Bangladesh is a sovereign nation in South Asia that occupies an area of 56,980 square miles. Although it has several neighboring nations such as Nepal, China, and Bhutan, the country shares its land border with only two countries, India and Myanmar. Bangladesh’s border with India is 2,582 miles long while its border with Myanmar is 170 miles long. The border between Bangladesh and India is ranked the seventh longest border in the world. The southern region of Bangladesh borders the Bay of Bengal which is the world’s largest bay regarding the surface area.
History of Bangladesh
In the ancient days before Bangladesh was established as an independent nation, it was part of the larger Indian Subcontinent. Starting in the 18th century, the region referred to as Bengal became a British colony. Social unrest became common under the British rule. In the early 20th century, the Bengal region was partitioned into the state of India, Pakistan, and East Bengal. In 1955, East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan and reunited with Pakistan. The Pakistan leaders discriminated against residents of East Pakistan which led to resistance. From 1970, Bengalis who occupied East Pakistan began to fight for Independence from Pakistan. Finally, in December 1971, the region attained independence. The new nation was named Bangladesh; meaning ‘land of Bengal.’ Bangladesh neighbors, India and Myanmar, strongly contributed towards the country’s independence and were the first nations to recognize Bangladesh as an independent state.
Bangladesh’s land border with India is quite long stretching up to 2,582 miles. India borders Bangladesh on the eastern, western, and northern parts of the nation. Six administrative units out of the eight in Bangladesh share a border with India namely; Khulna, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rangpur, Rajshahi, and Mymensingh. Similarly, five Indian states Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and West Bengal share the India-Bangladesh border. Pillars that dot the borderline mark the land border between Bangladesh and India. Small sections of the border have been fenced. Bangladesh and India also share a maritime border which was a source of conflict for decades until the Law of the Sea Treaty settled the matter in July 2014. Due to the extensively shared border between India and Bangladesh, the two countries share several check posts at different border points along the border. In the transport sector, several roads link up cities between India and Bangladesh such as the Dhaka-Kolkata road. Additionally, the two nations have railway lines that connect cities between them. Plans to create more railway links have already started.
Myanmar borders Bangladesh to the southeast. The Bangladesh-Myanmar land border is 170 miles long, and the nations also share a maritime border. Maungdaw district in Myanmar shares its border with Chittagong in Bangladesh. 130 miles of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border is fenced. Myanmar authorities have plans to fence the remaining part of the border. Before the British colonized the region, Bangladesh and Myanmar shared close ties and had well-established trade links. After Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, Myanmar and Bangladesh began to reestablish the deep ties they previously had between them.
Ties with India and Myanmar
Bangladesh is ideally positioned as an essential link between South Asian nations and the world. Bangladesh is an important business partner with India and Myanmar due to the extended borders they share. India was Bangladesh’s top importer before being overtaken by China in 2005. India still exports lots of its products to Bangladesh through different border points. Similarly, Bangladesh exports the majority of its products to India where there is a large market for the goods. Border conflicts between Bangladesh and India have affected trade ties between the two countries.
Bangladesh has suffered serious border disputes with India and Myanmar since it gained independence. The border between India and Bangladesh has been the primary source of conflict between the two countries. Some of the highly disputed issues between the countries were enclaves and unmarked territories. Bangladesh and India agreed to end the disputes by signing the Land Boundary Agreement in 1974. The long Bangladesh-India border has some porous sections where criminals sneak in illegal goods between the nations. The porous nature of the boundary has resulted in endless conflict between the nations. Bangladesh and India are in talks to resolve the issue of unmarked borders between the two countries.
Maritime Border Disputes
Bangladesh is situated next to the Bay of Bengal which is the world’s largest bay by area. India and Myanmar also share the Bay of Bengal. The bay is an essential location for the fishing industry, tourism sector, and links South Asian nations to the world. Due to the economic importance of the bay, maritime border disputes often break out between Bangladesh and its neighbors. Since 1974, Bangladesh and India were involved in several bilateral discussions to end the Maritime boundary disputes. In 2014, the Law of the Sea convention arbitrated the matter and offered a solution to the dispute.
The problem of illegal immigration has been a significant source of disagreements between Bangladesh and its neighbors. Bangladeshi citizens sometimes move into India illegally in search of economic opportunities. Similarly, Myanmar residents have been accused of illegally crossing into Bangladesh due to hardship in their native land. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh are a current source of tension. Illegal immigration is a significant threat to the stability of the South Asian nations. Some of the measures that have been taken to reduce illegal immigration include fencing the border and establishing checkpoints along the border.
The extensive border between India and Bangladesh has caused security concerns between the nations. Criminal groups which reside near the border on both sides of the countries have led to security problems for Bangladesh and India. These criminal groups conduct terrorist activities in the two nations and is a key security problem for the nations. Additionally, these criminal gangs often carry out illegal businesses between the neighboring countries. Bangladesh authorities have taken steps to improve cooperation with India and Myanmar in fighting the criminal groups.