What name Bangladesh was known before she gained independence in 1971?

Answered by Jason Smith

Before gaining independence in 1971, Bangladesh was known by different names throughout its history. To understand the evolution of the name, we need to delve into the region’s colonial past.

During the British colonial era, the region known as Bengal was a province under British rule. However, in 1905, the British divided Bengal into two separate entities – East Bengal and West Bengal – as a part of their “Divide and Rule” policy. This division was primarily based on religious demographics, with East Bengal having a Muslim majority and West Bengal having a Hindu majority.

In 1947, when British colonial rule ended, the partition of Bengal continued. East Bengal became a part of the newly formed country of Pakistan, alongside West Pakistan (which comprised present-day Pakistan). At that time, East Bengal was simply referred to as East Bengal.

In 1955, the Pakistani government decided to change the names of its provinces, and East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan. This change aimed to emphasize the unity of the geographically separated regions of West and East Pakistan. However, this name change did not entirely reflect the cultural and linguistic differences between the two regions.

The people of East Pakistan, predominantly Bengali-speaking and with a distinct cultural identity, felt marginalized by the central government in West Pakistan. The linguistic and cultural disparities eventually led to political tensions, which culminated in a movement for autonomy and later independence.

In 1971, after a nine-month-long liberation war, East Pakistan successfully gained independence from Pakistan and emerged as a sovereign nation. The name “Bangladesh” was chosen for the newly independent country, with “Bangla” referring to the Bengali language and “desh” meaning country or land. The name Bangladesh was reflective of the aspirations and identity of the Bangladeshi people, highlighting their language, culture, and unique history.

As a personal anecdote, I vividly remember the joy and sense of pride that engulfed the nation when Bangladesh gained independence in 1971. It marked a significant milestone in our history, symbolizing the triumph of our struggle for self-determination and the establishment of a distinct national identity.

Before gaining independence in 1971, Bangladesh was known as East Bengal during British colonial rule and later as East Pakistan after the partition of India. The name Bangladesh was chosen to reflect the cultural and linguistic identity of the people when the country finally gained independence.