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Must we decline Бангладеш? If the answer is 'no', then I'm curious why, and what gender does it have? Technically it's both страна (country) and государство (state); the grammatical gender of these two is different.

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Словарь собственных имён русского языка Автор Ф. Л. Агеенко. Печатное издание М.: ООО «Издательство "Мир и Образование"», 2010. © Электронная версия, «ГРАМОТА.РУ», 2011.

Словарь имён собственных Бангладеш [дэ], нескл. (гос-во в Юж. Азии)

The name is indeclinable. It can be seen in this dictionary on грамота.ру You should just memorize it.

From Справочник по русскому языку для средней школы.

У несклоняемых существительных - географических названий - род определяется по определяющему их слову:

Калахари – пустыня – женский род

Тбилиси – город – мужской род

Онтарио – озеро – средний род

This information is used for adding a corresponding adjective.Еxample:

Тбилиси мой любимый и родной.

Бангладеш -- республика, that is why it is considered to be feminine by some dictionaries. But I would not recommend to use an adjective without a word республика, страна, государство.

So it is not usually declined.

Этот студент из Бангладеш. Они приехали из Бангладеш.

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First of all, the gender of words "госудрство" and "страна" has nothing to to with the gender of the entity itself - the latter is just doesn't affected, compare two sentences:Ф

Экономически развитое государство Франция

and

Красивая страна Франция.

Second thing I want to mention - grammar rules are not set in stone, we can not ignore the fact of actual usage, we can only classify this non-standard usages by the actual level of their admissibility.

Some existing norms, like saying "зво́нить" are not permissible, say on TV or radio, some are de-facto used even there, though, strictly speaking, they are not correct. Declining Bangladesh belongs to the second group:

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The same holds true about gender - it's quite often used (if the term "often" is applicable to mentioning Бангладеш in Russian-speaking context at all) in masculine, like in "густонаселённый Бангладеш", "опасный Бангладеш" etc.

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Must we decline Бангладеш?

According to dictionaries, Бангладеш is feminine and indeclinable. Thus, in formal writing, it should be used as such. Anything else will be rightfully considered an error. Google stats have no say in what is right or wrong in formal Russian. Dictionaries do.

As to the 'why' part of your question, why does the actual usage deviate from dictionary norms? Rare words sometimes get 're-adopted' into Russian with a different declension or gender as we recently saw happen with Ухань which was first captured in dictionaries as feminine but later reintroduced as masculine by media authors who don't read dictionaries.

It is quite rare for a feminine noun to end in -ш without a trailing soft sign. The spelling of Бангладеш without a soft sign at the end, IMHO, was the main reason why it was reinterpreted as a masculine noun. One other such word is У́торгош. It is declinable but oscillates between feminine and masculine: в Ма́лой У́торгоши / в Ма́лом У́торгоше.

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