Bangladesh has had a short and tumultuous history, including one very destructive war, at least five severe cyclones accompanied by catastrophic flooding and regular alternation between parliamentary democracy and military dictatorships. Of all the Asian countries, she faces perhaps the most serious threat from climate change — a 2012 World Bank report assessed her as ‘highly vulnerable’. One of the most crowded countries on earth, she has 160 million people on 150,000 hectares of fertile but mostly low-lying land on the delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Because 10 per cent of Bangladesh is barely three feet above mean high tide level, the country is already suffering from large areas of inundation and the destruction of productive land by salt-water incursions. On some estimates the number of climate refugees from there will be above 20 million over the next half-century.
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