With nearly 230 million total speakers, Bengali is one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Along with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, Bengali evolved circa 1000-1200 AD from the Magadhi Prakrit, a declined, vernacular form of the ancient Sanskrit language. It is now the primary language spoken in Bangladesh and is the second most spoken language in India.
With a long and rich literary tradition, Bengali binds together a culturally diverse region and is an important contributor to Bengali nationalism.
In Bangladesh, the strong linguistic consciousness led to the Bengali Language Movement, during which on 21 February 1952, several people were killed during protests to maintain the writing of Bengali in the Bengali script and to gain its recognition as a state language of the then Dominion of Pakistan.
The day has since been observed as Language Movement Day in Bangladesh, and was proclaimed the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO on 17 November 1999.