Bhutan

Bhutan

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Bhutan officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

 state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and to the north by the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. Bhutan is separated from the nearby country of Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim
Sikkim
Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains...

, and from Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 to the south by the Indian states of Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 and West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

.

Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdom
Fiefdom
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

s until the early 17th century, when the area was unified by Shabdrung
Shabdrung
Shabdrung , was a title used when referring to or addressing great lamas in Tibet, particularly those who held a hereditary lineage...

 Ngawang Namgyal
Ngawang Namgyal
Ngawang Namgyal was a Tibetan Buddhist lama and the unifier of Bhutan as a nation state...

, who fled religious persecution in Tibet and cultivated a separate Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, after which Bhutan continued strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.

Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical
Subtropics
The subtropics are the geographical and climatical zone of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropical zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitudes 23.5°N and 23.5°S...

 plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7000 metres (22,965.9 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 the second-largest religion. The capital and largest city is Thimphu
Thimphu
Thimphu also spelt Thimpu, is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961...

. In 2007, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 to constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, holding its first general election. Bhutan is a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 by Ziaur Rahman and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh,...

 (SAARC); it hosted the sixteenth SAARC summit in April 2010. The total area of the country has been reported as 38394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi) since 2002. The area had previously been reported as approximately 46500 km² (17,953.8 sq mi) in 1997.

Etymology


Names similar to Bhutanincluding Bottanthis, Bottan, Bottanterbegan to appear in Europe around the 1580s. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was a French traveller and pioneer of trade with India, and travels through Persia , most known for works in two quarto volumes, Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and diamond merchant for some important diamonds of the century...

's 1676 Six Voyages is the first to record the name Boutan. However, in every case, these seem to have been describing not modern Bhutan but the Kingdom of Tibet. The modern distinction between the two did not begin until well into Bogle's 1774 expeditionrealizing the differences between the two regions, cultures, and states, his final report to the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 formally proposed labeling the Druk Desi
Druk Desi
The Druk Desi ;The original title is Dzongkha: སྡེ་སྲིད་ཕྱག་མཛོད་; Wylie: sde-srid phyag-mdzod. was the title of the secular rulers of Bhutan under the dual system of government between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries...

's kingdom as "Boutan" and the Panchen Lama
Panchen Lama
The Panchen Lama , or Bainqên Erdê'ni , is the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism...

's as "Tibet". The EIC's surveyor general James Rennell
James Rennell
Major James Rennell, FRS was an English geographer, historian and a pioneer of oceanography.-Early life:Rennell was born near Chudleigh in Devon...

 first anglicized the French name as Bootan and then popularized the distinction between it and greater Tibet.
The precise etymology of Bhutan is unknown, although it quite probably derives from the Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 endonym Bod
BOD
BOD or bod may refer to:* Bod , another name for the wine grape Mourvèdre* BOD , a hallucinogenic drug* Bod , a television series* BOD or Breakover Diode, a gateless thyristor triggered by avalanche current...

, used for Greater Tibet. It is traditionally taken to be a transcription of the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 Bhoṭa-anta (भोट-अन्त, "end of Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

"), in reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture.

Locally, Bhutan has been known by many names. The earliest western records of Bhutan, the 1627 Relacao of the Portuguese
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 Jesuits Estêvão Cacella
Estêvão Cacella
Estêvão Cacella was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary.-Life:Cacella was born in Aviz in 1585, joined the Jesuits at the age of nineteen, and sailed for India in 1614 where he worked for some years in Kerala...

 and João Cabral
João Cabral
João Cabral was a Jesuit missionary, who, along with Estêvão Cacella, were the first Europeans to enter Bhutan in 1627. The following year he became the first European to visit neighboring Nepal....

, records its name variously as Cambirasi (among the Koch Bihar
Koch Bihar
Koch Bihar was a small kingdom located south of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, west of the upper Brahmaputra valley Ahom kingdom, and north-east of the Ganges plain and Bengal. It was formed when the Kamata Kingdom under the Koch dynasty split following the death of Nara Narayan in 1586. The...

is), Potente, and Mon (an endonym for southern Tibet). The first time a separate Kingdom of Bhutan did appear on a western map, it did so under its local name as "Broukpa". Others including Lho Mon ("Dark Southland"), Lho Tsendenjong ("Southland of the Cypress
Cypress
Cypress is the name applied to many plants in the cypress family Cupressaceae, which is a conifer of northern temperate regions. Most cypress species are trees, while a few are shrubs...

"), Lhomen Khazhi ("Southland of the Four Approaches") and Lho Men Jong ("Southland of the Herbs).

History



Stone tools, weapons, elephant
Elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

s, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC
20th century BC
The 20th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2000 BC to 1901 BC.-Events:* 2000 BC: Arrival of the ancestors of the Latins in Italy.* 2000 BC: Town of Mantua was presumably founded.* 2000 BC: Stonehenge is believed to have been completed....

, although there are no existing records from that time. Historians have theorized that the state of Lhomon (literally, "southern darkness"), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference to the Monpa, the aboriginal
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and AD 600. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong (Sandalwood
Sandalwood
Sandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods they retain their fragrance for decades. As well as using the harvested and cut wood in-situ, essential oils are also extracted...

 Country), and Lhomon Khashi, or Southern Mon (country of four approaches), have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.

Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–49), a convert to Buddhism, ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang
Bumthang
Bumthang may refer to:* Bumthang , officially Jakar* Bumthang District* Bumthang River* Bumthang Kingdom* Bumthang language* Bumthang Province* Bumthang Valley...

 in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near Paro
Paro, Bhutan
-History:Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it wasn't until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations, and for...

) in the Paro Valley. Buddhism was propagated in earnest in 746 under King Sindhu Rāja (also Künjom; Sendha Gyab; Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled Indian
Indian people
Indian people or Indisians constitute the Asian nation and pan-ethnic group native to India, which forms the south of Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality is in essence made up of regional nationalities, reflecting the rich and complex history of India...

 king who had established a government in Bumthang at Chakhar Gutho Palace.

Buddhist saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 Padma Sambhava
Padmasambhava
Padmasambhava ; Mongolian ловон Бадмажунай, lovon Badmajunai, , Means The Lotus-Born, was a sage guru from Oddiyāna who is said to have transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet and neighbouring countries in the 8th century...

 (also known as Guru Rinpoche) came to Bhutan in in 747. Much of early Bhutanese history is unclear because most of the records were destroyed when fire ravaged the ancient capital, Punakha
Punakha
thumb|right|Punakha Dzong and the [[Mo Chhu]]Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and it...

, in 1827. By the 10th century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various sub-sects of Buddhism emerged which were patronized by the various Mongol warlords. After the decline of the Mongols in the 14th century, these sub-sects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the Druk
Druk
The Druk is the "Thunder Dragon" of Bhutanese mythology and a Bhutanese national symbol. A druk appears on the Bhutanese Flag, holding jewels to represent wealth. In the Dzongkha language, Bhutan is called Druk Yul, or Land of Druk, and Bhutanese leaders are called Druk Gyalpo, Dragon Kings...

pa sub-sect by the 16th century.

Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdom
Fiefdom
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

s, when the area was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who had fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzong (fortresses), and promulgated
Promulgation
Promulgation is the act of formally proclaiming or declaring a new statutory or administrative law after its enactment. In some jurisdictions this additional step is necessary before the law can take effect....

 the Tsa Yig
Tsa Yig
The Tsa Yig is any monastic constitution or code of moral discipline based on codified Tibetan Buddhist precepts. Every Tibetan monastery and convent had its own Tsa Yig, and the variation in Tsa Yig content shows a degree of autonomy and internal democracy....

, a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralized control. Many such dzong still exist and are active centers of religion and district administration. Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 Estêvão Cacella
Estêvão Cacella
Estêvão Cacella was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary.-Life:Cacella was born in Aviz in 1585, joined the Jesuits at the age of nineteen, and sailed for India in 1614 where he worked for some years in Kerala...

 and another priest were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan, on their way to Tibet. They met Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 and a telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Shabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months Cacella wrote a long letter from the Chagri Monastery reporting on his travels. This is a rare extant report of the Shabdrung. After Ngawang Namgyal's death in 1651, his passing was kept secret for 54 years; after a period of consolidation, Bhutan lapsed into internal conflict. During the chaos, the Tibetans unsuccessfully attacked Bhutan in 1714 with the help of the Mongols.
In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar
Cooch Behar District
Cooch Behar district is a district of the state of West Bengal, India, as well as the district's namesake town. During the British Raj, the town of Cooch Behar was the seat of a princely state of Koch Bihar, ruled by the Koch dynasty....

 to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 which assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking 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 British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War
Duar War
The Bhutan War was a war fought between British India and Bhutan in 1864–1865.Britain sent a peace mission to Bhutan in early 1864, in the wake of the recent conclusion of a civil war there, under Ashley Eden...

 (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 Duars
Duars
The Dooars or Duars are the floodplains and foothills of the eastern Himalayas in North-East India around Bhutan. Duar means door in Assamese, Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Bengali languages, and the region forms the gateway to Bhutan from India. There were 18 passages or gateways through...

. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations
War reparations
War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.- History :...

, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro
Paro, Bhutan
-History:Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it wasn't until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations, and for...

 and Tongsa led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck
Ugyen Wangchuck
Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck was the first King of Bhutan from 1907 to 1926.He was born in 1862 to Jigme Namgyal, penlop of Trongsa and Ashi Pema Choki. He succeeded his father as Penlop of Trongsa...

, the ponlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several 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. The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha
Treaty of Punakha
The Treaty of Punakha was an agreement signed on January 8, 1910, at Punakha Dzong between the recently consolidated Kingdom of Bhutan and British India. The Treaty of Punakha is not a stand-alone document, but represents a modification of the Treaty of Sinchula of 1865, the prior working agreement...

, a subsidiary alliance
Subsidiary alliance
A subsidiary alliance is an alliance between a dominant nation and a nation that it dominates.-British policy in India:The doctrine of subsidiary alliance was introduced by Marquess Wellesley, British Governor-General of India from 1798 to 1805...

 which gave the British control of Bhutan's foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as an Indian princely state
Princely state
A Princely State was a nominally sovereign entitity of British rule in India that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule such as suzerainty or paramountcy.-British relationship with the Princely States:India under the British Raj ...

. This had little real effect, given Bhutan's historical reticence, and also did not appear to affect Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. After the new Union of India
Dominion of India
The Dominion of India, also known as the Union of India or the Indian Union , was a predecessor to modern-day India and an independent state that existed between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950...

 gained independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. On 8 August 1949, a treaty similar to that of 1910, in which Britain had gained power over Bhutan's foreign relations, was signed with the newly independent India.

In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was the Third Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.He began to open Bhutan to the outside world, began modernization, and took the first steps toward democratization...

 established the country's legislature – a 130-member National Assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

 – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the former King of Bhutan. He was the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006...

 ascended to the throne at the age of sixteen after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the country expelled or forced to leave nearly one fifth of its population in the name of preserving its Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist culture and identity. Bhutanese of Nepali origin, mainly Hìndu, fled their homeland. According to the UNHCR, more than 107,000 Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in eastern Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 have been documented as of 2008.

In late 2003, the Bhutanese army
Royal Bhutan Army
The Royal Bhutan Army , or RBA, is a branch of the armed forces of the Kingdom of Bhutan responsible for maintaining the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty against security threats. The King of Bhutan is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the RBA...

 successfully launched a large-scale operation to flush out Assom liberationist insurgents
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 who were operating training camps in southern Bhutan. It is called Operation: All Clear
Royal Bhutan Army
The Royal Bhutan Army , or RBA, is a branch of the armed forces of the Kingdom of Bhutan responsible for maintaining the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty against security threats. The King of Bhutan is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the RBA...

 and the Royal Bhutan Army drove out the United Liberation Front of Asom
United Liberation Front of Asom
The United Liberation Front of Asom is a separatist group from Assam, among many other such groups in North-East India. It seeks to establish a sovereign Assam via an armed struggle in the Assam Conflict...

 (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland
National Democratic Front of Bodoland
The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, also known as NDFB or the Bodo Security Force, is a terrorist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people in Assam, India. The founder of the organization, Ransaigra Nabla Daimary, alias Ranjan Daimary has been arrested and...

 (NDFB), and Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) insurgent groups hiding in Bhutan's jungles.

Political reform and modernization


King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the former King of Bhutan. He was the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006...

 introduced significant political reforms, transferring most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 and the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country's Gross National Happiness
Gross national happiness
The assessment of gross national happiness was designed in an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product .-Origins and meaning:The term...

 (Bhutan is the only country to measure happiness), but warned that the "misuse" of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.

A new constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 was presented in early 2005. In December 2005, Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 the throne in his son's favor in 2008. On 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed with the first national parliamentary elections
Elections in Bhutan
Elections in Bhutan are conducted at national and local levels. Suffrage is universal for citizens 18 and over, and under applicable election laws...

 in December 2007
Bhutanese National Council election, 2007–2008
The general elections to the National Council of Bhutan, the upper house of the new bicameral Parliament of Bhutan were held for the first time on December 31, 2007, though they were originally scheduled for December 26, 2007...

 and March 2008
Bhutanese general election, 2008
Bhutan held its first general election on March 24, 2008 for the National Assembly. Two parties were registered by the Election Commission of Bhutan to contest the election: the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party , which was formed by the merger of the previously established Bhutan People's United...

.

On November 6, 2008, 28-year old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, eldest son of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the former King of Bhutan. He was the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006...

, was crowned King.

Government and politics



Bhutan's political system has developed from an absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 into a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

. In 1999, the fourth king of Bhutan created a body called the Lhengye Zhungtshog
Lhengye Zhungtshog
The Lhengye Zhungtshog is the highest executive body in Bhutan. It was created in 1999 by Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan....

 (Council of Ministers). The Druk Gyalpo (King of Druk Yul) is head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. Executive power
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

 is exercised by the Lhengye Zhungtshog, the council of ministers. Legislative power was vested in both the government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and the former Grand National Assembly
Tshogdu
The Tshogdu was the unicameral legislature of Bhutan until 31 July 2007. The legislature had a total of 150 members...

.

On the 17th of December 2005, the 4th King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the former King of Bhutan. He was the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006...

, announced to a stunned nation that the first general elections would be held in 2008, and that he would abdicate the throne in favor of his eldest son, the crown prince. King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck
Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the 5th and current reigning Dragon King of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He became king on 14 December 2006 being crowned on 6 November 2008.-Family:...

 took the throne on December 14, 2006 upon his father's abdication. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was adorned with Bhutan's Raven Crown at an ornate coronation ceremony in Thimphu on Thursday, November 6, 2008, becoming the world's youngest reigning monarch and head of the newest democracy.

The new political system comprises an upper and lower house, the latter based on political party affiliations. Elections
Bhutanese National Council election, 2007–2008
The general elections to the National Council of Bhutan, the upper house of the new bicameral Parliament of Bhutan were held for the first time on December 31, 2007, though they were originally scheduled for December 26, 2007...

 for the upper house (National Council
National Council of Bhutan
The National Council is the upper house of Bhutan's new bicameral Parliament, which also comprises the Druk Gyalpo and the National Assembly. It is the subordinate house, and cannot author monetary or budget-related bills...

) were held on December 31, 2007, while elections
Bhutanese general election, 2008
Bhutan held its first general election on March 24, 2008 for the National Assembly. Two parties were registered by the Election Commission of Bhutan to contest the election: the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party , which was formed by the merger of the previously established Bhutan People's United...

 for the lower house, the 47-seat National Assembly
National Assembly of Bhutan
The National Assembly is the elected lower house of Bhutan's new bicameral Parliament which also comprises the Druk Gyalpo and the National Council. It is the more powerful house.- Current National Assembly :...

, were held on March 24, 2008. Two political parties, the People's Democratic Party
People's Democratic Party (Bhutan)
The People's Democratic Party is one of the major political parties in Bhutan, formed on March 24, 2007. The founder president of this party is Sangay Ngedup, the former prime minister and agriculture minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan...

 (PDP) headed by Sangay Ngedup
Sangay Ngedup
Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup was Prime Minister of Bhutan from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2005 to 2006.In Dzongkha, the title Lyonpo means "Minister"....

, and the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) headed by Jigmi Thinley, competed in the National Assembly election. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa won the elections taking 45 out of 47 seats in the parliament.

Judicial power is vested in the courts of Bhutan. The Chief Justice
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 is the administrative
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

 head of the Judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

.

Military and foreign affairs



The Royal Bhutan Army
Royal Bhutan Army
The Royal Bhutan Army , or RBA, is a branch of the armed forces of the Kingdom of Bhutan responsible for maintaining the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty against security threats. The King of Bhutan is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the RBA...

 is Bhutan's military service. It includes the Royal Bodyguard
Royal Bodyguard
The Royal Bodyguard of Bhutan is a part of the Royal Bhutan Army but independent as it is under the personal command of the King of Bhutan and is in charge of the security of the King of Bhutan and members of the royalty...

 and the Royal Bhutan Police
Royal Bhutan Police
Law enforcement in Bhutan is the collective purview of several divisions of Bhutan's Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Namely, the Ministry's Bureau of Law and Order, Department of Immigration, and Department of Local Governance are responsible for law enforcement in Bhutan...

. Membership is voluntary, and the minimum age for recruitment is 18. The standing army numbers about 16,000 and is trained by the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

. It has an annual budget of about $13.7 million — 1.8 percent of the GDP. Being a landlocked country, Bhutan has no navy, air force or army aviation corps. The Army relies on Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force for air assistance.

In 2007, Bhutan and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 signed a new treaty that clarified that Bhutan was master of its own foreign relations, superseding the treaty signed in 1949. The superseded treaty is still sometimes misinterpreted to mean that India controls Bhutan's foreign affairs, but the government of Bhutan handles all of its own foreign affairs, including the sensitive (to India) border demarcation issue with China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 21 countries, and with the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, with missions in India, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

. It has two UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 missions, one in New York and one in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

. Only India and Bangladesh have residential embassies in Bhutan, while Thailand has a consulate office in Bhutan.

By a long standing treaty, Indian and Bhutanese citizens may travel to each other's countries without a passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

 or visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 using their national identity cards instead. Bhutanese citizens may also work in India without legal restriction. Bhutan does not have formal diplomatic ties with its northern neighbour, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, although exchanges of visits at various levels between the two have significantly increased in recent times. The first bilateral agreement between China (PRC) and Bhutan was signed in 1998, and Bhutan has also set up honorary consulates in Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

 and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. Bhutan's border with China is largely not demarcated and thus disputed in some places. Approximately 269 square kilometers remain under discussion between China and Bhutan.

On 13 November 2005, Chinese soldiers crossed into the disputed territories between China and Bhutan, and began building roads and bridges. Bhutanese Foreign Minister Khandu Wangchuk
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk is a political figure in Bhutan. He was Chairman of the Council from 2001 until 2002. In September 2006, he became Prime Minister again; he was then replaced by Kinzang Dorji on 2 August 2007, after Wangchuk resigned to participate in the 2008 election as a member of the...

 took up the matter with Chinese authorities after the issue was raised in the Bhutanese parliament. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang of the People's Republic of China has said that the border remains in dispute and that the two sides are continuing to work for a peaceful and cordial resolution of the dispute. An Indian intelligence officer has said that a Chinese delegation in Bhutan told the Bhutanese that they were "overreacting." The Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel has said that China might use the roads to further Chinese claims along the border.

On 8 February 2007, the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty was substantially revised. The Treaty of 1949, Article 2 states: "The Government of India undertakes to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan. On its part the Government of Bhutan agrees to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations." In the revised treaty it now reads as "In keeping with the abiding ties of close friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India, the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government of the Republic of India shall cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other." The revised treaty also includes this preamble: "Reaffirming their respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity", an element that was absent in the earlier version. The Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007 clarifies Bhutan's status as an independent and sovereign nation.

Bhutan maintains formal diplomatic relations
Foreign relations of Bhutan
Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 27 states, and with the European Union.In 1971, sponsored by India, Bhutan began to develop its foreign relations by joining the UN, though it has no diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members on the UN Security Council...

 with several Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an nations, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. Other countries, such as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, have no formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan, but maintain informal contact through their respective embassies in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

 and Bhutanese honorary consulates in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


Geography






Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

, landlocked between the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim
Sikkim
Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains...

, West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

, Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 and Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India, located in the far northeast. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and the People's Republic of China in the north. The majority of the territory is claimed by...

 to the west and south. It lies between latitudes 26°
26th parallel north
The 26th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 26 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 29°N
29th parallel north
The 29th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 29 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 88°
88th meridian east
The meridian 88° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 93°E
93rd meridian east
The meridian 93° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. Elevation rises from 200 m (656.2 ft) in the southern foothills to more than 7000 m (22,965.9 ft). This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan's outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The northern region of the country consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
The Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal, which lies between the tree line and snow line in the eastern portion of the Himalaya Range.-Setting:...

 reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7000 m (22,965.9 ft) above sea level; the highest point in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum
Gangkhar Puensum
Gangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan and a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world with an elevation of 7,570 metres and a prominence of over 2990 metres. It lies on the border with China...

 at 7570 metres (24,836 ft), which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain
Highest unclimbed mountain
The highest unclimbed mountain in a particular region or in the world is often a matter of controversy. In some parts of the world surveying and mapping are still not reliable, and there are not comprehensive records of the routes of explorers, mountaineers and local inhabitants.However, a major...

 in the world. The lowest point, at 98 m (321.5 ft), is in the valley of Drangme Chhu, where the river crosses the border with India. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

 for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.

The Black Mountains
Black Mountains (Bhutan)
The Black Mountains is a mountain range located in Bhutan. The current Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park was previously the Black Mountains park. Elevations run up to 15145 ft or 4617 meters. -References:...

 in the central region of Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Mo Chhu
Mo Chhu
Mo Chhu is a major river in Bhutan. The word "Chhu" means "river" or "water" in Dzongkha, the official national language in Bhutan. The river rises in Gasa Dzongkhag near the border between Bhutan and Tibet. From there, the Mo Chhu flows generally southward to Punakha in central Bhutan, where it...

 and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1500 and 2700 m (4,921.3 and 8,858.3 ft) above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. The forests of the central Bhutan mountains consist of Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
The Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests is a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion which is found in the middle and upper elevations of the eastern Middle Himalayas, in western Nepal, Bhutan and northern Indian states including Arunachal Pradesh....

 in higher elevations and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests
Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests
The Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests is a temperate broadleaf forest ecoregion found in the middle elevations of the eastern Himalayas, including parts of Nepal, India, and Bhutan...

 in lower elevations. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The Torsa
Torsa river
Torsa River rises from the Chumbi Valley in Tibet, China, where it is known as Machu. It flows into Bhutan, where it is known as the Amo Chu...

, Raidak, Sankosh
Sankosh
Sankosh is a river that rises in northern Bhutan and empties into the Brahmaputra in the state of Assam in India. In Bhutan, it is known as the Puna Tsang Chu below the confluences of several tributaries near the town of Wangdue Phodrang. The two largest tributaries are the Mo Chhu and Pho...

, and Manas
Manas River
The Manas River is a transboundary river in the Himalayan foothills between southern Bhutan and India.It is named after Manasa, the serpent god in Hindu mythology.It is the largest river system of Bhutan, among its four major river systems; the other three are Amo Chu or Torsa, Wong Chu or Raidak,...

 are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.

In the south, the Shiwalik Hills are covered with dense Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests
Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests
The Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests is an ecoregion that extends from the middle hills of central Nepal through Darjeeling into Bhutan and also into the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh...

, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1500 m (4,921.3 ft) above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars
Duars
The Dooars or Duars are the floodplains and foothills of the eastern Himalayas in North-East India around Bhutan. Duar means door in Assamese, Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Bengali languages, and the region forms the gateway to Bhutan from India. There were 18 passages or gateways through...

 Plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10 to 15 km (6.2 to 9.3 mi) wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars. The northern Duars, which abuts the Himalayan foothills, has rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

h grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

 in India. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the country had a forest cover of 64% as of October 2005.

Climate



The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type
Polar climate
Regions with a polar climate are characterized by a lack of warm summers . Regions with polar climate cover over 20% of the Earth. The sun shines 24 hours in the summer, and barely ever shines at all in the winter...

 climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.

Wildlife




More than 770 species of bird and 5,400 species of plants are known to occur throughout the kingdom. Bhutan has a rich primate life with rare species such as the golden langur. Recently, a variant Assamese macaque, which is also regarded by some authorities as a new species, Macaca munzala has also been recorded.

The Bengal tiger
Bengal Tiger
The Bengal tiger is a tiger subspecies native to the Indian subcontinent that in 2010 has been classified as endangered by IUCN...

, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, clouded leopard
Clouded Leopard
The clouded leopard is a felid found from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as vulnerable in 2008 by IUCN...

, hispid hare
Hispid Hare
The Hispid hare Caprolagus hispidus, also called Assam rabbit is a leporid native to South Asia, whose historic range extended along the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Today, the habitat of hispid hares is highly fragmented with an area of occupancy of less than extending over an estimated...

 and the sloth bear
Sloth Bear
The sloth bear , also known as the labiated bear, is a nocturnal insectivorous species of bear found wild within the Indian subcontinent. The sloth bear evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution...

 live in the lush tropical lowland and hardwood forests in the south. In the temperate zone, grey langur, tiger, Indian leopard
Indian leopard
The Indian leopard is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the five big cats found in India, apart from Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard....

, goral
Goral
Goral may refer to:* Three species of Asian ungulates in the genus Naemorhedus.* The Gorals, a people living in southern Poland, northern Slovakia and the Czech Republic....

 and serow
Serow
Serow may refer to:*Three species of Asian ungulate in the genus Capricornis**Japanese Serow**Mainland Serow**Taiwan Serow* Serow, Iran, a city in Urmia County, West Azarbaijan Province, Iran*Alternative spelling of Serov...

 are found in mixed conifer, broadleaf and pine forests. Fruit bearing trees and bamboo provide habitat for the Himalayan black bear, red panda
Red Panda
The red panda , is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is the only species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs...

, squirrel
Squirrel
Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard
Snow Leopard
The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of South Asia and Central Asia...

, blue sheep, marmot
Marmot
The marmots are a genus, Marmota, of squirrels. There are 14 species in this genus.Marmots are generally large ground squirrels. Those most often referred to as marmots tend to live in mountainous areas such as the Alps, northern Apennines, Eurasian steppes, Carpathians, Tatras, and Pyrenees in...

, Tibetan wolf
Tibetan wolf
The Tibetan wolf , also known as the woolly wolf, is a subspecies of grey wolf native to Central Asia from Turkestan, Tien Shan throughout Tibet to Mongolia, northern China, Shensi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and the western Himalayas in Kashmir from Chitral to Lahul. They also occur in the Korean peninsula...

, antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

 and Himalayan musk deer
Himalayan Musk Deer
The Himalayan Musk Deer is a species of musk deer. It used to be considered a subspecies of the Alpine musk deer.It is found in parts of northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and in northern parts of India such as Kashmir, Kumaon and Sikkim. It inhabits high alpine environments,...

. The endangered Wild Water Buffalo occurs in southern Bhutan although in small numbers.

Among birds, the globally endangered White-winged Wood Duck has been added recently to the list of Bhutan's avifauna.

Conservation significance


The Eastern Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 have been identified as a global biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 hotspot and counted among the 234 globally outstanding ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s of the world in a comprehensive analysis of global biodiversity undertaken by WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 between 1995-97.

Bhutan is seen as a model for proactive conservation
Conservation movement
The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal, fungus and plant species as well as their habitat for the future....

 initiatives. The Kingdom has received international acclaim for its commitment to the maintenance of its biodiversity. This is reflected in the decision to maintain at least sixty percent of the land area under forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

 cover, to designate more than 40% of its territory as national parks, reserves and other protected areas, and most recently to identify a further nine percent of land area as biodiversity corridors linking the protected areas. Environmental conservation has been placed at the core of the nation's development strategy, the middle path. It is not treated as a sector but rather as a set of concerns that must be mainstreamed in Bhutan's overall approach to development planning and to be buttressed by the force of law.

Conservation issues




Although Bhutan's natural heritage is still largely intact, the Government has said that it cannot be taken for granted and that conservation of the natural environment must be considered one of the challenges that will need to be addressed in the years ahead.

Pressures on the natural environment are already evident and will be fuelled by a complex array of forces. They include population pressures, agricultural modernisation, poaching, hydro-power development, mineral extraction, industrialisation, urbanisation, sewage and waste disposal, tourism, competition for available land road construction and the provision of other physical infrastructure associated with social and economic development.

Policy implementation needs to be continually improved. Sustainable rural livelihoods that do not rely solely upon natural resource use need to be developed and supported, and there needs to be far wider understanding of the environmental threats that come hand in hand with development, to ensure the future of Bhutan's rich and diverse environment.

In practice, the overlap of these extensive protected lands with populated areas has led to mutual habitat encroachment. Protected wildlife has entered agricultural areas, trampling crops and killing livestock. In response, Bhutan has implemented an insurance scheme, begun constructing solar powered alarm fences, watch towers, and search lights, and has provided fodder and salt licks outside human settlement areas to encourage animals to stay away.

Economy


The ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and its value is pegged
Fixed exchange rate
A fixed exchange rate, sometimes called a pegged exchange rate, is a type of exchange rate regime wherein a currency's value is matched to the value of another single currency or to a basket of other currencies, or to another measure of value, such as gold.A fixed exchange rate is usually used to...

 to the Indian rupee
Indian rupee
The Indian rupee is the official currency of the Republic of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India....

. The rupee is also accepted as legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 in the country.

Though Bhutan's economy is one of the world's smallest, it has grown rapidly in recent years, by eight percent in 2005 and 14 percent in 2006. In 2007, Bhutan had the second fastest growing economy
Economy
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

 in the world, with an annual economic growth rate of 22.4 percent. This was mainly due to the commissioning of the gigantic Tala
Tala
Tala may refer to:* Samoan tālā, the monetary unit of Samoa* Tala , a DC Comics supervillainess of the Phantom Stranger* Tala , the goddess of stars in Tagalog mythology* Tala , a rhythmic pattern in Indian classical music...

 Hydroelectricity project
Tala Hydroelectricity Project
Tala Hydroelectricity project is the biggest hydroelectric joint project between India and Bhutan so far, generating 4865 GWh/yr. Tala is located in Chukha Dzongkhag in western Bhutan, a small constitutional monarchy in the Himalayas. It is located on the Wongchu River and, and is at a height of...

. As of March 2006, Bhutan's per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 was US$1,321.

Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture
Agriculture in Bhutan
Agriculture in Bhutan has a dominant role in the economy of the country. In 2000, agriculture accounted for 35.9% of GDP of the nation. The share of the agricultural sector in GDP declined from approximately 55% in 1985 to 33% in 2003. Despite this, agriculture remains the primary source of...

, forestry
Forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

, tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 and the sale of hydroelectric power to India. Agriculture provides the main livelihood for more than 80 percent of the population. Agrarian practices consist largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

. Handicrafts, particularly weaving and the manufacture of religious art for home altars, are a small cottage industry. A landscape that varies from hilly to ruggedly mountainous has made the building of roads and other infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 difficult and expensive. This, and a lack of access to the sea, has meant that Bhutan has not been able to benefit from significant trading of its produce. Bhutan does not have any railways
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

, though Indian Railways
Indian Railways
Indian Railways , abbreviated as IR , is a departmental undertaking of Government of India, which owns and operates most of India's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India....

 plans to link southern Bhutan to its vast network under an agreement signed in January 2005. Bhutan and India signed a 'free trade' accord in 2008, which additionally allowed Bhutanese imports and exports from third markets to transit India without tariffs. Bhutan had trade relations with the Tibet region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 until 1960, when it closed its border with China after an influx of refugees.

The industrial sector is in a nascent stage, and though most production comes from cottage industry, larger industries are being encouraged and some industries such as cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

, steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

, and ferroalloy
Ferroalloy
Ferroalloy refers to various alloys of iron with a high proportion of one or more other element, manganese or silicon for example. It is used in the production of steels and alloys as a raw material.The main ferroalloys are:*FeAl – ferroaluminum...

 have been set up. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian contract labour. Agricultural produce includes rice, chilies, dairy (some yak, mostly cow) products, buckwheat, barley, root crops, apples, and citrus and maize at lower elevations. Industries include cement, wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

 products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages and calcium carbide
Calcium carbide
thumb|right|Calcium carbide.Calcium carbide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula of CaC2. The pure material is colorless, however pieces of technical grade calcium carbide are grey or brown and consist of only 80-85% of CaC2 . Because of presence of PH3, NH3, and H2S it has a...

.

Incomes of over Nu 100,000 per annum are taxed, but very few wage and salary earners qualify. Bhutan's inflation rate was estimated at about three percent in 2003. Bhutan has a Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 of around USD 2.913 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

), making it the 162nd largest economy in the world. Per capita income is around $1,400, ranked 124th. Government revenues total $272 million, though expenditures amount to $350 million. 60 percent of the budget expenditure, however, is financed by India's Ministry of External Affairs.India's Ministry of External Affairs provides financial aid to neighbouring countries under "technical and economic cooperation with other countries and advances to foreign governments." Bhutan's exports, principally electricity, cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

, gypsum
Gypsum
Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. It is found in alabaster, a decorative stone used in Ancient Egypt. It is the second softest mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale...

, timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones and spices, total €128 million (2000 est.). Imports, however, amount to €164 million, leading to a trade deficit. Main items imported include fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

 and lubricant
Lubricant
A lubricant is a substance introduced to reduce friction between moving surfaces. It may also have the function of transporting foreign particles and of distributing heat...

s, grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

, machinery, vehicles, fabrics and rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

. Bhutan's main export partner is India, accounting for 58.6 percent of its export goods. Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 (30.1 percent) and Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 (7.3 percent) are the other two top export partners. As its border with Tibet is closed, trade between Bhutan and China is now almost non-existent. Bhutan's import partners include India (74.5 percent), Japan (7.4 percent) and Sweden (3.2 percent).

Administrative divisions



Bhutan is divided into twenty dzongkhag
Dzongkhag
A dzongkhag is an administrative and judicial district of Bhutan. The twenty dzongkhags of Bhutan are further divided into 205 gewogs. Some larger dzongkhags have one or more of an intermediate judicial division, known as dungkhags , which themselves comprise two or more gewogs...

s
(districts), administered by a body called the Dzongkhag Tshogdu. In certain thromde
Thromde
A thromde is a third-level administrative division in Bhutan. The legal administrative status of thromdes was most recently codified under the Local Government Act of 2009, and the role of thromdes in elections in Bhutan was defined in the Election Act of 2008.-Thromde administration:Thromde...

s
(urban municipalities), a further municipal administration is directly subordinate to the Dzongkhag administration. In the vast majority of constituencies, rural gewog
Gewog
A gewog, or geog refers to a group of villages in Bhutan. Gewogs form a geographic administrative unit below dzongkhag districts , and above thromde municipalities. Bhutan comprises 205 gewogs, which average 230 km² in area...

s
(village blocks) are administered by bodies called the Gewog Tshogde.

Thromdes (municipalities) elect Thrompons to lead administration, who in turn represent the Thromde in the Dzongkhag Tshogdu. Likewise, gewogs elect headmen called gups, vice-headmen called mangmis, who also sit on the Dzongkhag Thshogdu, as well as other members of the Gewog Tshogde. The basis of electoral constituencies in Bhutan is the chiwog, a subdivision of gewogs delineated by the Election Commission.
  1. Bumthang
    Bumthang District
    Bumthang District is one of the 20 dzongkhag comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic dzongkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted...

  2. Chukha (Chhukha)
  3. Dagana
    Dagana District
    Dagana District is one of the 20 dzongkhag comprising Bhutan...

  4. Gasa
    Gasa District
    Gasa District or Gasa Dzongkhag is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan. Its capital is Gasa Dzong near Gasa. It is located in the far north of the county and spans the Middle and High Himalayas. The dominant language of the district is Dzongkha, the national language...

  5. Haa
    Haa District
    This page is about the area Haa. For information about the airships, please see high-altitude airship.Haa District is one of the 20 dzongkhag or districts comprising Bhutan. Per the 2005 census, the population of Haa dzongkhag was 11,648, making it the second least populated dzongkhag in Bhutan...

  6. Lhuntse
  7. Mongar
    Mongar District
    Mongar District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan. Mongar is the fastest-developing dzongkhag in eastern Bhutan. A regional hospital has been constructed and the region is bustling with many economic activities. Mongar is noted for its lemon grass, a plant that can be used to produce...

  8. Paro
    Paro District
    Paro District is the name of a district , valley, river and town in Bhutan. It is one of the most historic valleys in Bhutan. Both trade goods and invading Tibetans came over the pass at the head of the valley, giving Paro the closest cultural connection with Tibet of any Bhutanese district...

  9. Pemagatshel (Pemagatsel)
  10. Punakha
    Punakha District
    Punakha District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan. It is bordered by Thimphu, Gasa, and Wangdue Phodrang Districts...

  11. Samdrup Jongkhar
  12. Samtse
    Samtse District
    Samtse District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan.-History and culture:...

     (Samchi)
  13. Sarpang
    Sarpang District
    Sarpang District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan.-Languages:...

     (Sarbhang)
  14. Thimphu
    Thimphu District
    Thimphu District is a dzongkhag of Bhutan. Thimphu is also the capital of Bhutan and the largest city in the whole kingdom.-Languages:...

  15. Trashigang (Tashigang)
  16. Trashiyangtse
  17. Trongsa
    Trongsa District
    Trongsa District is one of the districts of Bhutan. It is the most central district of Bhutan and the geographic centre of Bhutan is located within it at Trongsa Dzong....

     (Tongsa)
  18. Tsirang
    Tsirang District
    Tsirang District , is one of the 20 dzongkhags of Bhutan. The administrative center of the district is Damphu...

     (Chirang)
  19. Wangdue Phodrang (Wangdi Phodrang)
  20. Zhemgang (Shemgang)


Cities and towns


  • Thimphu
    Thimphu
    Thimphu also spelt Thimpu, is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961...

    , the largest city and capital of Bhutan.
  • Damphu
    Damphu, Tsirang
    Damphu is the administrative headquarters and capital of Tsirang District, Bhutan. It is located on the north-south highway running from Wangdue Phodrang to Sarpang and Gelephu on the border with India. It contains the Tsirang Dzong....

    , the administrative headquarters of Tsirang District
    Tsirang District
    Tsirang District , is one of the 20 dzongkhags of Bhutan. The administrative center of the district is Damphu...

  • Jakar
    Jakar
    Jakar is a town in the central-eastern region of Bhutan. It is the district capital of Bumthang District and the location of Jakar Dzong, the regional dzong fortress...

    , the administrative headquarters of Bumthang District
    Bumthang District
    Bumthang District is one of the 20 dzongkhag comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic dzongkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted...

     and the place where Buddhism entered Bhutan.
  • Mongar
    Mongar
    Mongar is a town and seat of Mongar District in Bhutan. As of 2005 it has a population of 3502....

    , the eastern commercial hub of the country.
  • Paro
    Paro, Bhutan
    -History:Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it wasn't until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations, and for...

    , site of the international airport
    Paro Airport
    Paro Airport is the only international airport of Bhutan. The airport is located from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the Paro river at an elevation of ....

    .
  • Phuentsholing, Bhutan's commercial hub.
  • Punakha
    Punakha
    thumb|right|Punakha Dzong and the [[Mo Chhu]]Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and it...

    , the old capital.
  • Samdrup Jongkhar
    Samdrup Jongkhar
    Samdrup Jongkhar District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan...

     The south eastern town on the border with India
  • Trashigang
    Trashigang
    Trashigang District is Bhutan's easternmost dzongkhag .-Culture:...

    , administrative headquarters of Trashigang District the most populous district in the country.
  • Trongsa
    Trongsa
    Trongsa, previously Tongsa , is a town and capital of Trongsa District in central Bhutan. The name means "new village" in Dzongkha. The first temple was built in 1543 by the Drukpa Kagyu lama, Ngagi Wangchuk, who was the great-grandfather of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the person who unified...

    , in central Bhutan which has the largest and the most magnificent of all the dzongs in Bhutan.

Demographics



Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalop
Ngalop
The Ngalop are people of Tibetan origin who migrated to Bhutan as early as the ninth century. For this reason, they are often referred to in literature as "Bhote"...

s and Sharchop
Sharchop
Sharchop is a collective term for the populations of mixed Southeast Asian and South Asian descent that live in the eastern districts of Bhutan.-Ethnicity:...

s, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa, or Lhotsampa, means "southerners" in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. The term refers to the heterogeneous ethnic Nepalese population of Bhutan.-History:...

, meaning "southerners," are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

ese descent. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops, the dominant group, who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

. In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups. In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and mainstream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government.

The literacy rate
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 in Bhutan is 59.5 percent. The country has a median age of 22.3 years. Bhutan has a life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 of 62.2 years (61 for males and 64.5 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females in the country.

Religion


It is estimated that between two thirds and three quarters of the Bhutanese population follow Vajrayana Buddhism, which is also the state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

. About one quarter to one third are followers of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. Other religions account for less than 1% of the population. The current legal framework, in principle guarantees freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

; proselytism
Proselytism
Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. The word proselytize is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος...

, however, is forbidden by a royal government decision and by judicial interpretation of the Constitution
Constitution of Bhutan
The Constitution of Bhutan was enacted July 18, 2008 by the Royal Government. The Constitution was thoroughly planned by several government officers and agencies over a period of almost seven years amid increasing democratic reforms in Bhutan...

.

Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–49), a convert to Buddhism, ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang
Bumthang
Bumthang may refer to:* Bumthang , officially Jakar* Bumthang District* Bumthang River* Bumthang Kingdom* Bumthang language* Bumthang Province* Bumthang Valley...

 in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near Paro
Paro, Bhutan
-History:Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it wasn't until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations, and for...

) in the Paro Valley.

Languages


The national language is Bhutanese, or Dzongkha
Dzongkha language
Dzongkha , occasionally Ngalopkha, is the national language of Bhutan. The word "dzongkha" means the language spoken in the dzong, – dzong being the fortress-like monasteries established throughout Bhutan by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century."Bhutani" is not another name for...

, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 family. The script, here called Chhokey ("Dharma Language"), is identical to classical Tibetan. In the schools English is the medium of instruction and Dzongkha is taught as the national language. Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

 lists 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali
Nepali language
Nepali or Nepalese is a language in the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal and is also spoken in Bhutan, parts of India and parts of Myanmar...

, an Indo-Aryan language
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

. Until the 1980s, the government sponsored the teaching of Nepali in schools in Southern Bhutan. However, after the armed uprising in the south, Nepali was dropped from the curriculum. The languages of Bhutan are still not well-characterized, and several have yet to be recorded in an in-depth academic grammar. Before the 1980s, the Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa, or Lhotsampa, means "southerners" in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. The term refers to the heterogeneous ethnic Nepalese population of Bhutan.-History:...

 (Nepali-speaking community), mainly based in southern Bhutan, constituted approximately 30% of the population. However, during the 1980s, after the Bhutanese government instituted a policy of one language and one culture, these Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa
Lhotshampa, or Lhotsampa, means "southerners" in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. The term refers to the heterogeneous ethnic Nepalese population of Bhutan.-History:...

s were forced to wear the national costume of Bhutan, which is not well-suited to the high temperatures of the southern region. This cultural discrimination led to protests which eventually resulted in the eviction of more than 100,000 Lhotshampas throughout the 1990s. These Lhotshampas took refuge in Nepal via India. Because the bilateral talks between Nepal and Bhutan to repatriate Bhutanese refugees (Lhotshampas) have been proven futile, the UNHCR is now helping the refugees to settle in various developed countries such as Norway, USA, Canada and many others.

Dzongkha is partially intelligible with Sikkimese
Sikkimese language
The Sikkimese language, also called Sikkimese Tibetan, Bhutia, Dranjongke , Dranjoke, Denjongka, Denzongpeke, and Denzongke, belongs to the Southern Tibetan language family. It is spoken by the Bhutia nationality in Sikkim...

 and spoken natively by 25% of the population. Tshangla, the language of the Sharchop and the principal pre-Tibetan language of Bhutan, is spoken by a greater number of people. It is not easily classified and may constitute an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. Nepali
Nepali language
Nepali or Nepalese is a language in the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal and is also spoken in Bhutan, parts of India and parts of Myanmar...

 speakers constituted some 40% of the population as of 2006. The larger minority languages are Dzala
Dzala language
The Dzala language, also called Dzalakha or Dzalamat, is a member of the Tibeto-Burman language family spoken in eastern Bhutan, in Lhuntse and Trashiyangtse Districts.- External links :**...

 (11%), Limbu
Limbu language
Limbu is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Kashmir and Darjeeling district, West Bengal, India, by the Limbu community. Virtually all Limbus are bilingual in Nepali....

 (10%, immigrant), and Kheng (8%). There are no reliable sources for the ethnic or linguistic composition of Bhutan, so these numbers do not add up to 100%.

Culture





Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the early 1960s. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country's culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 is the second dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-la
Shangri-La
Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains...

.

While Bhutanese citizens are free to travel abroad, Bhutan is viewed as inaccessible by many foreigners. Another reason for it being an unpopular destination is the cost, which is high for tourists on tighter budgets. Entry is free for citizens of India and Bangladesh, but all other foreigners are required to sign up with a Bhutanese tour operator and pay around US$200 per day that they stay in the country.

The national dress for Bhutanese men is the gho
Gho
The gho is the traditional and national dress for men in Bhutan. Introduced in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a more distinctive identity, it is a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera...

, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira
Kira (dress)
The kira is the national dress for women in Bhutan. It is an ankle-length dress consisting of a rectangular piece of woven fabric, wrapped and folded around the body which is pinned at both shoulders, usually with silver brooches, and bound at the waist with a long belt...

, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist. An accompaniment to the kira is a long-sleeved blouse, the toego, which is worn underneath the outer layer. Social status and class determine the texture, colours, and decorations that embellish the garments. Differently coloured scarves and shawls are important indicators of social standing, as Bhutan has traditionally been a feudal society. Jewellery is mostly worn by women, especially during religious festivals (tsechu
Tsechu
Tsechu are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. The month depends on the place, but usually is around the time of October. Tsechus are religious festivals of Drukpa Buddhism...

s) and public gatherings. To strengthen Bhutan's identity as an independent country, Bhutanese law requires all Bhutanese citizens to wear the national dress in public areas and as formal wear.

Rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, buckwheat
Buckwheat
Buckwheat refers to a variety of plants in the dicot family Polygonaceae: the Eurasian genus Fagopyrum, the North American genus Eriogonum, and the Northern Hemisphere genus Fallopia. Either of the latter two may be referred to as "wild buckwheat"...

, and increasingly maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, are the staples of Bhutanese cuisine. The local diet also includes pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

, beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

, yak
Yak
The yak, Bos grunniens or Bos mutus, is a long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of south Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. In addition to a large domestic population, there is a small, vulnerable wild yak population...

 meat, chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

, and mutton. Soups and stews of meat and dried vegetables spiced with chillies and cheese are prepared. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 and chilies
Chili pepper
Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...

, might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Dairy
Dairy
A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffalo, sheep, horses or camels —for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned...

 foods, particularly butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea
Butter tea
Butter tea, also known as po cha , cha süma , Mandarin Chinese: sūyóu chá or goor goor in local Ladakhi terms, is a drink of the Tibetans and Chinese minorities in southwestern China. It is also consumed in Bhutan. It is made from tea leaves, yak butter, and salt.-Usage:Drinking butter tea is a...

, tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, locally brewed ara
Ara (drink)
Ara, or Arag, is a traditional alcoholic beverage consumed in Bhutan. Ara is made from rice, maize, millet, or wheat, and may be either fermented or distilled. The beverage is usually a clear, creamy, or white color.-Production:Ara is most commonly made from rice or maize at private homes or farms...

(rice wine
Rice wine
Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. Unlike wine, which is made by fermentation of naturally sweet grapes and other fruit, rice "wine" results from the fermentation of rice starch converted to sugars...

) and beer
Beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

. Bhutan is the first country in the world to have banned the sale of tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 under its Tobacco Act of 2010
Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010
The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan was enacted by parliament on June 16, 2010.Tobacco Control Act : § 1 It regulates tobacco and tobacco products, banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and sale of tobacco and tobacco products in Bhutan...

.

Bhutanese architecture remains distinctively traditional, employing rammed earth
Rammed earth
Rammed earth, also known as taipa , tapial , and pisé , is a technique for building walls using the raw materials of earth, chalk, lime and gravel. It is an ancient building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and natural building methods...

 and wattle and daub
Wattle and daub
Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw...

 construction methods, stone masonry, and intricate woodwork around windows and roofs. Traditional architecture uses no nails or iron bars in construction. Characteristic of the region is a type of castle fortress known as the dzong
Dzong architecture
Dzong architecture is a distinctive type of fortress architecture found in the present and former Buddhist kingdoms of the Himalayas: Bhutan and Tibet...

. Since ancient times, the dzongs have served as the religious and secular administration centres for their respective districts. The University of Texas at El Paso
University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso is a four-year state university, and is a component institution of the University of Texas System. Its campus is located on the bank of the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. The school was founded in 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy,...

 in the United States has adopted Bhutanese architecture for its buildings on campus, as have the nearby Hilton Garden Inn and other buildings in the city of El Paso.

Bhutan has numerous public holidays
Public holidays in Bhutan
Public holidays in Bhutan consist of both national holidays and local festivals called tsechus. While national holidays are observed throughout Bhutan, tsechus are only observed in their areas. Bhutan uses its own calendar, a variant of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. Because it is a lunisolar...

, most of which centre around traditional seasonal, secular and religious festivals. They include the winter solstice (around January 1, depending on the lunar calendar
Lunar calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phase. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to...

), the lunar New Year (February or March), the King's birthday and the anniversary of his coronation, the official start of monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 season (September 22), National Day (December 17), and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations.

Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colourful wooden or composition face masks and stylized costumes, depict hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

es, demons, dæmons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricature
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

s of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk
Folk
The English word Folk is derived from a Germanic noun, *fulka meaning "people" or "army"...

 and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient lore and art of mask-making.

The music of Bhutan
Music of Bhutan
The music of Bhutan is an integral part of its culture and plays a leading role in transmitting social values. Traditional Bhutanese music includes a spectrum of subgenres, ranging from folk to religious song and music. Some genres of traditional Bhutanese music intertwine vocals, instrumentation,...

 can generally be divided into traditional and modern varieties; traditional music comprises religious and folk genres, the latter including zhungdra
Zhungdra
Zhungdra is one of two main styles of traditional Bhutanese folk music, the other being bödra. Arising in the 17th century, zhungdra is an entirely endemic Bhutanese style associated with the folk music of the central valleys of Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha, the heart of the...

and boedra
Boedra
Boedra is a traditional genre of Bhutanese music. Boedra, which is influenced by Tibetan folk music, is one of the two main folk singing styles in Bhutan, the other being zhungdra, which was developed in the 17th century....

. The modern rigsar
Rigsar
Rigsar is a music genre, the dominant type of popular music of Bhutan. It was originally played on a dranyen , and dates back to the late 1960s. The first rigsar song, Zhendi Migo was a copy of the popular Bollywood filmi song "Sayonara" from the film Love in Tokyo...

is played on a mix of traditional instruments and electronic keyboards, and dates back to the early 1990s; it shows the influence of Indian popular music, a hybrid form of traditional and Western popular influences.

In Bhutanese families, inheritance generally passes through the female rather than the male line. Daughters will inherit their parents' house. A man is expected to make his own way in the world and often moves to his wife's home. Love marriage
Love marriage
A love marriage is a union of two individuals based upon mutual love, affection, commitment and attraction. While the term has little discrete meaning in the Western world, where most marriages are considered to be 'based in love,' the term has meaning elsewhere to indicate a concept of marriage...

s are common in urban areas, but the tradition of arranged marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

s is still common in the villages. Although uncommon, polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 is accepted, often being a device to keep property in a contained family unit rather than dispersing it. The previous king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the former King of Bhutan. He was the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006...

, who abdicated in 2006, had four queens, all of whom are sisters. The current king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, wed Jetsun Pema, 21, a commoner and daughter of a pilot, on 13 October 2011.

Sports



Bhutan's national sport is archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 standards in technical details such as the placement of the targets and atmosphere. There are two targets placed over 100 meters apart and teams shoot from one end of the field to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrows per round. Traditional Bhutanese archery is a social event and competitions are organized between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There are usually plenty of food and drink complete with singing and dancing. Attempts to distract an opponent include standing around the target and making fun of the shooter's ability. Darts (khuru) is an equally popular outdoor team sport, in which heavy wooden darts pointed with a 10 cm nail are thrown at a paperback-sized target 10 to 20 meters away.

Another traditional sport is the Digor
Digor (sports)
Digor is a traditional sport in Bhutan, resembling the sport of shot put.‘Degor’ is a traditional Bhutanese game which is often mistakenly referred in literatures as a kind of shot put by foreign authors. It differs from shot put in many ways...

, which resembles the shot put
Shot put
The shot put is a track and field event involving "putting" a heavy metal ball—the shot—as far as possible. It is common to use the term "shot put" to refer to both the shot itself and to the putting action....

 and horseshoe
Horseshoe
A horseshoe, is a fabricated product, normally made of metal, although sometimes made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials, designed to protect a horse's hoof from wear and tear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall...

 throwing. Cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

 has gained popularity in Bhutan, particularly since the introduction of television channels from India. The Bhutan national cricket team is one of the more successful affiliate nations in the region. Football is also an increasingly popular sport. In 2002, Bhutan's national football team played Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

, in what was billed as The Other Final
The Other Final
The Other Final is a 2003 documentary film, directed by Johan Kramer, about a football match between Bhutan and Montserrat, the then-lowest ranked teams in the FIFA World Rankings. The game was played in the Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu, Bhutan. Bhutan won the game 4-0...

; the match took place on the same day Brazil played Germany in the World Cup final
2002 FIFA World Cup Final
The 2002 FIFA World Cup Final the final match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, played between Germany and Brazil at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. It was the first World Cup meeting between the two sides. Brazil won the match 2–0, winning a record fifth title...

, but at the time Bhutan and Montserrat were the world's two lowest ranked teams. The match was held in Thimphu's Changlimithang National Stadium
Changlimithang Stadium
Changlimithang Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan, which serves as the National Stadium. It is currently used mostly for football and archery matches. The stadium holds 25,000...

, and Bhutan won 4–0. A documentary of the match was made by the Dutch filmmaker Johan Kramer.

Traffic and transport



Paro Airport
Paro Airport
Paro Airport is the only international airport of Bhutan. The airport is located from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the Paro river at an elevation of ....

 is the only international airport in Bhutan. Yongphulla Airport
Yongphulla Airport
Yongphulla Airport is a small domestic airport located near Trashigang, a town in the Trashigang District in Bhutan. It is currently one of only two airports in Bhutan....

 in Trashigang
Trashigang
Trashigang District is Bhutan's easternmost dzongkhag .-Culture:...

 is a small domestic airport that underwent upgrades through 2010. Yongphulla Airport was scheduled for completion in January 2010, but as of August 2011 work is still ongoing. There are plans for further domestic airports to be built at Bathpalathang in Bumthang District
Bumthang District
Bumthang District is one of the 20 dzongkhag comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic dzongkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted...

 and at Gelephu
Gelephu
Gelephu is a town in Sarpang District in Bhutan. It is located on the Indian border, about 30 km to the east of Sarpang, the Dzongkhag headquarters , and has a population of 9,199 as per 2005 census.Gelephu was selected as a site for Bhutan's second international airport project, but it was...

 in Sarpang District
Sarpang District
Sarpang District is one of the 20 dzongkhags comprising Bhutan.-Languages:...

, which were due to start operations in June 2011.

The Lateral Road
Lateral Road
Bhutan's Lateral Road is its 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 centers...

 is Bhutan's primary east-west corridor, connecting Phuentsholing in the southwest to Trashigang
Trashigang
Trashigang District is Bhutan's easternmost dzongkhag .-Culture:...

 in the east. In between, the Lateral Road runs directly through Wangdue Phodrang
Wangdue Phodrang
Wangdue Phodrang District is a dzongkhag of central Bhutan. This is also the name of the dzong which dominates the district, and the name of the small market town outside the gates of the dzong...

, Trongsa
Trongsa
Trongsa, previously Tongsa , is a town and capital of Trongsa District in central Bhutan. The name means "new village" in Dzongkha. The first temple was built in 1543 by the Drukpa Kagyu lama, Ngagi Wangchuk, who was the great-grandfather of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the person who unified...

, and other population centers. The Lateral Road also has spurs connecting to the capital Thimphu
Thimphu
Thimphu also spelt Thimpu, is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961...

 and other major population centers such as Paro
Paro, Bhutan
-History:Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it wasn't until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations, and for...

 and Punakha
Punakha
thumb|right|Punakha Dzong and the [[Mo Chhu]]Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and it...

. As with other roads in Bhutan, the Lateral Road presents serious safety concerns due to pavement conditions, sheer drops, hairpin turns, weather, and landslides.

Further reading


PDF version

External links


  • Bhutan Links at the National Library of Bhutan
    National Library of Bhutan
    The National Library of Bhutan , Thimphu, Bhutan was established in 1967 for the purpose of "preservation and promotion of the rich cultural and religious heritage" of Bhutan...