Bangladesh is located in the easternmost periphery of the Indian Subcontinent. The people of Bangladesh can be proud of a civilization that dates back to almost two millennium. For centuries, the lush and fertile plains of Bengal have attracted traders, travelers and conquerors alike. The Bengali culture has assimilated the influences left by these contacts but at the same time has retained its distinctive features. Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam have also left their own signatures in the life and society and in the process have helped to make Bengal a tolerant and secular society with a liberal outlook. Bengal is also home to almost 45 different ethnic tribes, each with their distinct language and culture.
Bangladesh carries a rich tradition of folklore and folk music, heavily influenced by mystic traditions, which in a large measure has given Bengal its characteristic of humanism and tolerance. The spread of modern education, the influence of the European Renaissance brought by the British, the literary excellence of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and the synchrestic message ingrained in its folklore and art have deeply influenced the Bengalee society. There have been great social reformers like Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who have helped to modernize the society and its social customs. Begum Rokeya has pioneered education among conservative Muslim women.
During the Pakistani period, the struggle for a Bengali cultural identity began immediately in 1948 with the demand for Bengali to be made into one of the state languages. The cultural struggle has always been an integral part of the national struggle.