The port city
is the chief port of Bangladesh and has extensively developed port facilities
for ocean steamers. Situated on the Karnaphuli River some 19 km (12 mi)
from its mouth at the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong is the commercial and manufacturing
center of the nation, with a population of over 2 millions(est.1991). The
city's many industries, powered by a hydroelectric plant up the river, use
the products of the area--jute, cotton, rice, tea, petroleum (from offshore
installations), and bamboo. The bamboo is harvested chiefly from the Chittagong
Hill tracts, 13,191 sq km (5,093 sq mi) of rugged, thickly forested land
along the Bay of Bengal that is inhabited by primitive mountain tribes who
have opposed recent Bengali settlement in the area. Chittagong's setting
is picturesque: it is surrounded by the bay, the river, and hills that culminate
in mountains up to 1,200 m (4,000 ft) high. Rainfall averages 2,870 mm (113
in) annually, and the average annual temperature is 26 deg C (78 deg F).
An ancient city, Chittagong passed from Tippera (Buddhist) dominance to Arakan (Hindu), Mogul (Muslim) rule and British with periods of reconquest and recontrol. The Portuguese made inroads in the 16th century, and the British gained control in 1760.In 1991 a cyclone (hurricane) severely damaged the city and its harbor.