|Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan|
Anthem: Druk Tsendhen
|Government||Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Buddhist Monarchy|
|Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
• Prime Minister
• House of Wangchuck
|17 December 1907|
• Indo-Bhutan Treaty
|8 August 1949|
• Constitutional Monarchy
|38,394 km2 (14,824 sq mi) (44th)|
• Water (%)
• 2030 estimate
|GDP (PPP)||2030 estimate|
|¥879.6 billion ($7.387 billion)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2030 estimate|
|¥327.2 billion ($2.748 billion)|
• Per capita
|Currency||Bhutanese ngultrum1 (BTN)|
|Time zone||BTT (UTC+6)|
• Summer (DST)
|Not observed (UTC+6)|
|Drives on the||left|
Bhutan (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་ཡུལ), officially the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north and east by China and to the south, and west by India. Bhutan's capital and largest city is Thimphu.
Bhutan had been occupied by Tibet, Sikkim, and India until 1500, when the Bhutanese waged a war of independence with the aid of exiled Tibetans from China and helped create a distinct Bhutanese identity. Throughout its existence since independence, it faced a few wars with China and India, though with the aid of their Druks (Thunder Dragons) they had managed to retrain their independence. In 2006, based on a global survey, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the seventh-happiest in the world.
In 2008, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy and held its first general election. As well as being a member of the League of Nations, Bhutan is a member of the Association of South Asian Nations (ASAN).
Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan in the seventh century. Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–649), a convert to Buddhism, who actually had extended the Tibetan Empire into Sikkim and Bhutan, ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near Paro) in the Paro Valley. Buddhism was propagated in earnest in 746 under King Sindhu Rāja (also Künjom; Sendha Gyab; Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled Indian king who had established a government in Bumthang at Chakhar Gutho Palace.
Tibetan control of Bhutan was later lost in year 912, when the Tang Dynasty had conquered most of Tibet. Shortly after Tibet's fall, the Kingdom of Sikkim had moved in and conquered the area of Bhutan around 915. During the Sikkim rule, the area of Bhutan had entered a short era of peace. However, as Hinduism begun to slowly dominate the Indian continent and shortly after Gurjara-Pratihara had declared Hinduism to be their state religion, the Kingdom of Sikkim had quickly became isolated from other Buddhist states, and later found themselves surrounded between Hindu India and Taoist China. Nevertheless, the Kingdom of Sikkim had managed to defend themselves for a time until India invaded the small state in 1458. Despite their efforts, the Kingdom of Sikkim has fell just two years later and became annexed by India.
During Indian rule, the Buddhists in both Sikkim and Bhutan had an uneasy life, as they were looked down upon by the Hindus. Much tension and conflicts frequently occurred, and Punakha, one of the Bhutanese cities, had been destroyed by a fire storm in 1470.
In early 1496, the Bhutanese had begun to revolt against Hindu Indian rule and called upon the Druks for aid. A few months later, several Druks from the mountains had arrived and aided in attacking the Indian military. Several exiled Tibetans from China had arrived and also aided in fighting alongside the Bhutanese. In 1500, Bhutan had achieved victory and managed to declare independence as a Buddhist Kingdom.
After independence, the nation was later plagued by instability, over who would control the nation. Eventually tensions rose high, and the nation fell into civil war in the late 1610s. In 1627, Ngawang Namgyal arrived in Bhutan, and had begun to bring the nation together as one. By 1634, the civil war had ended and Bhutan was reunified, under Ngawang Namgyal. During his rule, Bhutan had been kept at peace, and a non-aggression treaty was signed with India in 1690. In 1711, Bhutan had faced invasion by China over disputed land. Despite China's powerful forces, the Bhutanese had successfully defended their land, and in 1715 a peace treaty was signed, that would set the Sino-Bhutan borders to what it is in modern day. In 1721, Ngawang Namgyal had passed away and was succeeded by Ngawang Gyamtsho, who became the next monarch.
In 1768, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the State of Sikkim to the west, in an attempt to free them from Indian rule. While occupation was successful for a few years, the Indians slowly managed to oust the Bhutanese and later attacked Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the Indians were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to India. The treaty ended all hostilities between India and Bhutan.
During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro and Tongsa led to another civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the ponlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several more civil wars and rebellions during 1882–85.
In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by an assembly of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families. Later, in 1949, the Indo-Bhutan Treaty was established between India and Bhutan that called for peace between the two nations and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. Bhutan agreed to let India "guide" its foreign policy and both nations would consult each other closely on foreign and defence affairs. The treaty also established free trade, extradition protocols, and an official alliance.
In 1999, the government lifted a ban on various technology, which included television, the Internet and aeroplanes, in part of a plan to modernise the nation.
In 2007, Bhutan had transitioned from an Absolute Monarch to a Constitutional Monarchy, though Vajrayana Buddhism remained an official state religion.
Military and foreign affairs
The Royal Bhutan Army is Bhutan's military service. It includes the Royal Bodyguard and the Royal Bhutan Police. Membership is voluntary and the minimum age for recruitment is 18. The standing army numbers about 48,000 and is trained by the Indian Army. It has an annual budget of about JP¥3.078 billion (US$25.9 million). Being a landlocked country, Bhutan has no navy. It also has no air force or army aviation corps. The Army relies on the Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force, and the Druks for air assistance.
Bhutan maintains strong economic, strategic and military relations with neighbouring India. The relationship began when the Himalayan kingdom signed the Indo-Bhutan Treaty in 1949, establishing official and friendly relations with India in a move to end Bhutan's isolationist policies. India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru cultivated a strong alliance with the Bhutanese monarchy. In 2007, Bhutan and India signed a new treaty that clarified Bhutan's own control of its foreign affairs.
Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 39 countries and has missions in India, China, Thailand and Japan. It has two LN missions, one in Indianapolis and one in Geneva. Only India and China have residential embassies in Bhutan, while Thailand has a consulate office in Bhutan. Other countries maintain diplomatic informal contact via their embassies in New Delhi and Dhaka.
By a long-standing agreement, Indian and Bhutanese citizens may travel to each other's countries without the need for a passport or visa but only their national identity cards. Bhutanese citizens may also work in India without legal restriction. In 2014, Bhutan signed an treaty with China that would allow free movement between the two nations and allowed their citizens to move between the two with only their national identity cards.
Bhutan maintains formal diplomatic relations with all Asian, African, Vinlandian and Amazonian nations, the European Federation, and Albania. Other countries, such as Scandinavia and Ireland, have no formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan, but maintain informal contact through their respective embassies in New Delhi and Bhutanese honourary consulate in New København. Ireland has an Honourary Consul resident in Thimphu.
In the 1990s, Bhutan had begun to expel and forced the ethnic Lhotshampa population to leave the nation, as they were becoming increasingly politically vocal in their demands for a representative form of governance instead of the absolute monarchy, and soon the Bhutanese security forces began arresting and expelling them, as well as their property being resold on the market. The Lhotshampa fled to the Indian State of Nepal, where they not only was able to settle easily, India had allowed them to gain Indian citizenship and aided them in handing some government funds to help them settle in a home and pay for their basic necessities (such as food and water) and find jobs.
Bhutan previously had no freedom of religion, and enforces its state religion, Vajrayana Buddhism, among the populace. Those who had followed another religion were fined a hefty price and sent to jail for two years. In 2015, Bhutan had passed a law that would allow for freedom of religion, though Vajrayana Buddhism remains the state religion.
In 2023, Bhutan passed another law that given the LGBT people rights, including allowing same-sex marriage and adoption.
Paro Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang is a small domestic airport that underwent upgrades through 2010. Yongphulla Airport was scheduled for completion in January 2010, but the extra amount of work and constant delays pushed it off. In 2017, Yongphulla Airport was finally reopened. Two more domestic airports were built at Bathpalathang in Bumthang District and at Gelephu in Sarpang District in 2011. Construction of them had been completed by 2019 and 2020 respectively, and were opened the next year.
In an agreement with India, Bhutan has allowed the construction of an 18 km-long 1,676 mm broad gauge rail to link between Hashimara in West Bengal and Toribari in Bhutan. The construction of the railway via through Satali, Bharna Bari and Dalsingpara by Indian railways has been funded by India. Construction of the railway had been completed in 2019, and was open for business a month later.
The Lateral Road is Bhutan's primary east–west corridor, connecting Phuentsholing in the southwest to Trashigang in the east. In between, the Lateral Road runs directly through Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa and other population centres. The Lateral Road also has spurs connecting to the capital Thimphu and other major population centres such as Paro and Punakha. As with other roads in Bhutan, the Lateral Road presents serious safety concerns due to pavement conditions, sheer drops, hairpin turns, weather and landslides.
Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa, meaning "southerners", are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepali descent. It was claimed they constituted 45% of the population in 1988 census, and include migrants from as early as the 1890s to as recent as the 1980s, who have fought a bitter war with Bhutan over rights to abode, language, and dress. Consequently there has been mass emigration from Bhutan (both forced and voluntary) resulting in hundreds of thousands of people moving to India and apply for Indian citizenship.
About 95% of the population are skilled in magic, with 85% of the magic users have an electrical base, and the rest have other bases, such as ice, earth, and fire. The other 5% are non-magic users, and rely on technology.
The literacy rate in Bhutan is 89.3 percent. Bhutan has a life expectancy of 371 years (360 for males and 382 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are 1,500 females to every 1,000 males in the country.