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ADIBASIS IN BANGLADESH

Map of BangladeshIn Bangladesh adibasis (the Bengali equivalent of adivasis) live mainly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast, in the north and northwest and also to some extent in the northeast of the country. (Alternate map [Source: Wikipedia]).

Adibasis constitute a small percentage of the population of Bangladesh.  The 1991 census counted  roughly 1.2 million adibasis, but the actual population is generally thought to be at least double that. Unlike in India, there is no government-recognized list of  groups, and so there is also disagreement about the number of such groups, listings ranging from the low 20s to over 45 and more.   As Eva Sadia Saad points out, some groups, such as the Garos and the Chakmas, fare better than the average Bangladeshi, for example, in literacy, making it difficult to generalize about the economic well-being of adibasi communites.  Slash and burn agriculture, known as jhum, is still common in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Garos in the north have by and large converted to Christianity, while Chakmas and other peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts widely practice Buddhism.  Adibasis in Bangladesh have not generally converted to Islam or Hinduism.  See Saad for a discussion of traditional practices even among adibasis who practice Buddhism and Christianity.

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