Dhaka ( DAH-kə or DAK-ə; Bengali: ঢাকা, pronounced [ɖʱaka]), formerly known as Dacca, is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world, with a population of 18.89 million people in the Greater Dhaka Area. Dhaka is the economic, political and cultural center of Bangladesh. It is one of the major cities of South Asia, the largest city in Eastern South Asia and among the Bay of Bengal countries; and one of the largest cities among OIC countries. As part of the Bengal plain, the city is bounded by the Buriganga River, Turag River, Dhaleshwari River and Shitalakshya River. The city is located in an eponymous district and division.
The area of Dhaka has been inhabited since the first millennium. The city rose to prominence in the 17th century as a provincial capital and commercial center of the Mughal Empire in South Asia. Dhaka was the capital of Mughal Bengal for 75 years. As the center of the muslin trade in Bengal, it was one of the most prosperous cities in the Indian subcontinent. The medieval city was named in honor of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and hosted the seat of the Mughal Subahdar (governor), Naib Nazims and Dewans (prime ministers). Medieval Dhaka's glory peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was home to merchants from across Eurasia. The Mughals decorated the city with well-laid out gardens, tombs, mosques, palaces and forts. The city was once called the Venice of the East. Under the British Empire, the city saw the introduction of electricity, railways, cinemas, Western-style universities and colleges and a modern water supply. It became an important administrative and educational center in Eastern Bengal and Assam after 1905. In 1947, after ending of British rule, it became the administrative capital of the East Pakistan. It was declared as the legislative capital of Pakistan in 1962. In 1971, it became the capital of an independent Bangladesh. Article 5 of the Constitution of Bangladesh declares Dhaka as the capital of the republic.
Since its establishment as a modern capital city, the population, area, and social and economic diversity of Dhaka have grown tremendously. Dhaka is now one of the most densely industrialized regions in the country. By the 21st century, it emerged as a megacity, which is now listed as a Beta- Global City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC). Dhaka is a major financial center in the region, being home to many local and international companies. Its stock exchange has over 750 listed companies. The city hosts over 50 diplomatic missions and the headquarters of BIMSTEC. The city's culture is known for its cycle-rickshaws, cuisine, art festivals and religious diversity. The old city is home to around 2000 buildings from the Mughal and British periods, including notable structures such as the Bara Katra and Choto Katra caravansaries. The city's modernist national assembly is one of the largest parliaments in the world.