Bangladesh is largely ethnically homogeneous, and its name derives from the Bengali ethno-linguistic group which comprises 98% of the population. There are many dialects of Bengali spoken throughout the region. About 89% of Bangladeshis are Muslims, followed by Hindus (10%), Buddhists (0.5%); Christians (0.3%) and others (0.2%).


Apart from the ethnic Bengalis, the remainder are mostly tribal groups. The tribal people are concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Southeast. There are 13 tribal groups located in this region, the largest being the Chakma. Outside the Hill Tracts, the largest tribal groups are the Santhals and Garos (Achiks), while smaller groups include the Kaibartta, Meitei, Mundas, Oraons, and Zomi.


Nearly all Bangladeshis speak Bangla as their mother tongue and it is the official language. It is an Indo-Aryan language of Sanskrit origin with its own script. English is used as a second language among the middle and upper classes. English is also widely used in higher education and the legal system.


The population is relatively young, with 60% being 25 or younger. This is offering a window of opportunity, referred to as the ‘demographic dividend’