The borders of the region that constitutes present day Bangladesh were established in the 1947 Partition of India when the region became the eastern wing of newly formed Pakistan. The pairing, based on their common religion (Islam), proved geographically awkward since an expanse of foreign Indian territory, 1 600 km (1 000 mi) wide, separated the two wings. Subjected to political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic neglect at the hands of West Pakistan, the Bengalis of East Pakistan declared independence in 1971. After a civil war, with help from India and the USSR, Bangladesh was born. In spite of its liberation narrative, Bangladesh's development has since been marred by political turmoil, with fourteen different heads of government and at least four military coups.
Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries in the world. The population is generally poor, rural and Muslim. Geographically the country straddles the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subject to annual monsoon floods and cyclones. The government is a secular parliamentary democracy which has been suspended under emergency law since January 2007. Bangladesh is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, SAARC, BIMSTEC, the OIC and the D-8.