Dhaka Population 2017

Dhaka is the most populated city in Bangladesh, and it is also one of the most populated cities in the world. The Greater Dhaka Area has a population of over 18 million as of 2016, while the city itself has a population estimated at about 8.5 million. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.

Dhaka Demographics

Dhaka and the municipalities that make up the Greater Dhaka Area have a total population of over 18 million, and the city has shown population growth of about 4.2% annually. The vibrant culture and thousands of Bangladeshi businesses and international corporations has contributed to migration and population growth. However, like many other metropolises in the world, the growing population has led to an increase in pollution, congestion and poverty, amongst other problems.

Islam is the dominant religion in Dhaka, with 90% of the population identifying as Muslim. Most Muslims are Sinni, and Admadiya and Shia make up the remainder of the 90%. Hinduism is the second most practiced religion, and Christianity and Buddhism are considered minority religions practiced by some Dhakaites.

The primary language in Dhaka is Bengali, with English being the second most primarily used language. The literacy rate of the city has been increasing over the years, rising from 69.2% in 2001 to 74.6% in 2011.

A large number of Dhakaites work in household or unorganized labor, while a substantial portion (approximately 800,000) work in the textile industry, as Dhaka’s garments exporting topped over 19 billion dollars in 2013. Approximately 23% of the population was unemployed according to data from 2013, with an estimated 34% of households living below the poverty line.

The average life expectancy is 70.4 years according to 2013 data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, which reflected a significant increase from 2009’s 67.2 years average. The average life expectancy for males is 68.8, up from 66.1 in 2009, and for females, the number rose from 68.7 to 71.2

Dhaka History

The name “Dhaka” is said to come from the dhak tree that was once plentiful in the area, while others believe the name comes from Dhakeshwari, or The Hidden Goddess, to whom a shrine is built. While the history of the area can be traced back to the 1st century, evidence shows that the area wasn’t settled until around the 7th century. Turkish and Afghan governors ruled the city until the Mughals arrived in 1608 and pronounced it the capital of Bengal.

As townships developed in the area, there was significant population growth. During the 17th century under the rule of Shaista Khan, the population of the city was close to one million. In 1765, control of the city was handed to the British East India Company. During British rule, schools, townships and public works were developed, as well as a civic water system in 1874 and electricity supply in 1878.

Dhaka was named as the capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam following the Partition of Bengal in 1905. However, Bengal was united again in 1911. During the partition of India in 1947, Dhaka was named as the capital of East Bengal as part of Pakistan, which led to an increase in population as hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants flooded in. Following the Bhola cyclone in 1970, the country of Bangladesh declared its independence, and after India fell in Operation Searchlight, Bangladesh and its cities – including Dhaka – became independent.

Dhaka is known worldwide as the City of Mosques, as there are hundreds of mosques that have been built in the city. The city is also considered the industrial and commercial center of Bangladesh with its trade in such goods as jute, rice, sugar and tea, as well as for its thriving textile industry. Dhaka also has a rich cultural history, which can be seen through the modern National Museum or historic sites including Lal Bagh Fort.

Dhaka Population Growth

Migration from rural areas of the country to urban Dhaka is a strong contributor to the population growth. This rural migration accounted for 60% population growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s. While this growth has slowed since that time, Dhaka continues to show steady growth, with estimates placing the 2020 population at almost 21 million, while 2030 may see as many as 27.3 million residents. The fast-growing population has already put tremendous stress on the city, as evidenced by its high rates of poverty, and future concerns include increasing congestion, a higher rate of unemployment and inadequate infrastructure.

Dhaka Population in 2017Source: Ahnaf Saber

Dhaka Population Data (Urban Area)

Year Population Growth Rate (%) Growth
Dhaka Population Growth

Dhaka's 2017 population is now estimated at 18,898,000. In 1950, the population of Dhaka was 336,000. Dhaka has grown by 1,300,000 in the last year, which represents a 7.40% change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Dhaka, which typically includes Dhaka's population in addition to adjacent suburban areas.

Data Sources
  1. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics - Dhaka information and statistics