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For many thousands of years a long list of regional empires and European
traders fought for control of the water-logged land now called Bangladesh (formerly called East Pakistan
Prior to the 6th century AD, the Gupta Empire commanded much of the Indian subcontinent
, before being divided between the Gauda kings in the west and the Vanga Kingdom in the east.
Following a small rush of power, Bangladesh fell into an era of conflict and foreign invasion.
In 750, Gopala became the first ruler of the Pala Dynasty, which was the first independent Buddhist dynasty of Bangladesh
, that prevailed for four centuries, providing an era of stability and prosperity.
Vijay Sen annihilated the final Pala emperor during the 12th century, and re-introduced Hinduism to the region; Sufi missionaries arrived a short time thereafter, introducing Islam.
Numerous dynasties fought for control through the next several hundred years including the Turks, Hussain Shahis and Mughals, and then Murshid Quli Khan abolished the Mughal's in 1717, opening the door for Islamic dynasties to gain control.
In 1757, the British
East India Company took over following the Battle of Plassey, and transformed the region into a trading post for bamboo, tea, sugar cane, spices, cotton, muslin and jute. Power was transferred completely to the British
crown after the bloody Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, and Bangladesh fell into a downward spiral.
Adding to the increasingly weakened state, famine struck South Asia
hard in the following decades, with the Great Bengal famine being the worst occurring in 1943 - claiming the lives of more than 3 million.
Bangladesh was ruled by Britain
throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and in 1947 the country was partitioned along religious lines after the British
retreated. Western territory was relinquished to the newly created India
, while the eastern side became a province of Pakistan