Dhaka or Dacca both: dăkˈə [key], city (2021 est. pop. 10,356,500), capital of Bangladesh, on a channel of the Dhaleshwari River, in the heart of the world's largest jute-growing region. It is the industrial, commercial, and administrative center of Bangladesh, with trade in jute, rice, oilseeds, sugar, and tea. The city comprises three distinct sections: an old area of narrow streets and bazaars; a modern part, called Ramna, with government, tourist, and cultural facilities; and a residential and industrial community N and W of Ramna. Between Dhaka and its nearby river port of Narayanganj lies Bangladesh's greatest industrial concentration. The surrounding district is a very densely populated and fertile agricultural region that is subject to heavy monsoon floods. Dhaka's manufactures include textiles, cotton saris, jute products, rope, string, baskets, and boats. Dhaka is famous for its cottage industries (especially confectioneries) and handicrafts (particularly filigree work, embroidery, and shell carving). In the late 19th cent., competition from British cloth virtually ended the manufacture of Dhaka's world-renowned muslins.

Dhaka's history dates back to c.a.d. 1000, but the city achieved glory as the 17th-century Mughal capital of Bengal. English, French, and Dutch industrialists set up factories there in the 17th and 18th cent., and Dhaka passed under British rule in 1765. It became the capital of East Pakistan in 1947. The city was surrendered by the Pakistani army to Indian troops in Dec., 1971, and a few days later became capital of the provisional government of Bangladesh. Landmarks include the Dhakeshwari [“hidden goddess”] temple, from which the city's name probably derives; the Bara Katra palace (1644); the Lal Bagh fort (1678); several beautiful mosques; and the monumental National Assembly complex (1983) designed by Louis Kahn. The Univ. of Dhaka (founded 1921) and other higher educational facilities and agriculture research institutes are also in the city.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Bangladesh Political Geography