Have you ever wondered about the largest cities in the world? How about in a single country? Bangladesh is home to a rich culture, diverse wildlife, and some of the largest cities in the world.
However, not all are created equal! Below, you’ll find a brief introduction to this South Asian country and its 9 largest cities.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh often referred to simply as Bangladesh, is a country located in South Asia. This coastal country between India and Myanmar is the 8th most populated country in the world. Bangladesh has over 165 million people, which is up to five times the population of Florida.
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh, and the country’s official language is Bengali. Located on the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is home to a lush and diverse landscape rich in natural biodiversity. Important symbols include:
- The endangered royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), which is also the national animal
- The shapla (Nymphaea nouchali), the national flower of Bangladesh
- The magpie robin (Copsychus saularis), the national bird of Bangladesh
Largest Cities in Bangladesh
Bangladesh encompasses a multitude of different towns and cities. Let’s look at the 9 most prominent cities in Bangladesh by population!
Dhaka is a unique city for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the country’s capital city and the largest in Bangladesh. In addition, Dhaka is known internationally for being the largest Bengali-speaking city in the world and the eighth-largest city worldwide.
As of 2022, 22,478,000 people live in the metro area of Dhaka. That’s no surprise considering more than 13 percent of the entire country’s population lives in this one city! It’s one of the most densely populated cities in the whole world.
We can trace the history of the city back to the first millennium. Dating back to the 17th century, Dhaka was the capital of the Mughal dynasty in the Bengal province.
Today, Dhaka is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. In 2018, it was predicted to become the largest city by 2025, along with well-known megacities such as Tokyo, New York City, and Beijing. With the current significant population increases, this prediction may indeed be accurate.
With the most active port in the entirety of the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong comes in second for the largest cities in Bangladesh. As of 2022, Chittagong’s greater area population consists of 5.2 million people. For reference, the entire state of Iowa only has a population of around 3 million.
Like Dhaka, Chittagong has a rich and ancient history. As one of the oldest ports in the world, you can find mentions of Chittagong as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, with maps showing this port city’s location.
Although Chittagong makes up only a fraction of Bangladesh’s total population, it does contribute as much as 15 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This contribution is primarily because the oldest — and largest — companies are found in Chittagong.
The city’s name wasn’t always known as Chittagong. After all, as one of the oldest cities in the world, the city’s name underwent various changes. Some of the other historical names for this beautiful port city include:
- Porto Grande De Bengala
In 2020, Khulna had a population of 2.984 million, making it the third-largest city in Bangladesh. While Chittagong is the largest oceanic port in Bangladesh, Khulna is the largest — and most active — river port. It sits on both the Rupsha River and the Bhairab River and is also part of the largest river delta in the world, the Ganges Delta.
Sports are a popular activity in Khulna. The most common sports include cricket and football (soccer).
Rajshahi is a part of a district with the same name and sits on the border of Bangladesh. In Rajshahi, there are 10 different rivers, the most notable being the Padma River.
In 2022, the Rajshahi metro area had a population of 942,000. While showing an increase compared to 2020, the growth wasn’t as significant as other major Bangladesh cities. In 2011, the Rajshahi district had a population of 2,595,197. It’s important to note that most people in Rajshahi live in the surrounding rural areas, with only a small fraction residing in the city’s urban scene.
Rajshahi is known as the “Silk City of Bangladesh” due to the numerous silk factories located within the city. The city is also known for having several media centers and press organizations.
Bogra, officially known as Bogura, is in the Rajshahi division of Bangladesh (although it has its own district). It is the second largest city in the division, following Rajshahi. Its population is currently at around 1.2 million.
Bogra is famous for many things, including its globally renowned red chili. People often refer to the city as the “Town of Banks” because it has a high concentration of banks and financial companies. Bogra also serves as one of the nearest major towns to Mahasthangarh, where you can find the remains of Pundranagara. Many religions, such as Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, consider Pundranagara sacred.
While cities like Dhaka and Chittagong are the heart of Bangladesh’s economy, Sylhet is considered a source of culture and spirituality for the country. However, Sylhet remains an important economic hub, being the third main producer in Bangladesh after Dhaka and Chittagong. The main products produced are tea and natural gas.
In 2022, the recorded population was 928,000.
Comilla officially spelled “Cumilla,” derives from the Bengali word Komolangko, which means “the pond of lotus.” Located in the Chittagong division, Cumilla borders one of the country’s major rivers.
Although Comilla is the fifth largest city in Bangladesh based on size, it has surprisingly less population than some smaller cities. In 2020, Cumilla’s population was only 589,000, and it has grown slightly to 630,000 in 2022.
Barisal was once known as Venice of the East and the Venice of Bengal. It is one of the oldest river ports in all of Bangladesh, although it is not the oldest. Barisal had many other names in ancient times, including Chandradwip, Ismailpur and Bacola.
As of 2022, Barisal is home to 516,000 people. This number is expected to increase, as it has done for several years now.
Located in the district bearing its name and situated on the Brahmaputra River, Mymensingh lies about 75 miles north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital. It holds the title of the country’s second most densely populated city and accounts for a quarter of its medical tourists, as people often visit Bangladesh for medical reasons.
The Mymensingh district, one of Bangladesh’s largest, was also among the original sixteen districts established in 1787. A late 20th-century railroad now bisects Mymensingh, connecting it to Dhaka.
The current population is 477,000.
Summary of the 9 Largest Cities in Bangladesh
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- Bangladesh India Friendship Society, Available here: http://www.bifs.org.bd/bd_national_symbols.php
- CBS News, Available here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dhaka-bangladesh-fastest-growing-city-in-the-world/