tk and ৳. In Bengali, the word “taka” is also used to mean any money, currency, or notes. Thus, colloquially, a person speaking Bengali may use “taka” to refer to money regardless of what currency it is denominated in.

Languages

The official language is Bangla, also known as Bengali. It is the first language of more than 98 percent of the population. It is written in its own script, derived from that of Sanskrit. Many people in Bangladesh also speak English and Urdu.

Climate

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 26 °C (79 °F) and monthly means varying between 19 °C (66 °F) in January and 29 °C (84 °F) in May. Approximately 87% of the annual average rainfall of 2,123 millimetres (83.6 inches) occurs between May and October. 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.

Safety

Dhaka isn’t terribly unsafe, but as in any huge city you should keep aware of your surroundings and try not to walk around at night, especially females travelling alone. There’s a very large number of people living on next to nothing in the city, and while the vast majority are friendly there’s undoubtedly a few that would love to help you part with some of your seemingly abundant wealth. There has been a recent rash of incidents in which some foreigners have been targeted for bag snatchings while riding rickshaws. Often these have occurred at night, after 23:00. If you must be out after this time please do your best to leave your valuables at your friends’ places or hotel and you can pick them up in the morning.

Economy

Dhaka is largest economic centre in Bangladesh. It is one of the twin hubs of the Bangladesh financial industry. The city is the seat the Bangladesh Bank and the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The city’s diverse economy registered a gross municipal product of US$85 billion in 2008. Dhaka is one of the fastest growing startup hubs in the world. It has one of the largest concentrations of multinational companies in South Asia. 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. Restaurants, shopping malls and hotels continue to serve as vital elements in the city’s economy.

Education

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. 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 numerous public and private colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as a variety of doctoral programmes. The University of Dhaka is one of the largest public university in the nation with more than 30,000 students and 1,800 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.

Getting Around

Dhaka has wide range of transport systems from cycle-rickshaws to buses to water buses. A public transport system is existent which is on a reformation process. However, Dhaka suffers from choking traffic which causes extensive travel time.

Cycle rickshaws or simply, rickshaws, are the most popular form of transport, and good for short distances, mainly on side streets. They make up the bulk of the city’s horrendous traffic. Negotiating a fare beforehand is essential as a foreigner. Rickshaws are not allowed to cross most of the main roads. If you’re a woman, it’s particularly inadvisable to ride around alone in rickshaws after dark; you’re a slow-moving target asking for trouble from thugs and muggers.

Auto-rickshaws, locally known as ‘CNGs’ (named after compressed natural gas, their fuel source) are abundant and have meters, which drivers can sometimes be persuaded to use. They’re the cheapest way to cover longer distances.

Taxis are hard to hire from streets so you will need to book one. There are a few types taxis, some yellow and some black, some white, all with meters. Yellow taxis have slightly higher standards in terms of comfort but are more expensive. Black and white taxis are typically in notoriously poor condition and lack air conditioning. Yellow taxis are required to have air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Toyota Corollas, with some Mitsubishis and Hondas. But if you are a foreigner, a CNG is in many cases the better option because in a car, you are clearly visible as a foreign passenger which will in many cases attract many beggars and street vendors.

Buses run routes on the main roads, but are often horribly crowded and noisy, signed only in Bengali and aren’t likely to be of much use to travelers. But there are some buses which only take passengers if seats are available and you have to buy a ticket at one of the bus counters in advance. During the rush hour, it can be difficult to get a seat and maybe you will have to wait in line with the other passengers. But taking the bus is cheap and once you found out which bus you have to take and where you have to get off, it is possible without speaking any Bengali.

Many locals often use bicycles as a primary form of transport. They can be useful in their ability to squeeze through tight situations, where traffic may prevent a larger vehicle from moving at all. Some newer roads in the capital have dual bike/rickshaw lanes.

The trains in Bangladesh only operate between major regional cities. There is no suburban or metro rail system in Dhaka, although there are plans to build an elevated inner-city line by 2019. Due to this lack, city can become gridlocked for a number of hours.