The archdiocesan area of 26,788 square kilometers includes one of the country's eight divisions. It comprises the civil districts of Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Commilla, Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narshingdi, Narayanganj. Dhaka is the national capital of Bangladesh.
By the second half of the 16th century, Catholics lived in various parts of what is now Bangladesh. These areas included Hoshenpur of Mymensingh District and Sripur near Sonargaon, the old capital of eastern Bengal. When Mylapore (Chennai, India) was made a diocese in 1606, the mission stations of Bengal were placed under its jurisdiction. Among the churches erected by the Augustinians at that time were those at Nagori in 1695 and Tejgaon in 1677.
In 1834, the Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal was created under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 1850, this Vicariate was divided into two, the Vicariates Apostolic of Eastern and Western Bengal. In 1852, the Vicariate of Eastern Bengal, with its headquarters in Dhaka, was entrusted to the newly-founded Congregation of the Holy Cross, whose first missioners arrived in 1853. The congregation still serves in Bangladesh.
The first Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Bengal, Msgr. Thomas Oliffe, served 1852-53. From 1855 to 1859, Father Louis Verite, CSC served as Pro Vicar Apostolic. His successor Father Pierre Dufal, CSC was named Vicar Apostolic in 1860 and ordained a bishop in France. He returned to Dhaka in 1861 and served there until 1876.
From 1876 to 1889, when the Holy Cross missionaries were recalled by their superior to France, the vicariate was administered by Benedictine monks of the Anglo-Belgian province. Dom Cuthbert Downey served as Pro Vicar Apostolic and then Dom Gregory de Groote as Administrator.
In 1889, the Holy Cross missionaries returned, led by Father Michael Fallize. The Diocese of Dhaka had been canonically erected on Sept. 1, 1886, its territory including that of the present day dioceses of Chittagong (Bangladesh), Silchar (Assam, India), and Prome (Myanmar). Chittagong was removed from the jurisdiction of Dhaka in 1927.
When independence from Britain came in 1947, Dhaka was still a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Calcutta in India. In July 1950, Dhaka was raised to an archdiocese heading a new ecclesiastical province with Chittagong, Dinajpur and Jessore (present-day Khulna) dioceses as suffragans. Holy Cross Father Lawrence Leo Graner was appointed the first Archbishop of Dhaka.
In September 1960, Pope John XXlll gave Dhaka (and Bangladesh as a whole) its first Bengali bishop in the person of Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius A. Ganguly, CSC. In November 1967, Bishop Ganguly became the first Bengali Archbishop of Dhaka. Following his death in September 1977, Bishop Michael Rozario of Dinajpur was appointed the third Archbishop of Dhaka on Dec 17 of that year and installed on April 9, 1978.
In the meantime, Bangladesh had won its independence from Pakistan in December 1971, and the archdiocese, as the only metropolitan see for all of Bangladesh, grew in importance and received greater responsibility.
Bengali (Bangla) is widely spoken, while English is the second language, especially among educated people. The Indian languages of Hindi and Telegu are also spoken, as well as the tribal languages of the Garo, Khasi, Santali, Oraon and other communities.
Buses and other road transport are the primary means of reaching different parts of the archdiocese. Trains and boats serve some areas, and rickshaws and trishaws are still popular in remote villages.
Sub-districts and district towns have telecommunications services that are now extending to villages. Nowadays, mobile phones are available even in the countryside. Bangladesh Television (BTV), situated in Dhaka, is the only TV broadcasting station in Bangladesh and covers the whole country. There are also two or three state-run radio stations located in Dhaka, and one or two private FM radio stations that serve Dhaka city only. Satellite and cable TV are available in towns and some villages.