Staggering photos show what daily life is really like in Dhaka, the most crowded city in the world

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Life in Dhaka and the Buriganga riverAndrew Biraj/ReutersThe Buriganga river flows through Dhaka and is heavily polluted with human and factory waste.

  • More than 19.5 million people live in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
  • It is the most densely populated city in the country spanning 300 kilometers - about 186 miles. That's more than 23,234 people per square kilometer, just over half a square mile.
  • It is reported that 2,000 people move to Dhaka every day.
  • Out of 164.7 million Bangladeshi, one in four live below the poverty line. Over 3 million people are estimated to live in the slums of Dhaka alone.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the most crowded city in the world.

More than 19.5 million people live in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It is the most densely populated city in the country spanning 300 kilometers - about 186 miles. That's more than 23,234 people per square kilometer, just over half a square mile.

It is reported that 2,000 people move to Dhaka every day. More than 26% of Bangladeshi who flock to Dhaka leave their home cities due to natural disasters and climate change, according to Habitat for Humanity.

Read more: Staggering photos show what daily life in the most crowded cities in the world is really like

Daily life in Dhaka revolves around the local markets. Many laborers work alongside the Buriganga river, which flows through Dhaka and is heavily polluted with human and factory waste.

Out of 164.7 million Bangladeshi, one in four live below the poverty line. As of 2016, an estimated 3.5 million people live in the slums of Dhaka.

Below, see what life is like in the most crowded city in the world:

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Dhaka is the largest and most densely populated city in Bangladesh.

Dhaka is the largest and most densely populated city in Bangladesh.

Source: World Population Review, World Population Review

More than 19.5 million people live within 300 kilometers — about 186 miles.

More than 19.5 million people live within 300 kilometers — about 186 miles.

Source: World Population Review

That's 23,234 people per square kilometer, which is just over half a square mile.

That's 23,234 people per square kilometer, which is just over half a square mile.

Source: World Population Review

There never seems to be enough space for everyone.

There never seems to be enough space for everyone.

Source: Reuters

Rickshaws outnumber cars in Dhaka and are an important source of income and transportation for the poor.

Rickshaws outnumber cars in Dhaka and are an important source of income and transportation for the poor.

Source: Reuters

In 2011, there were an estimated 1 million tricycle rickshaws in Dhaka and nearly half of all road accidents involve them, reported Reuters.

In 2011, there were an estimated 1 million tricycle rickshaws in Dhaka and nearly half of all road accidents involve them, reported Reuters.

Source: Reuters

However, most people take the train to commute in and out of the city.

However, most people take the train to commute in and out of the city.

Source: Daily Mail

There are no seats inside the trains and many commuters risk hanging off the side or climb 12 feet to sit on the roof of the train.

There are no seats inside the trains and many commuters risk hanging off the side or climb 12 feet to sit on the roof of the train.

Source: Daily Mail

Documentarian Yousef Tushar spent a day at a Dhaka train station and said around 2,000 men, women, and children climb onto a train's roof at a time, reported the Daily Mail.

Documentarian Yousef Tushar spent a day at a Dhaka train station and said around 2,000 men, women, and children climb onto a train's roof at a time, reported the Daily Mail.

Source: Daily Mail

Some people use ladders to get onto the trains, some climb using the windows as leverage, and some get hoisted up by other riders.

Some people use ladders to get onto the trains, some climb using the windows as leverage, and some get hoisted up by other riders.

Source: Reuters

It's hard to find space for yourself.

It's hard to find space for yourself.

Source: Reuters

Many people in Dhaka work in the booming garment industry.

Many people in Dhaka work in the booming garment industry.

Source: ABC

But the industry's workers are paid poorly and lack basic protections.

But the industry's workers are paid poorly and lack basic protections.

Source: Reuters

The garment industry was a lifeline in Bangladesh that once employed an estimated 10 million locals.

The garment industry was a lifeline in Bangladesh that once employed an estimated 10 million locals.

Source: The World Bank, Reuters

But hundreds of small clothing factories have closed or cut workers after an elimination of global textile quotas in 2005.

But hundreds of small clothing factories have closed or cut workers after an elimination of global textile quotas in 2005.

Source: The World Bank, Reuters

In 2013, a garment factory collapsed, killing hundreds of workers. Mourners gathered for a mass burial in Dhaka.

In 2013, a garment factory collapsed, killing hundreds of workers. Mourners gathered for a mass burial in Dhaka.

Source: Reuters

After garments, shrimp is is the second largest export in the country, earning about $400 million a year and constituting 8% of Bangladesh's total exports.

After garments, shrimp is is the second largest export in the country, earning about $400 million a year and constituting 8% of Bangladesh's total exports.

Source: Reuters

In fact, much of life in Dhaka revolves around the water.

In fact, much of life in Dhaka revolves around the water.

Source: Reuters

Locals rely on the Buriganga river, which is heavily polluted with human and factory waste.

Locals rely on the Buriganga river, which is heavily polluted with human and factory waste.

Source: Reuters

Nonetheless, it's a part of daily life.

Nonetheless, it's a part of daily life.

Source: Reuters

They wash clothes in it ...

They wash clothes in it ...

Source: Reuters

... and plastic bags.

... and plastic bags.

Source: Reuters

Some people swim in the river ...

Some people swim in the river ...

Source: Reuters

.. and some collect sand.

.. and some collect sand.

Source: Reuters

Many cobble together ways to make money outside of the river, too.

Many cobble together ways to make money outside of the river, too.

Source: Reuters

People in the slums of Dhaka will create cakes of cow dung to use as a source of fuel for cooking, or to sell to markets.

People in the slums of Dhaka will create cakes of cow dung to use as a source of fuel for cooking, or to sell to markets.

Source: Reuters

Workers in Dhaka are legally supposed to be 15 years old or older.

Workers in Dhaka are legally supposed to be 15 years old or older.

Source: Export.gov, Reuters

In 2013, there were 21.5 million workers in the city between the ages of 15 and 29.

In 2013, there were 21.5 million workers in the city between the ages of 15 and 29.

Source: Reuters

However, many young workers start before the age of 15.

However, many young workers start before the age of 15.

Source: Reuters

Local children will collect things to sell at the markets, like hyacinth flowers from a swamp ...

Local children will collect things to sell at the markets, like hyacinth flowers from a swamp ...

Source: Reuters

... or plastic waste from the river.

... or plastic waste from the river.

Source: Reuters

The markets in Dhaka are a huge part of life.

The markets in Dhaka are a huge part of life.

Source: Reuters

They see thousands of customers daily.

They see thousands of customers daily.

Source: Reuters

Vendors will pull up in boats along the Buriganga river to wait on the riverbank for potential buyers of goods like jackfruits.

Vendors will pull up in boats along the Buriganga river to wait on the riverbank for potential buyers of goods like jackfruits.

Source: Reuters

They sell everything from used bottles ...

They sell everything from used bottles ...

Source: Reuters

... to live cattle ...

... to live cattle ...

Source: Reuters

... to fresh eggs ...

... to fresh eggs ...

Source: Reuters

... to produce like onions.

... to produce like onions.

Source: Reuters

Some vendors walk along train tracks selling goods.

Some vendors walk along train tracks selling goods.

Source: Reuters

Lower-grade cattle hides are sold at local markets.

Lower-grade cattle hides are sold at local markets.

Source: Reuters

While premium cattle hides are typically produced for export.

While premium cattle hides are typically produced for export.

Source: Reuters

Vendors camp out all day to sell their wares ...

Vendors camp out all day to sell their wares ...

Source: Reuters

... catching some rest where they can find it.

... catching some rest where they can find it.

Source: Reuters

The currency used in Dhaka is the Bangladeshi Taka (BDT).

The currency used in Dhaka is the Bangladeshi Taka (BDT).

Source: Reuters

Currently, $1 equates to about 84.34 BDT.

Currently, $1 equates to about 84.34 BDT.

Source: Exchange Rate

As of November 2018, the minimum wage in Dhaka is 5,300 BDT per month.

As of November 2018, the minimum wage in Dhaka is 5,300 BDT per month.

Source: Trading Economics

Or $62.83 USD.

Or $62.83 USD.

Source: Reuters

But that's for garment workers, not for people scraping by without regular employment.

But that's for garment workers, not for people scraping by without regular employment.

Source: Reuters

Non-garment laborers work in any condition....

Non-garment laborers work in any condition....

Source: Reuters

...and are given subsidized foods like rice.

...and are given subsidized foods like rice.

Source: Reuters

In the world's most crowded city, nothing is easy.

In the world's most crowded city, nothing is easy.

Source: Reuters

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