Situated primarily on the alluvial plains and deltas created by several major rivers, the country of Bangladesh measures slightly larger than the U.S. state of Iowa but it is more than 54 times more densely populated than that state. The CIA World Factbook estimates the population of Bangladesh as of July 2021 at about 164 million people while Iowa provides a home for just over 3 million residents. Bangladesh is nearly surrounded by the country of India, with a short border (about 170 miles/270 km) shared with Burma (Myanmar) in the east.
On November 19, 2021, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a beautiful false-color image that highlights the river systems as they coalesce in Bangladesh and pour into the Bay of Bengal. The most notable are the Ganges, which flows from the west and the Brahmaputra River, which courses westward across the food of the Himalayas and turns south to meet with other rivers to form the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta.
Along the edge of the Delta as it meets the Bay of Bengal are the largest remaining tract of mangrove forests in the world: the Sundarbans. A tapestry of waterway, mudflats and forested islands, this unique ecosystem is home to sharks, crocodiles, freshwater dolphins, more than two hundred species of bird, and the endangered Bengal tiger. Much of this ecosystem has been successfully protected as a National Park, despite the dense population of the country.
This false-color image uses infrared and visible light (bands 7,2,1 on the instrument) to create easy visualization of water. Rivers, ponds, oceans, and other water features show up as dark blue or inky black and contrast well with vegetation, which appears bright green, or bare land, which appears tan in color. Clouds appear light blue or white.