|Preface Last Updated: 4/29/2004
Behind the images of cyclones, floods, and other disasters is a
strikingly lush and beautiful land with a rich history and a variety
of attractions unusual for a country this size. It has
archaeological sites that date back over 2000 years; the longest
beach and the largest littoral mangrove forest in the world; and
decaying “Gone With The Wind” mansions of 19th-century maharajas.
Despite being the world’s most crowded country, rural Bangladesh
feels relaxed, spacious, and friendly. Travelers from India have
been agreeably surprised to find border officials offering them cups
of tea rather than reams of forms to fill in.
The Bengal region has a multifaceted folk heritage, enriched by
its ancient animist, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim roots.
Bangladesh’s Muslims and Hindus live in relative harmony. The
Muslim majority has religious leaders, “pirs,” whose status
straddles the gap between that of a bishop and that of a sage.
Hinduism in Bangladesh lacks India’s pomp and awe; consequently,
Hindu ceremonies are rarely conducted in the depths of temples to
which access is restricted.
The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires
and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. The
unstoppable tide of Islam washed over northern India at the end of
the 12th century.
Under the Mogul viceroys, art and literature flourished; overland
trade expanded; and Bengal was opened to world maritime trade—the
latter marking the death knell of Mogul power as Europeans began to
establish themselves in the region.
The East India Company installed a fortified trading post in
Calcutta in 1690. The British established an organizational and
social structure unparalleled in Bengal, and Calcutta became one of
the most important centers for commerce, education, and culture in
At the close of WW II, it was clear that Indian independence was
inevitable. It was attained in 1947, but the struggle was bitter and
divisive, especially in Bengal, where the fight for self-government
was complicated by internal religious conflict. The British,
realizing any agreement between the Muslims and Hindus was
impossible, decided to partition the subcontinent.
East Bengal became the State of East Pakistan. Inequalities
between the two regions soon stirred up a sense of Bengali
nationalism. After riots and strikes broke out in East Pakistan, the
independent State of Bangladesh was unilaterally announced in 1971.
The country has experienced famine, martial law, military coups,
and political assassinations during the first 20 years of
independence. However, since 1991, Bangladesh has had a democratic
government with the two major political parties—the Awami League and
the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) alternately holding power
after generally free and fair elections. The latest parliamentary
elections in October 2001 were particularly impressive for the high
turnout of women and the relative absence of fraud and manipulation.
As a moderate Muslim democracy, Bangladesh is playing an
increasingly prominent role in the world. A member of the UN
Security Council from 1999 to 2001, it is the largest contributor of
troops to UN peacekeeping missions. It has played a moderating role
in South Asian disputes as well.
During the past 33 years, Bangladesh made notable strides in
reducing its population growth rate and infant mortality. The
economy, once largely agricultural based, has diversified with
readymade garment exports the largest foreign exchange earner.
Bangladesh’s extensive natural gas resources are also being
developed with the assistance of U.S. and other international energy
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 5/16/2004 5:08 AM
Bordered on three sides by India and sharing a border with Burma,
Bangladesh is located in south Asia on the northern edge of the Bay
of Bengal. About 140 million people inhabit the country, which is
55,598 square miles (slightly smaller than the size of Wisconsin).
Bangladesh consists primarily of low-lying deltaic plains that
never rise more than 35 feet above sea level. The Ganges and
Brahmaputra Rivers and smaller tributary crisscross the country.
Slight changes in topography occur only in the northeastern hilly
tea-growing regions of Sylhet and the southeastern forest regions of
the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The capital, Dhaka, is less than 25 feet
above sea level.
The climate of Bangladesh ranges from subtropical to tropical.
The humidity remains high all year and reaches between 90%–95% from
June to September. Bangladesh has three main seasons. The mild (70s
[ºF]) or cold season, from mid-October to the end of February, is
characterized by sunny skies, drier weather, and cool (high 50s
[ºF]) evenings. During the hot season, from March until the end of
May, there is quite a change. The early part is pleasant (75ºF), but
as the monsoon approaches, hot (95ºF) temperatures and high humidity
make life difficult. The monsoon season lasts from June to October.
At the beginning of the monsoon, the continuous rains cool the
atmosphere. Temperatures are milder (85ºF to 90ºF), but the humidity
can be oppressive.
Tropical cyclones emerge from the Bay of Bengal with high winds
and tidal waves on the average of one major cyclone every 3 years.
There are two cyclone seasons, one just before the monsoon (May to
June) and one just after the monsoon (October to November). Damage
generally is limited to the southern finger of the country (east of
Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar).
During the monsoon season in a “normal year,” about 30% of the
country is under water. Some years, however, floods cover 70% of the
country. At some times during the year, up to 70% of the country is
under water. Annual flooding is a way of life but often the flooding
is not due to rainfall but caused by water coming from across the
borders via the Ganges, Meghna, and the Brahmaputra Rivers.
Population Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:08 AM
The population of Bangladesh is estimated to be 140 million with
an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent. Bangladesh is the most densely
populated agricultural country in the world. The areas around the
capital city, Dhaka, and around Comilla are the most densely
settled. The Sundarbans, an area of coastal tropical jungle in the
southwest, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts on the southeastern border
with Burma and India are the least densely populated areas.
Population growth is a concern of the Bangladeshi Government. At
present, 38% of the population is under 15 years of age. The
literacy rate is 49% for males and 26% for females. Life expectancy
is 58 years, and unemployment and poverty are considerable. About
one-third of the population is malnourished; the average per capita
income is about $385.
Urbanization is proceeding rapidly, though currently about 85% of
the population reside in rural areas. In the future, about only 30%
of the population entering the laborforce will be absorbed into
agriculture forcing increasing numbers of people to drift to the
cities. Unemployment and underemployment remain substantial
The population of Bangladesh reflects an ethnic mixture of
people. The majority of Bangladeshis are of Aryan-Dravidian stock;
though some families can track their ancestors back to central Asia.
Ethnic Bengalis inhabit most of the broad plains of Bangladesh. The
original tribal people, now less than 1% of the population, migrated
hundreds of years ago from Burma, Thailand, Assam, and other areas
of Southeast Asia. They possess oriental features and live mainly in
the Chittagong Hill Tracts and along the northern borders of the
Dinajpur, Mymensingh, and Sylhet Districts.
Bangladeshis are predominantly Sunni Muslim (88%), and Islam was
declared the state religion in 1988. Hindus comprise an 11%
minority. Other religions such as Buddhists, Christians, Bahai’s,
and animists, number only 1%.
Although English is spoken in some urban areas and among the
educated, Bangla (also referred to as Bengali) is the official
language. Bangla was a rallying point during Bangladesh’s liberation
struggle with Pakistan. One of the most important Bengali holidays
is dedicated to the martyrs of the Bangla Language Movement.
English, while once again compulsory, is not used for instruction in
public primary or secondary schools. English is used frequently in
judicial proceedings, particularly in the High Court. Technical
writing is in English.
The statutes of Bangladesh conform to Islamic laws, but the
system of law in the courts derives from English common law. In
rural areas, where most people live, interpretations of Islam and
local customs predominate. Freedom of religion is guaranteed;
however, minorities do not have the same access to upward mobility
Traditionally, women were kept secluded but with the expanding
garment industry more women are working and in public view.
Nonetheless, the society remains patriarchal and women still face
discrimination, abuse, and obstacles such as less opportunities for
education and jobs, poor nutrition, violent attacks, and lack of
access to adequate prenatal health care.
Because of the high density of population, crowds are everywhere.
The vast numbers of people can overwhelm newcomers. A Westerner’s
sense of privacy is often invaded, which includes being constantly
stared at wherever one goes.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/25/2003 9:26 AM
The region encompassing Bangladesh, the delta of two major river
systems, has been a center of commerce and culture since the
beginning of recorded history. The region passed through periods of
domination by various cultures, including Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim,
and finally European, most recently the British.
Starting in the 1700s, the region came under British influence
along with much of the rest of the Indian subcontinent. British rule
over modern Bangladesh ended in August 1947, when British India was
divided into India and Pakistan, the latter of which consisted of
two parts (East and West) separated by India. Serious political,
linguistic, historical, cultural, and economic differences between
East and West Pakistan were temporarily masked by enthusiasm for
independence from the British. Although East Pakistan (later
Bangladesh) had a larger population and was the chief foreign
exchange earner, government power was centered in West Pakistan. The
rallying cry of Islamic brotherhood began to lose its appeal and
Bangladeshi identity in East Pakistan began to take precedence over
Although Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the East Pakistan
Awami League, had won the December 1970 parliamentary election, the
West Pakistanis did not allow him to form the government. On March
2, 1971, he was arrested for political activities and unwillingness
to compromise on the issue of provincial autonomy. Other Awami
League leaders fled to India and established a government in exile.
Civil war began. Millions of Bangladeshis crossed the Indian border,
and hundreds of thousands were displaced within Bangladesh. About
350,000 Bengalis were killed in 9 months.
In November, India formally intervened on the side of the
Bangladeshis. On December 16, 1971, Pakistani forces surrendered,
and the new nation of Bangladesh was born. The U.S. extended
diplomatic recognition on April 4, 1972, and the People’s Republic
of Bangladesh became a member of the UN in September 1974.
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is governed by a written
Constitution. As amended, the Constitution provided for a strong
executive Prime Minister, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral
legislature based on a modified Westminster model. The Constitution
adopted as state policy the Awami League's four basic principles of
nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy.
There are 30 to 40 active political parties in Bangladesh. Only
four parties have more than 10 members elected to the current
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/25/2003 10:11 AM
Bangladeshis take great pride in their rich language, Bangla, and
its long tradition of literature, poetry, and music. Assertion of
Bengali national identity and language was critical during
Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from West Pakistan and
remains a strong theme in many sectors of life and culture.
Music and song are greatly appreciated in Bangladesh in both folk
and classical forms. The songs of the “bauls,” the traditional
wandering folk minstrels, are especially popular. Equally popular
are songs of revered Bengali poets. Mogul traditional court music
forms the basis for modern classical counterparts, using instruments
such as the sitar, a stringed instrument, with percussion
accompaniment of the “tabla.” Classical dance is similar to the
stylized forms of northern India. Bangladeshi pop music consists of
songs from Bangla and Hindi films and is ubiquitous throughout
Traditionally, Bangladeshi folk art was expressed in weaving,
pottery, and terra-cotta sculpture. Today, Bangladeshi artistic
expression is best expressed in poetry, folk theater, and
handicrafts such as inlaid woodwork, brass, rickshaw art, and
pottery. Bangladeshi folk embroidery, “nakshi kantha,” depicts
realistic and stylized scenes or designs and may be found
intricately stitched and greatly detailed or in rustic and simple
form. Representational art shows a distinct traditional Mogul
influence. Modern paintings may also be found in abundance.
The educational system in Bangladesh includes 5 years of primary
education, 5 years of secondary education, and 2 years of college
(U.S. senior high equivalent), which results in an intermediate arts
degree. The final 2 years of higher education for a Bachelor of Arts
or science degree are equivalent to a U.S. associate of arts degree.
Formal education in Bangladesh ends at this level, although some
students may pursue a graduate level master’s degree (equivalent to
a U.S. bachelor’s degree). The quality of public education is low
due to lack of facilities and supplies, poorly trained educators,
dismal salaries, and a lack of professional motivation.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 3/26/2004 3:19 AM
As a result of recent productivity advances, Bangladesh now
produces over 90% of its domestic food needs. Rice, wheat, corn,
legumes, fruits, and vegetables are the principal crops. Domestic
poultry and livestock production is expanding to meet market demand.
Rice is the staple food grain, and, although domestic production is
increasing, Bangladesh still imports food grains to meet the needs
of a growing population. Increasing fragmentation of arable land
necessitates the use of high-yielding crop varieties and fertilizers
to increase productivity. Strikes, floods, cyclones, and droughts
are constant challenges to stable food production.
Major industries include a huge garment industry located
throughout Bangladesh for assembling garments for export, leather
goods and cotton textiles. Others are jute, sugar, iron and steel
mills, fertilizer plants, and a small number of food-processing
plants. Extensive natural gas deposits are being exploited.
Foreign assistance from the U.S. and other donors is about 60% of
the domestic development budget. In addition to the U.S., major
donors are the World Bank, International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (IBRD), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan, Canada,
Australia, and Western Europe. Most of Bangladesh’s
exports—readymade garments, raw jute and jute goods, leather, frozen
seafood, and tea—go to the U.S., Italy, the U.K., Germany, and
Japan. Bangladesh imports most of its food grains, machinery,
petroleum, vegetable oils, and fertilizer from Japan, the U.S.,
Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. Thousands of nongovernmental
voluntary aid agencies (NGOs), in addition to official agencies,
operate in Bangladesh.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
program in Bangladesh is one of the U.S. Government’s largest. It
focuses on improving family health, increasing agricultural and
small business productivity, improving food security for the poor,
protecting the environment, building democratic institutions, and
promoting early childhood learning.
Automobiles Last Updated: 6/14/2004 2:14 AM
A private vehicle for driving to and from work, as well as for
personal use around Dhaka is a necessity. The majority of people
only drive within a limited radius under extremely congested
conditions, which causes dents and scratches even when driving
exclusively in the expatriate suburbs. Therefore, bringing a brand
new or expensive vehicle is not recommended. Small size or
four-wheel-drives (such as a RAV 4) are best suited for the
congested road conditions. Many city streets are narrow, rough, and
crowded with buses, trucks, rickshaws, pushcarts, animals, and
pedestrians. Air-conditioning is strongly recommended.
Driving is on the left, but both right-hand and left-hand-drive
vehicles may be used. Bicycle rickshaws, baby-taxis (small
three-wheeled motorized vehicles), and buses provide public
transportation. Nevertheless, both the RMO and the RSO strongly
advise Mission employees not to use public transportation due to
security and safety concerns.
Often, a used car may be purchased from departing employees. The
local purchase of a used car takes about as long as shipping one
from the U.S. An adequate number of cars is usually available for
purchase from April through July. During the rest of the year, the
supply is limited.
New cars may be purchased duty free. Plan to wait 6 months for
delivery. If possible, order before leaving for post. A few car
rental agencies are available; prices are high, but include both
insurance and driver. An increasingly popular alternative is to buy
a reconditioned car from Japan. Vehicles cost from $8,000–$10,000,
arrive in a timely manner, and are well suited for the streets of
You are strongly discouraged from bringing a U.S. model vehicle,
as maintenance and parts are not available. People who have ignored
this warning have had dismal luck and have had their vehicles
rendered useless or have had to ship them back to the U.S. at their
own expense. If you insist on bringing a U.S. brand vehicle, you may
want to ship some spare parts in your household effects (HHE). For
maintenance purposes, preferably bring a manual transmission for
American makes. Limited spare parts for most Japanese vehicles are
available but expensive.
In regard to shipping any type of private vehicle, make sure that
it is in top mechanical condition and has good tires. You should
remove the catalytic converter prior to shipping. Check with your
authorized dealership. Leaded gas and diesel fuel may be purchased
at the General Services Office (GSO) facilities. If your vehicle is
a front-wheel-drive, include the inner and outer c.v. boots. It is
to your advantage to purchase and ship a repair manual for your
vehicle. Dry charge batteries and tires, size 13-, 14-, and some
15-inch, are available but expensive. If you wish to purchase tires,
please ship them in your HHE.
Important Note: Motor vehicles more than three years old at the
time of shipment cannot be imported. Vehicles a maximum of four
years old at the time of shipment can only be imported from country
of manufacture (i.e. country of origin), not from/through any third
The GSO motorpool has several mechanics on staff. They are
available to work on personally owned vehicles after regular duty
hours and on weekends. A number of Embassy employees take advantage
of this service, finding the workmanship fairly reliable and cheaper
than U.S. prices. Also, on the local market, there are a few
competent, reasonable mechanics. However, repair facilities for most
American automatic transmissions do not exist.
Bring a copy of the original commercial invoice, bill of sale,
registration documents, or other papers that establish the original
value or purchase price of your vehicle. This information determines
the cost and freight price for customs assessment and future sale.
Local third-party liability insurance is mandatory but
inexpensive. Other insurance is optional. Collision insurance is
available through commercial insurance companies here or through a
U.S. insurance agent. Claims are payable only in local currency
according to Bangladeshi laws.
All permanent personnel are authorized to import or buy one new
or used vehicle per employee during their tour. No diplomat is
allowed to import a second new or used vehicle in replacement for
one sold or wrecked. Upon leaving, the vehicle may be sold to other
diplomats, privileged persons or organizations, or the Bangladeshi
Government. Personally owned vehicles may be sold to Bangladeshi
citizens; however, the sale and transfer is complicated and takes
months to accomplish.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:17 AM
Local public transportation in Bangladesh includes trains, buses,
taxis, baby taxis or auto rickshaws (three wheeled scooters), tempos
(a 12-seat version of the baby taxi), and cycle rickshaws. Taxis are
air-conditioned and relatively inexpensive, but drivers need to be
reminded to turn on the meter. No public transportation is
recommended on the basis of safety or security. Motorpool is made
available at a charge to all newcomers for the first 30 days at
Travel by private vehicle outside of the city is discouraged
because of reckless driving and poor roads. Off-duty Mission drivers
familiar with the vagaries of driving in Bangladesh may be hired
from the GSO motorpool.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/25/2003 10:20 AM
All modes of public and regional transportation in Bangladesh are
at very reasonable rates. Unfortunately, road conditions, pollution,
schedules, frequent traffic jams, and other inconveniences often
make travel dangerous, difficult, time-consuming, and exhausting.
Bus, train, or plane services provide public transportation
between cities. Domestic flights are subsidized and reasonable but
still cost three times first-class train fares. Bangladesh Biman,
the national carrier, links Dhaka to major cities in all divisions,
but flying directly between divisions is not possible. Domestic
flights are usually reliable, except when airports are closed for
general strikes (locally known as “hartals”), visits of the
President or foreign heads of state, or weather disturbances.
Another private domestic airline that is used frequently is GMG. GMG
flights normally run on schedule, and many travelers prefer their
services to those of Biman.
The number of buses on the highways is hard to believe. Traveling
between Dhaka and Comilla you will pass about 500 buses, an average
of four buses every minute! The country has an extensive road
system. There are 15,000 kilometers of paved road, of which 5,000
kilometers are primary roads, such as the Dhaka-Chittagong road. One
of the main problems with them is that they are not wide enough for
two buses to pass without pulling onto the edge, which is inevitably
crowded with rickshaws or pedestrians. Other problems are the mix of
vehicle speeds (plodding rickshaws, zooming buses, meandering
pedestrians, sleeping dogs) and reckless driving. Most bus stations
are located on the outskirts of towns, often with different
destinations. This helps reduce traffic jams in town, but means
quite a trek to find your bus.
Travel by train in a first-class compartment, though not elegant,
is relatively comfortable and a good way of mingling with the
population, getting a feel for the country, and seeing the
landscapes. There are 4,440 kilometers of rail line in Bangladesh.
The highway and the railway are both important modes of
transportation for both people and commodities. Trains are always
The real superhighway in Bangladesh is the web of inland
waterways through which much local travel is accomplished. River
travel is one of the best ways to see Bangladesh. Craft range from
luxurious steamers with first-class sections to overcrowded ferries
that threaten to capsize during the spring storms. Motor launches
carry people or cargo; country boats are powered by sail, oar, or
even towed by people walking along the banks.
Bangladesh has 8,000 kilometers of navigable rivers. There is an
extensive and complex network of some 700 rivers. Major systems are
the Jamuna-Brahmaputra, Padma-Ganges, Surma-Meghna, and Padma-Meghna,
all of which flow south to the mouths of the Ganges and into the Bay
of Bengal. During the monsoon, rivers become turbulent and flooded;
during the dry season, riverbeds choked with silt can make routes
impassable; in winter, fog can cause delays.
In a country where navigable rivers and streams surpass roads in
total distance, water transport is very interesting, especially on
the smaller rivers, where you can see daily life along the banks. Of
course, traveling by boat is slow and easily avoided, so many
travelers never go out of their way to take long river trips,
settling instead for a short ferry ride across a river. This is
unfortunate, because traveling on riverboats can be pleasant, quiet,
relatively pollution-free, and a high point of a visit to
Cargo vessels are frequently loaded to the gunwales with jute,
grain, clay pots, bricks, watermelons, and everything else. Other
boats are homes to families, as one can tell from the smoke curling
up from cooking fires inside the tiny covered spaces that serve as
cabins. Sails are usually a patchwork of discarded cloth, including,
but not limited to, old saris, “lungis,” and grain sacks. Far more
villages are accessible by boat than by road, especially during the
high water season.
Day trips to tourist sites outside of Dhaka are possible, with
prearranged rest stops, usually at privately or corporately owned
guesthouses. A few rest stops are maintained by the Bangladesh
Parjatan Corporation, the national tourist organization, but they
are limited to the main roads.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:20 AM
International telephone service from Bangladesh exists and works
fairly well. Direct dialing and trunk booking connect Bangladesh to
the U.S. and other locations. At the time of this writing, the cost
is 17 taka ($.29) per minute. International calls may be made using
AT&T Direct or MCI. Direct-dial telephones are located at the
Embassy and in the homes of any personnel who request an ISD (direct
dial) line without extra charge. The Embassy does have three
International Voice Gateway (IVG) lines for calls to the U.S.
Domestic telephone service is improving yet Internet access can
be slow due to faulty underground cables and oversubscription by ISP
providers. During heavy rains and/or flooding, phones may be out of
order. Monthly telephone rental is currently 150 taka ($2.78). More
and more people are buying cellular phones.
Internet Last Updated: 5/16/2004 3:44 AM
The Internet is alive and thriving in Bangladesh. There are a
number of local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who offer Internet
connectivity, both dial-up and broad band, at reasonable rates.
Employees usually pay a flat monthly rate for unlimited use, or pay
for actual service used without a monthly fee.
The main complaint raised by employees is that due to mediocre
domestic telephone service and over subscription by local ISPs,
employees are unable to obtain speedy Internet service, and
connections, once achieved, can be lost.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 5/17/2004 4:01 AM
The Department of State has designated the American Embassy Dhaka
a Class B post with no access to military APO/FPO facilities.
U.S. Government personnel assigned to Dhaka may use the
diplomatic air pouch to receive personal letter mail, magazines,
catalogs, and packages via Washington, D.C. Outgoing mail consists
of ordinary letter mail, which may not exceed 2 pounds, including
letters, seven audiocassettes and videotapes, photographic prints,
and processed slides. Personal merchandise being returned to the
manufacturer of a mail-order catalog center may be mailed if clearly
marked “Returned Merchandise.” Incoming packages and material
weighing no more than 50 pounds or exceeding 32 inches in length or
70 inches in length and girth combined can be sent through the
pouch. Nonliquid prescription medicines, prescription eyeglasses,
hearing aids and batteries, prosthetic devices, orthopedic shoes, or
other items needed on an emergency basis for health and welfare
should be carefully labeled. Liquid medicine can be sent through the
pouch if the box is clearly marked. Applicable U.S. postage (first
class) must be applied to letters and packages. The pouch is
scheduled to leave Dhaka three times a week and usually is received
three times a week. The airpouch generally takes 2–3 weeks when it
works properly. There are occasional changes in airline schedules,
canceled flights, and missed connections, so pouch service sometimes
The State Department and USAID address for airpouch mail for
personal mail is:
6120 Dhaka Place
Dulles, VA 20189–6120
It is important to note that no identifiers such as Department of
State or USAID may be added to the address for personal mail. Use
only employee or family member names.
The official address is: Name of Family Member, Name of Employee
- DOS/USAID, 6120 Dhaka Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-6120.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) regulations prohibit use of registry
and insurance services for mail and parcels sent via the Department
pouch. Advise your correspondents and mail-order houses accordingly.
U.S. contractors, although employed by a U.S. Government agency,
are authorized to use the diplomatic pouch for letter mail only. Use
of the pouch to order or receive merchandise, parcels, magazines,
and other periodicals is prohibited.
International airmail to and from Dhaka takes about 7 days.
International postage from Bangladesh is 18 taka ($.35) per gram.
Register (at double cost) all letters sent by international mail.
The international mailing address for Department of State and USAID
Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
It is difficult and expensive to send packages to the U.S. from
post. Surface mail from the U.S. is also undependable and subject to
high customs rates. DHL, Airborne Express, Federal Express, and
other express mail services are available, useful for mailing
personal documents, but very expensive for mailing packages. To send
letters within the country, there is an efficient and inexpensive
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/16/2004 4:18 AM
Bangladesh currently has four local TV stations (three private
and one government) broadcasting in Dhaka. They run at various times
during the day. Programs include English newscasts and a few popular
U.S. and British serials and movies.
Bangladesh TV uses the PAL TV system (625-line color). A PAL or
multisystem TV and video recorder are necessary to view local TV or
rental tapes from local private video shops. An American TV (NTSC
system) will work with a VCR but will not receive local programs.
Several private companies offer cable TV service in residential
areas that give BBC, CNN, Star TV, ESPN, Sky News, MTV, plus the
Discovery Channel, National Geographic, HBO, and Cartoon Network.
Employees may also subscribe through the American Recreation
Association (ARA) to receive AFRTS in their residence.
DVD players and videotape recorders are a popular form of home
entertainment, and the ARA has a video club of DVDs and VHS tapes in
the American NTSC standard. ARA tapes can be used on multisystem or
standard American equipment. Most American DVD players, videotapes
and audiotape recorders will work in Bangladesh using a transformer
converting the current to 110v, 60 cycles because their drive motors
are DC. A single-phase electrical 60-cycle AC motor will not work
properly in Bangladesh.
Radio is the primary communication medium in Bangladesh. Radio
Bangladesh broadcasts a wide schedule of AM programs and also
programs in FM through the TV system. BBC programs are broadcast
each day on an FM station. Occasionally, you are able to pick up
signals of Western music on the FM station, including short-wave BBC
transmissions. A high-quality short-wave radio is needed to receive
broadcasts of Voice of America, Radio Australia, and the Armed
Forces Radio and Television Network.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/16/2004 4:19 AM
There are five major English-language daily newspapers in
Bangladesh. The Independent has the most international news and
articles from foreign newspapers. The Daily Star is considered to
have the most unbiased reporting. The Bangladesh Observer also
publishes a fairly good daily edition. Other English-language
newspapers include The Financial Express and New Nation. Most are
about 16 pages long and cost about 7 Taka. The quality of writing
and reporting varies as widely as can be imagined.
The International Herald Tribune, printed in Thailand, is
available here the evening of the date of issue. The Asian Wall
Street Journal and USA Today are printed in Singapore and available
here two days after publication. You can arrange for home
subscriptions. Asian editions of Time, Newsweek, and the Far Eastern
Economic Review are also available within a few days of publication.
Magazines such as Vanity Fair, Home and Gardens, and Good
Housekeeping, printed in the U.K. and Australia, are available at
magazine stands and small bookstores around DIT II Circle in Gulshan.
The cost is usually lower than what you pay at home. Foreign
publications are only rarely censored.
There are a few good English-language bookshops in Bangladesh. In
Gulshan this includes Etc., Omni Books, and Boi Bichitra. These
stores stock novels, blockbusters, resource books, and some
children’s books. The library at the American International
School/Dhaka carries a selection of magazines, as well as resource,
fiction, and nonfiction books. Families whose children attend AIS/D
have access to the library.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:37 AM
The Embassy Health Unit is the family health center for all
direct-hire Embassy employees and their eligible family members. The
facility provides routine, preventive, and emergency care and is
staffed by a Department of State physician, local-hire nurses, a
receptionist, and a laboratory technician. The Unit is open 5 days a
week from 8:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. A medical person is on call at all
The Health Unit maintains a supply of drugs for most acute
illnesses. Local pharmacies are unreliable and used very
infrequently. Embassy personnel should bring an initial 6-month
supply of chronic medications, e.g., diabetes or blood pressure
medications as these medications may not be available on the local
market. The Health Unit can assist you in mail-order prescriptions
through the U.S., but these shipments take 4–6 weeks to obtain and
are subject to mail pouch restrictions.
Most medical problems are handled in the Health Unit. Local
hospitals and medical facilities do not meet Western standards.
Complicated cases are referred to Singapore or Bangkok. Patients may
be sent to Singapore via emergency flights or commercial carriers
dependent upon the acuity and severity of their problem. A medical
staff person will accompany a patient, if indicated.
Prenatal care can be obtained through the Health Unit; however,
the Unit does not perform deliveries. It is recommended that
expectant mothers depart post for the U.S. 6 weeks prior to
delivery. Well-baby care is given at post, so mother and child can
return to post 6 weeks after delivery.
Dental care is available through a well run local dental clinic.
Routine dental care and root canals may be handled in Dhaka.
Orthodontic care is available but the quality is not yet tested. The
Health Unit does recommend routine fluoride supplementation for
children under age 12. Fluoride tablets and drops are available in
the Health Unit.
Community Health Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:43 AM
Malaria prophylaxis is not recommended within Dhaka, but is
required for travel outside of the city. The Health Unit recommends
Mefloquine or Doxycycline for malaria prophylaxis. Both of these
medications are stocked in the Health Unit.
Dhaka’s water supply is biologically contaminated. The GSO
supplies each household with a water distiller. All water used for
drinking, brushing teeth, and washing fruits and vegetables must be
boiled for 2–3 minutes or obtained from the distiller. Servants
should be instructed carefully and supervised frequently in the
boiling procedure. The water in local restaurants is often not
boiled. Even reputable brands of bottled water have been reported to
be contaminated. Restaurants allow you to bring your own beverages
as well. The water supply in the U.S. Embassy and U.S.-leased
housing has been tested for arsenic and lead. Neither is a problem.
Meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased
locally. Fruits and vegetables must be carefully soaked in bleach.
Because refrigeration is unreliable, meat, poultry, and fish should
be selected carefully. Cook meat from local markets thoroughly and
determine the freshness of fish before eating. UHT dairy products
are available through the commissary and in local shops and
supermarkets. Powdered milk is available on the local market and is
safe to drink. Local Vita milk needs to be boiled before drinking.
Occasional gastrointestinal upsets are unavoidable. Surprisingly,
the Health Unit does not see a dramatic number of severe diarrhea
cases. With normal precautions, serious amebiasis, bacillary
dysentery, and intestinal parasites can be kept to minimum levels.
Respiratory and skin infections are common.
By taking necessary precautions, most people in Dhaka remain
healthy. Most problems seen at the Health Unit are not exotic
tropical diseases, but rather, the same pattern of colds, allergies,
orthopedic injuries, and childhood illnesses encountered at home.
Poor air quality can worsen underlying pulmonary problems.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:44 AM
Before arrival in Bangladesh, personnel should ensure that all
immunizations are current. In addition to the standard childhood
immunizations, the following immunizations are strongly recommended:
hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid fever, and Japanese
Encephalitis B vaccine. All of the immunizations are available at
post, but postponing the immunizations until arrival will delay the
onset of disease immunity. (Japanese Encephalitis B vaccine is not
available in the U.S. except for the military.)
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 4/29/2004
The policy of the Mission is to make every effort to assist
family members in finding employment opportunities. Some family
members work in contract positions in USAID which does provide
employment opportunities in a number of technical areas. Others find
EFM positions such as: community liaison office coordinator,
consular positions, CLO assistant, housing coordinator, and
residential security coordinator. In addition, positions as
commissary manager and ARA manager are available as vacancies occur.
Those with secretarial skills and consular training have a good
chance of finding a job.
The American International School (AIS/D) will interview and
consider hiring family members who are certified and qualified
teachers. A few other positions such as secretaries, teacher-aides,
and library assistants exist, but the salaries are low.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Dhaka hire qualified
personnel to fill a variety of positions. Eligible family members
are becoming more creative in finding employment. Several spouses
conduct business over the internet or bring their jobs with them
from companies in the U.S.
American Embassy - Dhaka
Post City Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:52 AM
Dhaka, the capital, has developed over centuries as a city of
culture, commerce, and government in the Bengal region. Buddhist and
Hindu domination ended in the 13th century and was followed by
Muslim economic and cultural influence. In the 17th century, during
Mogul rule, Dhaka served as a capital city and was an important
trade and commercial center. During the European domination of the
19th and 20th centuries, particularly during the British “raj,”
Dhaka served as a district headquarters; Calcutta was the chief
seaport and industrial center of Bengal. It was not until
independence in 1971 that Dhaka again achieved capital status. From
a population of less than 2 million in 1971, it has grown to over 13
Divided into districts, Dhaka lies in the south along the banks
of the Buriganga River. The once splendid buildings and residences
have deteriorated into shops and small dwellings. The majority of
Dhaka residents live in this area. Most of the modern public
institutions and commercial development are concentrated in Dhaka
center. However, due to increasing congestion some businesses are
spreading to more newly developed areas. On a narrow strip of high
ground north of the city, the upperclass areas of Banani, Gulshan,
and Baridhara have developed; U.S. Embassy personnel live in these
"diplomatic enclave" areas.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/29/2004 3:55 AM
The Embassy is open Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. A canteen inside the Embassy serves both breakfast and lunch.
The Marine Security Guard handles emergency inquiries received after
hours and refers them to the duty officer.
The U.S. Embassy is located on Madani Avenue in Baridhara not far
from the American International School and residential areas. The
Chancery houses representatives of the Department of State, USAID,
ODC, and the Defense Attaché’s Office (DAO). The Chancery is a
striking red brick building with an enclosed courtyard reminiscent
of Mogul architecture. The offices, arranged on three floors with
hallways displaying Bangladeshi and American artwork, provide a
pleasant working environment.
In FY 2000, a new GSO center was opened opposite the Chancery in
Baridhara. This new facility also houses the small Library of
Congress office staffed by FSNs. In addition, the commissary and gas
pump are housed in this area.
The Public Affairs Office and the Foreign Agricultural Service is
located in the residential neighborhood of Banani, about 10 minutes
from the Chancery. The Peace Corps established its office in 1998 in
the suburb of Uttara, about 20 minutes away from the Chancery.
The telephone number at the Embassy is (880)(2) 885-5500. A fax,
(880)(2) 8823744, is available at the Embassy for the price of an
international call. The GSO also has a fax: (880)(2) 882–2551. The
telephone number at the Public Affairs Office is (880)(2) 881–3444,
and its fax is (880)(2) 988–1677. The fax number for USAID is
(880)(2) 882–3648. Both work and personal faxes may be sent from the
Chancery; personnel will be charged for personal faxes.
DAO, Peace Corps, State, and USAID have executive personnel who
work in coordination with ICASS service providers.
An Embassy newsletter, the Jute Bulletin, is published weekly and
contains information regarding Embassy and American Recreation Club
activities, employment opportunities, CLO notices, and personal
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 3/26/2004 3:32 AM
Every effort is made to move people into permanent quarters upon
arrival. If permanent quarters are not ready, newcomers will be
assigned to a vacant home, guesthouse, or hotel. Welcome Kits
include linens, dishes, glassware, an iron, toaster, flatware, pots,
pans, kitchen utensils, a television and VCR, and, if needed, a baby
crib. You may keep the kit until your HHE arrives at post.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 3/26/2004 3:43 AM
Suitable government-leased housing is provided to all personnel.
Post has a mixture of houses and apartments. All housing is located
in the Gulshan and Baridhara residential areas close to the Embassy
and AIS/D. Housing assignments are made by the Inter-Agency Housing
Board (IAHB) and follow the requirements set out in 6 FAM 700 with
regard to family size and position rank. Houses and apartments
generally have three to four bedrooms, but closets and storage space
are limited. The layout of some houses may be different from what
you would find in American homes. Kitchens are utilitarian, and many
do not have adequate space for a kitchen table. Interiors are
painted white, but some bathrooms are quite colorful. Houses tend to
be dark due to the solid security fences around the yards and the
numerous high rises that are being constructed throughout the
diplomatic enclave. Residences have either a stone-type or marble
floor. Most bedrooms have a connecting bath or one right next to it.
The bedrooms tend to be on the second level with one guest bedroom
on the ground level (if you are in a single family house). Yards
tend to be small.
For security, high walls surround all housing. Houses are
provided with 12-hour nighttime guard service. Apartment buildings
are provided with 24-hour guard service.
Furnishings Last Updated: 3/26/2004 3:53 AM
The Mission provides furniture and appliances for assigned
employees. Post provides living and dining room furnishings, rugs, a
bedroom set for each occupied bedroom plus one guest bedroom if
possible, den/family room furniture, desks, and lamps. Outdoor
furniture is also available. Post-supplied appliances include a
refrigerator, a freezer, a gas stove, a microwave, split
air-conditioner units, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, a washer, a
dryer, a vacuum cleaner, a water distiller, transformers, and
voltage regulators/ transformers. Queen-sized beds are issued for
the master bedroom. Other occupied bedrooms have twin beds. GSO
provides hanging mosquito nets.
Post does not provide ironing boards, full-length mirrors,
uninterruptible power supply (UPS), kitchen tables, dishwashers,
filing cabinets, or outdoor grills. Inexpensive jute carpets in
various sizes are available on the local market. Bring all furniture
needed for infants or young children, including high chairs.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/26/2004 3:58 AM
Residential electricity is adequate for lighting,
air-conditioning, and use of appliances. The supply is 220v/240v,
three-phase, 50-cycle, AC and is metered. Electrical power failures
and fluctuations are frequent. All Embassy dwellings have generators
that automatically kick on during power outages. Even so, voltage
regulators and surge protectors are necessary for electronic
equipment. For computers and similarly sophisticated equipment, a
220 UPS unit and a regulated power source are necessary (may be
Bring fuses and service manuals, including wiring diagrams, for
electronic equipment. Local private electricians are inexpensive and
can repair most items.
Most houses have an underground water storage tank and an
electrical water pump to fill the rooftop water tanks from which the
building water supply is made available; water pressure is from
gravity flow. Bathrooms have acceptable-quality Western fixtures.
City gas supply is available in kitchens for the gas stove/oven and
in the laundry for gas dryers.
Most kitchens are wired with both 115v and 230v, 60-cycle
electrical power. Bring additional transformers and one or more
voltage regulators if you have a lot of appliances or electronic
equipment. Transformers are locally available, but prices are very
high. Most 60-cycle appliances will run safely on a 50-cycle local
electrical power supply system. However, a 60-cycle electrical motor
may overheat if overloaded while running on a 50-cycle system and
eventually burn out. We recommend unplugging electrical equipment
when it is not in use to protect appliances from damage caused by
Residential electrical lighting is provided through at least two
mounted incandescent light fixtures per bedroom and other areas.
Post also provides outside sodium light fixtures for security
lighting at night. Kitchens normally have fluorescent light
The cost of electrical power is high, and post has an aggressive
energy conservation policy. Post advises all residential electricity
users to keep consumption to reasonable limits.
Besides bringing desired electrical and photography equipment,
you may want to bring cleaners for VCRs, cassette decks, CD disks;
demagnetizers for tape decks; tight-fitting covers for your
computer, sound, and video equipment; and computer disks, ribbons,
and other incidentals, including a portable UPS system. Computer
paper is available locally. A small variety of film and a few
standard-quality VHS videocassette blank tapes are available from
the commissary. You can purchase AAA-, AA-, C-, and D-size batteries
through the commissary. Some other types of batteries are available
on the local market.
The Bangladeshi Government places restrictions on durable goods
that may be imported. These include most electrical appliances such
as sewing machines, microwave ovens, and electronic equipment. Two
audio and two visual (TV/VCR) systems are allowed. If you wish to
bring more of these items, please consult the post GSO Section.
Alternatively, you may buy such 220v equipment locally at duty
free shops, local stores, or at stalls at the National Stadium.
Because the Government of Bangladesh is encouraging the advancement
of Information Technology (IT), many computer products of the latest
models may be found on the local market for comparable or cheaper
prices than in the U.S.
Food Last Updated: 11/25/2003 10:58 AM
A U.S. commissary, directed by an elected Board of Trustees,
operates daily except for certain holidays. Membership is available
to U.S. Government direct-hire employees and a controlled group of
other nationalities with passbook privileges. The commissary carries
an adequate selection of grocery items: canned vegetables, fruits,
and meats; frozen items such as vegetables, ground beef, bacon,
chicken, cheese, and butter; spices, cooking oil, and condiments;
juices, soft drinks, wide range of wines and spirits, cigarettes,
and coffee; paper products and cleaning supplies; dog and cat food
and cat litter; cereals, flour, sugar, rice, pasta, and powdered and
long-shelf-life (UHT) milk. Most basic food items are available.
The commissary stocks a supply of baby diapers, baby wipes,
powder, lotion, and shampoo. Other baby products, including baby
food, are not available in the commissary. Bring formula, food,
aspirin, oil, and medicated skin products with you in your air and
surface shipments. Special commissary orders of formula and food can
be placed prior to your arrival; additional necessary nonliquid
supplies can be pouched.
You may place special orders by caselots; shipment of supplies
from the U.S. takes 3–7 months. The commissary also offers the
possibility of special ordering items from the U.K. and Thailand.
About 40% of commissary members take advantage of these special
A membership deposit of $350 for families and $250 for singles is
charged upon arrival. You will receive a full refund upon departing
Locally, you may purchase meat, fish, shrimp, eggs, fresh
vegetables, and fruit. For much of the year, a variety of vegetables
is available. Several types of leaf lettuce, green beans,
cauliflower, broccoli, green pepper, celery, and tomatoes are in the
market only during the coolest part of the year. During the hottest
6 months, vegetables are limited to potatoes, onions, eggplant,
cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, and a variety of local greens and
Several varieties of tropical fruits are available locally in
season, including mangoes, pineapples, bananas, papayas, lychees,
amra, watermelons, and guavas. Oranges, apples, pears, and grapes
are imported from India, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Australia.
As importation restrictions have been lifted, more and more
clean, well-stocked “supermarkets” are appearing within our
residential areas. They are even beginning to stock diet and “lite”
items to cater to Western buying habits.
Home gardens can provide a variety of foods to your diet. For
those who do not have a yard in which to plant a garden, large
flowerpots on the roof can be used to plant vegetable seeds.
Tomatoes, carrots, beets, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce
(leafy varieties), and herbs may be grown. Much attention needs to
be given to a vegetable garden in order to keep the insects and
crows from consuming the fruits of your labor. If you wish to try
out your green thumb at post, you may want to bring additional
garden tools, including a hand sprayer, as well as fertilizer and
pesticides and a supply of seeds. However, local gardeners seem to
have “green thumbs” and are able to produce quite well from what is
available on the local market.
Clothing Last Updated: 11/25/2003 10:58 AM
Bring a large supply of summer clothing and shoes for all
occasions. Loose-fitting cotton clothes are more comfortable than
synthetics for the high humidity that prevails throughout much of
the year. Clothes wear out due to frequent washing and required
changes. Professional work attire is less formal than in the
Washington, D.C. area.
Because of the intense sun and heavy rains, you can never have
enough umbrellas on hand. They are available locally, but are of low
Since rust permeates everything and mildew is prevalent 9 months
of the year, clothing and leather items must be given special
attention. Plastic garment bags are not recommended. Use old sheets,
etc., to cover stored clothes and to act as dust covers on open
Local tailors make basic men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing.
Success is most often achieved when a garment copy is supplied.
Tailors cannot use paper patterns, but include them if you sew. The
subcontinent offers some of the most beautiful fabrics in the world
ranging from cottons to fine wedding silks and brocades.
Wool clothing and sweaters can be worn a few weeks during the
cool season and are needed for traveling to neighboring India and
Nepal. Clothing customs vary with the season; lightweight suits are
worn by men more often during the cooler months.
As Bangladesh is home to a large garment industry, a great deal
of casual wear is available at very reasonable prices. Stores and
one large bazaar sell overruns of clothing destined for J.C. Penney,
Sears, Chadwicks, Warner Brothers, and other U.S. companies.
Sportswear and children's wear is often found at these places even
though sizing may be mislabeled and flaws may be found.
Although it is recommended you bring an adequate supply of shoes,
leathermakers are capable of making shoes for both women and men.
Usually, the customer will have a certain style of shoe copied.
Men Last Updated: 11/25/2003 10:59 AM
Suits and ties are appropriate, especially when going to meetings
with Bangladeshi Government officials outside of the Embassy. Within
the Embassy, open-necked shirts and slacks are worn most of the
year. Most entertaining requires either informal or casual wear.
Black tie is requested occasionally. Local tailors can make formal
wear for men for a reasonable price. For leisure activities at home
and at the sports club, shorts, cotton T-shirts, and swim trunks are
needed. Sweatsuits are handy for the cooler months.
All-cotton shirts and slacks are most comfortable for 9 months of
the year. Blends, however, are tolerable for work in the
air-conditioned office and for cooler weather. Bring an adequate
supply of shoes for work and sports, including sandals and thongs
for poolside use. Sweaters and other lightweight wool clothing are
worn by some during the cool months and for travel, especially to
Nepal. Include a good supply of cotton underwear, socks, and proper
athletic wear for a variety of sports.
Women Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:00 AM
Bring lightweight, comfortable clothing for home or office wear.
Mid-calf-length dresses or sleeved blouses with skirts are most
common; pants with long blouses are also appropriate. Modest attire
with covered back and shoulders and mid-calf skirts is appropriate
for occasions that include Bangladeshis. A lightweight shawl or
jacket to cover shoulders is often sufficient to use with more
typically U.S. summer styles; jackets are handy for air-conditioned
rooms as well. Sundresses and shorts can be worn at home, at the
home of an American friend, or at the American Recreation Club.
Two-piece swimwear is acceptable at private clubs. It is important,
however, to be covered when you are traveling between home and your
destination. Include all lingerie and undergarment needs.
Dressy cottons and silks are worn to formal events. Dresses may
be long or mid-calf, and simple or elaborate; shoulders are covered.
Several times during the year, dressy clothing is necessary.
Bangladeshi women wear ornate saris for formal occasions.
Bring a variety of shoes for all occasions; heels, flats, dressy,
and sandals. An old pair of shoes is handy for use during the rainy
season. Bring all sport shoes with you to post. Tevva-type sandals
are invaluable for the rainy, muddy environment.
Many discover the practical comfort of the shalwar kamiz, a
traditional costume with cool, loose-fitting pants and a long tunic
or blouse. It may be purchased locally in cotton or silk or tailored
for you in a fabric of your choice.
Children Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:00 AM
For children, bring a large supply of tennis shoes and sandals.
Consider the warm weather and include sundresses, shorts, T-shirts,
cotton underwear, a large supply of socks, and several bathing
suits. Sweatpants, jeans, and sweaters are necessary for winter and
travel. Dressy clothes are seldom needed. A typical school outfit
includes shorts, T-shirts, socks, and tennis shoes for both boys and
Bring nonskid shoes and slippers, as the floors in most houses
are uncarpeted tile. Costumes for Halloween and school plays are
useful items, but costumes can easily be made by the local tailors.
Bring all clothing for infants. Rubber pants with diapers
encourage skin rashes; try improved products available in the U.S.
Bring diapers and good-quality pins and rubber padding. Some
disposable diapers can be found locally or in the commissary, but
sizes are limited and prices are high. Some cotton clothing, but not
the best quality, can be found locally.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:03 AM
Bangladesh has strict import laws that are not always enforced.
Therefore, many items may be found on the local market. The
commissary carries a limited stock of items needed for personal use:
aspirin, Band-aids, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste,
hand lotion, hair spray, shaving cream, antiseptic, feminine hygiene
essentials, and razors.
Bring all prescription and nonprescription pharmaceuticals and
personal cosmetics. Include allergy medications used regularly,
especially for children. Bring vitamins, adult and children’s
thermometers, aspirin (including baby aspirin), cotton balls, and
first-aid supplies for home use. Bring all of your contact lenses
supplies. Include all personal cosmetic items. Bring hair-coloring
products. You may wish to bring your own shampoo, conditioners, and
permanent wave kits for use in the local salons.
Bring sports clothing: tennis clothes, swimsuits, shorts, cotton
sport socks, hats, sun visors, shade hats, and shoes for sports
activities. Inexpensive T-shirts and jogging suits may be purchased
locally. Bring golf, softball, squash, swimming, and tennis
equipment such as balls, swimming goggles, and bathing caps (if
desired). Many bring personal exercise equipment: exercise bikes,
weights, or rowing machines. Ship bicycles with helmets, spare parts
and chain-type locks; avid Embassy riders find single or double
suspension mountain bikes work best on Bangladesh’s rough roads and
paths. Bring Thermos jugs, a large supply of blue ice, and all sizes
and types of insulated coolers for storing drinks or for picnics and
Bring desired kitchen supplies. Most items are available but are
more expensive on the local market. Include measuring cups (dry and
liquid); stainless steel and Pyrex bowls; wine and regular can
openers; a timer; salt and pepper shakers; a kitchen scale; and all
other specialty utensils for kitchen use, such as a whisk, stirring
spoons, spatulas, and vegetable peelers. Bring a good supply of
knives and a sharpening stone. Include frying pans (preferably
non-Teflon type); saucepans with lids; pie, bread, and cake tins;
and casserole dishes of all sizes.
As home entertaining is one of the post’s pastimes, you will need
dishes and china for dinner parties. You may bring table service for
everyday use and entertaining, but good-quality, reasonably priced
everyday dishes and bone china are available on the local market.
You may want to bring a large supply of glassware for daily use and
entertaining (expensive locally), pitchers for cool liquids, and
coffee and teapots. Include a good supply of plastic food containers
with lids in all sizes, a garbage pail with lid for kitchen use,
shelf organizers, and drawer dividers. Include electrical items:
mixer, toaster, ice cream maker, blender, food processor, coffeepot,
rice cooker, microwave oven, and iron. (Embassy-leased houses have
kitchens wired with both 220v and 115v.) Bring a battery operated
kitchen clock; a U.S. electric clock will not work properly on a
Bring a large supply of kitchen towels and washcloths, bath
towels for two or three bathrooms, bath rugs, shower curtains and
hooks (it is advisable to stick to white and neutral colors because
the bathroom colors tend to be imaginative), beach towels, sheets
for twin- and queen sized beds (generally three bedrooms), mattress
pads, pillows and pillowcases, blankets, bedspreads, large
tablecloths, napkins, and placemats. Attractive hand embroidered
table linens are available locally. Crib sheets may be tailored
locally, but bring rubber protective padding.
Lunch boxes, toys, party notions, a large supply of gifts for
children of a wide age range, games, hobby and art supplies
(crayons, paper, paste, paint, felt tips), tricycles or bicycles and
bicycle helmets, and musical instruments with music are useful.
Other items to include are Christmas and holiday ornaments
(although many NGOs sell inexpensive, lovely Christmas ornaments
during the holiday season), hobby materials, games, playing cards,
thermometers, combination locks, a basic tool kit, home decorative
objects, an ironing board, extra ironing board covers and pads, coat
hangers, closet organizers, a fireproof cash box, reading material,
a computer and computer supplies, camera supplies and equipment,
blank cassette tapes, gifts, pet supplies, battery-operated clocks,
a garden sprayer, and chaise lounges. Include flashlights for your
car and home during short power outages. Bring all baby equipment,
including high chairs.
Basic Services Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:03 AM
Dhaka has several beauty parlors and basic barber facilities.
Bring your own hair-coloring products, except for henna, which is
available here. Drycleaning services are inexpensive and generally
good. Picture framing is quite reasonable and well done. Film
processing is adequate and reasonably priced. Local tailors can sew
basic styles or copy an existing garment successfully and
inexpensively. Basic vehicle repairs are done locally, though parts
are sometimes difficult to find.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:05 AM
Most Americans employ household help. For persons unaccustomed to
having full-time household employees, this may take some adjustment.
The number and hours of servants required depends upon family size,
desires, size of living quarters, size of servants’ quarters, and
the extent and type of entertaining. Salary depends upon servants’
ability, responsibility, and understanding of English. Like all
other salaries, local inflation and cost of living affect servants’
A bearer is a personal servant, housekeeper, or maid (usually
male) and currently receives about $75–$105 a month. A cook/bearer
earns $80–$135, and a full-time cook (usually male), responsible for
all shopping, $80–$135.
An “ayah” (nursemaid, female) cares for small children for
$65–$95 a month; usually the ayah is an ayah/bearer who helps with
the household chores.
A “mali” (male) may be hired to maintain the yard for $65–$95 a
month. Additional combinations may be a mali/chowkidar (guard) or
Drivers (male) are also available for $75–$115.
There are many combinations of household staff depending on the
family’s needs. The average number of servants that Embassy
personnel employ is two. The Embassy currently provides local guard
service for each home between 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Many employees hire a
combination guard/gardener to provide residential security for other
hours. Employees living in apartments will have 24-hour guard
service provided by the Embassy.
Employers have no specific legal liability regarding servants,
though most pay medical expenses for illness and injury. Servants
should have a complete medical examination before employment and a
periodic checkup by a local doctor. A security background check may
be done by the RSO, if desired.
A yearly holiday bonus equal to 1 month’s salary is standard.
Also, at separation, 1 month’s salary is paid for every 1 year a
servant works. In essence, servants are paid 14 months wages for
every 12 months they work. In addition to wages and bonuses, tea,
bread, milk, sugar, soap, and rice are sometimes supplied. Although
there may be standard customs regarding help, firmly set your own
rules, regulations, and boundaries for your household help.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:05 AM
The Constitution of Bangladesh grants freedom of religion.
Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist groups are widely found as these faiths
are the ones of the host country. Catholic and Protestant
congregations have been established for generations in Dhaka.
Most Roman Catholics from the American community attend
English-language Masses held on Saturday at Our Lady of Sorrows in
Busandhara or on Sunday at Banani Seminary. Many priests are U.S.
citizens (Holy Cross Fathers) or Italian. Sporadically, First
Communion and religious education classes are also held. Twice a
year, the Armenian Church holds services for all in their historic
An interdenominational Protestant church holds English-language
services weekly in Busandhara. This interdenominational congregation
is self-supporting and employs both a senior and a youth pastor, who
is in charge of a youth group from grades 6 through 12. The Anglican
Church, St. Thomas New Centre, has an English-language service for
Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Methodists every Friday morning. The
Seventh-day Adventists hold an English-language service on Saturday
mornings. The Dhaka Assemblies of God Church holds services twice a
week, on Friday mornings and Sunday evenings. The Latter-day Saints,
Mennonites, and Bahai are also represented in Dhaka.
At Post Last Updated: 5/13/2004 4:49 AM
The American International School Dhaka (AIS/D) is a coeducational
day school for students of all nationalities from preschool (4 years
old) through grade 12. The academic year begins in mid-August and
ends in early June.
The school is divided into three sections, elementary school,
middle school, and high school. AIS/D is administered by an American
superintendent and three principals and governed by a 9-member
school board composed of parents of students enrolled in the school.
Three positions on the board are held by direct-hire U.S. Embassy
employees, another three are Americans, and three are other
nationalities. There is also a nonvoting Ambassador’s representative
on the board. AIS/D is accredited by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges and the Council of International Schools.
The school occupies a 4½-acre campus in Baridhara, a suburb of
Dhaka, only a short distance from the U.S. Embassy. The modern,
air-conditioned buildings consist of a library; 58 classrooms,
including 2 art, 2 music, 5 science, and 3 computer rooms; 3
gymnasiums, a cafeteria, and an auditorium. School grounds encompass
a softball/ soccer field, a 25-meter swimming pool, and a small
A library of over 25,000 volumes is available for students and
their families. The facility is available on a fee basis to
expatriate employees of any organization that sponsors children
attending the school. All instructional and art materials are
furnished by the school. AIS/D operates its own fleet of buses for
transporting students to and from school.
The curriculum is based on the American model. Numerous specialty
teachers are employed: art, music, physical education, computers,
English as a Second Language, resource specialist, French, Spanish,
and south Asian studies. The school’s scholastic standards are high,
and graduates attend many fine universities worldwide. AIS/D has a
limited special education program. Parents of children with special
needs must contact the school before accepting a posting in Dhaka.
A strong extracurricular program is maintained for students of
all ages. After school activities are offered for a small fee. On
the average, 20 different activities are scheduled each quarter. The
school participates in the South Asia Inter School Association (SAISA)
and sponsors athletic teams, including swimming, track and field,
basketball, volleyball, and soccer.
Students travel in and out of the country to participate in SAISA
events and educational field trips. These trips are financed
individually by the parents and are not covered by the school fees.
In addition, the school's PTA sponsors a weekend soccer program and
other events. PTA activities depend on parent volunteers.
Parents wishing to enroll their children should write:
Superintendent, American Embassy (AIS/D), Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20521-6120 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org (website www.ais-dhaka.net). There is a $50
application fee for kindergarten through grade 12 and $50 for
preschool, a yearly capital fee (preschool — $600, grades
kindergarten through 3 — $1,480, and grades 4 through 12 — $1,830),
and tuition rates for 2004-2005 range from $4,150 to $13,180,
depending on the grade level. U.S. Government employees are provided
an educational allowance to cover these costs.
Alternative schooling to AIS/D includes the International
School/Dhaka (British based) and Grace International School
(Christian, through grade 8). Several other preschools exist and
more information may be obtained from the CLO.
Away From Post Last Updated: 5/13/2004 4:51 AM
Post does not have a special "away from post" eduction allowance.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/13/2004 4:53 AM
Bangladeshi instructors, under Embassy contract, conduct a Bangla-language
training program at the Embassy. Adults from all agencies are
eligible to participate as funding permits.
Various institutes in Dhaka offer lessons in Bangla. French may
be taken at the French School and Alliance Française. AIS/D also
offers a few courses for adults at the school, such as computer and
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:07 AM
The American Recreation Association (ARA) operates a club on an
attractive compound covering about half a city block and located in
Gulshan. The club is the hub of the Mission’s social activity and
has about 670 members. It includes two lighted, hard-surface tennis
courts; one air-conditioned squash court; swimming and wading pools;
volleyball and badminton areas; a basketball court; two playgrounds;
and a weight/aerobics room. Inexpensive squash and tennis lessons
are available. We suggest you bring all of your own equipment and
sportswear, as local availability of such goods is sporadic.
Club amenities include a restaurant, a bar with pool table area,
a rooftop dining area, a large multipurpose room, a cabana by the
pool, a video/DVD rental facility (U.S. specifications), and a
catering service. Special activities and sports tournaments are held
frequently, and the weekly Thursday Pizza Night is a popular event.
The club is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
Dues are $30 per month for singles and $60 per month for families. A
one-time refundable deposit of $100 is required of all Mission
members when they join.
The Kurmitola Golf Club is located on the Dhaka Cantonment near
Gulshan. In addition to an 18-hole golf course, the facility has a
swimming pool and a restaurant/bar open daily. Membership fees are
high and fluctuate from year to year. There is restricted access to
the golf club for nonmembers. Members must pay an additional monthly
fee. Lessons are available, usually from a caddie since the club has
no pro on staff. No rental clubs exist. Bring all equipment,
including clubs, balls, and pull-cart if desired.
The Sheraton and Sonargaon hotels also provide recreational
opportunities. Memberships are available for the health club,
tennis, and swimming facilities. Fees are moderately high but too
far to get to practically.
Numerous opportunities for adult team sports are available.
Currently, active teams exist for slow-pitch softball, volleyball,
basketball, rugby, tennis, and soccer. Hashers run/walk throughout
the year. Aerobics classes are also available. Activities vary
depending upon interest.
Bicycle riding for children is limited to their residential area
where there is less traffic. A number of adults ride regularly in an
area adjacent to Dhaka. Helmets are essential but most parents are
uncomfortable allowing their children to ride bikes in the streets.
It is possible to either buy a share or rent a motorized wooden,
country boat. Boats can be hired at Sadarghat in Old Dhaka, at
Narayanganj, about 10 miles from Dhaka, or at Sluice Gate (Swiss
Gate) on the road to Tangail. Groups often go on boating parties and
several private companies also offer relaxing boat tours.
Cox’'s Bazaar, which is south of Chittagong and 500 kilometers
from Dhaka, is one of the few ocean beaches used in Bangladesh.
Swimming in local rivers and ponds is not safe.
There are several clubs operated by other embassies and
international groups. Most of the clubs have tennis courts, squash
courts, and swimming pools. The majority of these clubs has open
nights when members of other clubs are welcome to attend. Each of
the clubs sponsors various social events throughout the year for the
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:17 AM
Interesting buildings and sights in Dhaka include the High Court,
Dhaka Museum, Lalbagh Fort, the Liberation War Museum, the
Parliament Building, Armenian Church, and Nawab’s Pink Palace. The
Star Mosque, known for its lovely blue star external ornamentation,
and the Baital-Mukarram, built in the style of the Kaaba at Mecca,
are two of the most notable of the several hundred mosques
throughout the city. However, women are not allowed inside mosques
The zoo and botanical gardens provide interesting diversions from
the crowded city streets. The narrow, winding streets of the
Chowkbazaar section of Old Dhaka have picturesque bazaars and shops.
The main riverfront of the city, Sadarghat, lies on the bank of the
Buriganga River; a visit to the ferry terminal is a good starting
point to see Old Dhaka. About 10 miles from Dhaka is Narayanganj,
the center of the jute trade in Bangladesh and a thriving river
port. A number of Mogul and Hindu ruins are within 25 miles of the
city at old Sonargaon.
Most people avoid self-drive travel outside and around Dhaka due
to traffic congestion, unpredictability of ferry services, constant
crowds, and lack of public services. CLO helps facilitate
“adventure” travel outside of Dhaka. Also, there is a local tour
company that is proficient on arranging package tours throughout the
country such as to the Sundarbans, visits to Hindu and Muslim ruins,
and boat trips.
Sylhet, with 78,000 acres and 132 tea estates, offers a relaxing
change from city life and is accessible by road and by train.
Rangamati, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, is a tribal area recently
opened to expatriates. It is an interesting place to visit,
especially for boat rides on Kaptai Lake, where tribal weaving
villages may be visited.
A boat trip through the Sundarbans is a “must” if you like
roughing it. It is claimed that the Sundarbans is the largest
mangrove forest in the world. Various migratory birds, river otters,
and rarely a Bengal tiger may be spotted on the trip. Other boat
trips include 1-day trips out of Dhaka and a 3-day river trip on a
steamer boat called “The Rocket.”
To further explore the same or similar culture, trips to India
are available. Round-trip flights from Dhaka leave daily for
Calcutta for around $142. Calcutta offers a wider glimpse into
Bengali culture through visits to museums and other historical
To experience a break from the subcontinent culture, one must fly
to nearby countries such as Thailand, Nepal, and Burma. Daily
flights to Bangkok leave Dhaka for about $350 round trip. Bangkok is
a busy city and a nice diversion from Dhaka. Flights to Kathmandu
are around $220 and leave Dhaka four times a week, offering cooler
weather in Nepal and an opportunity to trek in the Himalayas. On
Sundays there is a flight to Rangoon for about $280.
Frequently, there are special tourist packages offered to U.S.
Embassy employees by airlines servicing Dhaka. Recent packages
include: Bali on Singapore Airlines and Bangkok on Thai Airlines.
These packages offer a variety of accommodations at economy, medium
and deluxe hotels.
Entertainment Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:12 AM
Recreation and entertainment consists largely of self-generated
dinners, receptions, and events. Everyone makes use of the limited
facilities and activities available — primarily the American
Recreation Association, AIS/D if you have students attending the
school, other expat clubs, and private residences. There are
virtually no acceptable recreational facilities for picnicking or
hiking within easy reach of Dhaka. There are no theaters that offer
movies in English.
Western cultural presentations are offered by the Embassy’s
Public Affairs Office and other diplomatic agencies, including the
British Council, Alliance Française, the Italian Embassy, and German
Cultural Center in the form of plays, lectures, films, and musical
programs. A couple of plays are presented throughout the year by the
Dhaka Stage theater group and AIS/D. The Dhaka Chorus and AIS/D
present concerts during the year. Besides organizing the Marine
Ball, the Marine Security Guard Detachment organizes happy hours and
social functions at the Marine House.
For Indian and Bengali culture, the National Museum, Shilpakala
Academy, and Osmani Hall host exhibitions and cultural performances.
You may enjoy folk music, dance festivals, plays, poetry readings,
art exhibitions, and recitals. The Dhaka Museum includes collections
of 10th- and 12th-century Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, folk arts
and crafts of tribal groups, painting, ancient coins, and Mogul arms
A number of restaurants serve Indian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, and
Italian dishes. The Sonargaon and Sheraton hotels have several
restaurants that offer a greater variety of entrees, including
Western cuisine such as French and Italian.
Among Americans Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:12 AM
Organizations within the American community include the American
Recreation Association (ARA); Dhaka American Women’s Club (DAWC);
Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts (a complete program is available); and
Girl Scouts/Brownies for girls.
All U.S. women or women married to U.S. citizens are invited to
join the Dhaka American Women’s Club (DAWC). In addition to
charitable work and community service, the DAWC organizes monthly
activities. A monthly newsletter, the Bangladasher, is also
published by the club.
The CLO sponsors tours and events for a wide range of ages and
interests depending on the interests and requests of the community.
International Contacts Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:13 AM
A number of expatriates, who can best be met through the cultural,
special interest, and sports activities, live in Dhaka:
The UN Women’s Association (UNWA) offers an associate membership
to women who are not spouses of UN employees.
There is the Dhaka International Garden Society (DIGS). The Dhaka
Stage theater group welcomes volunteers for its productions. The
Dhaka Chorus sings each week and gives two concerts a year. The
Asian Study Group (ASG) offers events twice a month on the culture
of Bangladesh and South Asia.
Dhaka has several international service clubs. Individual and
team sports competitions provide a good opportunity to meet the
large expatriate community. Bridge groups also meet weekly for
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:15 AM
The Ambassador, the DCM, and other senior diplomatic personnel
are involved in national day receptions and diplomatic and
governmental functions. Some are black tie; most are casual dress or
informal (business suits). Women’s Western clothing for these
occasions may be either mid-calf, long or pants and shoulders should
be covered. An alternative for females is to wear subcontinent dress
in the form of saris or shalwar kamises. Other officers are less
involved in official events but do periodically attend and host
representational functions. The Ambassador, either at the atrium in
the Embassy or at the Ambassador’s residence, hosts a few large
representational events during the year.
Dress requirements change and vary with the seasons. Clothes are
more formal throughout the cooler months; during the summer,
appropriate dress is more casual due to the heat and humidity.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:14 AM
Only key officials are required to observe protocol rules when
calling on host country officials and heads of diplomatic missions.
Bangladeshi officials and foreign diplomatic officers are
accessible, and good professional relationships are easily
established. All officers need business cards and invitations, which
can be printed locally at a reasonable cost.
Special Information Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:14 AM
Post Orientation Program
Upon arrival, a new employee will be assigned a social sponsor
who will help with the shopping and introductions during the first
few weeks. The new employee will also be assigned an office sponsor
who will make introductions at work. An Embassy orientation program
will be conducted shortly after the employee’s arrival at post. In
the Embassy orientation, the employee and adult family members will
visit policy and administrative offices in the Embassy to be briefed
and oriented as to each particular office’s function.
The CLO provides a wide range of services to orient newcomers.
CLO maintains a library of reference materials and complete files of
information about living in Dhaka. One of the CLO’s most important
functions is to foster good morale and a sense of community among
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:20 AM
The Department of State Travel Office will arrange the most
appropriate routing to post, either east bound or west bound.
Inform the Management Section well in advance of your travel
plans. Include arrival date, airline, flight number, and number of
family members and/or pets. If your plans change en route, inform
the Embassy immediately using official communication channels: U.S.
Embassy fax (880)(2) 8823744; USAID fax (880)(2) 8823648, Attn.:
Embassy Travel Section.
You will be met on arrival and assisted through customs and
immigration. If you are not met, call the Embassy travel office at
8855500-22, ext. 2775, during office hours, or the Marine Security
Guard at 8855500, x2252 (Post 1) after hours.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:24 AM
State Department and USAID employees address surface shipments as
Name of Employee
Surface shipments take at least 2 months to arrive whether sent
from the east or west coast. The shipping agent should forward the
original bill of lading and packing and shipping documents via
courier service (preferably DHL) to GSO/SHIPPING, American Embassy,
Dhaka, as soon as possible and send an additional copy through the
regular mail service. If the shipment is coming from another post,
the GSO will send these documents; the U.S. Dispatch Agent will send
them when the shipment originates in the U.S. List consignments on
bills of lading as “Household Effects.”
The Bangladeshi Government places restrictions on imports of
durable goods. Durable goods are considered to include most
electrical appliances, such as sewing machines and microwave ovens.
In addition, electronic equipment, such as stereo sound systems and
visual systems (TV and video recorder), is included in the
restriction. An employee is allowed two each of the above items. If
you plan to bring more, contact GSO so that the necessary approvals
and waivers may be obtained prior to the arrival of your belongings.
There are no restrictions on size and weight of liftvans. All
vans should be lined with waterproof materials and tin-roofed since
they may be exposed to heavy rain. Vans are subject to rough
handling; therefore, they must be constructed durably and braced
inside to protect packed items. Please ship the containerized HHE (FCL
container) directly by sea to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) Dhaka
via the Port of Chittagong. Please note that the place of
delivery/final destination on the bill of lading should be ICD
Dhaka, and the port of discharge should read “Port of Chittagong.”
Please ship LCL (less than a container load) shipments to the Port
Shipment of unaccompanied baggage (airfreight) from the U.S. may
be routed by any U.S. flag carrier preferably via London on to
Dhaka. Ensure that all UAB packages are thoroughly waterproofed and
that no single package weighs more than 200 pounds gross. The Dhaka
airport has no mechanical cargo-handling equipment, so any package
that cannot be handled easily by two men is left outside exposed to
State Department and USAID airfreight shipments should be
Name of Employee
Forward a list of contents reflecting item cost to the post. You
should arrange for private insurance against damage or loss of your
Ship your POV unboxed. Remove small items such as cigarette
lighters, mirrors, antennas, wheel covers, and wiper arms and
blades, and ship these along with your HHE. Bring a copy of the
commercial invoice or bill of sale clearly reflecting the vehicle’s
purchase price. POVs of State Department, DAO, and USAID employees
should be consigned and forwarded in the same manner as surface
Personal property shipments cannot be cleared prior to the
employee’s arrival. Therefore, time all shipments so that their
arrival in Dhaka or Chittagong will coincide with the employee’s
arrival at post.
Passage Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:25 AM
Bring one or two dozen 1½” x 1½” photographs of yourself and each
of your family members for Bangladesh identification documentation,
visa, and drivers licenses. Photos are also needed for visas to
visit other countries. There are several quick-photo shops in Dhaka
where you may have inexpensive photographs taken.
Everyone coming must have a Bangladesh visa. The Bangladeshi
Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Consulate General in New York
issue visas; they can also be obtained in any city where Bangladesh
has a diplomatic mission.
All persons without diplomatic passports must declare foreign
currency and retain the currency declaration form. They must return
this form upon departure whether on leave, temporary duty, R&R,
final departure from post, etc. Upon reentry, the process is
Pets Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:26 AM
Bangladesh has no quarantine requirements for pets. Have your pet
fully inoculated (rabies, distemper, etc.) and bring vaccination
certificates and certificate of good health properly executed by a
If pets accompany the traveler as excess baggage, send a copy of
pets’ health certificate by fax one week prior to arrival to get
clearance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (this avoids a $50
customs’ fee). If pets are shipped as unaccompanied airfreight or
are booked as cargo under an air way bill, please notify the Embassy
by cable of your intention to import pets one week in advance of
your arrival, including the number of pets, species, weight, air way
bill number, and flight details (fax a copy to post at the GSO, fax
(880)(2) 882–2551. With this information, the GSO can have the pets
cleared through customs by our contracted clearing agent at the
employee’s expense (about $34); failing to notify the Embassy as
requested will cause inconveniences to traveler and pets.
One or two local veterinarians are available, although their
skills are limited and no diagnostic facilities for pets exist
in-country. Try to have as much preventive care done on your pet
before coming, which for dogs would include testing for heartworm.
Bring a leash and all other pet supplies, including a good quantity
of medicated flea shampoo and deworming medicine. The commissary
stocks some dry and canned pet food and some kitty litter.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 5/13/2004 5:30 AM
Bangladesh law prohibits the importation and possession of most
popular calibers of pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Thus, current
Embassy policy prohibits the importation of defensive/offensive
weapons (air rifles and pistols, stun guns, mace, crossbows, etc.)
that may cause serious injury or death, firearms, and ammunition.
Hunting is not feasible in Bangladesh due to its very high
population density. Please contact the Embassy Security Office at
880(2)885-5500, or ZebleyDC@state.gov for details.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
5/16/2004 3:20 AM
Bangladesh currency is in denominations of taka and paishas
(one-hundredth of a taka). The exchange rate fluctuates frequently
but not by a great amount. US$1=taka 58 (May 2004). Currency notes
are 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 taka. There is a 1-taka coin and
a 5-taka coin.
The American Express Bank provides accommodation exchange
services to U.S. Government employees within the Embassy. The bank
is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., each working day. Several
foreign banks, including American Express, Citibank, and Standard
Chartered Bank, operate in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Bank does not allow
the exchange of taka for dollars, unless the customer has a ticket
for travel outside of Bangladesh and an airplane ticket in hand.
This is true for both cash and travelers checks. Many employees
purchase excess dollars or travelers checks in dollars when
traveling to the U.S. or regionally to have on hand.
The metric system is used in Bangladesh.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/16/2004 3:22
Motor vehicles and other items such as stereo hi-fi systems, TVs,
DVD players and DVDs, VCRs and video tapes, computers, calculators,
cameras, refrigerators, freezers, and sewing machines that are
imported duty free into Bangladesh under diplomatic privileges by
U.S. Government employees for personal use must not be sold or
disposed of to any Bangladeshi citizens or other persons who do not
hold diplomatic status or duty-free privileges without prior
approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and payment of
applicable duties. Upon departure, such property must be exported
(even if it is broken) unless disposed of in accordance with
Bangladeshi Government and Mission regulation policies. The sale of
property is subject to the following restrictions:
Property to be sold must belong to and be used by you, and not
brought into the country specifically for resale.
You must be scheduled to depart permanently from Bangladesh
within 3 months of the sale.
The property sale must be approved in advance by the Ministry of
The prescribed form, JAS-79, must be completed for evaluation by
the management officer and the general services officer to determine
what Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) clearances are required prior
to actual disposal of property. The GSO Shipping and Customs Section
is available for assistance in obtaining the required sale
permission from the MFA.
Requests to sell personal property more than 90 days before your
scheduled departure will be considered only under extraordinary
circumstances. Requests should be submitted 45 days prior to your
You or your family member shall not retain any profit from the
sale, assignment, or other disposition within Bangladesh of personal
property that was imported into or purchased in Bangladesh and that,
by virtue of your official status, was exempt from import
You must comply fully with all Bangladeshi Government laws and
regulations pertaining to the duty-free property sale imported by
privileged or diplomatic persons. All applicable customs, duties,
taxes, and other levies due to the Bangladeshi Government should be
paid before completion of the sale.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/16/2004 3:27 AM
These titles and sites are provided as a general indication of
the material published on this country. The Department of State does
not endorse unofficial publications.
Ahmed, Dr. Nazimuddin. Discover the Monuments of Bangladesh.
Dhaka: UPL, 1986.
Blanchet, Therese. Women, Pollution, and Marginality: Meaning and
Rituals of Birth in Rural Bangladesh. Dhaka: University Press, 1984.
Glassie, Henry. Art and Life in Bangladesh. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1997.
Godden, Jon and Rumer. Two Under the Indian Sun. (for older
children). MacMillan, 1966.
Haque, Enamul. Islamic Art History of Bangladesh. Dhaka:
Bangladesh National Museum, 1983.
Maloney, Clarence. Behavior and Poverty in Bangladesh. Dhaka:
University Press Limited, 1991.
Mascarenhas, John. Bangladesh: Legacy of Blood. London: Holder
and Stoughton, 1986.
Newton, Alex. Lonely Planet on Bangladesh: A Travel Survival Kit.
Berkeley, CA: Lonely Planet Publications, 1996.
Novak, James J. Bangladesh: Reflections on the Water.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Radice, William. Teach Yourself Bengali: A Complete Course for
Beginners. Illinois: NTC Publishing Group, 1994.
Sobhan, Rehman. From Aid Dependence to Self Reliance. Dhaka:
Mohiddin Ahmed, The University Press, 1990.
Tagore, Rabindranath. Selected Poems. Translated by William
Radice. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.
Tagore, Rabindranath. Glimpses of Bengal. London: Macmillan.
Webbergren, Boyd and Charles Antholt. Weightman, Simon (editor).
Indian Subcontinent: Traveller’s Literary Companion. Illinois:
Passport Books, 1996.
White, Sarah C. Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in
Bangladesh. New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd, 1992.
Ziring, Lawrence. Bangladesh: From Mujib to Ershad. Dhaka:
University Press, 1992.
Happenings-Community Newsletter/Intl Schools:
Note: to subscribe to the BICN newsletter e-mailed the first &
third Wednesdays September to May from Dhaka, Bangladesh, email bicn-subscribe@
http://www.ais-dhaka.net/ (AIS/D School)
http://bicn.com/gis (Grace Int’l School)
Bangladesh newspapers (dailies):
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/25/2003 11:22 AM
Martyrs Day (International Language day) February 21
Independence Day March 26
Bangla New Year April 14
Buddha Purnima May 17
Janmasthami August 22
Solidarity Day November 7
Victory Day December 16
*Islamic religious holidays are observed according to the lunar
calendar. Each year the dates change by about 10 days.