BANGLADESH is known worldwide for its crafts and particularly for the hand woven gossamer fabric - muslin. It is also a country with a rich cultural heritage. The country stretches across about 148,000 square kilometres and its flat alluvial plains provide some of the world's most fertile agricultural land. The land mass comprises mainly the delta of the three mighty rivers, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, and presents a vista of vast green fields bounded by low hills in the northeast and southeast. The highest peak in the Hill Tracts rises 1,230 metres above sea level. About 85 per cent of Bangladeshis live in villages or rural areas. The country's population was last year estimated to be 108 million - an average density of about 800 people per square kilometre. Muslims constitute about 86.5 per cent of the population, Hindus 12.2 per cent, Buddhists 0.6 per cent and Christians 0.4 per cent. There are about 1.2 million tribal people who live mostly in the hilly areas. The adult literacy rate (15 years and older) is about 31 per cent. Bangladesh has a multi-party democratic system and the sovereign 330-seat parliament - the Jatiyo Sangsad - is elected by the people for a five-year term. Three hundred Members of Parliament are elected by direct franchise, while 30 seats reserved for women are filled through indirect election by elected MPs. The body acts as the legislature and approves the budget. It can amend the constitution with support from two-thirds of members. A simple majority, however, is sufficient to approve laws and pass the annual national budget. Jatiyo Sangsad unanimously adopted the Constitution Twelfth Amendment Bill on August 6, 1991, and there followed the change-over to a parliamentary form of government from the presidential system. The historic bill was piloted by Prime Minister Ms Begum Khaleda Zia and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party government initiated further changes which led to the peaceful transformation to the parliamentary process. The switch to the parliamentary system was approved by referendum in September that year. Later, the unicameral parliament elected the President of the Republic. The government remains accountable to the people through a parliament elected by direct popular votes. Parliamentary standing committees for various ministries act as watch-dogs over the government. The Prime Minister, who represents the majority in the house, is responsible to the parliament. The ministers, drawn from MPs of the majority party in the parliament, are, on the other hand, responsible to the Prime Minister who can appoint not more thanone fifth of the members of the cabinet from among technocrats to take charge of ministries requiring expertise. The President calls parliament to sit every two months. The country itself is divided into five administrative divisions, each with a number of districts. Districts are divided into several thanas, each with a number of unions. Unions comprise several villages and each has an elected body called the Union Parishad which is local government at the lowest tier. The local government body at the intermediate level, between the national government and the Union Parishad, is the district level Zilla Parishad. Big cities have municipal corporations and other towns municipalities, each headed by an elected mayor and a chairman respectively. On a different legal level is the Supreme Court which is at the apex of the judiciary headed by the chief justice. It comprises the appellate division and the High Court division. There are also courts and tribunals at the district level to hear and dispose of civil, criminal and labour cases.