Skip to main content
Select Source:

Bhutan

BHUTAN

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS BHUTANESE
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kingdom of Bhutan

Druk-Yul

CAPITAL: Thimphu (Tashi Chho Dzong)

FLAG: The flag is divided diagonally into an orange-yellow field above and a crimson field below. In the center is a wingless white Chinese dragon.

ANTHEM: Gyelpo Tenjur, beginning "In the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, adorned with sandalwood."

MONETARY UNIT: The ngultrum (n) is a paper currency of 100 chetrum. There are coins of 5, 10, 25, and 50 chetrum and 1 ngultrum, and notes of 1, 5, 10, and 100 ngultrum. The ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee (r), which also circulates freely. n1 = $0.02207 (or $1 = n45.317) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some traditional units are still in common use.

HOLIDAYS: King's Birthday, 1113 November; National Day, 17 December. Movable Buddhist holidays and festivals are observed.

TIME: 5:30 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Bhutan, a landlocked country in the Himalayan mountain range, has an area of 47,000 sq km (18,147 sq mi), extending 306 km (190 mi) ew and 145 km (90 mi) ns. Comparatively, the area occupied by Bhutan is slightly more than half the size of the state of Indiana. It is bordered on the e, s, and w by India and on the n and nw by China, with a total boundary length of 1,075 km (668 mi). The capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, is located in the west central part of the country.

TOPOGRAPHY

Bhutan is a mountainous country of extremely high altitudes and irregular, often precipitous terrain, which may vary in elevation by several thousand feet within a short distance. Elevation generally increases from south to north. The mountains are a series of parallel northsouth ranges. The loftiest peaks, found in the Himalayan chain that stretches along the northern border, include Kula Kangri (7,554 m/24,783 ft) and Chomo Lhari (7,314 m/23,997 ft). Great spurs extend south from the main chain along the eastern and western borders. In the rest of the country are mainly ranges of steep hills separated by narrow valleys. Bhutan is drained by many rivers flowing south between these ranges and for the most part ultimately emptying into the Brahmaputra River in India.

CLIMATE

Because of the irregular terrain, the climate varies greatly from place to place. In the outer foothills adjoining the Indian plains, rainfall ranges from about 150300 cm (60120 in) a year; the forests are hot and steaming in the rainy season, while the higher hills are cold, wet, and misty. Violent Himalayan thunderstorms gave rise to Bhutan's Dzongkha name, DrukYul, which translates as "Land of the Thunder Dragon." Rainfall is moderate in the central belt of flat valleys (which have an elevation of 1,1003,000 m/3,50010,000 ft). The uplands and high valleys (above 3,700 m/12,000 ft) are relatively dry. There is less rainfall in eastern Bhutan. In general, the mountainous areas are cold most of the year. Temperatures there average 4°c (39°f) in January and 17°c (63°f) in July.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Dense jungle growth is characteristic at altitudes below 1,500 m (5,000 ft). Above that height the mountain slopes are covered with forest, including beech, ash, birch, maple, cypress, and yew. At 2,4002,700 m (8,0009,000 ft) are forests of oak and rhododendron. Above this level, firs and pines grow to the timber line. Primulas, poppies (including the rare blue variety), magnolias, and orchids abound.

The relative abundance of wild animals is attributed to the Buddhist reluctance to take life. In the lower parts of southern Bhutan, mammals include the cheetah, goral, sambar, bear, and rhinoceros; in the higher regions are snow deer, musk deer, and barking deer. Game birds include pheasants, partridges, pigeons, and quail.

ENVIRONMENT

The most significant environmental problems in Bhutan were soil erosion and water pollution. The erosion of the soil occurs because 50% of the land in Bhutan is situated on mountainous slopes which are subject to landslides during the monsoon season. Other contributing factors are overcutting of timber, road construction, and the building of irrigation channels. The nation has about 95 cu km of renewable water resources, but only 86% of all city dwellers and 60% of people in rural areas have pure drinking water.

The Manas Game Sanctuary is located along the banks of the Manas River in southeastern Bhutan. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 21 types of mammals, 18 species of birds, 1 species of amphibian, and 7 species of plants. Threatened species included the tiger, snow leopard, Asian elephant, and wild yak.

POPULATION

The population of Bhutan in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 970,000, which placed it at number 151 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 40% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 103 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 2.5%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The government lauched a campaign with the slogan "Small Family, Happy Family" to encourage broader use of contraception and lower the fertility rate, especially among adolescents. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,432,000. The population density was 20 per sq km (53 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 21% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 5.83%. The capital city, Thimphu (Tashi Chho Dzong), had a population of 35,000 in that year, and Phuntsholing had an estimated population of more than 18,000.

Some 93% of the population was rural in 2001. The laboring population is not gathered into towns but lives in the country-side in the vicinity of fortresses called dzongs. A dzong, the official center of a region or district, often houses substantial numbers of Buddhist monks. Many place names incorporate the word dzong, which means "castle-monastery."

MIGRATION

Bhutan opposes immigration and forbids the entry of new settlers from Nepal. Since 1959, when about 4,000 Tibetan refugees entered Bhutan, the border with Tibet has been closed to immigration. By 1980, most of the refugees had become citizens of Bhutan; the rest migrated to India. The border between Bhutan and India is open, and citizens of Bhutan are free to live and work in India. The net migration rate for 2005 was estimated as zero. The total number of migrants residing in Bhutan in 2000 was 10,000.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The Bhutanese are mainly of Tibetan stock, and are also known as Buotias; they account for approximately 50% of the population. The Ngalop (also called Bhote) are people of Tibetan origin who live in northern and western Bhutan; the Sharchop inhabit the eastern regions and also have ethnic affinities with the people of China's Tibetan region. Aboriginal or indigenous tribal peoples live in villages scattered throughout Bhutan and account for approximately 15% of the population. The Ngalops, Sharchops, and the indigenous tribal people are collectively known as Druk-pas. The remaining peoples are Nepalese settlers (about 35% of the population), living mostly in the south. These include a group known as the Lhotsampas. Some 85,000 were expelled to Nepal in 199293, and about 5,00015,000 more moved to India.

LANGUAGES

Four main languages are spoken in Bhutan. The official language is Dzongkha, a Tibetan dialect spoken mainly by Ngalop in the northern and western parts of the country. Bumthangkha, an aboriginal language, is spoken in central Bhutan, while Sharchopkha is spoken in eastern Bhutan. Both of these are used in primary schools in areas where their speakers predominate. The Nepalese largely retain their own language, Nepali.

RELIGIONS

About 75% of the Bhutanese practice Buddhism and about 25% practice Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism. While the law provides for religious freedom, Drukpa Kagyup, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, is the state religion, and the law prohibits religious conversions. The Drukpa (people of the dragon), introduced from Tibet in the 12th century, dominates the collective life of the Bhutanese through a large clerical body estimated at more than 6,000 lamas or monks, centered in 8 major monasteries (dzongs ) and 200 smaller shrines (gompas ) scattered throughout the land. This sect incorporates both the ideology of the classical Buddhist scriptures and the indigenous pre-Buddhist animistic beliefs called Bon. The Ningmapa school of Mahayana Buddhism is also practiced, primarily in the eastern regions. The royal family practices a combination of Drukpa Kagyup and Ningmapa Buddhism. Most Ngalops are of the Drukpa Kagyup school; they hold a majority of positions in the government. The Sharchops are primarily of the Ningmapa school.

Among Hindus, the Shaivite, Vaishnavite, Shakta, Ghanapath, Paurinic, and Vedic schools are all represented. There are still a few Bon priests and followers in the country and there are small numbers of Christians, with worship practices generally limited to the family home.

The law provides for freedom of religion, but this right is some-what limited in practice. Proselytizing is prohibited and all religious organizations must have a license from the government in order to build a new place of worship. There have been reports of government discrimination against the Hindu Nepalese.

TRANSPORTATION

Traditionally, Bhutan's communications have been mostly with Tibet, through several strategic mountain passes. Most travelers continue to journey on foot or mounted on hardy ponies bred to withstand great altitudes and steep slopes. Goods are transported by porters or on pack animals. Many of the rivers are still crossed by native cantilever bridges of excellent construction.

Prior to the 196166 development plan, there were no surfaced roads in Bhutan. Since then, a network of roads and suspension bridges has been built by India. In 2002, there were about 3,285 km (2041 mi) of roads, including about 1,994 km (1,239 mi) of surfaced roads. Of the 186 suspension bridges projected in the 198187 economic plan, 102 were completed by 1985. There is bus service linking Paro Dzong and Tashi Gang Dzong with Indian border towns. In 2004 there were two airports, only one of which (as of 2005), had a paved runway. The national air carrier, Druk Airlines, began operations in 1983 with regular flights between Calcutta and Paro Dzong, the site of Bhutan's main airfield. In 2001, 35,100 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.

HISTORY

Little is known of the history of Bhutan before the 17th century. Buddhism was originally introduced from India in the 8th century, although the Buddhism of today's Bhutan is very much Tibetan in character. The forebears of the Bhotes (or Bhotias) came from Tibet, probably in the 9th century, when Tibetans invaded the area and met little resistance from the indigenous Tephu tribe. In the middle of the fifteenth century, Shabdung Ngawang Nangyal, a Tibetan lama exercising temporal as well as spiritual power, united the country and built most of the fortified villages (dzongs ). His successors in power established a dual system, separating the temporal ruler (Desi or deb raja) and the spiritual ruler (Je Khempo or dharma raja).

The first recorded contact with the West occurred in 1772, when the British East India Company repelled a Bhutanese invasion of the princely state of Cooch Behar in India; they concluded a peace treaty two years later. During the 18th century and most of the 19th, British efforts to open trade with Bhutan proved futile, with the Bhutanese frequently attacking the relatively level areas of Assam and Bengal along their southern border. In 1865, the British finally defeated the Bhutanese, and Bhutan formally accepted a British subsidy of r50,000 a year, which was dependent upon their keeping the peace.

With British approval, Ugyen Dorji Wangchuk became the first hereditary king in 1907, replacing the temporal ruler. In 1910, the Punakha Treaty was concluded between the British Indian Government and Bhutan, under which British India agreed explicitly not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs, while Bhutan accepted British "guidance" in handling external mattersa role independent India assumed after 1947. A formal IndoBhutanese accord concluded in 1949 reaffirmed and amplified the earlier Punakha Treaty. Besides increasing Bhutan's annual subsidy to r500,000 and returning to Bhutan 83 sq km (32 sq mi) of territory around Dewangiri (wrested by the British in 1865), it made India responsible for Bhutan's defense and strategic communications, committing India to avoid interfering in Bhutan's affairs and affirming Bhutan's agreement to be "guided by the advice of" India in foreign affairs.

In 1959, China published maps of the Himalayan frontier with South Asia that showed as Chinese part of the territory claimed by Bhutan; Chinese representatives also asserted that Bhutan belonged to a greater Tibet. In response, Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru warned that an attack on Bhutan would be deemed an act of war against India. Fighting between India and China in neighboring border regions in the fall of 1962 did not violate Bhutan's borders, although survivors from Indian army units decimated east of Bhutan straggled back to India through Bhutan.

In April 1964, the long-time prime minister, Jigme Dorji, was assassinated, revealing fissures among the ruling elite. The plotters who were caught were executed, including the deputy commander of the army; others fled to Nepal. In the 1960s, Bhutan's advance toward modernization and the end of its insularity were accelerated by economic plans prepared and underwritten by India.

Relations with Nepal have grown difficult since the late 1980s, due to a dispute with Nepal concerning Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese descent. The mostly Hindu "Nepali Bhutanese," comprising approximately a third of Bhutan's population, were granted citizenship in 1958. However, Bhutan changed its citizenship laws in the late 1980s, making the Nepali Bhutanese illegal immigrants. In 1990, the Bhutanese government expelled 100,000 Nepali Bhutanese, who fled to refugee camps in eastern Nepal. In 1993, Bhutan and Nepal established a Joint Ministerial Level Committee (JMLC) to address the issue of ethnic Nepalese refugees.

Nepalese activism, spearheaded by the Bhutan People's Party based in Nepal, continued through the early 1990s. It resulted in violence from both sides, and brought charges of violations of human rights against Bhutan's security forces. In 1996, "peace marches" of refugees from Nepal into Bhutan were met by force, and the marchers were deported by the Bhutanese police. The following year, the National Assembly adopted a resolution (later discarded) that prohibited family members of ethnic Nepalese refugees from holding jobs in the government or armed forces. The government also began resettling Buddhist Bhutanese from other regions of the country on land vacated by the refugees. In 1998, Foreign Minister Jigme Thinley took office with a mandate to settle the refugee issue. Although Bhutan and Nepal originally agreed in principal that the refugees be divided into four categories (1) bonafide Bhutanese; (2) Bhutanese émigrés; (3) nonBhutanese; and (4) Bhutanese who have committed crimes in Bhutan, the question of what to do with the more than 100,000 refugees living in the camps in Nepal remained unresolved.

At the 10th JMLC round of talks held in December 2000, negotiators created a Joint Verification Team (JVT) to interview and verify the status of the Bhutanese refugees, but by the 11th round of JMLC talks held in August 2001, the verification process was moving at a rate of only 10 families per day. In addition to the JMLC talks, Foreign Secretary Level talks (FSLT) were held in November 2001, at which differences between the Nepali and Bhutanese positions on the issue of categorization of the refugees were clarified: Nepal proposed to reduce the four categories to two (Bhutanese and non-Bhutanese), a plan that was rejected by Bhutan.

In October 2003, the Nepalese and Bhutanese governments agreed to repatriate approximately 70% of the refugees from the first of the seven camps to undergo the verification procedure. However, following an incident where refugees at one of the camps injured three Bhutanese inspectors, progress came to a halt in December 2004.

There have also been tensions between Bhutan and India's northeastern state of Assam. Two separatist groups from Assamthe United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)maintain well-entrenched bases in Bhutan. The separatist Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) from West Bengal state is there as well. Bhutan refrained from taking direct action against the Indian separatists for fear of retaliatory attacks on its nationals, but in late December 2002, the Bhutanese government announced it would use military might to remove the separatists from bases within its borders. The Assam government has blamed Bhutan for the rise in militancy in the region, and welcomed the government's decision to launch a military response.

Reforms introduced by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in June 1998 mark a milestone in Bhutan's political and constitutional history. Continuing his efforts toward modernization, the king issued a royal edict relinquishing some of the monarch's traditional prerogatives and giving a greater role in Bhutan's administration to elected government officials.

On 3 December 2002, the king of Bhutan issued a first draft of a constitution for Bhutan including the option of impeachment of the king by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. The draft was scheduled to be discussed in the country's 20 districts before presented for ratification; the final document was released in March 2005. A referendum, which had not been scheduled as of 2006, would allow the citizens final approval.

Bhutan in June 1999 took major steps toward modernization, legalizing television and the Internet. The first Internet cafe opened in Thimphu in 2000 and the country's first university opened in 2003. A January 2005 agreement with India provided Bhutan the opportunity to link to Indian railways to Southern Bhutan. There is no internal rail system in Bhutan and foreigners are not permitted to travel to many of its areas in an attempt to minimize the effects of tourism on the local culture.

GOVERNMENT

Bhutan is an absolute monarchy, ruled by a hereditary king, the "Druk Gyalpo," who governs with the aid of a Royal Cabinet and a National Assembly (the Tshogdu). As of 2006, the king was Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has ruled since 1972. In the past, the king appointed members to a Royal Advisory Council and to a Council of Ministers. Following the political reforms of 1998, however, these two councils were combined to form the cabinet. Th is body consists of six ministers elected by the National Assembly, six advisors also elected by the National Assembly, a member nominated by the king, and two representatives of the clergy.

The unicameral National Assembly (established in 1953), known as the Tshogdu, consists of 154 members. Of these, 37 are appointed by the king to represent government and other secular interests; 105 are elected to threeyear terms by groups of village headmen, who are, in turn, elected by a onefamily, one-vote system; and the remaining 12 are chosen by the lamas acting in concert. The Tshogdu meets twice a year at Thimphu, the capital (previously known as Punakha). Candidates file their own nominations. The assembly is charged with addressing the king on matters of national importance. It also enacts laws and approves senior government appointments. A simple majority is needed to pass a measure and is conducted by secret ballot. While the king may not veto legislation, he may return bills for further consideration; the king generally has enough influence to persuade the assembly to approve legislation he considers important or to withdraw proposals which he opposes. Since 1969, it has become a more active, independent influence on government policy through its power to overrule bills proposed by the king or his advisors.

During the 1960s, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (r.195272) was a prime mover behind political and administrative changes that took the country in the direction of constitutional monarchy. When Crown Prince Jigme Singye Wangchuk assumed the throne upon his father's death in July 1972 and was crowned in June 1974, he continued his father's policy of sharing authority with the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly. In 1998, the king announced ambitious political changes that moved Bhutan further down the road towards a true constitutional monarchy. He relinquished his role as Head of Government and assigned full executive powers to a cabinet consisting of ministers and advisors to be elected by the National Assembly (in reality, the National Assembly chooses from a list of nominees proposed by the king, who also retains authority relating to security issues). The Council of Ministers, a subgroup of the cabinet, elects one of its members on a rotational basis to serve a oneyear term as chairman. It is this official who is the Head of Government. As part of his reforms, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk also introduced legislation by which any monarch would have to abdicate in favor of his hereditary successor if the National Assembly supported a vote of no-confidence against him by a two-thirds majority. And in December 2002, the king issued a draft for a first constitution for Bhutan; it was debated in the country's 20 districts before being officially presented in March 2005. As of 2006, no ratification referendum had been scheduled.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The government discourages political parties and none operate legally. Freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association and workers' rights are restricted by the government, and judicial processes are based on tradition rather than written criminal or civil procedure codes.

An opposition group known as the Bhutan State Congress (BSC) composed mainly of ethnic Nepalese has long maintained its headquarters in nearby India; other such groups, all very small and headquartered in either India or in Nepal, include the People's Forum for Democratic Rights and the Students' Union of Bhutan. A militant opposition group, operating under the banner of the Bhutan People's Party (BPP) and affiliated with the Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) in Nepal, was founded in 1990 in Siliguri, India. It claims to represent the interests of the thousands of ethnic Nepalese who have migrated (or been forced to flee) from farming areas of southern Bhutan. Allegedly supported by the Communist Parties of India (CPI) and Nepal (CPN), the BPP was responsible for demonstrations in September 1990 in Bhutan; it has charged the Bhutan government with human rights violations and "ethnic cleansing" in the area.

BPP tactics in 1991 and 1992 included hit-and-run terrorist raids into Bhutan, burning schools, census and land records, and health facilities and attacking ethnic Bhutanese (as well as loyal Nepalese) in national dress; BPP activists also organized camps for the tens of thousands of refugees in southern Nepal. In 1992, Bhutan government policy toward the terrorist attacks stiffened, with arrests and long prison sentences meted out to captured BPP activists. The conflict continued throughout the 1990s. On 9 September 2001, BPP leader R. K. Budhathoki was assassinated, weakening the BPP. The BPP in October 2002 requested that Bhutanese authorities dispense justice in the case.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The country is divided into four regionsEast, Central, West, and Southeach administered by a governor appointed by the king. As of 2002 there were 20 districts (dzongkhas ) under the supervision of district commissioners (dzongdas ), who are appointed by the Royal Civil Service Commission and are responsible for law and order. Districts are further subdivided into blocks (gewog ), of which there are 202 in the country. As part of the king's efforts to encourage decentralization in decision-making, in 1991 the government began a program to establish Block Development Committees. This project allowed people to plan and implement development projects within their respective blocks (in the 1980s, a development plan was organized for the districts). The success of the district and block development programs encouraged citizens to form other types of associations, such as school management boards, village health development committees, and associations for different agricultural products, such as apples and potatoes, for example.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The legal system is based on English common law and Indian law. Local headmen and magistrates (thrimpon ) hear cases in the first instance. Appeals may be made to a six-member High Court (also known as the Royal Court of Justice), established in 1968. From the High Court, a final appeal may be made to the king. Judges are appointed for life by the king. Criminal matters and most civil matters are resolved by application of the 17th century legal code as revised in 1957. Precedence is not used in the delivery of justice. Questions of family law are governed by traditional Buddhist or Hindu law. Minor offenses are adjudicated by village headmen. Criminal defendants have no right to court appointment of an attorney and no right to a jury trial. Under the 1979 Police Act, police need a warrant to arrest a person and must bring the detainees before a court within 24 hours of arrest. Bhutan does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

In keeping with the policies of modernization being pursued in Bhutan, the government formed a special committee in 1998 to review the country's laws and propose changes in the legal system. One of these changes saw the creation, in April 2000, of a Department of Legal Affairs to investigate and prosecute criminal and civil cases against civil servants. This department was predicted to be the likely forerunner of a fully fledged Attorney General's office or a Department of Justice. In 2001, a Civil and Criminal Procedure Code was enacted by the National Assembly, as a way of strengthening and reforming the legal system.

In addition, in 2003, the king approved the establishment of a five-member National Judicial Commission to oversee the appointment of judges and other judicial staff. The government prohibits collective bargaining, unions, and strikes. Capital punishment was abolished in 2004 and a new penal code was established in August of that same year.

Bhutan is a member of many international organizations including the United Nations.

ARMED FORCES

The armed forces consist of the Royal Bhutan Army, the National Militia, the Royal Bhutan Police, body guards, and a paramilitary force. The army is trained and equipped by India. In 2001 military expenditures were $9.3 million, or 1.9% GDP.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Bhutan became a UN member on 21 September 1971; it participates in several specialized agencies of the UN, such as the FAO, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IMF, ITU, UNESCO, the World Bank, UNIDO, and WHO. Bhutan is an observer in the WTO. The country also belongs to the Colombo Plan, the Asian Development Bank, the SACEP, and G-77. In addition, Bhutan is a member of the Nonaligned Movement and was a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Bhutan is part of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). In February 2004, Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). In environmental cooperation, Bhutan is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Kyoto Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Convention on Climate Change.

ECONOMY

Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom with a geographic size that is about half that of the state of Indiana, has one of the smallest and poorest economies in the world. Nevertheless, international lending authorities such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were optimistic about the country's growth potential for the first decade of the 21st century. The IMF projected that GDP would grow as much as 20% in 2006/07 and that growth rates for the rest of the decade would remain at a healthy 910%.

About 90% of its labor force subsists by farming or forestry. Much of the country consists of rugged, mountainous terrain, which has made development of roads, utilities and other infrastructure difficult. Bhutan depends heavily on neighboring India for migrant labor, foreign aid, and trade.

Until the early 21st century, Bhutan was largely sealed off from the rest of the world. The kingdom banned television and kept foreign travel to a minimum. This situation changed after 1998, when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has ruled Bhutan since 1972, began taking steps to devolve power and shift the country's governance toward one of constitutional monarchy. A new constitution was unveiled in March 2005. Although it had not been approved by referendum as of 2006, it calls for universal suffrage, a two-party electoral system, and a mandatory retirement age of 65 for the king. Many observers praise the steps as measures that will pave the way for more contact with outsiders and economic development.

As of the early 2000s, Bhutan was becoming less isolated. Foreign travelers, who are environmentally conscientious and capable of spending as much as $200 a day, can visit the country. Cable television and the Internet are permitted, and the country shows potential in hydropower and further tourism development. However, Bhutan contains to keep a tight grip on development. Any economic program is only allowed to proceed if it is in keeping with the country's environmental and social traditions.

Agriculture and forestry together make up 45% of the country's GDP. Although the government has relaxed the emphasis on maintaining food self-sufficiency that characterized its most isolationist decade, 1988 to 1998, the country supplies most of its food needs through the production of grains, fruits, some meat, and yak butter. Services, with tourist-related business comprising a major share, account for a further 35% of GDP. By the mid-1970s, tourism had surpassed the sale of postage stamps as the chief source of Bhutan's limited foreign exchange revenue. In turn, since the completion the first mega hydroelectric project in 1988, power exports have become the leading source of a more comfortable hard currency position. Industrial production makes up about 10% of the country's GDP.

A series of five-year plans, initiated in 1961 and financed primarily by India, have begun to improve transportation, modernize agriculture, and develop hydroelectric power. Realization of several hydroelectric and industrial projects during the 1980s helped increase industry's share of the GDP, and helped overall GDP grow 7.3% annually during 198590. A slowdown in government project investment in the early 1990s caused GDP growth to stabilize at an average of 3%, although an upturn in economic activity brought the rate back up to 6% by 1995 and to 7.3% by 1998. In 1999, real GDP growth dropped to 5.5%, but recovered to around the long-term average of 6% in 2000 and 2001. GDP was at 5.3% in 2003, according to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but the rate was projected to climb to more than 7% in 2004 and 2005 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bhutan's extensive forests, mineral resources, and swif-trunning rivers offer great potential for future development, although preservation of the country's environment continued to rank high among the government's priorities. Concern over the environment has also led the government to impose a strict set of regulations on tourists, although they are no longer subject to strict quotas that in the past held tourists to 2,500 to 4,000 a year, and banned individual tourism altogether. In 2002, tourism had climbed to about 7,000 visitors a year.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Bhutan's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $2.9 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.3%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 45% of GDP, industry 10%, and services 45%.

LABOR

About 93% of the economically active population consisted of agricultural workers in 2002, with 5% employed in services and the remaining 2% in industry and commerce. There is a severe shortage of skilled labor. The salaried labor market is predominantly in government service. Most of the industrial sector consists of home-based handicrafts and privately owned small or medium-scale factories producing consumer goods.

As of 2002, Bhutan had a government-set minimum wage of approximately $2.50 per day, which provided a decent standard of living for a family. The workday was set at eight hours per day, with one hour for lunch. In addition regular leisure days are required and overtime work is paid at a time-and-a-half rate. Although there is no minimum age for employment, the age of 18 was established "in all matters of the state." However, minors under the age of 18 frequently work in agriculture, perform chores on family farms and in shops during holidays and after school. While unions are not illegal, collective bargaining or the right to strike are not authorized by the law. Labor regulations do not provide a worker with the right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without jeopardizing their employment. The government provides free medical care to workers and compensation in the event of partial or total disability, or in the case of death.

AGRICULTURE

Only about 3.5% of the land area, comprising 165,000 hectares (408,000 acres), was used for seasonal and permanent crop production in 2002. In 2003, agriculture contributed about 33% to GDP, and engaged 94% of the economically active population. Nonetheless, Bhutan's near self-sufficiency in food permitted quantities of some crops to be exported to India, in exchange for cereals. Since there is little level space available for cultivation, fields are generally terraced. Stone aqueducts carry irrigation water. The low-lying areas raise a surplus of rice; in 2004, output of paddy rice was estimated at 45,000 tons. Other crops include wheat, maize, millet, buckwheat, barley, potatoes, sugarcane, cardamom, walnuts, and oranges. Part of the crop yield is used in making beer and chong, a potent liquor distilled from rice, barley, and millet. Paper is made from the daphne plant, which grows wildly. Walnuts, citrus fruits, apples, and apricots are grown in government orchards.

Agricultural holdings are restricted to 12 hectares (30 acres) per family; almost all farm families own their own land. Since the mid-1960s, the government has established demonstration farms, distributed fruit plants, and implemented irrigation schemes. High-yielding varieties of rice, wheat, and corn seeds have been introduced.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Yaks, cattle, and some sheep graze in the lowland forests and, during the summer, in the uplands and high valleys. In 2004 there were an estimated 372,000 head of cattle, 41,000 hogs, 20,000 sheep, and 30,000 goats. Draft animals that year included 28,000 horses, 18,200 donkeys, and 9,900 mules. Meat production in 2004 was estimated at 6,900 tons, 74% of it beef. Wool has been in short supply since its importation from Tibet was stopped by the government in 1960; sheep breeding is therefore encouraged. In 2004, 1,080 tons of cattle hides were produced.

FISHING

The government has established a hatchery and started a program of stocking Bhutan's rivers and lakes with brown trout. Freshwater fish are found in most waterways. The total catch was 300 tons in 2003.

FORESTRY

About 64% of Bhutan's land area was covered with forests in 2002. Although lack of transportation facilities has hampered forest development, timber has become a major export. Roundwood production in 2003 totaled 4.5 million cu m (160 million cu ft), about 99% of which was used for fuel.

MINING

The mineral industry of Bhutan was small and dominated by the production of cement, coal, dolomite, and limestone, and was insignificant to its economy. Estimated production totals, in metric tons, for 2004 were: limestone, 288,000; dolomite, 275,000; cement, 170,000; gypsum, 56,000; quartzite, 55,000; ferrosilicon, 20,000; and talc, 3,900. Marble and slate were quarried for use as a dimensional stone; production totals in 2004 were estimated at 4,000 and 9,000 sq m, respectively. Dolomite has constituted an important export to India since 1960, and almost all the ferrosilicon output is exported to India. For centuries, silver and iron have been mined in Bhutan for handicrafts. Deposits of beryl, copper, graphite, lead, mica, pyrite, tin, tungsten, and zinc have also been found. A graphite-processing plant was established at Paro Dzong.

ENERGY AND POWER

Electric power was introduced in Bhutan in 1962. By the mid-1980s, six hydroelectric and six diesel power stations were in operation. The 336-MW Chukha hydroelectric project, in south-western Bhutan, was completed in early 1987 and is connected to the Indian power grid; the project was funded by India, which is to receive all the electrical output not used by Bhutan. As of 2002 the major hydroelectric project under construction was the 1,020 MW Tala plant, slated for completion in 2004/05. In 2002, Bhutan's electric power generating capacity totaled 0.442 million kW, of which 0.430 million kW was hydroelectric and 0.012 million kW thermal. In that same year, Bhutan produced a total of 1.880 billion kWh of electricity from hydroelectric sources and only 0.001 billion kWh from thermal sources. In 2002, electric power consumption totaled 0.277 billion kWh. Bhutan suffers frequent power outages and shortages.

INDUSTRY

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) describes Bhutan's industrial sector as "technologically backward." However, great strides have been made in the country's hydroelectricity sector in the early 21st century. Most industrial production is craft-based, with homespun textileswoven and embroidered cottons, wools, and silksbeing the most important products. Other Bhutanese handicrafts include daphne paper; swords; wooden bowls; leather objects; copper, iron, brass, bronze, and silver work; wood carvings; and splitcane basketry.

Larger development projects such as road building and hydro-electricity projects rely on financing from Indian investors, as well as Indian migrant laborers. The building of new power projects, however, also has led to growth in the transport and construction sectors, including a number of local cement operations. The country's first cement plant was completed in 1982 in Penden, a border town, by India, to which the bulk of its output is exported. Bhutan's first mega power plant, the 336-MW Chukha hydroelectricity project (CHEP), came on line in early 1987, having been first agreed to as a turnkey operation with India in 1961, on what has become a standard arrangement of 60% grant and 40% concessional loan. 70% of the power generated by the CHEP is exported to India, and by 1996 export receipts were sufficient to produce a trade surplus with India. It is estimated that only about 3% of Bhutan's hydroelectric potential has yet tapped, and even less of its industrializing potential.

The decade following the opening of the Chukha facility (198898) saw government resistance to industrialization. However, in 1988, in conjunction with the country's sixth economic plan (19871992), the Bhutan Development Finance Corporation was established to promote small-and medium-scale businesses. A second cement plant was established in Nanglam by the late 1980s, and another, in 1995, in the same town, by an Indian investor, along with several manufacturing plants producing carbide, particle board and other products destined for the Indian market.

A major project funded by India known as the 1020 MW Tala Hydroelectric Project was begun in 1998. It was expected to become fully operational in 2006, and with it, growth rates in GDP of 20% were anticipated. Plans for the even more ambitious Sunkosh Multipurpose Project (SMP), with installed capacity envisioned at 4,060 MW, were developed by the India's Central Water Commission in 1997. It is expected to take 10 years to complete. Two other projects that have been submitted to government of India for consideration are a 360 MW plant at Mangdue Chu and a 870 MW plant at Puna Tsangchhu.

There are a large number of small, privately owned sawmills throughout Bhutan since most of its domestic energy actually comes from firewood, not electricity. A sawmill with a furniture-making unit has been established in Thimphu. Industrial estates have been set up at Phuntsholing and Geylegphug, and the ninth five-year plan (200206) called for five to be located around the country.

Besides cement, there is a narrow range of other manufactures exportedferro-alloys, calcium carbide, processed foods, and particleboardwhich tend to rely on energy-and capital-intensive methods and expatriate labor. Bhutan Ferro Alloys Ltd., which makes ferrosilicon and exports to India and Japan, began operations at a new plant at Pasakha in April 1995. Calcium carbide is produced at several private dolomite-mining operations, as well a private and joint public-private limestone mining operations. It is likely that with the emphases in the ninth five-year plan on commercial and private sector development as means of achieving economic self-sufficiency and generating employment, manufacturing will continue to grow.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Royal Bhutan Polytechnic College, founded in 1974 in Deothang, offers courses in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. The Royal Technical Institute in Phuntsholing offers courses in electronics, mechanics, and motor mechanics. Sherubtse Degree College, founded in 1983 in Tashigang, offers science courses.

DOMESTIC TRADE

About 90% of the population is employed in agriculture. Home-made handicrafts, cement, and food processing are the primary industries. Retail sales are carried out mainly in small, local bazaars. Bartering is common at the local level, with grains, butter, and cloth being the principal commodities of exchange, although Indian and Bhutanese currencies are increasingly being employed.

Indian traders sell imported articles and buy a number of handicraft items for export to India. The ninth five-year plan (200206) for the first time envisions plans for each of Bhutan's 201 localities or geogs. Through this approach, the government hoped to enhance rural connectivity and economic activity while putting a check on rural to urban movement.

FOREIGN TRADE

Bhutan's external sector has been almost exclusively oriented toward trade with India. With the completion in 2002 of the second hydroelectric power project financed by Indiabuilt largely with Indian migrant labor and designed to deliver the majority of its power outputs to IndiaIndia's dominance in terms of exports was about 85.6% in 2004. Import sources, however, have become increasingly diversified. In 2000, for instance, the main export destinations were India (94%) and Bangladesh, and the main import sources were India (77%), Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. By 2004, the statistics on exports destinations revealed shifts, to India (85.6%), Bangladesh (6.7%), and Japan (4.3%). Imports that year came from Germany (41.8%), India (35.5%), Japan (9.2%), and Austria (4.3%).

Bhutan's merchandise trade balance has been persistently negative, although for three years, 1996, 1997, and 1998, the country registered a surplus in its trade with India due to the combination of power exports and the lack, until 1998, of major construction projects. With the start of construction on the Tala Hydroelectric

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 116.0 182.1 -66.1
India 109.5 136.0 -26.5
Bangladesh 4.9 0.7 4.2
Nepal 0.6 0.6
United States 0.6 0.5 0.1
Japan 0.1 6.1 -6.0
Netherlands 0.1 0.2 -0.1
Other Asia nes 0.1 0.7 -0.6
() data not available or not significant.

Project (THEP) in 1998, scheduled to be online with a 1020 MW capacity in 2006, Bhutan has incurred large and increasing trade deficits. As a percent of GDP, Bhutan's trade deficit increased from a low of 4.3% in 1996 to 40% by mid-2000 and 90% in 2004. The 2004 trade deficit was estimated at $188 million for 2004/05 by the IMF, with $123 million project for 2005/06.

Bhutan's principal exports include electric power (to India), cement, cardamom, timber, gypsum, dolomite, coal, handicrafts, fruit, vegetables, precious stones, spices, ferrosilicon, calcium carbide, particle board, some preserved food, alcoholic beverages, yak tails for fly whisks, and yak hair. The country's principal imports are fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, and rice.

The government has been trying to increase Bhutan's presence on the international trade scene in recent years. To this end, Bhutan joined the IFC in December 2003, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in February 2004 and held its first WTO working party meeting in November 2004. The IMF also noted that the financial sector was being upgraded through a series of measures in mid-2005.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

The IMF reported in 2005 that while steady inflows of aid helped Bhutan maintain a surplus in balance of payments. Although a trade deficit persists, the IMF calls the country's fiscal position "sustainable."

Foreign reserves grew in 2004 and 2005, and covered more than 18 months of import costs as of mid-2005.

The IMF reported that in 2003/04, Bhutan's exports totaled $158 million, while imports totaled $245 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $73 million. Imports were projected to outpace exports in 2004/05 and 2005/06, as Bhutan brought in equipment and additional supplies in efforts to bring the Tala power plant on line by 2006.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

Bhutan's central bank is the Royal Monetary Authority, established in 1982 to manage currency and foreign exchange. There are in addition four other major financial institutions. The Bank of Bhutan was founded in 1968 as a joint venture with India. A second commercial bank, the Bhutan National Bank (BNB), was established in 1997 as a public corporation, though the government retains 51%. The BNB's operations are computerized and it is connected with major foreign banks, unlike the Bank of Bhutan, which still uses handwritten ledgers. The Bhutan Development Finance Corporation (BDFC) was set up in 1988 to finance small and medium enterprises. The small Royal Bhutan Stock Exchange (RBSE) currently trades about 13 companies.

In 2001 there was a reduction of interest rates in all lending categories and on large deposits. There are no ATMs, and banking hours are mostly restricted to 9 am to 1 pm Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 11 am on Saturday, but there are some "evening banks" in Thimphu and Phuentsholing with hours between 1 to 5 pm Wednesday and Sunday, 1 to 3 pm on Monday, and closed on Tuesday. Gross foreign currency reserves reached $300 million in 2001. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $107.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $227.1 million.

INSURANCE

The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan (RICB), founded by royal charter in January 1975, is the only insurance company in the kingdom and covers all classes of insurance. The government owns 39.25% while private and public shareholders own 60.25%. The RICB's 2000 shareholder are comprised primarily of civil servants and members of the business community. The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has reinsurance arrangements with ten companies in India, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Germany.

The use of insurance, however, is limited. In 2001, there were 15,259 policy holders of general insurance, and only 4,650 holders of life insurance, the latter figure up from 114 in 1975. Within the terms of its own business, the RICB has had a steady growth in profit and assets over its 27 years of operation, but it also manages, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government, the rural house insurance scheme which it operates as a social welfare program in accordance with the terms of the MOU. In 2001, the rural house insurance scheme covered 31,172 permanent rural houses and 21,407 semipermanent houses for fire, earthquake, flood, landslide, and storm, all of which are common events in Bhutan. The scheme was revised in January 2000 to give compensation of n100,000 (about us$2,150) for a permanent house with an annual premium of n150 (about us$3.23), and n40,000 (about us$860) for a semipermanent house with an annual premium of n60 (about us$1.30). Claims have increased considerably since the revision. In 1999, under the previously less generous scheme, claims were n2.425 million (about us$52,000) against premiums of n1.77 million (about us$25,312), where as by 2001 claims had risen to n11.292 million (about us$243,000) against premiums of n5.98 million (about us$128,000). The ratio of claims to premiums improved somewhat, from 2:1 in 1999 to 1.89:1 in 2001.

PUBLIC FINANCE

The largest category of annual current expenditure is public works, which presumably includes the maintenance of monasteries. Most of the annual budget deficit is covered by grants from India and from the UN and other international agencies. By 1996, Bhutan had achieved self-sufficiency in current expenses, thanks primarily to revenues from the Chhukha power project, Bhutan's largest hydro-electric plant.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in FY95/96 Bhutan's central government took in revenues of approximately $146 million and had expenditures of $152 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$6 million. Total external debt was $245 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2004, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were n10,158.3 million and expenditures were n11,274.8 million. The value of revenues was us$224 million and expenditures us$249 million, based on an official exchange rate for 2004 of us$1 = n45.317 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 25.2%; public

Revenue and Grants 10,158.3 100.0%
     Tax revenue 3,092.5 30.4%
     Social contributions
     Grants 4,973.6 49.0%
     Other revenue 2,092.2 20.6%
Expenditures 11,274.8 100.0%
     General public services 2,839.6 25.2%
     Defense
     Public order and safety 538.3 4.8%
     Economic affairs 3,807.9 33.8%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 771.7 6.8%
     Health 1,220.7 10.8%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 183.2 1.6%
     Education 1,913.4 17.0%
     Social protection 0.0%
() data not available or not significant. f = forecasted or projected data.

order and safety, 4.8%; economic affairs, 33.8%; housing and community amenities, 6.8%; health, 10.8%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.6%; and education, 17.0%.

TAXATION

The corporate income tax (CIT), excises taxes, taxes on real estate income, and nontax revenues (particularly power tariffs on the export of electricity to India) were the main sources of domestic revenue in 2001. The power tariff, at Bhutan's insistence, was doubled to r1 (about $0.028) per unit on 1 April 1997, and then raised 50% to r1.5 (about $0.034) per unit 1 July 1999. The business income tax (BIT) accounted for only about 5% of revenue in 2001 because of the weakness of the private sector. In January 2003, the government introduced a personal income tax (PIT) for individuals with taxable incomes above n100,000. The PIT is expected to raise only n110 million (or about 1%) of the 200103 budget of n11,184.6, but at this stage the government considers the social benefits of the PITreducing income disparities and instilling a sense of responsibilityto be more important than its revenue contribution. In July 2002, the government launched the Pension and Provident Fund Plan, a scheme converting the social security system to a pension plan to provide retirement benefits for civil servants, corporate employees, and the armed forces

External assistance continued to provide the bulk of Bhutan's development budget, but since 1996 domestic revenues have covered current expenses. In 2001, domestic revenues also covered a portion of the capital budget. A major goal of the ninth five-year plan (200206) is the increase of domestic revenue through taxes. In 200203, it is projected that for the first time tax revenues will exceed nontax revenues. Tax revenues are expected to come to 12% of GDP and nontax revenues to 8% of GDP.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Under the Indo-Bhutanese Treaty of 1949, goods pass from one country to another without payment of customs duties. Bhutan currently has observer status with the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 1999, the WTO accepted Bhutan's application for accession. However, as of December 2002, Bhutan had not provided the WTO with the required memorandum on its foreign trade regime, the next step in the process of negotiating an accession. In 2002, the government identified a site in Phuentsholing for the construction of a dry port to expedite export and import formalities and revised some of its more restrictive import rules.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The CIA notes that Bhutan's isolationism hampers foreign investment. The kingdom's policies on industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance are often overly detailed and subject to change.

Foreign investment comes primarily from India, and is carried out within the context of Bhutan's special relationship with India. Bhutan's first two five-year plans in the 1960s were 100% financed by India. Since then, Bhutan has relied on an increasingly diverse set of countriesAustralia, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, South Korea, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United Statesand multilateral institutionsthe United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)to provide capital on a concessional basis, though India remains the dominant source.

On private foreign investment, the government's stance is that foreign direct investment (FDI) it is becoming increasingly necessary to meet the country's employment and self-sufficiency goals. FDI is now permitted in certain sectors, including tourism where joint ventures with international hotel and resort chains are being pursued.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

One of Bhutan's greatest challenges will be creating jobs for its growing population of youths. Much of the educated workforce has been employed traditionally by the public sector; however, the IMF encourages the nation to encourage more private-sector development to avoid the potential of unemployment. Progress in this respect, however, may be slow. Bhutan lacks railroads, helicopters, domestic airlines, and modern conveniences like automated teller machines. What hydroelectricity it produces is mainly for export. In addition, Bhutan embarked on its ninth five-year plan in 2002 with a goal of seeking "gross national happiness," not gross national income, and while this strategy is in keeping with the country's Buddhist traditions, it does risk an economic crisis down the road. Bhutan's leaders remain cautious about future development; they have emphasized a maintenance of culture and protection of environment over modernization.

Bhutan also faces a public debt that was nearly as large as its entire GDP in late 2004/5. Much of the debt resulted from investments in hydropower, and is expected to be paid off through revenue that will come from exporting electricity to India.

Despite Bhutan's growth in the early 21st century, poverty in the country remains high. The nation conducted its first Poverty Analysis Report in 2004, and found that 32% of its population was living below the poverty line, which the IMF has tagged as a concern. Many of those who fall below the poverty line are residents of Bhutan but, because they are not ethnic Bhutanese, are not recognized as citizens of the kingdom. More than two-thirds of the population lacks electricity, though a rural electrification effort was scheduled to bring electricity to the full country by 2020.

Structural reforms since 1998 showed promise of further moving Bhutan into a more modernized economy. The ninth fiscal year plan (200206) promised a continuation of the same moderate progress, with more intensive rural development. The prospect was for Bhutan to continue to proceed at its own restrained pace.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

There is no national social welfare system, although the government implemented a modest maternal and child welfare program in the early 1980s, including family planning. The sick, indigent, and aged are cared for within the traditional family structure.

Bhutan's culture does not isolate or disenfranchise women. Dowry is not practiced, and land is divided equally between sons and daughters. Girls receive nearly equal educational opportunities, and, while accorded a lower status than boys, they are cherished because they are the ones who care for parents in old age. As of 2004 women made up approximately 30% of the workforce. Polygamy is legal, but only with the consent of the first wife. The law clarifies the definition of sexual assault and imposes harsh penalties. There is no societal pattern of spousal or child abuse.

A pattern of discrimination against the minority Hindus of Nepalese origin exists. Nepali is no longer taught in schools, and national dress is required for official occasions. While this policy has lead to the cultural repression of Hindus, it has also contributed to a growing number of Nepalese obtaining employment in the public sector and in government.

Although there were some improvements in 2004, human rights are restricted by the government. The king exercises control over the government, security forces, and the judiciary. Abuses include violence against Nepalese refugees and arbitrary arrest and detention.

HEALTH

Bhutan suffers from a shortage of medical personnel with only 65% of the population having access to any form of medical care. In 2004, there were an estimated 5 physicians, 23 nurses, and 56 midwives per 100,000 people.

The average life expectancy in 2005 was only 52.7 years. The infant mortality rate was 100 per 1,000 live births for that year. Approximately 38% of children under five were underweight. It was estimated that 2% of married women (1549 years) were using contraception. The fertility rate was reported as 5.2 per woman in 1999.

Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 81%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 79%; polio, 77%; and measles, 82%. Although smallpox has been wiped out, malaria, tuberculosis, and venereal disease remained widespread. Bhutanese refugees in the eastern Nepal region have high rates of measles, cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea, beriberi, and scurvy. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 100 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

HOUSING

Though a small number of urban settlements have been developed over the past few years, most of the population (80%, 2001 est.) lives in rural areas, many on small family farms. It is, however, expected that the urban population will grow by about 50% over the next two decades, an estimate that has the Beninese government taking a harder look at options for new and improved housing construction and utility services. As of 2002, the housing shortage has been most serious in urban areas, where most housing is rental property. It was estimated that in Thimphu alone, 600 new dwellings would need to built each year in order to keep up with rapid population growth. In 2002, about 10% of the residents of Thimphu were living in hut villages and squatter settlements.

The Municipal Act of 1999 was established to decentralize control of housing and utilities, resulting in greater service and improved plans for the future. As part of the government's socio-economic development policy, all homeowners are eligible for assistance through subsidized timber purchases and group fire insurance. The government has also established the National Committee on Human Settlements to oversee projects for urban development.

Traditional houses are built of stone set in clay mixed with small stones and made into blocks or layers. Roofs are gently inclined and formed of pine shingles kept in place by heavy stones. As of 2000, 80% of urban and 60% of rural dwellers had access to improved water supplies, while 65% of urban and 70% of rural dwellers had access to sanitation services.

EDUCATION

A modern educational system was introduced in Bhutan in the 1960s. Prior to that, education was provided only by monasteries. In the interim, more than 340 schools and institutions of higher education have been established, including over 150 community schools to serve remote rural areas. However, many of these schools have no sanitation facilities, electricity, or drinking water, and students may have to walk several hours a day to get to them. A growing number of children are attending school, but over 50% still do not attend.

Primary schooling covers a seven-year course of study followed by two years of junior high. This is followed by either a general secondary program (four years of high school) or a technical course of study (three years at a technical center). In 2001, about 88,000 students were enrolled in primary schools and 26,000 were enrolled in secondary schools. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 38:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 34:1. Efforts have been made to improve the education of women, and girls account for 45% of primary school enrollment. However, the overall literacy rate for women is still very low and lags far behind that for men.

Bhutan's estimated rate of adult illiteracy for the year 2000 stood at 52.7% (males, 38.9%; females, 66.4%). The official language is Dzongkha (written in the Tibetan script). However, English is widely used.

In 1991, Bhutan had 209 schools altogether, including 22 monastic schools, schools for Tibetan refugees, and six technical schools. There was at the highest-level one junior college, two teacher training colleges, and one degree college which was affiliated to the university at Delhi in India. Many teachers from India are employed in Bhutan.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The largest library in Bhutan is the National Library at Thimphu. This library boast of having one of the largest collections of Mahayana Buddhist literature in the world and also features a collection of over 10,000 xylographic or wood block prints. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library in Thimphu was the only public library in the country in 2005. Most of this library's 15,000-book collection consists of donated books from countries such as the United States. The vast majority of the books are in English. Located in Konglung, Sherbutse College Library holds 22,000 volumes. The National Institute of Education in Samtse, founded in 1968, holds 12,000 volumes, and the Royal Institute of Management in Thimphu holds 5,000 volumes. The Center for Bhutan Studies Library in Langjophakha has about 2,470 books. The India House Library contains about 7,000 volumes.

The National Museum of Bhutan opened to the public in 1968 at Paro Dzong, in a seven-story 17th-century fortress, featuring religious art objects reflective of Bhutan's unique Northern Buddhist culture, as well as historical objects. Some monasteries have valuable collections of Buddhist manuscripts and art objects.

MEDIA

International postal service was inaugurated in 1963; there are direct postal, telex, and microwave links to India. Telephone service is said to be very poor. In 2003, there were 25,200 mainline phones in use throughout the country. In 2005, there were an estimated 22,000 mobile phones in use.

In 2005, there was only one radio station, operated by the government-owned Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS). It includes broadcasts in Dzongkha, Nepali, English, and Sharchop. From 1989 to 1999, the government had imposed a ban on private television reception. Television broadcasting was reintroduced to the country in 1999. The same year, the government allowed for the licensing of cable companies. In there were three main television stations, one sponsored by BBS and two cable stations. In 2004, there were about 15,000 cable subscribers. Druknet, the nation's first Internet service provider was also established in 1999. By the end of 2003, there were about 15,000 subscribers, including Internet cafés in three major cities. In 1997, the country had an estimated 11 radios per 1,000 population.

A weekly government-subsidized newspaper, Kuensel, publishes simultaneous editions in Dzongkha, English, and Nepali, with a total circulation of about 15,000 as of 2004. This is the nation's only regularly published newspaper. Indian and other foreign publications are also available.

There are no legal provisions for the right of free expression in Bhutan; the government is said to restrict criticism of the King and government policies of the National Assembly.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in Thimphu.

There are about 125 youth organizations throughout the country, which are affiliated through the Bhutan Youth Welfare Association (BYWA), established in 1985. The objectives of the BYWA are to preserve and promote the cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan and its national integration through the representation of youth to governmental authorities. Youth groups include Youths and Students Alliance for Human Rights and Democracy in Bhutan (YSAHRDB) and the Youth Organization of Bhutan, both of which focus on interests of peace and human rights. Scouting programs are available through Bhutan Scout Tshogpa. There are also sports associations representing several different pastimes, including tennis, tae kwan do, badminton, and track and field.

The National Women's Association of Bhutan is one of the few nongovernmental organizations officially registered in Bhutan. Other women's organizations, such as Bhutan Women and Children Organization and Refugee Women and Children Welfare Society have formed in exile. All of these are focused on the promotion human rights.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

In 1974, Bhutan opened its door to tourists, but strict entry regulations, the remoteness of the country, and relatively limited transportation facilities have restricted the number of visitors. Tourists may only enter as a member of an established tour group. An approved visa along with a valid passport is required of all visitors to enter Bhutan. The beautiful Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha valleys, with their many monasteries, are accessible to tourists. Visitors may also enjoy the intricate weavings found in high eastern mountain regions; kayaking down the Mochhu; or the archery competitions held during festivals.

In 2003, there were 6,266 foreign visitors, including over 2,500 visitors from Europe. There were 1,239 hotel rooms with 2,366 beds, and an occupancy rate of 25%. Travelers stayed an average of eight nights.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Bhutan at $96.

FAMOUS BHUTANESE

Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (192872) instituted numerous social reforms during his reign as king of Bhutan. He was succeeded by his son Jigme Singye Wangchuk (b.1955).

DEPENDENCIES

Bhutan has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Basu, Gautam Kumar. Bhutan: The Political Economy of Development. New Delhi: South Asian Publishers, 1996.

Berthold, John. Bhutan: Land of the Th under Dragon. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2005.

Bhutan: Aspects of Culture and Development. Gartmore, Scotland: Kiscadale, 1994.

Bhutan: Perspectives on Conflict and Dissent. Gartmore, Scotland: Kiscadale, 1994.

Cooper, Robert. Bhutan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

Das, B. S. Mission to Bhutan: A Nation in Transition. New Delhi: Vikas Pub. House, 1995.

Dhakal, D. N. S. Bhutan: A Movement in Exile. Jaipur: Nirala Publications, 1994.

Fraser, Neil. Geography of a Himalayan Kingdom: Bhutan. New Delhi: Concept Publishing, 2001.

Hellum, A. K. A Painter's Year in the Forests of Bhutan. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2001.

Johnson, Gordon. Cultural Atlas of India: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. New York: Facts on File, 1996.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Kingdom of Bhutan

Druk-Yul

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

A landlocked country located in South Asia, north of India and south of China, Bhutan has an area of 47,000 square kilometers (18,1467 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Bhutan is about half the size of Indiana. Bhutan's capital city, Thimpu, is centrally located towards the country's western border with India. Bhutan shares a 605-kilometer (376-mile) border with India and a 470-kilometer (292-mile) border with China.

POPULATION.

In 2000 the population of Bhutan was estimated at 2,005,222 by the CIA World Factbook. The UN Statistical Yearbook gave the population as 1,034,774. Giving a third figure, the World Bank World Development Report 2000/1 estimated the population at 782,000. The disparity between population estimates is caused by 2 different ways of counting people: the government of Bhutan's population estimate, the World Bank figure, is based upon those who have "official" citizenship, and the CIA estimate seems to account for those who claim such status or live in the country and may not be recognized by the government. Uncertainty in population figures is also connected to Bhutan's ongoing problem with the Lhotshampa people (Bhutanese of Nepalese origin), who have lost their citizenship or are simply not recognized due to a series of nationality-specific laws enacted in the 1980s. The government claims that a large number of the Lhotshampa are illegal immigrants who threaten the cohesion of traditional Bhutanese society, while the Lhotshampa argue that they are rightful citizens. Another problem with such estimates is the limited number of statistical gathering mechanisms in Bhutan, partly due to the country's limited financial resources and infrastructure . As a result, statistical indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) or the quantity of telephones per capita are difficult to estimate. Clearly, the formulation of statistical averages depends upon which population estimate is used. To encourage comparative consistency, this entry indicates what population estimates are used to express particular statistical data.

In 2000 the birth rate stood at 36.22 per 1,000, while the death rate was 14.32 per 1,000. The overall population density is very low at 12.5 people per square kilometer, but this figure does not take account for the fact that, with 92.9 percent of the population living in rural areas, access to arable land is primary in any estimate of population density. Therefore, if the ratio of population to arable land is taken into account then density rises to 100 people per square kilometer. Bhutan has a very young population with almost 50 percent aged 17 years or younger. Given the continuation of Bhutan's current annual population growth of 2.19 percent, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bhutan projects that there will be 3.64 million people living in Bhutan by 2025, from a 1998 level of 1.91 million. The UNDP also estimates that 31,000 people live in Thimpu city (the capital and administrative center) and another 25,000 in Phuentsholing (the primary commercial center on the Indo-Bhutanese border).

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

In 2001 Bhutan's economy remained one of the smallest and least developed in the world, almost entirely dependent upon basic agricultural production, forestry, and hydroelectricity. In 2000 rural inhabitants constituted 92.9 percent of the total population, a slight decline from the 1990 level of 94.8 percent. A large majority of agricultural activity is subsistence-based and takes place outside of the monetized economy . In other words, subsistence farmers do not use the ngultrum (the national currency) in their day-to-day lives; they trade and barter goods for the few basic manufactured essentials that they might need. However, in 2000 the government cited indications that the monetized economy was experiencing substantial growth.

Bhutan is a very poor country with a GDP per capita of only US$197 (based upon a population of 1.03 million), although it is important to note that because the majority of subsistence farmers are outside of the monetized economy this figure is not an adequate representation of actual living standards.

After the serious attacks upon Buddhism in Tibet by the communist government in China during the late 1950s, Bhutan began to develop more links with India in order to counter the possibility of a similar fate. In 1960, Bhutan closed its borders with Tibet and, with considerable Indian financial and technical assistance, began to construct roads to link India with Bhutan. This action constituted a key turning point for Bhutan's economic development, and by 2001 the national economy was highly dependent upon Indian trade, aid, and investment.

It must be stressed that the government emphasizes the concept of "Gross National Happiness" (GNH) as an essential indicator and factor in Bhutan's development, a very specific approach to developmental ideology. The GNH idea stresses the importance of cultural heritage, the stability and protection of the natural environment, greater self-sufficiency, and human development. This approach, with its roots in the traditional Buddhist principles of compassion, compromise, and pragmatism, is in direct contrast to the globally dominant view of the primacy of economic and material development. As the government maintains in a policy document for the UNDP in 2000 that GNH "means that development is only valuable if it is an 'efficient means' to happiness and human development."

National debt in Bhutan is relatively stable and controllable in amount. The government has actually been able to reduce total public sector debt from US$139.5 million in 1993-94 to US$115.8 million by 1997-98. Consequently, over the same period debt service payments declined from US$17.6 million to US$9.6 million. Official development assistance from both individual governments and international financial institutions in 1997 consisted of US$59.9 million in grants and US$10.1 million in loans. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) made 2 loans to Bhutan in 2000. The first, of US$10 million, was to assist Bhutan in setting out a health reform program, The Bhutan Health Trust Fund, which has the aim of maintaining the free supply of medicines to the public. The second, of US$9.6 million, was for the regeneration of the country's primary road, the east-west highway. The ADB had made another loan of US$10 million in 1999 for a Sustainable Rural Electrification Project to provide electricity to the poorer and more remote areas of Bhutan.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Bhutan is the world's only Buddhist kingdom. The Bhutanese name for their country is Druk Yul which means "Land of the Thunder Dragon." Ruled by a hereditary monarchy since 1907, Bhutan received full independence from India in 1949 after the British colonial administration withdrew from India. Bhutan's political system is unlike historical precedents in the West and is most appropriately categorized as a "Buddhist monarchy."

The third hereditary monarch, Jigme Dorji Wang-chuck, ruled Bhutan from 1952 to 1972. He is generally considered the "architect of modern Bhutan." In 1953 he established the National Assembly. Consisting of representatives of the people, the civil service, and the Buddhist monastic order, the National Assembly meets once a year to debate aspects of public policy and development. The Royal Advisory Council was formed by the king in 1965 to constantly monitor the progress of National Assembly resolutions and advise the king on dayto-day policy matters.

In a similar vein, his son King Jigme Singye Wangchuk (who acceded to the throne in 1972 and continued to reign in mid-2001) has also followed a reformist approach to rule. In 1999 an analyst of Bhutanese affairs, Thierry Mathou, maintained: "Many Bhutanese . . . were stunned by the suddenness and amplitude of the changes introduced by the king. . . . [c]ontrary to most countries with monarchies where royals have resisted democratic politics, Bhutan's has always been the leading force of change." For example, in 1998 the king pushed a political reform that reduced his authority through the devolution of executive powers to the cabinet. Nonetheless, the king continued to have final say on matters relating to security and sovereignty as well direct administration of the Royal Bhutan Army.

Even though Bhutan's governmental system of monarchy is justified on the grounds of maintaining traditional values and national identity by the country's ruling elite, it has received considerable criticism both domestically and internationally. For example, Freedom House (a U.S.-based political liberties and civil rights organization) classified Bhutan in 2000 as "Not Free." Freedom House measured this conclusion upon the lack of democratic representation of the people and the apparent mistreatment of critics of the regime. In its report for 2000, Amnesty International (a London-based human rights organization) maintained that individuals in Nepali-speaking communities faced police discrimination when they attempted to get permission to open a bank account, when attempting to travel abroad for training, for work, or to send their children to school.

In fact, discrimination against Lhotshampa is rife. A series of laws passed in the 1980s revealed tough remits for the acquisition of citizenship, even if an individual were married to a Bhutanese national, and the fact that naturalized citizenship can be terminated if a person criticizes the government. Still, there is some justification for this policy because militant Lhotshampa movements have called for a merging of Bhutan into a greater Nepal. Some of these militants, whom the government calls "anti-nationals," have been involved in campaigns of violence and have done damage to some infrastructure and development projects.

Nationalism and tradition are actively promoted in Bhutan. In part due to the economic and military-political weakness of the country in international relations and also due to the perceived threat from the Lhotshampa community's tendency to reduce Bhutanese identity, the government emphasizes rules of national dress, the code of etiquette (driglam namzha), and the national language (Dzongkha).

A serious ongoing security problem for the government is the presence of the communist guerrilla group, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Assamese (Bodo) guerrilla insurgency in east and south Bhutan. These groups are fighting for independence for Assam. Although there has been vocal engagement between the ULFA and the Bhutanese government, a solution to their presence has yet to be reached. The existence of these anti-Indian government forces on Bhutanese territory could led to a deterioration in the special friendship between India and Bhutan.

Non-tax revenue constituted 61 percent of total revenue in 1998-99. The Chukha Hydro Power Corporation, the Department of Power, and the Department of Telecommunications are some of the key sources of this revenue. Government revenue from the power sector provided 42 percent of total national revenue in 1998-99. Direct tax collection improved in the late 1990s from Nu831 million in 1997-98 to Nu914 million in 1998-99. Of this direct tax 65 percent was from corporate income tax . Taxation on rural areas is very low, around 0.02 percent of total revenue in 1998-99, in order to encourage the population to remain on their farms and thus reduce the strain of uncontrolled urbanization. However, it should be noted that rural inhabitants contribute via the application of their labor to the construction and maintenance of local schools, water supplies, and health centers.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Bhutan's infrastructure is limited although the government is actively attempting to open the more isolated areas of the country by improving the road network. Around 14,000 passenger vehicles were in use on Bhutan's 3,285 kilometers (2,041 miles) of roads in 1999. In 1997 the Road Surface Transport Authority was established to improve the efficiency and quality of the road infrastructure and to enforce the observation of transport regulations. There are no railways in Bhutan. In accordance with the government policy of allowing a restricted opening-up of Bhutan for both citizens and foreigners, total passengers on scheduled flights rose from 8,000 in

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Bhutan 6,000 N/A AM 0; FM 1; shortwave 1 37,000 0 11,000 N/A 500
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
China 135 M (2000) 65 M (2001) AM 369; FM 259; shortwave 45 417 M 3,240 400 M 3 22 M (2001)
Nepal 236,816 (2000) N/A AM 6; FM 5; shortwave 1 (2000) 840,000 1 (1998) 130,000 6 35,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

1990 to 36,000 in 1997. The national airline, Druk Air, owns 2 planes which fly to and from Paro International Airport which opened a new terminal building in the late 1990s. Bhutan is landlocked; the nearest seaport is 435 miles away in Calcutta.

Electricity, gas, and water provided 11.8 percent of value-added activity to the economy in 1997. In 2000, Bhutan's electricity-generating capacity was 3530 megawatts, 97 percent of which is hydro power and the rest thermal. The central role of electricity production to Bhutan's economy is likely to expand in the early 21st century. New large-scale hydro power stations were under construction by 2001 which are expected to provide considerable government revenue. However, over 95 percent of domestic energy consumption in Bhutan consists of biological mass, predominantly firewood.

Bhutan was cut off from the outside world for centuries. Television only began to be provided by the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) Corporation in 1999 and was limited to a small number of hours a day of programming (consisting solely of national news and documentaries about Bhutan). Nonetheless, (based upon a population of 1.03 million) there were already 5.5 televisions per 1,000 population in 1997, which by 2000 received 25 channels from 2 cable television companies. By 1997, there were 19 radios per 1,000 inhabitants. According to UN estimates there is only 1 telephone per 100 inhabitants. In 1999, a Japanese-funded project to provide domestic digital telecommunications was completed. The Internet became operational in Bhutan in 1999.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Bhutan's economic sectors are small like the country; the country has limited population, domestic markets, and natural resources. Geographical isolation caused by highly mountainous terrain and political isolation due to a formerly inward-looking society means that the economy's integration into the world economy is minimum. Isolation in combination with previously low levels of education means that a medium and large-scale private sector is almost non-existent. The majority of the monetized economy is dominated by parastatals .

Bhutan's economy is primarily agricultural, mostly subsistence farming, although some export-oriented commercial farming of fruit and spices does exist. Industry is limited to the production of hydro power and basic manufactures. Services to support these sectors are basic. Tourism, whilst small in size, provides a high proportion of the country's foreign exchange.

AGRICULTURE

The agricultural sector provided 38.5 percent of GDP in 1997, a significant decline from the 55 percent in 1985. The 1997 GDP consisted of a total production of 18.1 percent crops, 11.4 percent of economic activity in the forestry sector, and 9 percent livestock production. Of the 970,000 people who were employed in Bhutan in 1998 (using a population estimate of 2 million) 93.8 percent were engaged in agricultural activities. There were 160,000 hectares of arable land under permanent crops in 1998, compared to the 1980 level of 122,000. In 1998 only 40,000 hectares of this land was irrigated, an improvement upon the 1980 level of 26,000 hectares.

Cereal production increased from 95,000 metric tons in 1989 to a consistent level of 112,000 tons per annum in the period 1995 to 1998. While self-sufficient in maize, barley, millet, and buckwheat, Bhutan is only 50 percent self-sufficient in rice and 30 percent in wheat. In total the country is around 60 percent self-sufficient in cereals. Other key crops which are actually exported are potatoes, spices (mainly cardamom and nutmeg), and fruit which in 1997 consisted mainly of oranges (54,000 metric tons) and apples (13,600 metric tons). In total, agricultural goods provided 13.7 percent of Bhutan's total exports in 1997.

Bhutan continues to import substantial amounts of essential food items. The Food Corporation of Bhutan imports subsidized food items from India, among which are rice, wheat, edible oils, sugar, and salt. Between 1994-98 an annual average of 12,500 metric tons of rice, 12,500 tons of wheat, and 3,600 tons of sugar were imported. It is important to note that 58 percent of farming households own less than 2 hectares. This small level of landholding makes some households susceptible to seasonal shortages of food, to poor health, and even to malnutrition.

FORESTRY.

The government is actively trying to maintain the economic exploitation of Bhutan's extensive forestry resources at sustainable levels. In keeping with the GNH concept, plans by the Forest Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture for improved harvesting of forests are being undertaken to assure environmental balance. For example, 60 percent of Bhutan's total land area is required to have good tree cover; by 2000 72 percent was covered. In 1997-98, 27,770 cubic meters of trees were felled for commercial logging and an additional 22,884 cubic meters for housing construction and public works. The gross sales of Bhutan Board Products in 1998 were Nu383.8 million.

INDUSTRY

HYDRO POWER.

The electricity sector showed an average growth of 48.2 percent in the period 1985-1995. In 1998-99 hydro power contributed 30 percent to total exports. This rate will increase considerably in the early 21st century when new hydro power stations being built in Tala, Kurichhu, and Basochhu are completed. Hydro power has also acted to stimulate the growth of the manufacturing and services sectors.

MANUFACTURING.

Manufacturing provided 12.8 percent of value added activity to the economy in 1997. The production of cement is one of the principal enterprises in Bhutan's industrial sector. In 1998, Penden Cement Authority had gross estimated sales of Nu564.7 million, a substantial increase from the 1997 level of Nu265.5 million. Another cement plant was due to be completed by 2002, but due to disturbances related to Assam insurgents this project was suspended. The processing of Bhutan's agricultural produce is another significant dynamic factor in the manufacturing sector. For example, Bhutan Fruit Products enjoyed gross sales of Nu112.3 million in 1998; these sales were mainly of juices and canned fruit.

SERVICES

TOURISM.

Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are minimal and foreign visitors are treated politely and with respect. The country's history, culture, and isolation offer a great deal to the more adventurous tourists who have been visiting Bhutan since 1974. The privatization of the tourism sector in 1991 led to fast-paced growth in hotels and travel agencies. This growth was so rapid that by 2001 there was excess capacity in tourism services. The failure to fully exploit this capacity is primarily due to government restrictions on the number of tourists admitted into Bhutan, a policy devised to reduce outside influence upon national traditions. Consequently, only 6,203 tourists entered Bhutan in 1998, and these people provided US$7.8 million in much-needed foreign currency. Around 40 percent of these tourists came from EU countries, 24 percent from the United States, and 17 percent from Japan. Nonetheless, this is a significant rise from the 1993 level of 2,984 where only US$3 million in tourism receipts were recorded. The high level of foreign exchange earnings from tourism is partly due to a compulsory government charge on tourists of US$200 a day.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Bhutan's engagement with international trade is highly dependent upon its neighbor and ally, India. In 1997, US$114.2 million of Bhutan's exports were purchased by India, which constituted 94.6 percent of the total. Bangladesh received US$5.1 million of Bhutanese goods. In the same year, the direction of the flow of Bhutan's imports consisted of US$97.6 million from India, 69.4 percent of the national total. In addition, Bhutan imported US$23.8 million of goods from Japan, US$4 million from Singapore, and US$1.8 million from Germany.

Bhutan is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), whose other members are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Bhutan will host the 2002 SAARC summit meeting. As part of its policy of engagement with the world economy, Bhutan is preparing to join the World Trade Organization.

MONEY

The widespread use of money in Bhutan only began in the early 1960s with the growth of trade with India and the initiation of bilateral development aid from India to Bhutan. Even though Bhutan's economy is highly

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Bhutan
Exports Imports
1975 N/A N/A
1980 .017 .050
1985 .022 .084
1990 .068 .078
1995 .103 .112
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Bhutan
ngultrum (Nu) per US$1
Jan 2001 46.540
2000 44.942
1999 43.055
1998 41.259
1997 36.313
1996 35.433
Note: The Bhutanese ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee which is also legal tender.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

underdeveloped the price of consumer goods has remained fairly stable. The average percentage change of prices each year was only 10 percent between 1990 and 1998. Total international currency reserves by major Bhutanese holders (mainly the Royal Monetary Authority, Bank of Bhutan, and Bhutan National Bank) rose dramatically in value from US$106.9 million in 1993-94 to US$218.2 million in 1997-98.

Two banks operate in the country: the Bhutan National Bank has offices in Thimpu and a branch in Phuentsholing, and the Bank of Bhutan has branches in the country's main centers. No restrictions are placed on the quantity of currencies that can be taken into Bhutan although they are limited to the main international currencies. In the late 1990s Bhutan National Bank was partly privatized when the government sold 40 percent of its shares to Citibank and the Asian Development Bank; the government now owns only 27 percent of the bank. Bhutan has a stock exchange but it is not open to external investment.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

From the 1960s free basic health services began to be provided by the government across most of Bhutan where populations were concentrated. Nonetheless, by 2000 the UNDP estimated that 20 percent of the population still lacked sufficient access to health services.

GDP per Capita US$
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Bhutan N/A 232 292 387 493
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
China 138 168 261 349 727
Nepal 149 148 165 182 217
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Lack of health care is a serious drawback because the general diet lacks sufficient fruits and vegetables. Consequently, over half of the country's children 6 and younger suffer from stunting, and over 30 percent are underweight. Poor nutrition is not nation wide, however, but determined by regional, urban-rural, and socio-economic factors. For example, in Pemagatshel average calorie consumption per day is 1,647 whereas in Punakha it is 3,227.

The incidence of rural poverty is as high as 90 percent. Unhygienic conditions are prevalent in Bhutan with 42 percent of the population lacking access to safe water and 30 percent of the people living in conditions of poor sanitation. Nonetheless, poverty in Bhutan has declined as indicated by the rise of average life expectancy from 37 years in 1960 to 66 years in 1994. The increased longevity suggests that the consistent government policy of providing a socially oriented infrastructure, in accordance with the GNH concept, is effective even though much work remains to be done.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Bhutan is yet to ratify the key International Labour Organization Conventions Number 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, 1948) or Number 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining). Trade unionism is not permitted in Bhutan, nor does it exist in practice. In fact, terms and conditions as well as salaries are generally fixed by the government, which requires employees and employers (at least in the formal economy) to engage in formal written contracts of agreement. The population employed in Bhutan is estimated at 970,000 (based upon a population of 2 million).

Education has received considerable emphasis by the government of Bhutan, and primary schooling is available in even the remotest areas. The Bhutanese government spent 7 percent of total expenditure on education in 1997. Mainly due to government initiatives in its drive to reduce illiteracy, levels fell from 71.9 percent in 1980 to 52.7 percent in 2000. The Bhutanese workforce is becoming more skilled, although this is problematic because there are serious limits upon the amount of educated workers required in what is essentially an agricultural economy. Consequently, while there are rising employment expectations amongst the literate population the labor market cannot provide sufficiently skilled work.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1616. Bhutan is unified by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who makes comprehensive laws and local administrations.

1907. The hereditary monarchy is created.

1949. The Indo-Bhutan Treaty of friendship is signed, and Bhutan receives full independence.

1952. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (the "architect of modern Bhutan") becomes king.

1953. The National Assembly is established.

1960. Trading is entirely oriented toward India.

1965. The king forms the Royal Advisory Council.

1972. Jigme Singye Wangchuk becomes king.

1974. Bhutan begins to encourage tourism.

1983. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is established.

1998. The king devolves some of his executive powers to the cabinet.

FUTURE TRENDS

Problems with the Lhotshampa population seem likely to continue into the 21st century. Unless the Bhutanese government finds an amicable solution to this problem, Lhotshampa militancy is likely to intensify. Similarly, the security issue of the presence of Assam independence insurgencies on Bhutanese territory needs to be addressed in order to avoid embittering relations with militarily powerful India. This point is all the more important due to the ongoing flow of free trade with India. Bhutan is highly dependent upon developments within India's economy. As a result, levels of integration with the world economy will closely follow those of India. Planned membership of the WTO will exacerbate Bhutan's economic openness.

In 2001, Bhutan's excellent environmental conservation and balance meant that the economy had greater ability to use its forestry and hydroelectricity resources. For example, while the government insists that 60 percent of the country remain forested, the 2000 coverage of 72 percent indicated room for increased use without compromising governmental policy. Similarly, the 3 hydroelectricity plants to be completed early in the 21st century are projected to contribute vast amounts of government revenue without significantly damaging the environment. This revenue is intended to support human-centered development. If the government remains true to these policies and continues to widen political freedoms, Bhutan has a bright political, social, and economic future.

DEPENDENCIES

Bhutan has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Amnesty International. Amnesty International: Report 2000. London: Amnesty International, 2000

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Country Profile: Bhutan. <http://news.bbc.co.uk//hi/english/world/south_asia/country_profiles/newsid_11660000/1166513.stm>. Accessed June 2001.

Central Intelligence Agency. CIA World Factbook. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed June 2001.

Ciment, J. and I. Ness. The Encyclopaedia of Global Population and Demographics. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.

Europa. The Far East and Australasia 2001. 32nd edition. London: Europa, 2001.

Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO Yearbook: Trade, Vol. 52, 1998. Rome: FAO, 1999.

Food and Agriculture Organization. Nutrition Country Profile Bhutan. Rome: FAO, December 1999. <http://www.fao.org/es/ESN/ncp/BHU.pdf>. Accessed July 2001.

Freedom House. Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties 1999-2000. New York: Freedom House, 2000.

International Monetary Fund. Bhutan: Statistical Annex. No. 99/63. Washington, D.C.: IMF, July 1999.

International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 2000. Washington D.C.: IMF, 2000.

Mathou, T. "Bhutan in 2000: Challenges Ahead." Asian Survey. Vol. 41, No. 1, 2001.

Mathou, T. "Political Reform in Bhutan: Change in a Buddhist Monarchy." Asian Survey. Vol. 39, No. 4, 1999.

Pattanaik, S. S. "Ethnic Identity, Conflict and Nation Building in Bhutan." Strategic Analysis. Vol. 22, No. 4, 1998. <http://www.idsa-india.org/an-jul8-10.html>. Accessed June 2001.

Pommaret, F. Bhutan, translated by E. B. Booz. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991.

Royal Government of Bhutan. Background Document to the Seventh Round Table Meeting for Bhutan, Thimpu 7-9 November 2000. <http://www.undp.org.bt/RTM2000/Final%20RTM%20Documents.pdf>. Accessed July 2001.

United Nations. International Trade Statistics Yearbook 1998. New York: United Nations, 1999.

United Nations. Statistical Yearbook Forty-Fourth Issue. New York: United Nations, 2000.

United Nations Development Programme. <http://www.undp.org>. Accessed June 2001.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2000. New York: UNDP, 2000.

United Nations Development Programme in Bhutan. Briefing Report: Bhutan. Thimpu: UNDP, July 1999. <http://www.undp.org.bt/BHUTAN/Brieflc99.PDF>. Accessed June 2001.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Asia-Pacific in Figures. 14th edition. New York: United Nations, February 2001.

Upham, M. Trade Unions of the World. 4th edition. London: Cartermill, 1996.

U.S. Energy Information Administration. <http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/bhutan2.html>. Accessed June 2001.

World Bank. "Bhutan Data Profile" and "Bhutan at a Glance." <http://www.worldbank.org>. Accessed June 2001.

World Bank. World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Liam Campling

CAPITAL:

Thimpu.

MONETARY UNIT:

Ngultrum (Nu). One ngultrum equals 100 chetrum. Notes in circulation are Nu1, 2, 5, 10, 100, and 500. Indian currency (rupees) is also legal tender and at par value with Bhutanese currency.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, electricity, precious stones, and spices.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, and rice.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$0.44 billion (1999). [CIA reports GDP at purchasing power parity to be US$2.1 billion (1999 est.).]

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$146 million (1999). Imports: US$243 million (1999). [The CIA World Factbook reports exports to be US$111 million (f.o.b., 1998) and imports to be US$136 million (c.i.f., 1998).]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Kingdom of Bhutan

Major Cities:
Thimphu, Paro

Other Cities:
Punakha, Tongsa

INTRODUCTION

BHUTAN is a land of great beauty and mystery. Situated in the Himalaya Mountains, this tiny kingdom was largely isolated from the rest of the world for centuries. However, the late 20th century marked an end to Bhutan's isolation. The absorption of Tibet, Bhutan's major trading partner, by China in 1959 and India's annexation of Bhutan's neighbor, the Kingdom of Sikkim, in 1975, prompted the Bhutanese to realize that they could no longer remain isolated while surrounded by two powerful neighbors. Under the guidance of its leader, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan joined the United Nations in 1971. Three years later, the country was opened to foreign tourists for the first time.

Today, Bhutan remains largely unknown to most Westerners. It is a land of unspoiled alpine valleys and beautiful mountain peaks dotted with dzongs (fortresses). Centuries of isolation allowed Bhutan to develop a rich religious, cultural, and artistic heritage. As more of Bhutan becomes accessible, new locations and new experiences are opening to visitors.

MAJOR CITIES

Thimphu

Thimphu, located in west-central Bhutan, is the nation's capital. Once a sleepy rural community, Thimphu is now the country's center of government, religion, and commerce. Nestled in a fertile agricultural valley, Thimphu is a trading center for the rice, corn, and wheat grown in the area. Industrial activity in and around Thimphu is extremely sparse. Most industrial production is centered on lumbering. A large sawmill is located in Thimphu. In 1966, a large hydroelectric plant was built in Thimphu. This plant produces power to the surrounding region. The city has no major airport, but is served by a small airstrip. The population of Thimphu is about 30,000 (1993 est.).

Recreation

Recreation in and around Thimphu is centered on government-sponsored walking tours. Because many of Bhutan's monasteries, sacred mountain peaks, and dzongs are off-limits to foreigners, the number of accessible sites in Thimphu and other areas is extremely limited. However, beautiful attractions are available in Thimphu. One example is a chorten (shrine) in honor of one of Bhutan's earlier rulers, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The shrine, which has several floors, is adorned with paintings depicting various Buddhist deities. It was constructed in 1974 and offers a beautiful view of Thimphu.

Thimphu's most beautiful building is Tashichhodzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). Constructed in 1641 and renovated in the late 1950s, Tashichhodzong is an example of Bhutan's unique architectural style. Traditionally, Bhutanese structures are built without the use of architectural plans or nails. Tashichhodzong contains 100 rooms, including a throne room for the king, and is filled with beautiful paintings and sculptures. The structure is also the home of Bhutan's largest monastery. In the summer, when monks reside at Tashichhodzong, foreigners are not allowed to enter.

Entertainment

Entertainment opportunities popular in the West, such as nightclubs and theaters, are non-existent in Bhutan. As a result, most entertainment in Bhutan revolves around shopping for Bhutanese handicrafts and souvenirs. Two stores in Thimphu, the Dorji Gyeltshen Shop and Senghay Budha, offer beautiful scarves and shawls. These stores also sell long robes of wool or silk.

These robes, known as kho (for men) and kira (for women), are the native dress of Bhutan. A government-owned Handicrafts Emporium sells a wide variety of Bhutanese jewelry, handicrafts, sculpture, table linen, and thang-kas (religious scrolls).

For those interested in stamp collecting, the government's Philatelic Office sells Bhutan stamps. Bhutanese stamps are considered exquisite by many collectors and are highly popular souvenirs.

Bhutan's National Library, located in Thimphu, operates a bookstore which sells a few English-language publications. Brass replicas of Buddhist statues are also sold here.

Paro

Bhutan's second largest city, Paro, is located 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Thimphu. The city, constructed in the 1970s, is relatively new and exhibits beautiful whitewashed buildings adorned with Buddhist symbols. As in Thimphu, all buildings are constructed without the use of nails or architectural plans. Bhutan's only major airport is located here and the city has some beautiful temples. Throughout the city, lamas can be seen in solemn prayer. The presence of the lamas makes Paro a very peaceful, tranquil city. Paro has approximately 10,000 residents.

Recreation

Several walking tours are available for those who wish to view the temples, dzongs, and monasteries in Paro and the surrounding area. Paro is the home of the Paro Dzong. This fortress is the official residence for several monks and serves as a Buddhist headquarters for Paro and the surrounding region. The building, constructed in the 1600s, was nearly destroyed by fire in 1907. The structure sustained heavy damage and many priceless statues, artifacts, and religious scrolls (thang-kas ) were lost. Only one thang-ka was saved and can be viewed by the public during special festivals. The Drukgyel (Victorious Druk) Dzong located in a valley near Paro, offers a beautiful view of Mt. Chomolhari. Much of this dzong was destroyed by fire in 1954. Another popular attraction has been the Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, nestled on a cliff 2,952 feet above Paro. This monastery, however, was destroyed by fire in 1998.

One of Paro's principal attractions is the National Museum. This five-story building offers beautiful and informative displays of Bhutanese costumes, masks, jewelry, weapons, stamps, books, and textiles. Of particular interest are statues carved from butter, priceless religious scrolls, and an enormous carving of the Tree of Life. This carving, which pays homage to Buddhism's four sects, is located on the top floor of the museum.

OTHER CITIES

The town of PUNAKHA , located in west-central Bhutan, was established in 1577 and served as the capital of Bhutan. Punakha's primary attraction is the Punakha Dzong, a fortress located at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. This fortress serves as a winter retreat for monks living in central Bhutan. Punakha Dzong has been severely damaged by fires and earthquakes over the centuries. In recent years, the fortress has been threatened by high water levels on the Po Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The town's population has been estimated at 1,100 residents.

TONGSA , a town situated in central Bhutan, is the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. The town is noted for the large Tongsa Dzong, which used to guard the only east-west route through Bhutan. Today, Tongsa Dzong is occupied by several government offices and is a home for a large group of Buddhist monks. Tongsa has approximately 5,000 residents.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country nestled in the Himalaya Mountains. It occupies an area of 18,147 square miles, approximately the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Bhutan is land-locked, surrounded on the north by China and on all other sides by India. The northern part of the country is extremely mountainous, containing some of the most rugged terrain in the world. The central part of Bhutan has fertile valleys and arable land. Southern and eastern Bhutan contain densely forested foothills.

Each region of Bhutan exhibits a different climate. The mountainous northern regions are extremely cold with perpetual snowfall. Central Bhutan's climate is more temperate, with warm summers, cold winters, and moderate rainfall. Warm, humid temperatures and heavy rainfall characterize the climate in southern and eastern regions of the country.

Population

The population of Bhutan is estimated at 2,049,000 (2001 est.) and can be divided into three ethnic groups. The most numerous group are the Sharchops. They are often considered the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan and predominantly settle in eastern regions of the country. Western regions of Bhutan are inhabited by Ngalops, an ethnic group of Tibetan origin. The Shar-chops and Ngalops comprise about 50 percent of Bhutan's population. Thirty-five percent of the population are Nepalese who emigrated to Bhutan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are farmers and live in southern areas of the country. Over 85,000 Nepalese were expelled to Nepal in the early 1990s, and live in refugee camps monitored by the United Nations. The remaining 15 percent of Bhutan's population are small minorities of indigenous or migrant groups.

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, although Nepali is predominant in southern regions of the country. English is widely used in schools, colleges and by government officials.

Buddhism is the state religion and is practiced in nearly two-thirds of the country. Southern Bhutan is predominantly Hindu. The Bhutanese government promotes religious freedom and celebrates all major Buddhist and Hindu religious festivals.

The life expectancy in Bhutan in 2001 was approximately 53 years for males, 52 years for females. Bhutan's literacy rate is 42%.

History

Very little is known of Bhutan's early history. It is believed to have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C. Bhutan's recorded history began in the eighth century A.D. with the introduction of Tantric Buddhism. From the 12th to the 17th century, Tibet ruled Bhutan. Under the tutelage of Tibetan lama, Ngawang Namgyal, Bhutan developed an intricate and comprehensive system of laws that served as a check against the ambitions of various ecclesiastical and civil administrators. This system worked effectively until Namgyal's death. Without the presence of a strong leader, Bhutan dissolved into a 200-year period of political chaos as numerous regional governors and local administrators vied for power. By 1907, the management of Bhutan's civil affairs were controlled by Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, who became Bhutan's first hereditary king. In an attempt to stabilize the political situation, King Ugyen invited the British to establish a presence in Bhutan. Bhutan and Great Britain signed a friendship treaty in 1910. The British government agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan, but reserved the right to guide Bhutan's relations with other countries. After the British relinquished their control of the Indian subcontinent, Bhutan signed a treaty with the new Indian government in 1949. The provisions of the treaty were nearly identical to those made with Britain 40 years earlier. The main difference was that India agreed to pay yearly compensation to Bhutan for portions of its territory annexed by the British in India in 1864. The treaty between these two nations is still in effect.

Government

Since 1907, Bhutan has been ruled by a monarchy. Each Bhutanese monarch has brought political stability to the country and implemented numerous reforms. In 1926, the son of Bhutan's first monarch, Jigme Wangchuck, created Bhutan's first public school and repaired monasteries that had been damaged after fires, earthquakes, and centuries of wear and tear. Jigme Wang-chuck was succeeded in 1952 by his son, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Jigme Dorji implemented many positive changes during his reign. He supported the creation of Bhutan's postal system, built modern roads, launched long-range economic planning, welcomed trained medical personnel into Bhutan, and dissolved the kingdom's ancient serfdom system. In 1953, King Jigme Dorji instituted a constitutional monarchy and created a National Assembly. The National Assembly, or tshogdu, has 151 members and meets twice a year. All Bhutanese citizens 25 years or older are eligible for election to the Assembly. Once elected, each representative serves a three-year term. The king established the Royal Advisory Council in 1965, which is responsible for advising the king on governmental matters and regulating the policies of the National Assembly. In 1968, a Council of Ministers was formed and given the authority to implement government policy. The Bhutanese government does not allow the formation of political parties.

Upon his death in 1972, King Jigme Dorji was succeeded by his son Jigme Singye Wangchuck. For the most part, the present monarch has continued the governmental changes implemented by his father. King Jigme Singye's most notable contributions to Bhutan are the development of the country's telephone system, the construction of numerous factories and hospitals, and the building of over 100 schools. In September 1990, government forces ruthlessly crushed pro-democracy rallies in southern regions of Bhutan.

The flag of Bhutan is divided diagonally with yellow on the left over orange on the right. A white dragon is located in the center.

Arts, Science, Education

There is no compulsory educational system in Bhutan and only half of the children attend school. The educational system consists of seven years of primary schooling followed by four years of secondary school. In 1993, there were 235 primary schools with 1,859 teachers and 56,773 students. For those who complete a secondary education (junior high and high school), the majority of Bhutanese university students receive higher education in India.

Commerce and Industry

Bhutan is an agrarian society, with over 90 percent of the population engaged in farming and animal husbandry. The main crops are corn, rice, millet, wheat, oranges, apples and potatoes. Bhutan is also the world's largest producer of cardamom.

The industrial capacity of Bhutan is small. Chemical, cement, and food processing factories have been developed. Homemade handicrafts also comprise part of Bhutan's industrial sector.

Bhutan has a wealth of untapped natural resources. These include forests, rivers with excellent hydro-electric potential, and rich deposits of limestone, marble, graphite, copper, lead and coal.

Over 90 percent of Bhutan's trade is with India, although timber, cardamom and liquor are exported to Singapore, the Middle East and Western Europe. Principal exports are agricultural products, timber, cement and coal. Textiles, cereals and consumer goods are Bhutan's primary imports.

Bhutan's estimated per capita gross national product (GDP) was $420 million in 1995. The paper currency, the Ngultrum, was introduced in the early 1970s. Coinage is known as Chetrum. Indian currency is also legal tender in Bhutan.

Transportation

In 1996, there were more than 805 miles (1,296 kilometers) of roads, 260 miles (418 kilometers) of which were paved. Fairly good roads connect Bhutan with India. The Bhutan Government Transport Service and about 30 private operators provide bus service. Within most of the country, however, travel is by foot or pack animal.

The national airline is Druk Airlines (Royal Bhutan Airlines). It is based at an international airport near Paro and provides service to Calcutta, Dhaka, Katmandu, New Delhi, and Bangkok.

Communications

Telephones are available in Thimphu and Paro. International calls can be made from hotels in the city. However, it often takes over an hour for connections to be completed. In remote locations, wireless telephones are the only reliable communication device.

Bhutan has excellent postal and teleprinter services. An international microwave link connects Bhutan's capital, Thimphu, to Calcutta and Delhi. International telegraph and telex communication is available.

There were approximately 28,000 radio receivers (1994 est.) in Bhutan. Although Bhutan does not have its own television station, broadcasts are transmitted from India and Bangladesh. In 1989, however, the Bhutan government ordered the destruction of all television antennas and satellite receiving dishes, claiming that it wanted to protect Bhutan's national culture.

There are 39 radio stations for internal government communications. However, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service offers shortwave programming in Dzongkha, Sharchopkha, Lhotsam and English.

Health and Medicine

Medical facilities in Bhutan are limited. Some medicine is in short supply. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Cholera, typhoid fever and malaria are health concerns throughout the country.

Diligent water purification and food preparation methods must be exercised when visiting Bhutan. Immunizations for tetanus, typhoid, polio and hepatitis are recommended.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Tourists are admitted only in groups by pre-arrangement with the Tourism Authority of Bhutan, P.O. Box 126, Thimpu, Bhutan, tel. (975-2) 23251, 23252; fax (975-2) 23695. Entry is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed.

Visitors to Bhutan are required to book through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This can be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. The minimum daily tariff is regulated and fixed by the Royal Government. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. All visitors, including those on official U.S. Government business, must obtain visas prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival.

For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consulate General), 2 UN Plaza, 27th floor, New York, NY 10017, tel. (212)826-1919, fax (212)826-2998, or via the Internet at http://www.embassy.org/embassies/bt.html.

There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at any U.S. consulate or embassy in India or Bangladesh. Americans living in or visiting Bhutan are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. They may also obtain assistance from the U.S. consulates in India or, to a more limited degree, from the U.S. Embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh or Kathmandu, Nepal.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021, tel. (91)(11)419-8000, fax:(91)(11)419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in1/wwwhmain.html

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, tel. (91)(22) 363-3611/ Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai/

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071, tel. (91)(033)282-3611 through 282-3615. The Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in4/wwwhmain.html The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at Mount Road, 600006, tel. (91)(44) 827-3040. Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/chennai/

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Ave, Baridhara, Dhaka 1212, tel. (880) (2) 882-4700-22, fax (880)(2) 882-3744.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located at Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu, tel. (977)(1)411179, 410531, fax (977)(1)419963. The Internet home page address is http://www.south-asia.com/USA/.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 25 Traditional Day of Offering

June 2 Coronation Day of His Majesty the King

Aug. 8 Independence Day

Nov. 11 Birthday of His Majesty the King

Dec. 17 National Day

Parinirvana*

The First Sermon of Lord Buddha *

Thimphu Drubchen*

Thimphu Tshechu (3 days)*

Dashain*

Descending Day of Lord Buddha*

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Apte, Robert Z. Three Kingdoms on the Roof of the World: Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1990.

Aung San Suu Kyi. Let's Visit Bhutan. London: Burke Publishing, 1985.

Bhutan & Its Natural Resources. New York: Advent Books, 1992.

Buck, Stuart H. Bhutanese Newspaper Reader. Kensington, MD: Dunwoody Press, 1988.

Edmunds, T.O. Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon. London: Elm Tree Books, 1988.

Foster, Leila M. Bhutan. Chicago, IL: Children's Press, 1989.

The Himalayan Countries: North Pakistan, North India, Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal. Updated ed. New York: McKay, 1990.

Kamatsu, Yoshio. Children of the World: Bhutan. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 1988.

Karan, P.P. Bhutan: Environment, Culture & Development Strategy. Columbia, MD: South Asia Books, 1990.

Misra, H.N. Bhutan: Problems & Policies. Columbia, MD: South Asia Books, 1988.

Olschak, Blanche C. The Dragon Kingdom: Images of Bhutan. Translated by Michael W. Kohn. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 1988.

Robinson, Francis, ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan & the Maldives. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Sinha, A.C. Bhutan: Ethnic Identity & National Dilemma. New York: Apt Books, 1991.

Williamson, Margaret D., and John Snelling. Memoirs of a Political Officer's Wife in Tibet, Sikkim & Bhutan. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1987.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Cities of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Cities of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

"Bhutan." Cities of the World. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutanese

Bhutanese

PRONUNCIATION: BOOT-un-eez

LOCATION: Bhutan

POPULATION: 816,0001.8 million (including Nepalese immigrants and other minorities)

LANGUAGE: Dzongkha (official); Nepali; Assamese; Gurung; Tsangla; Hindi

RELIGION: Mahayana Buddhism (official); Bon (shamanism); mix of Hinduism and Buddhism; Islam

1 INTRODUCTION

Bhutanese is the name given to the people who live in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan is a small, landlocked country in the mountainous area north of India. The name Bhutan is derived from a word that means the "borderland" of Bhot, or Tibet. The Bhutanese themselves call their country Druk-Yul or the "Land of the Thunder Dragon." The ruling monarch of the country carries the title Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King."

From the beginning of the ninth century ad, the region was settled by Tibetans migrating south. Bhutan was born in the early seventeenth century when a Tibetan Buddhist monk established his authority as king, taking the title of Dharma Raja. As of the late 1990s, the king was Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

The British held colonial power over India in the early nineteenth century. In 1910, Bhutan's relations with other countries were controlled by British India. In return, Britain agreed not to interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs. In 1949 when India gained its independence, India took control of Bhutan's relations with other countries. Chinese forces took control of Bhutan's neighbor, Tibet, in 1950. Bhutan saw its ties with India as a way to fight off a threat from China. During the 1960s, Bhutan started to modernize and allowed people from other countries to visit without a special invitation from the king.

2 LOCATION

There is no reliable census of the population of Bhutan. The government estimates the total population at over 800,000 people, but they do not include immigrants. If immigrants from Nepal and other minorities are included, the population is estimated to be over 1.8 million. There are three major ethnic groups in Bhutan: the Bhutia (also Bhotia, or Bhote), Nepalese, and Assamese. Bhutia comprise roughly 50 percent of Bhutan's population. The Nepalese account for another 35 percent, while the Assamese make up 15 percent of the country's inhabitants.

Bhutan, with an area of 18,217 square miles (47,182 square kilometers), lies in the eastern Himalayan Mountain Range. Bhutan has three distinct geographic regions. In the south is a narrow strip of lowland known as the Duars Plain. The area receives between 200 and 300 inches (500 and 760 centimeters) of rain a year. It is covered with dense subtropical forest and undergrowth and is hot, humid, and a generally unhealthy atmosphere in which to live. North of the Duars is the Inner Himalaya, a region of mountains extending southward from the main Himalayan Range. Between these spurs lie fertile valleys at elevations between 5,000 and 9,000 feet (1,500 and 2,700 meters). With a relatively moderate climate, these valleys support agriculture. Most of Bhutan's population lives in these valleys. Further to the north, along the Tibetan border, are the main ranges of the Great Himalaya. The highest peaks approach 24,000 feet (7,300 meters), with Kula Kangra soaring to 24,784 feet (7,554 meters). Below the high peaks are alpine meadows used for grazing yaks in the summer months.

3 LANGUAGE

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, a dialect of Tibetan. In its written form, Dzongkha is identical to Tibetan. Other languages spoken in Bhutan include Nepali, Assamese, and Gurung. Some Hindi is spoken in southern areas that border India.

4 FOLKLORE

There are many folktales in Bhutan that relate to events and personalities of the past. One tradition tells of a prince from India who settled in Bhutan in the eighth century ad. He invited the monk Padmasambhava to his kingdom. Known in Tibet as Guru Rimpoche ("Precious Teacher"), Padmasambhava was primarily responsible for introducing Buddhism in Bhutan. Other stories center on the fifteenth-century lama Pemalingpa, who is seen as an incarnation of Padmasambhava. Another heroic figure of Bhutan is Shabdrung, the lama who assumed the title of Dharma Raja in the seventeenth century and laid the political foundations of Bhutan State.

5 RELIGION

Approximately three-fourths of Bhutanese are Buddhist. The dominant religious order in the country is the Red-Hat sect (Kargyupa). Belief in sorcerers, spirits, demons, and the need for exorcisms as undertaken in the "devil dances" are a part of everyday Bhutanese religious practices. Lamas (religious leaders) skilled in rituals perform the necessary religious observances. Animal sacrifice has been replaced in Bhutan by the offering of torma, ritual figures made from dough and butter. Hinduism, or a mix of Hinduism and Buddhism, is the religion of the Nepalese peoples of Bhutan.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is one of the most important festivals in Bhutan. It is celebrated in February with feasting and drinking. Folk dances, including masked dances, are performed and archery competitions held. Friends and relatives exchange greeting cards. Domchheo and Tsechu are annual religious festivals marked by worship ceremonies and performances of the ritual masked dances by monks. These are held at monasteries and dzongs, the forts around which many Bhutanese villages are built. Various other Buddhist and Hindu festivals are observed. The king's birthday (September 22) and the National Day of Bhutan (December 17) are celebrated as public holidays.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

Birth and marriage in Bhutan are social or family events. Funerals, on the other hand, are elaborate religious affairs. After a death, a lama (Buddhist religious leader) is called in to extract the sem (spirit) from the body and speed it on its way. The body is placed in a sitting position before an altar, on which various ritual objectsincluding torma (figurines made of dough and butter)are placed. A lama leads the service for the dead, reciting passages from various Buddhist texts. Cremation is the usual form of disposal of the corpse, although bodies may be buried or thrown in a river. Rituals are performed for forty-nine days after death. During this period an effigy (symbolic model) of the dead person is kept in the house. Both the end of the mourning period and the one-year anniversary of the death are celebrated with a feast.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

A Bhutanese host greets a guest by bowing slightly, extending his or her hands towards the ground with palms facing the visitor, and moving the hand in a gesture inviting the guest into the house. The host may also say, "Yala! Yala! Kuzu zangpola?" ("Hello! Hello! How do you do?"). The guest, after responding in an appropriate manner, is then seated in the drawing room. She or he is served tea, beer, or other refreshments. Men and women mix and converse freely, without restrictions.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

Bhutan was isolated from the outside world until around 1960. As a result, health care services in Bhutan are not very well developed. Leading causes of death include respiratory infections, diarrhea and dysentery, skin infections, infections from parasites, and malaria. Over 10 percent of all babies die shortly after birth.

Ninety percent of Bhutan's population live in villages scattered throughout the country. Although there are a handful of small towns in Bhutan, only Thimphu, the capital, exceeds 20,000 inhabitants in size. Living standards are generally low, with per capita income (money earned by one person) less than $200 per year. Bhutan's mountainous terrain makes communications difficult.

10 FAMILY LIFE

Most people in Bhutan marry within their own ethnic group. The legal age for marriage is set by the government at sixteen years for women and twenty-one years for men. In the past, marriages were arranged by the parents. By the 1990s, more and more young couples were selecting their own marriage partners. Bhutanese marriages are relatively simple. A lama (Buddhist religious leader) officiates at the ceremony. Offerings of chang (beer) are made to ghosts and spirits. Betel leaves, areca nuts, and fruits are distributed to wedding guests and observers. More food and entertainment follow the ceremony.

The Bhutanese are essentially monogamous (have only one husband or wife). Polyandry (more than one husband) has been abolished (made illegal). Polygyny (more than one wife) is restricted to a maximum of three wives per husband. A bride does not necessarily move into her husband's household. The new husband may live with his wife's family, if her family needs laborers to help with their work. Alternatively, the new couple may set up their own household on their own plot of land. Divorce is permitted, but the spouse who wants the divorce must compensate the other with money or goods.

11 CLOTHING

Bhutanese dress for men consists of a ko (long, loose robe) that reaches the ankles. During the day, the ko is hoisted up and fastened at the waist by a woven belt so that it reaches the knees. At night, it is let down to the ankles. A coat, worn over the ko, fastens at the neck but is worn open during the day. The sleeves are long and loose. Bhutanese men seldom wear a hat, but they sometimes wrap a scarf around the head at night. Shoes are rarely worn, though some men wear sandals. Wealthier men wear woolen boots. Every man carries a long knife slung from his belt. When the ko is tied in the "up" position, it forms a pouch that is used for carrying objects.

Bhutanese women wear the kira, a woven dress that is fastened at each shoulder by silver buckles. A woven belt is tied around the waist. Women commonly wear necklaces of coral and turquoise, strung together with silver amulets (charms). The hair is usually cut short.

12 FOOD

Rice is the main food in Bhutan. Rice is accompanied by meat whenever it is available. Though most Bhutanese are Buddhists, they are not vegetarians. They eat beef, pork, goat, chicken, and eggs. A typical Bhutanese meal might consist of thugpa, a meat soup prepared with herbs, rice (of the round, red variety), and a meat curry or omelet. Sweet rice (white rice cooked in milk and sugar) is served on special occasions. Tea, made with salt and butter, is a Bhutanese staple. Chang (beer) is made from grain and is served to guests and offered to the gods.

At high altitudes, barley and buckwheat (cereal grains) are grown. The cereals are ground, then roasted or fried, and stored for future use. Fried corn powder is popular among the Bhutanese. Milk is scarce and of poor quality, although a hard cheese is made from yak milk.

13 EDUCATION

No formal schools existed in Bhutan before the early 1960s, except for those associated with religious institutions. The government has tried to improve education, but Bhutan still lags behind its neighbor countries in education. Only about 20 percent of children from ages five to twelve are enrolled in school. Only 2 percent of children thirteen to eighteen are enrolled in high school. About 20 percent of adults can read and write.

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

Bhutan's culture is deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. The country began as a theocracy (its ruler was a religious leader). Even in the 1990s, lamas (Buddhist religious leaders) influence government affairs. The dzongs (forts) and monasteries remain centers of political, economic, social, and religious life. It is in these places that festivals are celebrated with religious music and masked dances. Lamas continue the traditions of Buddhist learning. Religion finds architectural expression in numerous chorten (mounds of relics) and temples. Dzongs are often patterned after the Potala in Lhasa, Tibet (part of China since the 1950s). The Potala is the home of the Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama. Religious objects such as the mandala (Buddhist Wheel of Life) and thanka (a painted religious scroll) are works of art in their own right.

15 EMPLOYMENT

Bhutan is essentially an agrarian (farming) country. Over 90 percent of all workers are involved in subsistence agriculture (growing enough food for the family's use, with little left to sell) and raising livestock. Only 3 percent of Bhutan's area is used for farming, since much of the land is mountainous or heavily forested. Rice, wheat, maize (corn), and millet are the main crops grown in the country. Fruit production is important, with apples, peaches, plums, and apricots among the varieties grown. Livestock raised in the region include cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and the yak, an animal adapted to high altitudes.

16 SPORTS

The Bhutanese are well known for their archery skills, and archery competitions are commonly held at the time of festivals and national holidays.

17 RECREATION

Bhutanese have limited access to modern forms of entertainment. For radio, FM broadcasts are aired in Thimphu, and short-wave broadcasts can be received in the rest of the country. In 1989 the government banned the viewing of television by ordering all TV antennas in the country to be dismantled. The government publishes a weekly newspaper, Kuensel, but with the country's low literacy rate, the paper has a very small circulation. Religious festivals and folk traditions such as singing and dancing are the primary forms of entertainment and recreation.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

Bhutanese women are skilled at weaving. They make their own clothing, bedding, tablecloths, floor coverings, and items for religious use. Embroidery is a favorite art. Much effort goes into making costumes and masks for the ritual dances performed at festivals. Smiths excel in working gold, silver, brass, and other metals.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Bhutanese live in the least-developed country in all of South Asia. Despite efforts at modernization, poverty, lack of potable (clean) water, inadequate health care, illiteracy, and difficulties in transportation remain serious problems. Tensions between the Bhutanese and Nepalese minority have created a problem in the country. Since 1990, antigovernment extremists among the Nepalese have been waging a terrorist war in Bhutan.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chakravarti, B. A Cultural History of Bhutan. Chittraranjan, India: Hilltop Publishers, 1980.

Karan, P. P. Bhutan: A Physical and Cultural Geography. Lexington, Ky.: University of Kentucky Press, 1967.

Matles, Andrea, ed. Nepal and Bhutan: Country Studies. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993.

WEBSITES

Bhutan Tourism Corp., Ltd. [Online] Available http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/1998.

World Travel Guide. Bhutan. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/bt/gen.html, 1998.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutanese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutanese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese

"Bhutanese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan (bōōtän´), officially Kingdom of Bhutan, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 2,232,000), 18,147 sq mi (47,000 sq km), in the E Himalayas, southern Asia. It is bordered on the west, south, and east by India and on the north by the Tibet region of China. Punakha is the traditional capital; Thimphu is the official capital and largest city.

Land and People

Great mountain ranges, rising in the N to Kula Kangri (24,784 ft/7,554 m), Bhutan's tallest peak, run north and south, dividing the country into forested valleys with some pastureland. The perpetually snow-covered Great Himalayas are uninhabited, except for some Buddhist monks in scattered monasteries. Bhutan is drained by several rivers rising in the Himalayas and flowing into India. Thunderstorms and torrential rains are common; rainfall averages from 200 to 250 in. (508–635 cm) on the southern plains. The valleys, especially the Paro, are intensively cultivated.

Bhutan's people are mostly Bhotias, who call themselves Drukpas (dragon people). They are ethnically related to the Tibetans and practice a form of Buddhism closely related to the Lamaism (see Tibetan Buddhism) of Tibet; many Bhutanese live in monasteries. Dzongka, the official language, is also basically Tibetan. In S Bhutan there is a sizable minority of Nepalese (about a third of the population), who practice Hinduism and speak various Nepalese dialects. Large numbers of ethnic Nepalese have been expelled to Nepal since the late 1980s, and the government has pressured the Nepalese to adopt Bhutanese dress, customs, religion, and language. In addition, some 15% of Bhutan's people are from indigenous or migrant tribal groups.

Economy

The chief occupations, which employ more than 60% of the workforce, are small-scale subsistence farming (producing rice, corn, root crops, citrus fruit, barley, wheat, and potatoes) and the raising of yaks, cattle, sheep, pigs, and tanguns, a sturdy breed of pony valued in mountain transportation. Wood and leather products, processed foods, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, textiles, and handicrafts are also important. Hydroelectric power is a most important resource, with some electricity being exported to India; it is the country's most important export. Fuels, grain, aircraft, machinery, vehicles, and fabrics are the major imports; cardamom and other spices, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, fruit, and precious stones are the other primary exports. Tourism is a significant though restricted activity, and it is the country's largest source of foreign exchange. Bhutan's economy is closely tied to that of India, both through trade and monetary links.

Government

Bhutan is governed under the constitution of 2008. The hereditary monarch, the Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King), is head of state; the government is headed by a prime minister. The national Parliament, which was established in 2008 and replaced the unicameral National Assembly, comprises two houses. The upper house, the National Council, has 20 elected members and 5 members nominated by the monarch. The lower house, the National Assembly, has 47 members, all of whom are popularly elected. Administratively, Bhutan is divided into 20 districts (dzongkhag).

History

Although its early history is vague, Bhutan seems to have existed as a political entity for many centuries. At the beginning of the 16th cent. it was ruled by a dual monarchy consisting of a Dharma Raja, or spiritual ruler, and a Deb Raja, or temporal ruler. For much of its early history the Deb Raja held little real power, as the provincial governors (ponlops) became quite strong. In 1720 the Chinese invaded Tibet and established suzerainty over Bhutan. Friction between Bhutan and Indian Bengal culminated in a Bhutanese invasion of Cooch Behar in 1772, followed by a British incursion into Bhutan, but the Tibetan lama's intercession with the governor-general of British India improved relations.

In 1774 a British mission arrived in Bhutan to promote trade with India. British occupation of Assam in 1826, however, led to renewed border raids from Bhutan. In 1864 the British occupied part of S Bhutan, which was formally annexed after a war in 1865; the Treaty of Sinchula provided for an annual subsidy to Bhutan as compensation. In 1907 the most powerful of Bhutan's provincial governors, Sir Ugyen Wangchuk, supported by the British, became the monarch of Bhutan, the first of a hereditary line. A treaty signed in 1910 doubled the annual British subsidy to Bhutan in return for an agreement to let Britain direct the country's foreign affairs.

After India won independence, a treaty (1949) returned the part of Bhutan annexed by the British and allowed India to assume the former British role of subsidizing Bhutan and directing its defense and foreign relations; the Indians, like the British before them, promised not to interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs. When Chinese Communist forces occupied Tibet in 1950, Bhutan, because of its strategic location, became a point of contest between China and India. The Chinese claim to Bhutan (as part of a greater Tibet) and the persecution of Tibetan Buddhists led India to close the Bhutanese-Tibetan border and to build roads in Bhutan capable of carrying Indian military vehicles. In the 1960s, Bhutan also formed a small army, trained and equipped by India. The kingdom's admission to the United Nations in 1971 was seen as strengthening its sovereignty, and by the 1980s relations with China had improved significantly.

Bhutan's third hereditary ruler, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (reigned 1953–72), modernized Bhutanese society by abolishing slavery and the caste system, emancipating women, dividing large estates into small individual plots, and starting a secular educational system. Although Bhutan no longer has a Dharma Raja, Buddhist priests retain political influence. In 1969 the absolute monarchy gave way to a "democratic monarchy." In 1972 the crown prince, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, became the fourth hereditary king of Bhutan upon his father's death; he was crowned in June, 1974. The new king gradually democratized the Bhutanese government. By 1999 the king was no longer head of government; that position was held by head of the cabinet, which is responsible to the national assembly. Since then the country has moved slowly toward adopting a new constitution; in 2005 the draft of the proposed constitution was released.

Meanwhile, an uprising by the Nepalese minority in 1989, a national policy of forcing non–ethnic Bhutanese to adopt Bhutanese Buddhist traditions, and the expulsion of thousands of ethnic Nepalese regarded by the government as illegal aliens were a source of tension within Bhutan, and with Nepal and India, in the 1990s. Also, Assamese and West Bengali separatist guerrillas have established bases in Bhutan, from which they make attacks into India. After attempts to negotiate the Assamese guerrillas' withdrawal failed, Bhutan mounted attacks (2003) to demolish their bases. An agreement between Bhutan and Nepal in 2003 permitted some of the ethnic Nepalese expelled from Bhutan and living in refugee camps in Nepal to return to Bhutan, but most remained in the camps; some began being resettled abroad in 2008. In late 2005 the king announced plans to abdicate in favor of his son in 2008, when the first democratic elections for a parliament are to held. However, at the end of 2007 the king stepped down and was succeeded by Crown Prince Jigme Kesar Namgyel Wangchuk (the formal coronation occurred a year later). Bhutan subsequently signed a revised treaty with India that gave Bhutan greater control over its foreign policy.

In Dec., 2007, the country began its transition to constitutional monarchy with nonpartisan elections for the National Council. Elections for the National Assembly were held in Mar., 2008; nearly all the seats were won by Bhutan Prosperity (or Bhutan Harmony) party (DPT), whose leader, Jigme Thinley, had twice previously served as prime minister. In the July, 2013, elections, the People's Democratic party (PDP) won a majority; PDP leader Tshering Tobgay became prime minister.

Bibliography

See studies by T. O. Edmunds (1988) and L. M. Foster (1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Official name: Kingdom of Bhutan

Area: 47,000 square kilometers (18,147 square miles)

Highest point on mainland : Kula Kangri (7,553 meters/24,781 feet)

Lowest point on land: Drangme Chhu (River) (97 meters/318 feet)

Hemispheres : Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 5:30 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 306 kilometers (190 miles) from east to west; 145 kilometers (90 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries : 1,075 kilometers (668 miles) total boundary length; China, 470 kilometers (292 miles); India, 605 kilometers (376 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Bhutan is a small, landlocked country in the Himalaya Mountains, between China and India in Southern Asia. To the north and northwest, it borders the Chinese autonomous region of Tibet (Xizang Zizhiqu); to the south and southwest, the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam; and to the east, the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (formerly the NorthEast Frontier Agency). Bhutan has an area of 47,000 square kilometers (18,147 square miles), making it slightly more than half as large as the state of Indiana.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Bhutan has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Bhutan has three distinct climates, corresponding to its three topographical regions. The Duārs Plain areas in the south have a hot, humid, subtropical climate, with heavy rainfall. Temperatures generally average between 15°C (59°F) and 30°C (86°F) year-round. Temperatures in the valleys of the southern foothills of the Himalayas may rise as high as 101°F (40°C) in the summer. The central Inner Himalayan region has a temperate climate, with hot summers, cool winters, and moderate rainfall. Temperatures in the capital city of Thimphu, located in the western part of this region, generally range from about 15°C (59°F) to 26°C (79°F) between June and September (the monsoon season), falling to between -4°C (25°F) and 16°C (61°F) in January. The high mountains of the Greater Himalayas in the north have more severe weather than the regions to the south. At their highest elevations, they are snow-covered year-round, with an arctic climate.

Like other aspects of Bhutan's climate, rainfall varies by region. The northern Himalayas are relatively dry, and most precipitation falls as snow. The Inner Himalayan slopes and valleys have moderate rainfall, averaging between 100 and 150 centimeters (39 and 59 inches) annually. Rainfall in the subtropical southern regions averages between about 500 centimeters and 750 centimeters (197 and 295 inches) per year. The greatest amount of rain falls during the summer monsoon season, from late June through the end of September.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

All of Bhutan is mountainous except for narrow fringes of land at the southern border where the Duārs Plain, the lowland of the Brahmaputra River, protrudes northward from India. The rest of Bhutan can be divided into two mountain regions: the Lesser Himalayas, or Inner Himalayas, which extend from the Duārs Plain through the central part of the country; and the snow-capped peaks of the Great Himalayas in the far north.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Bhutan is landlocked.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no notable inland lakes in Bhutan.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

All of Bhutan's numerous rivers flow south through gorges and narrow valleys, eventually draining into the Brahmaputra River in India. The headwaters of most streams are in the regions of permanent snow along the Tibetan border. None of the rivers in Bhutan is navigable, but many of them are potential sources of hydroelectric power.

Bhutan contains four main river systems. The Tongsa River and its tributaries, the Bumtang and Drangme Rivers (river names in Bhutan are often followed by Chu or Chhu, which means river), drains the area east of the Black Mountain watershed. West of the Black Mountains, the drainage pattern changes to a series of parallel streams, beginning with the Sankosh (or Puna Tsang) River and its tributaries, the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu. These two waterways flow southward to Punakha; there they join the main river, continuing their southward course into the Indian state of West Bengal. Farther west is the third major system, the Wong Chhu and its tributaries. These flow through west-central Bhutan, joining to form the Raigye Chhu before flowing into West Bengal. Still farther west is the smallest system, the Torsa Chhu (called the Amo Chhu farther north), which flows through the Chumbi Valley before entering India.

8 DESERTS

There are no notable desert regions in Bhutan.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

The Duārs Plain, which lies mostly in India, extends northward across Bhutan's border in strips 10 to 15 kilometers (6 to 9 miles) wide. The northern edges of these plains, which border the Himalayan foothills, have rugged terrain and porous soil. Fertile flatlands are found farther south. At the southern edge of the Inner Himalayas, sloping down to the Duārs Plain, are low, densely forested foothills called the Siwalik (or Southern) Hills.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The mountains of Bhutan are known for their dramatic differences in elevation. Elevations vary from approximately 305 meters (1,000 feet) in the south to almost 7,620 meters (25,000 feet) in the northin some places as close together as 100 kilometers (60 miles). The snowcapped Great Himalayas rise along the Tibetan border, stretching across Bhutan in a belt about 16 kilometers (10 miles) wide. Four peaks in this range have elevations above 6,096 meters (20,000 feet). The highest is Kula Kangri, north of Gasa Dzong, at 7,553 meters (24,781 feet). Next in height is the country's most famous peak, picturesque Chomo Lhari, which towers over the Chumbi Valley at an elevation of 7,314 meters (23,997 feet).

Spurs extending southward from the Great Himalayas make up the north-south ranges of Bhutan's Inner, or Lesser, Himalayas. The fertile valleys between its peaks form the watersheds of Bhutan's major rivers. The dominant range in this system is the Black Mountain Range, which divides the country almost exactly down the middle from north to south and forms the water-shed between the Sankosh and Drangme Chhus (Rivers). Its peaks range from 1,500 to 2,700 meters (4,922 to 8,859 feet) above sea level.

Several strategically important passes follow the major river courses through the valleys of Bhutan's Himalaya Mountains. Formerly of great significance for trade, they now serve as escape routes for Tibetan refugees.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no notable canyons or caves in Bhutan.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

There are no notable plateaus or monoliths in Bhutan.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

A 90-meter (295-foot) suspension bridge at Chazam, spanning the Dangmechu River, was opened on March 16, 2001. It is the most extensive single-span bridge of this type in the Himalayas.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Dompnier, Robert. Bhutan, Kingdom of the Dragon. Boston: Shambhala, 1999.

Hellum, A. K. A Painter's Year in the Forests of Bhutan. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2001.

Zeppa, Jamie. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.

Web Sites

The Kingdom of Bhutan. http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/ (accessed June 22, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutanese

Bhutanese

ETHNONYMS: Bhote, Bhotia, Bhutia


Orientation

The name "Bhutan" is derived from the compound bhotente, the ente or "borderland" of Bhot. The Bhutanese know their country as "Druk-yul," the land (yul ) of the thunder dragon (druk ). The country's association with the dragon is explained by the evolution of the early sects of Buddhism in Tibet and its adjoining territories. It was the Indian saint Padma Sambhava, "the lotus-born," known in Tibet as Guru Rimpoche or "precious teacher," who was primarily responsible for the introduction of Buddhism into Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet in the eighth century a.d.

Bhutan has an area of 47,182 square kilometers. It is flanked on the north by Tibet, on the south by Bengal and Assam, on the east by Arunachal Pradesh and on the west by Sikkim. In 1990 the estimated population of Bhutan was 1,566,000, the second most populous Himalayan kingdom after Nepal. At least another 100,000 live in West Bengal and Nepal. However, its density of population, about 32 persons per square kilometer, is the lowest of the three Himalayan kingdoms. Bhutan's population is entirely rural. The Kingdom has no towns, no banks, and no shops worthy of the name. Thimbu is the capital, built up with Indian aid, and is just a cluster of houses around the dzong, a fortress built in the architectural style of the potala or palace of the Dalai Lama at Lhasa. In the north and center of the country Tibetan is spoken, in the southeast Sangla; both are Tibeto-Burman languages. In the southwest live Rai, Gurung, and Limbu settlers from Nepal, and some Nepalese Brahmans and Chhetris, all of whom speak Nepali.


Economy

Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture. The main crops are rice, wheat, maize, and millet. The country is heavily Forested, but the absence of good communications has prevented any effective exploitation. The forests of teak and sal (Shorea robusta ) along the southern foothills are within easy reach of railheads in India. That rail system provides a way for timber to be dispatched to a ready market. The larger proportion of Bhutan's forests is inaccessible. These forests consist of conifers extending over mountain ranges rising to a height of 3,600 meters and more. Bhutan does have limestone, gypsum, and other valuable mineral deposits that will provide raw material for setting up industries, but the field of hortiCulture is the most significant source of advancement for the country. The Bhutan apple is much favored in India, and the climate is also ideally suited for the cultivation of peaches, plums, and apricots. Some liqueur is manufactured.


Kinship, Marriage and Family

The king has worked on modernizing the social structure of Bhutan. For example, besides declaring serfdom illegal, he has abolished polyandry and restricted polygamy to a maximum of three wives per man. Before taking a new wife, the man must obtain the permission of his first wife, who is free to seek a divorce and maintenance for life from the husband. The age for marriage has been raised to 16 for women and 21 for men. Once married the bride does not necessarily leave her home; it all depends on the strength of the two families as an agricultural labor force. The groom moves in if the bride's family's labor needs are greater. If both families have ample labor, then the couple may stake out their own plot of land and home.


Sociopolitical Organization

Bhutan is divided into fifteen districts, each with its own dialect, that grew out of history and tradition and formerly were isolated by the mountain ranges. This geographic pattern of fertile valleys surrounded by mountains gives the background to the whole administrative and political concept of the country. One-quarter of Bhutan's people are Nepalese Immigrants, and there are strict restrictions against their settling north of a specified middle line running from east to west across the entire country. The Bhutanese have seen how in neighboring Sikkim the original inhabitants have been Gradually outnumbered by Nepalese immigrants, and they are determined to stop the process in their own country before it assumes unmanageable proportions. The Nepalese are a polygamous people and a household of three or four wives and a dozen to fifteen children is not an uncommon phenomenon. The Bhutanese worry that, unless restrictions are set on further settlement, the Nepalese will in time emerge as the majority community, as in Sikkim, and seek to exert political and cultural dominance. Twenty-five percent of the 130 members of the Tsongdu (the national assembly) are government officers appointed to the assembly by the king. Included in the membership are influential lamas and the abbot of the chief monastery at Pimakha, who is a member of the ruler's council of eight ministers. The rest of the body consists of Village headmen elected for five-year terms from all over the kingdom. Each family in the villages has one vote.


Religion and Expressive Culture

The dominant religious cult in Bhutan is that of the Red-Hat sect (Kargyupa), a Tibetan lamaistic order of Mahayana Buddhism. Tibetan shamanism in the form of Bon, a more ancient religious tradition, is also practised. Only among the Nepalese immigrants does one find Hinduism, or a combination of that tradition with Tibetan lamaism, being followed. The idea of ablution has diffused here from India. The inherent idea is that purification of the body leads to the purification of the mind as well. The Bon practice salutation, circumambulation, and offering of water; devotions are part of the Buddhist mode of worship in Bhutan. The offering of Sacrifices is accompanied by ritual dances and dramatic representations. The special dance sequences known as acham, where trained and inspired actors impersonate gods and goblins, wearing appropriate masks and mimicking mystery actions, are essentially frameworks for offering the torma (see below). These dances are described by some Western scholars as "devil dances," because the chief purposes of these performances are to exorcise evil spirits and secure blessings or, allegorically speaking, to drive out bad luck and usher in the good year and good luck. Whenever a domestic or public rite of greater importance is to be performed, lamas expert in ritual are called to prepare the altar and appropriate accessories and to conduct the elaborate worship. An indispensable part of all such ritual performances is the torma, figures made of dough and butter, shaped to symbolize deities and spirits and presented to the deities invoked.

See also Brahman and Chhetri of Nepal; Gurung; Lepcha; Limbu; Rai


Bibliography

Chakravarti, Balaram (1980). A Cultural History of Bhutan. Chittaranjan: Hilltop Publishers.


Karan, Pradyumna P. (1967). Bhutan, a Physical and Cultural Geography. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.

Jenkins, William M. (1963). The Himalayan Kingdoms: Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand.


Olschak, Blanche C. (1971). Bhutan: Land of Hidden Treasures. New York: Stein & Day.


Rustomji, Nari (1978). Bhutan: The Dragon Kingdom in Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press.


BRENDA AMENSON-HILL

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutanese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutanese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese

"Bhutanese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Bhutan
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 2,005,222
Language(s): Dzongkha
Literacy Rate: 42.2%


Bhutan is a small, landlocked South Asian country of 47,000 square kilometers located in the eastern Himalayas between China and India. In the year 2000, Bhutan had a population of about 2 million people with 40 percent below the age of 14 years. (Official statistics do not include people of Nepalese origin, though, and place the population count at 600,000 people.) Nearly 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas in the 5,000 scattered villages and hamlets. The population growth rate is 2.2 percent with a life expectancy of 52 years. Agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry employ 94 percent of the population and account for 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world's smallest and least developed economy.

In 1616, for the first time, Bhutan became unified under the leadership of Ngawang Namgyel. The nineteenth century witnessed constant conflicts with the British that divided the country. The second unification occurred under the regimes of Ugyen Wangchuk and Jigme Dorji between 1873 and 1948. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk succeeded in 1952, and after his death in 1972, then Jigme Singye Wangchuk became the youngest king. He has paved way for slow modernization of this traditional country.

Bhutan is a monarchy. The country is divided into twenty dzongkhags (districts). The head of the state is the King with a unicameral Tshogdu (National Assembly). Tshogdu has 154 seats of which 105 are elected from village constituencies, 12 from religious bodies, and 37 nominated by the king. The supreme court of appeal is the king. The government is committed to universal education as a signatory to the policy of "Education for All" and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (in 1991 at New Delhi, India). In 2000, the literacy rate in Bhutan was 42 percent, with female literacy being only 28 percent.

Until the twentieth century the only schools that existed in Bhutan were the monasteries set up by the Drukpa subsect of Kargyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism. The growing influence of the British in the late nineteenth century influenced Ugyen Wangchuk (1907-1926) toward Western style education, and he set up English-medium private schools for the elite in Ha, Bhumthang, and Thimphu (the national capital). In the 1950s, Jigme Dorje Wangchuk began government-supported primary schools for common people. In 1960, there were 29 public and 30 private schools that enrolled nearly 2,500 children. Secondary level schooling was available only in neighboring India. Systematic efforts toward developing the education sector began in 1961, with the introduction of the First Development Plan (1961-1966) that provided for free and universal primary education. By 1998, the government had established 400 schools, of which 150 were primary community schools in remote areas, 188 regular primary schools, 44 junior high schools, and 18 high schools. However, in the twenty-first century there is still a shortage of schools with adequate facilities.

The schooling begins with preschool (at age four) for one year, followed by five years of primary school, three years of junior high (grades six through eight), and then three years of high school (grades nine through eleven). The National Board of Secondary Education in the Department of Education conducts nationwide examinations at the end of the eleventh grade. Instruction is in English and the national language, Dzongkha. The Department of Education is responsible for producing textbooks, course syllabi, in-service teachers training, organizing interschool tournaments, recruiting, testing and promoting teachers, and procuring foreign assistance. Curricula have been developed in assistance with UNESCO, the University of London, and the University of Delhi.

In 1998, gross primary school enrollment was 25 percent with a total enrollment of 77,300. The proportion of girls among primary students was 45 percent. In addition, in the remote areas, 12,600 students were enrolled in community schools. In 1998, the percentage of primary school entrants completing fifth grade was 82 percent. Also in 1998, gross secondary school enrollment ratio was 7 percent for males and 2 percent for females.

In 1998, there was only one four-year degree college, located in Kanglung, that offered undergraduate degrees in arts and commerce, as well as nine technical institutes. Under a national service plan and fellowships, many Bhutanese students receive higher education abroad.

Bhutan's government spends 22 percent of its budget on health and education. The Department of Education sets educational policies. In the 1990s, Asian Development Bank funding boosted the Department of Education and its Technical and Vocational Education Division.

Nonformal education (NFE) supported by UNICEF, UNESCO, and ESCAP has established 54 centers with an enrollment of about 4,000 participants, of which 70 percent are women. The course, in Dzongkha, is designed for completion within 6 to 12 months. The course materials deal with everyday situations and messages concerning health and hygiene, family planning, agriculture, forestry, and the environment.

In 1998, there were a total of 2,785 teachers in Bhutan. Each primary school teacher has an average of 37 students, but the class size goes up to 70 in some schools. Although the government offers special incentives to those who join the profession, it has not been able to train enough teachers. The National Institute of Education (NIE) does provide distance education courses to already-trained teachers.

Bhutan is a slowly modernizing, traditional country that had approximately 100,000 students in its educational system in 1998. The country is still grappling with the problem of illiteracy with more than half of its population being illiterate and more than two-thirds of its women being without education. Since the 1960s, the country has been able to develop a basic educational infrastructure that is slowly expanding with foreign aid. The governmental commitment toward universal education is a healthy sign for its continued progress.

Bibliography

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Central Statistical Organization, Planning Commission. Bhutan at a Glance 1999 Thimpu, Bhutan: Central Statistical Organization, 1999.

Cooper, Robert. Bhutan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

Dompnier, Robert. Bhutan: Kingdom of the Dragon. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999.

Karan, Pradyumana P. Bhutan: Environment, Culture, and Development Strategy. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1990.

Planning Commission. Eighth Five Year Plan 1997-2002. Thimpu: Royal Government of Bhutan, 1998.

Savada, Andrea M. Bhutan Country Study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division. Library of Congress, 1993.


Manoj Sharma

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." World Education Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." World Education Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

"Bhutan." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Bhutan
Region (Map name): East & South Asia
Population: 2,005,222
Language(s): Dzongkha
Literacy rate: 42.2%

Bhutan is a small country in South Asia that had a population of about 2 million in 2001. (Official statistics do not include people of Nepalese origin and thus place the count at 800,000.) Nearly 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The literacy rate is nearly 42 percent. The four main languages spoken in Bhutan are Dzongkha (the national language and spoken largely in Western Bhutan), English (the language of instruction), Nepalese (with its dialects spoken by close to 1 million people of Nepalese origin in Bhutan), and Sharchopkha (spoken in Eastern Bhutan). The main occupations, which employ 94 percent of the population and account for 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, include agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry.

Bhutan is a monarchy, run by a king and a unicameral Tshogdu (National Assembly). Jigme Singye Wang-chuk has been the king of Bhutan since 1972. He has paved the way for a gradual modernization of this traditional country. His slogan is that Gross National Happiness (Gakid ) is more important than Gross National Product.

Journalism is fairly small-scale and new to the country of Bhutan. Bhutan has only one newspaper, one radio station, one television station, and one Internet provider, Druknet, which was started in 1999. The government monitors these enterprises closely, under the guise of preserving culture and tradition, and restricts freedom of speech and the press. Bhutan's only regular publication is Kuensel, a weekly newspaper that is published and controlled by the government. Its circulation is about 10,000, and editions are published in Dzongkha English, and Nepalese. An online version of the newspaper was introduced in 1999. The government ministries regularly monitor the subject content and have the constitutional right to prevent or alter publication of the content. There are no tabloids published in Bhutan, but some Indian and Nepalese tabloids are available.

In 1989, the Bhutan government banned reception of all private television and ordered dismantling of satellite dishes and antennas. It introduced a local television service through the Bhutan Broadcasting Service. In early 2002, the daily programming consisted of about four hours of programs with half of it in Dzongkha and the other half in English. The programs consisted of imported programs from other countries, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and Doordarshan (India). In 1997 it was estimated that about 11,000 television sets were being used in Bhutan.

Bhutan's one radio station includes one short-wave program and one daily FM broadcast from Thimphu, the national capital. In 1997 it was estimated that there were about 37,000 radios in Bhutan.

Bhutan is a traditional country that is slowly modernizing but resists Western influences. In such milieu, the press has focused more on providing information to the people, assuming an objective reporting style, and serving as the long arm of the government.

Bibliography

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2001. Directorate of Intelligence. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Central Statistical Organization, Planning Commission. Bhutan at a Glance. Thimphu, Bhutan, 1999.

Cooper, Robert. Bhutan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

Dompnier, Robert. Bhutan: Kingdom of the Dragon. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999.

Karan, Pradyumana P. Bhutan: Environment, Culture, and Development Strategy. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1990.

Planning Commission. Eighth Five Year Plan 1997-2002. Thimphu: Royal Government of Bhutan, 1998.

Savada, Andrea M. Bhutan Country Study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993.

Manoj Sharma

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." World Press Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." World Press Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." World Press Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan Mountainous kingdom in the e Himalayas, bordered n by Tibet, e and s by India, and w by Sikkim; the capital is Thimbu. In the 17th century, Bhutan unified under the leader of the Drukpa Kagyu (‘Thunder Dragon’) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Villages developed around the dzong (castle-monastery), and many Bhutanese continue to live in monastic communities. War with Britain (1865) resulted in the British annexation of s Bhutan. In 1907, with British support, Bhutan became an hereditary monarchy. Britain directed its foreign policy until India gained independence (1949) and assumed Britain's former role. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (r.1952–72) reformed Bhutanese society, abolished slavery (1958), and established a national assembly. In 1971 Bhutan joined the United Nations (UN). In 1990 pro-democracy demonstrations were suppressed and political parties banned. Bhutan is one of the world's poorest nations (2000 GDP per capita US$1100). It is also the world's most rural country, with more than 90% of the workforce engaged in agriculture, mostly at subsistence level. Tourism, a vital source of foreign currency, is restricted. Area: 47,000sq km (18,000sq mi). Pop. (1999) 657,548.

http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com; http://www.bootan.com

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Culture Name

Bhutanese

Alternative Names

Kingdom of Bhutan; Druk-Yul

Orientation

Identification. Druk-yul means "Land of the Thunder Dragon." Most Bhutanese refer to their homeland as Druk-yul, the original and still official name. Bhutan, the name given to the country by the British, is the name used for most official and international business and reference. The name Bhutan may be derived from the ancient Indian term "Bhotania," which means "end of the land of the Bhots" (Tibet).

Because a number of stone tools and megaliths (large stones used in prehistoric monuments) have been found in Bhutan, it is believed that Bhutan was populated as early as 20001500 b.c.e.

The society of Bhutan today is made up of several ethnic groups. The Sharchops, who are believed to be ancestors of those earliest residents, live mostly in eastern Bhutan. Their early ancestor tribes may have originated from Burma (Myanmar) and northeast India. It is also believed that Indo-Mongoloids (usually referred to as Monpas, which means non-Tibetans) migrated into Bhutan two thousand years ago from Arunchal Pradesh, Nagaland, northern Burma, and Thailand. The Ngalops live in western Bhutan and migrated from the Tibetan plains; they are credited with being the first to bring Buddhism to the country. The other main ethnic group is the Lhotshampas, who were from Nepal originally. The Lhotshampas migrated to Bhutan toward the end of the nineteenth century.

Location and Geography. Bhutan is located in the northern area of South Asia and is also in the eastern Himalayan mountain area. It is 18,000 square miles (46,620 square kilometers) in size and is bordered in the north by the People's Republic of China and to the south, east, and west by India.

Geographically, Bhutan is divided into three zones: the southern zone, which has low foothills that are covered with dense tropical forests; the central zone, which primarily consists of fertile valleys at altitudes that range from 3,500 to 10,000 feet (1,060 to 3,050 meters); and the northern zone, which has valleys at heights that range from 11,000 to 28,000 feet (3,350 to 8,535 meters). It is this northern section that forms part of the Himalayas with its high peaks along the Tibetan borders.

The largest percentage of the population lives in the central zone. The federal capital of Thimphu is located along the river of the same name in this section of the country.

Demography. According to the most recent government census, Bhutan's population consists of approximately 600,000 people. However, Bhutanese dissident groups have argued that the population is, in fact, much bigger than government estimates. These groups contend that the Bhutanese government dramatically undercounted the number of ethnic Nepalese in the country as part of a campaign to limit the influence of this fast-growing minority population. Ethnic conflicts between the Buddhist majority and the largely Hindu Nepalese in the late 1980s and early 1990s forced tens of thousands Nepalese into refugee camps in Nepal and India. The Bhutanese government does not recognize the citizenship of the majority of these refugees, estimated at 112,000.

Linguistic Affiliation. Bhutan's national language is Dzongkha. Most of the schools conduct classes in English, although more textbooks are being written in Dzongkha. Different dialects are spoken by residents of the east and west, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to understand each other.

A large proportion of the populationespecially urban residentsspeak English. Kuensel, the national newspaper, is published in Dzongkha, English, and Nepali, both in print and on the Internet.

Symbolism. The national emblem is a circle with two double diamond thunderbolts placed above a lotus, topped by a jewel, and framed by two dragons. The thunderbolts represent harmony between secular and religious power. The lotus represents purity, the jewel represents sovereign power, and the two dragons represent Druk-Yul ("Land of the Thunder Dragon") the original name of Bhutan.

The national flag is divided diagonally by two blocks of different colors with a white dragon across the middle. The top part of the flag is golden yellow, which represents the secular power of the king, and the lower part is orange, which symbolizes the Buddhist religion. The dragon, who represents Bhutan, holds jewels in its claws, which stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.

The national flower is the blue poppy, which grows at the high altitudes. The national tree is the cypress. The Bhutanese people associate with it because it is straight and strong and can grow even in inhospitable soil. The national bird is the raven, which also adorns the royal hat. The national animal is an extremely rare mammal called the takin. It lives in flocks in areas 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) high and eats bamboo.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Nearly all the historic records of early Bhutan were destroyed by fire, flood, earthquake, and war.

In the sixteenth century, the region came under Tibetan rule. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (15941651), who was referred to as "Zhabdrung Rinpoche" (which translates to "the precious jewel at whose feet one submits"), set up a dual system of administration headed by a spiritual leader and a civil government leader. This system endured until 1907 when a hereditary monarchy was established.

In the nineteenth century, the British sought to incorporate Tibet within their influence, which posed a threat to Bhutan, but this problem was successfully eliminated by Penlop Ugyen Wangchuck, who played the role of mediator between British India and Tibet. Wangchuck became the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan in 1907. In 1949 Bhutan officially became an independent nation.

National Identity. Bhutan's national identity is intimately bound up with its religious identity as a Buddhist nation. Buddhism influences both the daily lives of its people as well as the government, in which Buddhist religious leaders have considerable power.

Ethnic Relations. Bhutan has a wide diversity of ethnic groups, starting with a number of small tribal groups (related to similar tribes in India and Sikkim) whose ancestry goes back almost three thousand years. More recent centuries have seen large migrant groups from Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. The rapid growth of the largely Hindu Nepalese population in Bhutan towards the end of the twentieth century resulted in significant ethnic conflicts with the Buddhist majority. The government responded by tightening immigration and citizenship laws to reduce the flow of Nepalese into Bhutan. When many Nepalese responded to this action with protests and demonstrations, ethnic violence and repression broke out against them in Bhutan's southern districts in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a result, tens of thousands of Nepalese fled the country in 1991 and 1992. There are an estimated 112,000 Nepalese refugees currently residing in refugee camps in Nepal and India.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

A large percentage of Bhutanese are rural residents who live in houses built to withstand the long, cold winters, with wood-burning stoves for both heat and cooking. Nearly all these rural houses are surrounded by some land that is used for growing vegetables. There are also a number of cities, including the capital of Thimphu, which is home to the royal family and government buildings. Other cities include Wangdue Phondrang and Tongsa. Bumthang is the spiritual region and has a number of monasteries and places of religious pilgrimage, as well as numerous religious legends associated with it.

The use of the space involves preserving both the environment and the quality of life of Bhutan residents and at the same time using space to preserve wildlife. As part of Bhutan's Buddhist heritage, this includes preserving the numerous Dzongs (monastery fortresses) that are located throughout the entire country.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Because of the ethnic diversity of the people, there is a certain ethnic diversity in the food. Northern Indian cuisine is often mixed with the chilies of the Tibetan area in daily dishes. Mushrooms, apricots, asparagus, a variety of chilies and numerous spices are grown in abundance in nearly all the valleys. Spices, fruits, and vegetables are cooked with beef, chicken, pork, and dried yak, and resemble Chinese and Indian cuisine. The typical meal also features rice, dried beef or pork, and chilies sometimes cooked with soft, white cheese. The most popular beverage is tea, which is served in a variety of ways.

Basic Economy. The economy is based on agriculture and forestry and provides the livelihoods for 90 percent of the population. Agriculture is primarily subsistence farming and animal husbandry. The economy of Bhutan is aligned with that of India through strong trade and monetary links.

Commercial Activities. Cottage industries, which include weaving, account for the majority of production.

Major Industries. Manufactured goods include cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, and calcium carbite. Electricity is another important industry.

Trade. The 1998 estimate of exports was $111 million. Electricity is a major export item and is exported to India. Other exports include spices, gypsum, cement, and precious stones. Chief imports are fuels, fabrics, and rice, and amounted to $136 million (estimate) in 1998. Major import partners are India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Division of Labor. The majority of Bhutanese are not skilled labor workers: 93 percent are in agriculture, 5 percent in services, and 2 percent in industry and commerce.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. While Bhutan has no caste system, a pattern of discrimination against the minority Hindus of Nepalese origin exists. Thousands of Nepalese were deported from Bhutan in the late 1980s, and many others fled to refugee camps in Nepal. The government launched an effort to promote the cultural assimilation of the remaining Nepalese. Nepali was no longer taught in schools, and national dress was required for official occasions.

Political Life

Government. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a hereditary king, the "Druk Gyalpo," who governs with the aid of a Royal Cabinet and a National Assembly (the Tsongdu). In the past, the king appointed members to a Royal Advisory Council and to a Council of Ministers. Following the political reforms of 1998, however, these two councils were combined to form the cabinet. This body consists of six ministers elected by the National Assembly, six advisors also elected by the National Assembly, a member nominated by the king, and two representatives of the clergy.

The unicameral National Assembly (established in 1953), known as the Tsongdu, consists of one-hundred fifty members. Of these, thirty-five are appointed by the king to represent government and other secular interests; one-hundred five are elected to three-year terms by groups of village headmen, who are, in turn, elected by a one-family, one-vote system; and the remaining ten are chosen by the lamas acting in concert. The Tsongdu meets twice a year at Thimphu, the capital. Candidates file their own nominations. The assembly is charged with addressing the king on matters of national importance. It also enacts laws and approves senior government appointments. A simple majority is needed to pass a measure and is conducted by secret ballot. While the king may not veto legislation, he may return bills for further consideration; the king generally has enough influence to persuade the assembly to approve legislation he considers important or to withdraw proposals which he opposes.

Previously an autocracy, Bhutan moved closer to becoming a true constitutional monarchy when King Jigme Singye Wangchuk announced ambitious political changes in 1998. He relinquished his role as head of government and assigned full executive powers to a cabinet consisting of ministers and advisors to be elected by the National Assembly (in reality, the National Assembly chooses from a list of nominees proposed by the king, who also retains authority relating to security issues). The Council of Ministers, a subgroup of the cabinet, elects one of its members on a rotational basis to serve a one-year term as chairman. It is this official who is the head of government. As part of his reforms, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk also introduced legislation by which any monarch would have to abdicate in favor of his hereditary successor if the National Assembly supported a vote of no-confidence against him by a two-thirds majority.

The government discourages political parties and none operate legally.

Social Problems and Control. The legal system is based on English common law and Indian law. Local headmen and magistrates (Thrimpon) hear cases in the first instance. Appeals may be made to an eight-member High Court, established in 1968. From the High Court, a final appeal may be made to the king. Criminal matters and most civil matters are resolved by application of the 17th century legal code as revised in 1965. Questions of family law are governed by traditional Buddhist or Hindu law. Minor offenses are adjudicated by village headmen. Criminal defendants have no right to court appointment of an attorney and no right to a jury trial. Under the 1979 Police Act, police need a warrant to arrest a person and must bring the detainees before a court within twenty-four hours of arrest.

In the past, Bhutan was virtually crime-free. However, with modernization and development, crimes such as burglary, theft and robbing of the "chortens" (religious stupas) are becoming common.

Military Activity. The army consists of five thousand soldiers. The army headquarters are located in the capital city of Thimbhu. The regular activities of the soldiers include service with the palace guards, the royal police force, and the militia.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Nongovernmental associations include the National Women's Association of Bhutan and the Bhutan Youth Development Association.

Gender Roles and Status

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Bhutan's culture does not isolate or disenfranchise women. Dowry is not practiced, and land is divided equally between sons and daughters. Girls receive nearly equal educational opportunities, and, while accorded a lower status than boys, they are cherished because they are the ones who care for parents in old age.

Division of Labor by Gender. Men and women usually work side by side in the field. Women fill most of the nursing and teaching positions.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriages may be arranged by the parents or by the individuals entering the marriage. To get married, a certificate is required from the Court of Law, but most marriages are performed by a religious leader. The Bhutanese are essentially monogamous. Polyandry (multiple husbands) has recently been abolished; the practice of polygamy is legal provided the first wife grants her consent.

A bride does not necessarily move into her husband's household, as is common throughout much of the Indian subcontinent. The new husband may reside with his wife's family if their need for labor warrants it. Alternatively, the new couple may set up their own household on their own plot of land. Divorce is permitted in Bhutanese society, although compensation is required from the party seeking the separation.

Child Rearing and Education. A modern educational system was introduced in Bhutan in the 1960s. Prior to that, education was provided only by monasteries. A growing number of children are attending school, but over 50 percent still do not attend. Education is not compulsory. The educational system consists of seven years of primary schooling followed by four years of secondary school. In 1994, primary schools enrolled 60,089 pupils. In the same year, secondary schools enrolled 7,299 students.

Higher Education. Bhutan has one college, which is affiliated with the University of Delhi. The Ministry of Education consists of the Department of Education, the Department of Adult and Higher Education, and the Department of Youth Culture and Sports. Scholarships are available for Hindu students to study at Venares Univesity in India.

Etiquette

As a traditional society, the Bhutanese follow a highly refined system of etiquette, which is called "driglam namzha." This traditional code of conduct supports respect for authority, devotion to the institution of marriage and family, and dedication to civic duty. It governs many different sorts of behavior, including how to send and receive gifts, how to speak to those in authority, how to serve and eat food at public occasions, and how to dress. A royal decree issued in 1989 promoted the driglam namzha as a means of preserving a distinct national identity and instituted a national dress code.

Men and women mix and converse freely, without the restrictions that separate the sexes among other groups in South Asia.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Buddhism, which was introduced in the seventh century, is the official religion of Bhutan. Bhutan is the only country in the world that has retained the Vajrayana form of Mahayana Buddhism as its national religion. Throughout all of Bhutan there are Buddhist stupas, believed to be a form of protection for tourists and residents.

Hinduism is practiced by the southern Bhutanese. In 1980 King Wangchuck declared Dussera, one of the sacred festivals of Hinduism, a national holiday.

Religious Practitioners. There are ten thousand Buddhist monks and they are vitally involved in both the religious and social lives of the Buddhist population. Because of the religious significance of nearly every important event in the life of a Buddhist, the monks visit households and perform rites on such occasions as birth, marriage, sickness, and death.

Rituals and Holy Places. A number of annual festivals highlight different events in the life of Buddha. Many of the festivals feature symbolic dances, which are thought to bestow heavenly blessings on the participants or viewers.

During religious festivals, tourists are allowed to enter the Dzong (monastery/fortress) and view masked and sword dances; most of the dances date back to before the Middle Ages and are performed only once or twice a year. A fire dance performed at Bumthang is intended to help childless women who are at the festival conceive during the following year.

Death and the Afterlife. Both Buddhists and Hindus believe in reincarnation and the law of karma. The law of karma dictates that an individual's decisions and behaviors in one life can influence his or her transmigration into the next life; for example, if someone lived life in harmony with others, that person would transmigrate to a better existence after death. In contrast, someone who had lived selfishly would inherit a life worse than the previous one after death.

Medicine and Health Care

Bhutan suffers from a shortage of medical personnel with only 65 percent of the population having access to any form of medical care. The sick, indigent, and aged are cared for within the traditional family structure. Leading causes of death include respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and dysentery, various skin and parasitic infections, and malaria. Infant mortality rates are extremely high, running at one-hundred eighteen deaths per one thousand live births in 1995.

Secular Celebrations

One of the largest annual festivals takes place on National Day, 17 December, which commemorates the establishment of the monarchy. At this event, the king participates by serving foods and joining the attendees in games and dances.

Bibliography

Aris, Michael, and Michael Hutt, eds. Bhutan: Aspects of Culture and Development, 1994.

Coelho, Vincent Herbert. Sikkim and Bhutan, 1971.

Crossette, Barbara. So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas, 1995.

Harris, George Lawrence. Area Handbook for Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim, 2nd ed., 1973.

Olschak, Blanche C. Bhutan: Land of Hidden Treasures, 1971.

. The Dragon Kingdom: Images of Bhutan, 1988.

Rose, Leo. The Politics of Bhutan, 1977.

U.S. Dept of State, Editorial Division. Background Notes: Bhutan.

World Bank. Bhutan: Development Planning in a Unique Environment, 1989.

Zeppa, Jamie. Beyond the Earth and the Sky: A Journey into Bhutan, 1999.

Connie Howard

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries and Their Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries and Their Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

BHUTANESE 179

The people of Bhutan are known as Bhutanese. There are three major ethnic groups: the Bhutia (also Bhotia, or Bhote), comprising roughly 50 percent of the population; the Nepalese, accounting for another 35 percent; and the Assamese, making up 15 percent. Small numbers of aboriginal (native) people live in villages scattered throughout Bhutan. For more information on the Nepalese, consult the chapter on Nepal in Volume 6.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BhutanAbadan, Abidjan, Amman, Antoine, Arne, Aswan, Avon, Azerbaijan, Baltistan, Baluchistan, Bantustan, barn, Bhutan, Dagestan, darn, dewan, Farne, guan, Hahn, Hanuman, Hindustan, Huascarán, Iban, Iran, Isfahan, Juan, Kazakhstan, khan, Koran, Kurdistan, Kurgan, Kyrgyzstan, macédoine, Mahon, maidan, Marne, Michoacán, Oman, Pakistan, pan, Pathan, Qumran, Rajasthan, Shan, Siân, Sichuan, skarn, soutane, Sudan, Tai'an, t'ai chi ch'uan, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Taklimakan, tarn, Tatarstan, Tehran, Tenochtitlán, Turkestan, Turkmenistan, tzigane, Uzbekistan, Vientiane, yarn, Yinchuan, yuan, Yucatán •Autobahn • Lindisfarne •Bildungsroman • Nisan • Khoisan •Afghanistan • bhagwan • Karajan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bhutan

"Bhutan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutanese

BhutaneseAchinese, Ambonese, appease, Assamese, Balinese, Belize, Beninese, Bernese, bêtise, Bhutanese, breeze, Burmese, Cantonese, Castries, cerise, cheese, chemise, Chinese, Cingalese, Cleese, Congolese, Denise, Dodecanese, ease, éminence grise, expertise, Faroese, freeze, Fries, frieze, Gabonese, Genoese, Goanese, Guyanese, he's, Japanese, Javanese, jeez, journalese, Kanarese, Keys, Lebanese, lees, legalese, Louise, Macanese, Madurese, Maltese, marquise, Milanese, Nepalese, Nipponese, officialese, overseas, pease, Pekinese, Peloponnese, Piedmontese, please, Portuguese, Pyrenees, reprise, Rwandese, seise, seize, Senegalese, she's, Siamese, Sienese, Sikkimese, Sinhalese, sleaze, sneeze, squeeze, Stockton-on-Tees, Sudanese, Sundanese, Surinamese, Tabriz, Taiwanese, tease, Tees, telegraphese, these, Timorese, Togolese, trapeze, valise, Viennese, Vietnamese, vocalese, wheeze •superficies • Héloïse • Averroës •rabies • pubes • Maccabees •headcheese

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutanese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutanese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bhutanese

"Bhutanese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bhutanese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the July 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Kingdom of Bhutan

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 46,500 sq. km.

Cities: Capital—Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities—Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.

Terrain: Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bhutanese.

Population: Approximately 672,425 (according to the 2005 census).

Annual growth rate: 2.12% (2006 est.). Density—14 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Drukpa 50% (which is also inclusive of Sharchops), as well as ethnic Nepalese (Lhotsampas) 35%, and indigenous or migrant tribes 15%.

Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75% (state religion), Indian-and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%.

Languages: Dzongka (official language), English (medium of instruction), Sharchop, Nepali.

Education: Years compulsory—11. Literacy—54% (est.). Primary school gross enrollment rate (2004)—81%. Women's literacy (2004)—34%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2006 est.)—total: 98.41 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 100.79 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 96.14 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2006 est.)—total population 54.78 years; male 55.02 years; female 54.53 years.

Work force: (2002) Agriculture—93%; industry—2%; services—5%. There is a high unemployment rate.

Government

Type: Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The Royal Government, prompted by the King, released a draft constitution in March 2005. The King and Crown Prince conducted consultations on the constitution in all 20 dzongkhag (districts) in 2005 and 2006. Bhutan will adopt the constitution in early 2008.

National Day: December 17 (1907).

Government branches: Executive—King or Druk Gyalpo (chief of state), Prime Minister (head of government), Council of Ministers, Royal Advisory Council (together they make the Cabinet or Lhengye Zhungtsho). Advisory—Monastic Order (or Monk Body-Dratshang). Legislative—National Assembly (Tshogdu). Judicial—High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.

Political subdivisions: 20.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 21 and above.

Economy

GDP: (purchasing power parity 2003) U.S. $2.9 billion.

Real growth rate: (2004) 6.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2004) U.S. $929.60.

Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, construction, timber, gypsum, calcium carbide.

Agriculture and forestry: (all figs., 2001) 33.8% of GDP.

Construction: 11.8% of GDP.

Finance: 10.3% of GDP.

Transport and communication: 10% of GDP.

Electricity: 9.9% of GDP.

Government service: 9.9% of GDP.

Manufacturing: 9.8% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (2001-2002)—U.S. $97.7 million: hydroelectricity, vegetables and fruits, processed foods, minerals, wood products, textiles, machinery. Imports (2001-2002)— U.S. $188.4 million: machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, plastics and rubber products, textiles, whiskies and prepared foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vegetable oils and foodstuffs. Major trade partners—India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Denmark.

PEOPLE

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories—Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin, arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. In a country that is deeply rooted within the Buddhist religion, many people's sect of religion, as opposed to their ethnic group, characterizes them. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens

The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descendants of the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as “people of the east.” The Ngalops, Sharchops, and the indigenous tribal people are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 65% of the population. The national language is Dzongka, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.

The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 35% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.

HISTORY

Bhutan’ early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country’ political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court. In 1972, Jigme Singye Wanchuck ascended the throne at age 16. He emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. He was perhaps best known internationally for his overarching development philosophy of “Gross National Happiness.” It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient. Satisfied that Bhutan's democratization process was well in train, he abdicated in December 2006 rather than wait until the promulgation of the new constitution in 2008. His son, Jigme Khesar Namgvel Wangchuck became King upon his abdication.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu); previously, only one vote per family was allowed. The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected the prime minister.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo—the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions—is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.

Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Per new laws pertaining to the illegality of cabinet members with political party affiliations remaining in office during the preelection caretaker regime, all but three members of Bhutan's previously existing cabinet stepped down in late July 2007 in advance of first-ever parliamentary elections slated for early 2008. The current caretaker cabinet—which consists of only three remaining members—is tasked only with maintaining day-to-day government functioning and not with formulating new government policies.

King: Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK

Prime Minister: Kinzang DORJI

Min. of Agriculture:

Min. of Education: Thinley GYAMTSHO

Min. of Finance:

Min. of Foreign Affairs:

Min. of Health:

Min. of Home & Cultural Affairs:

Min. of Information & Communication: Leki DORJI

Min. of Labor & Human Resources:

Min. of Trade & Industry:

Min. of Works & Human Settlements: Kinzang DORJI

Chief Justice: Sonam TOBGYE

Chmn., Royal Advisory Council: Rinzin GYALTSHEN

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Daw PENJO

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have informal

and cordial relations. Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.

ECONOMY

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry, and hydroelectricity. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. Despite this constraint, hydroelectricity and construction continue to be the two major industries of growth for the country. As these two areas are increasing productivity, there continues to be a positive outlook for development throughout Bhutan. The economic program in the current 5-year-plan (2002-07) places a strong emphasis on improving education and infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing activities in the sectors of information and communication technology, energy, and tourism. After the global slowdown within the travel industry, Bhutan's tourist industry is beginning to show signs of recovery. Bhutan's economy has been on an upturn due to recent subregional economic cooperation efforts. Already this plan has strengthened the current trade relations with India, as well as opened an avenue of trade with Bangladesh. In May 2003, the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan was re-signed. Bangladesh is Bhutan's second largest trade partner, after India. In January 2004, as a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bhutan also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). In February 2004 Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development

FOREIGN RELATIONS

India

Relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The treaty ensures India's neutrality in Bhutan's internal affairs, in exchange for Bhutan's agreement to be guided by India in foreign policy matters. But in practice, Bhutan exercises sovereignty on many issues. India is Bhutan's largest donor and supplies approximately 80% of Bhutan's foreign assistance. In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. In December 2003, Bhutan military troops expelled Indian insurgents from Assam. Through this joint effort with India, Bhutan strengthened border security and continued cooperation with the Indian military.

China

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although border talks between the two nations have occurred.

Nepal

These two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983. Nepal and Bhutan are currently negotiating to resolve a 16-year-old refugee situation, in which 100,000 refugees are residing in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim they are Bhutanese citizens, while Bhutan alleges that most are non-nationals or “voluntary emigrants,” who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan-Nepal verification team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups, but progress remains stalled.

United Nations

Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and served until 2006.

Other Countries

Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The “Friends of Bhutan” group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

DEFENSE

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or U.S. $9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.

U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors Program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

NEW DELHI (E) Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri New Delhi–110021, India, 91-11-24198000, Fax 91-11-24190017, Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs, Website: http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Beverly Oliver
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DHS/CIS:Terry Demaegd
DHS/ICE:Elliott Harbin
ECO:John Davison
FCS:Carmine D’Aloisio
FM:Mark Moore
MGT:Gerri O’Brien
AMB:David C. Mulford
CON:Peter Kaestner
DCM:Steven J. White
PAO:Larry Schwartz
GSO:Mary Lou Gonzales
RSO:George Lambert
AGR:Holly Higgins
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
DAO:Frank Rindone
DEA:Harold Willis
EEO:Klaudia Krueger
EST:Satish Kulkarni
FAA:Randall S. Fiertz
FMO:Ken Kowalchek
ICASS:Chair Mark Ericson
IMO:Patrick Meagher
IPO:Kimberly Kaestner
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Douglas McGifford
ISSO:Dale Orr
LEGATT:Kathy Stearman
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
POL:Theodore Osius
State ICASS:John Fennerty

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 13, 2007

Country Description: Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country led by a king, and is in transition to a constitutional monarchy. Facilities for tourism are limited. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Bhutan; therefore, there is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Bhutan. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi handles all assistance to U.S. citizens.

Entry Requirements: Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Visitors are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This may be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. Further information, including a list of authorized tour operators in Bhutan, may be obtained through the Bhutanese Department of Tourism, PO Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone +975-2-323251, 2-323252; fax + 975-2-323695 or at www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry by air is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese Department of Tourism and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. Travelers should contact the Department of Tourism for the latest daily tariff. At this time, the only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. More information on the airline is available at www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan. A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. Visa applications are available from selected travel agencies. Travel agencies will usually arrange for a traveler's entry visa and clearance. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country. For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata. If you are the victim of a crime while in Bhutan, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for assistance. The Embassy's consular staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in the populated areas in Bhutan such as Thimphu or Paro are available, but may be limited or unavailable in rural areas. Medical services may not meet Western standards and some medicines are in short supply. Certain emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all tourists. Visitors planning to trek in Bhutan should pay special attention to the risk of altitude illness. Treks in Bhutan can take visitors days or weeks away from the nearest medical facility. Helicopter evacuation from remote areas is available in Bhutan through the registered tour operators, or by contacting the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

General road conditions outside of urban areas are poor, and emergency services generally are not available. However, because tourists to Bhutan are required to arrange their trips through registered tour operators, most tourists do not drive themselves, but rather travel in groups with experienced drivers.

Visit the web site of Bhutan's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.mti.gov.bt.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Bhutan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Visitors are advised to carry cash or travelers checks, since credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. When credit cards are accepted, an extra service fee, usually a percentage of the overall purchase, is often charged.

Druk Air, the only carrier servicing Bhutan, has rigid restrictions on the amount and size of luggage passengers may carry into the country. Passengers are advised to book bulky items ahead as unaccompanied baggage, since the aircraft servicing Bhutan have limited space available for large bags, and airline employees may not load large pieces of luggage. Flights into and out of Paro Airport are restricted to daylight hours and are dependent on suitable weather conditions. Flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled, particularly during the monsoon season between June and August.

Passengers are advised to allow at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights from Paro Airport and to travel on non-restricted air tickets so that they can be rebooked on the first available air carrier if a connecting flight is missed. Bhutanese customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except medically-prescribed drugs); tobacco products; wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques.

It is advisable to contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bhutanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Bhutan recently implemented extremely strict restrictions on the sale or use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. A traveler caught selling tobacco products could be charged with illegal smuggling and fined or imprisoned. Smoking is prohibited in public places. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bhutan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, at any other U.S. Consulate in India, or at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Americans living or traveling in Bhutan are encouraged to register through the State Department's travel registration web site or with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to obtain updated information on travel and security within Bhutan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in person or via mail. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located on Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi 110 021, India. Tel. +91-11-2419-8000, fax +91-11-2419-8407, web page http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov. The U.S. Consulate in Kolkata is located at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Kolkata 700 071, India. Tel. +91-33-3984-2400, fax +91-33-2282-2335, web page http://kolkata.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located at Maharajgunj in Kathmandu, Nepal, telephone (977) (1) 400-7200. The Consular Section can be reached through the Embassy switchboard at (977) (1) 4000-7200, directly by fax (977) (1) 400-7281 or email at [email protected] The U.S. Embassy Kathmandu's official web site is http://nepal.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is located at 120/22 Wireless Road, Bangkok, Thailand, tel. +66-2-205-4000; fax +66-2-205-4103, web page http://bangkok.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

July 2007

Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country with limited tourism and medical facilities. Americans have adopted only one Bhutanese child in the past seven fiscal years, and there are no standardized procedures for doing so. No U.S.-based adoption service providers or adoption agencies operate in Bhutan, and there is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in the country. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India handles all emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Americans considering travel to Bhutan should read the Country Specific Information for Bhutan for additional general information.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Compiled from the September 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Bhutan


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

46,500 sq. km.

Cities:

Capital—Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities—Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.

Terrain:

Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.

Climate:

Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Bhutanese.

Population. 2,185,569; note:

other estimates range as low as 810,000 (July 2004 est.).

Annual growth rate:

2.12% (2004 est.). Density—14 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups:

Drukpa 50% (which is also inclusive of Sharchops), as well as ethnic Nepalese (Lhotsampas) 35%, and indigenous or migrant tribes 15%.

Religion:

Lamaistic Buddhist 75% (state religion), Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%.

Language:

Dzongka (official language), English (medium of instruction), Sharchop, Nepali.

Education:

Years compulsory—11. Literacy—54% (est.). Primary school gross enrollment rate (2004)—81%. Women's literacy (2004)—34%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—total: 102.56 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 104.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.); male: 100.35 deaths/1,000 live births). Life expectancy—total population 53.99 years; male 66.1 years; female 65.9 years (2004 est.).

Work force (1994):

Agriculture—57.2%; government—2%; business—1.4%; others—1.4%. There is a high unemployment rate.

Government

Type:

Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Previously, various laws and Buddhist values guided the relationship between the state and the people, but currently a 39-member Drafting Committee composed of representatives of the people, judiciary, the Monastic Order, and the Royal Government are writing a Constitution which is expected to be presented to the National Assembly for ratification in 2005.

National Day:

December 17 (1907)

Branches:

Executive—king or Druk Gyalpo (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers, Royal Advisory Council (together they make the Cabinet or Lhengye Zhungtsho). Advisory—Monastic Order (or Monk Body-Dratshang). Legislative—National Assembly (Tshogdu). Judicial—High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.

Administrative subdivisions:

20.

Political parties:

None.

Suffrage:

Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 21 and above.

Economy

GDP (2001):

U.S. $482 million.

Real growth rate (2004):

6.5%.

Per capita GDP (2004):

U.S. $929.60.

Natural resources:

Hydroelectric power, construction, timber, gypsum, calcium carbide.

Agriculture and forestry (all figs., 2001):

33.8% of GDP.

Construction:

11.8% of GDP.

Finance:

10.3% of GDP.

Transport and communication:

10% of GDP.

Electricity:

9.9% of GDP.

Government service:

9.9% of GDP.

Manufacturing:

9.8% of GDP.

Trade:

Exports (2001-02)—U.S. $97.7 million: hydroelectricity, vegetables and fruits, processed foods, minerals, wood products, textiles, machinery. Imports (2001-02)—U.S.$188.4 million: machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, plastics and rubber products, textiles, whiskies and prepared foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vegetable oils and foodstuffs. Major trade partners—India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Denmark.


PEOPLE

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories—Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin, arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. In a country that is deeply rooted within the Buddhist religion, many people's sect of religion, as opposed to their ethnic group, characterizes them. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens.

The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descendants of the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as "people of the east." The Ngalops, Sharchops, and the indigenous tribal people are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 65% of the population. The national language is Dzongka, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.

The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 35% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.


HISTORY

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country's political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.

In 1972, the present king, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, ascended the throne at age 16. He has emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. The current king has established an overarching development philosophy of "Gross National Happiness." It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu); previously, only one vote per family was allowed. The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected the prime minister.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo—the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions—is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.

Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/12/2005

King: Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK
Prime Minister: Sangay NGEDUP
Min. of Agriculture: Sangay NGEDUP
Min. of Education: Thinley GYAMTSHO
Min. of Finance: Wangdi NORBU
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Khandu WANGCHUK
Min. of Health: Jigmi SINGAY
Min. of Home & Cultural Affairs: Jigme Y. THINLEY
Min. of Information & Communication: Leki DORJI
Min. of Labor & Human Resources: Ugyen TSHERING
Min. of Trade & Industry: Yeshey ZIMBA
Min. of Works & Human Settlements: Kinzang DORJI
Chief Justice: Sonam TOBGYE
Chmn., Royal Advisory Council: Rinzin GYALTSHEN
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Daw PENJO

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have informal and cordial relations.

Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.


ECONOMY

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry, and hydroelectricity. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. Despite this constraint, hydroelectricity and construction continue to be the two major industries of growth for the

country. As these two areas are increasing productivity, there continues to be a positive outlook for development throughout Bhutan. The economic program in the current 5-year-plan (2002-07) places a strong emphasis on improving education and infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing activities in the sectors of information and communication technology, energy, and tourism. After the global slowdown within the travel industry, Bhutan's tourist industry is beginning to show signs of recovery.

Bhutan's economy has been on an upturn due to recent sub regional economic cooperation efforts. Already this plan has strengthened the current trade relations with India, as well as opened an avenue of trade with Bangladesh. In May 2003, the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan was re-signed. Bangladesh is Bhutan's second largest trade partner, after India. In January 2004, as a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bhutan also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). In February 2004 Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development


FOREIGN RELATIONS

India

Relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The treaty ensures India's neutrality in Bhutan's internal affairs, in exchange for Bhutan's agreement to be guided by India in foreign policy matters. But in practice, Bhutan exercises sovereignty on many issues. India is Bhutan's largest donor and supplies approximately 80% of Bhutan's foreign assistance. In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. In December 2003, Bhutan military troops expelled Indian insurgents from Assam. Through this joint effort with India, Bhutan strengthened border security and continued cooperation with the Indian military.

China

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although border talks between the two nations have occurred.

Nepal

These two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983. Nepal and Bhutan are currently negotiating to resolve a 13-year-old refugee situation, in which 100,000 refugees are residing in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim they are Bhutanese citizens, while Bhutan alleges that most are nonnationals or "voluntary emigrants," who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan-Nepal verification team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups, but progress remains stalled.

United Nations

Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and will serve until 2006.

Other Countries

Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The "Friends of Bhutan" group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.


DEFENSE

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or $U.S.9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.


U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors Program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakaya Puri New Delhi - 110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html

AMB:David C. Mulford
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DCM:Robert O. Blake
DCM OMS:Irvina Wallace
CG:William Bartlett
POL:Geoffrey Pyatt
CON:William Bartlett
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Chad Russell
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
CUS:James Dozier
DAO:Steven Sboto
DEA:Ronald Khan
ECO:Lee A. Brudvig
EST:Donald L. Brown
FAA:Howard W. Nesbitt
FCS:John Peters
FIN:Ken Kowalchek
FMO:Mark Moore
GSO:Stephen Ames
ICASS Chair:Mark Ericson
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Terry DeMaegd
IPO:Robert Hall
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Sherril Pavin
ISSO:Bill Price
LEGATT:Cary Gleicher
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
PAO:Michael Anderson
RSO:George Lambert
State ICASS:Michael Anderson
Last Updated: 1/6/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

June 30, 2005

Country Description:

Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country led by a king, and is in transition to a constitutional monarchy. Facilities for tourism are limited. There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Bhutan. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi handles all assistance to U.S. citizens.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Visitors are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This may be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. Further information may be obtained through the Bhutanese Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone +975-2-32351, 2-32352; fax +975-2-323695 or at www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry is available only via India, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese Department of Tourism and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. At this time, the only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. More information on the airline is available at www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. Visa applications are available from travel agencies. A recent photo is required. Travel agencies will usually arrange for a traveler's entry visa and clearance. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country. For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551.

Safety and Security:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and U.S. Embassy in New Delhi (see contact information below). If you are the victim of a crime while in Bhutan, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for assistance. The Embassy's consular staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Please note the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities in the populated areas in Bhutan such as Thimphu or Paro are available, but may be limited or unavailable in rural areas. Medical services may not meet Western standards and some medicines are in short supply. Certain emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all tourists.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. Visitors planning to trek in Bhutan should pay special attention to the risk of altitude illness. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

General road conditions outside of urban areas are poor, and emergency services generally are not available. However, because tourists to Bhutan are required to arrange their trips through registered tour operators, most tourists do not drive themselves, but rather travel in groups with experienced drivers. Visit the website of Bhutan's national tourist office at http://www.mti.gov.bt.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Bhutan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

Visitors are advised to carry cash or travelers checks, since credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. Druk Air, the only carrier servicing Bhutan, has rigid restrictions on the amount and size of luggage passengers may carry into the country. Passengers are advised to book bulky items ahead as unaccompanied baggage, since the aircraft servicing Bhutan have limited space available for large bags, and airline employees may not load large pieces of luggage. Flights into and out of Paro Airport are restricted to daylight hours and are dependent on suitable weather conditions. Flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled. Passengers are advised to allow at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights from Paro Airport and to travel on non-restricted air tickets so that they can be rebooked on the first available air carrier if a connecting flight is missed.

Bhutan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except medically-prescribed drugs); tobacco products; wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques. It is advisable to contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bhutanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Bhutan recently implemented extremely strict restrictions on the sale or use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. A traveler caught selling tobacco products could be charged with illegal smuggling and fined or imprisoned. Smoking is prohibited in public places. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bhutan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, or at any other U.S. Consulate or Embassy in India or Nepal. Americans living or traveling in Bhutan are encouraged to register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs, or with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India to obtain updated information on travel and security within Bhutan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in person or via mail. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located on Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi 110 021, India. Tel. +91-11-2419-8000, fax +91-11-2419-8407, webpage newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consulate in Calcutta is located at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700 071, India. Tel. +91-33-2282-3611 to 3615, fax +91-33-2282-2335, webpage http://calcutta. usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone +977-1-441-1179; fax +977-1-444-4981, webpage nepal.usembassy.gov.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-0

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Bhutanese

35 Bibliography

Kingdom of Bhutan
Druk-Yul

CAPITAL: Thimphu (Tashi Chho Dzong)

FLAG: The flag is divided diagonally into an orange-yellow field above and a crimson field below. In the center is a wingless white Chinese dragon.

ANTHEM: Gyelpo Tenjur, beginning “In the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, adorned with sandalwood.”

MONETARY UNIT: The ngultrum (N) is a paper currency of 100 chetrum. There are coins of 5, 10, 25, and 50 chetrum and 1 ngultrum, and notes of 1, 5, 10, and 100 ngultrum. The ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee (R), which also circulates freely. n1 = $0.02207 (or $1 = n45.317) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some traditional units are still in common use.

HOLIDAYS: King’s Birthday, 11–13 November;

National Day, 17 December. Movable Buddhist holidays and festivals are observed.

TIME: 5:30 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia located on the Himalaya mountain range. It has an area of 47,000 square kilometers (18,147 square miles), slightly more than half the size of the state of Indiana, with a total boundary length of 1,075 kilometers (668 miles). It shares borders with India and China. The capital city, Thimphu, is located in the west central part of the country.

2 Topography

Bhutan is a mountainous country of extremely high altitudes and uneven terrain. Elevation generally increases from south to north. The mountains are a series of parallel north-south ranges. The highest peak is Kula Gangri at a height of 7,553 meters (24,783 feet). Bhutan has many rivers, including the Lhobrak, the Bumtang, the Drangme, the Tongsa, the Sankosh, and the Wong. Most of these empty into the Brahmaputra River in India. The lowest point in the country is on the Drangme Chu at 97 meters (318 feet). The Tongsa is the longest river, with a distance of 350 kilometers (220 miles).

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 47,000 sq km (18,147 sq mi)

Size ranking: 128 of 194

Highest elevation: 7,553 meters (24,783 feet) at Kula Gangri

Lowest elevation: 97 meters (318 feet) at Drangme Chu

Land Use*

Arable land: 2%

Permanent crops: 0%

Other: 98%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 150–300 centimeters (60–120 inches)

Average temperature in January: 4°C (39°F)

Average temperature in July: 17°C (63°F)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

3 Climate

Rainfall is moderate in the central valleys, while the higher elevations are relatively dry. In general, the mountainous areas are cold most of the year. Temperatures in the mountains average 4°c (39°F) in January and 17°c (63°F) in July.

4 Plants and Animals

Dense forest growth is characteristic at altitudes below 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). Above that height the mountain slopes are covered with forest, including beech, ash, birch, maple, cypress, and yew. At 2,400 to 2,700 meters (8,000 to 9,000 feet) are forests of oak and rhododendron. Above this level, firs and pines grow to the timber line. Primulas, poppies (including the rare blue variety), magnolias, and orchids abound.

The relative abundance of wild animals is attributed to the Buddhist reluctance to take life. In the lower parts of southern Bhutan, mammals include the cheetah, goral, sambar, bear, and rhinoceros; in the higher regions are snow deer, musk deer, and barking deer. Game birds include pheasants, partridges, pigeons, and quail.

5 Environment

The most significant environmental problems in Bhutan are soil erosion and water pollution. The erosion of the soil occurs because 50% of the land in Bhutan is situated on mountainous slopes that are subject to landslides during the monsoon season. Other contributing factors are overcutting of timber, road construction, and the building of irrigation channels.

The Manas Game Sanctuary is located along the banks of the Manas River in southeastern Bhutan. Altogether, 21.2% of Bhutan’s total land area was protected as of 2001. According to a 2006 report, threatened species included 21 types of mammals, including the tiger, snow leopard, Asian elephant, and wild yak, 18 bird species, 7 species of plants, and 1 endangered species of amphibian.

6 Population

The population of Bhutan was estimated by the United Nations at 970,000 in 2005. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1.4 million. The capital, Thimphu, had an estimated population of 35,000 in 2005.

7 Migration

Bhutan opposes immigration and forbids the entry of new settlers from Nepal. Since 1959, when about 4,000 Tibetan refugees entered Bhutan, the border with Tibet has been closed to immigration. By 1980, most of the refugees had become citizens of Bhutan, while the rest migrated to India. The border between Bhutan and India is open and citizens of Bhutan are free to live and work in India. In 2000, there were 10,000 migrants residing in Bhutan. The estimated net migration rate for 2005 was zero.

Cross-border attacks between Bhutan and Nepal through a narrow corridor of India have forced thousands of ethnic Nepalese—both illegal immigrants and Bhutanese citizens—to migrate in recent years. The fate of more than 100,000 of these refugees remained the subject of negotiations between Bhutan and Nepal.

8 Ethnic Groups

The Bhutanese people (also called the Buotias) are mainly of Tibetan ancestry and account for approximately 50% of the population. The Ngalop (also called Bhote) live in the northern and western parts of Bhutan, and are of Tibetan origin. The Sharchop, inhabit the eastern regions

and also have ethnic affinities with the people of China’s Tibetan region. Aboriginal or indigenous tribal peoples live in villages scattered throughout Bhutan and account for approximately 15% of the population. The remaining peoples are Nepalese settlers (about 35% of the population), living mostly in the south.

9 Languages

Four main languages are spoken in Bhutan. The official language is Dzongkha, a Tibetan dialect spoken mainly by the Ngalop in the northern and western parts of the country. Bumthangkha, an aboriginal language, is spoken in central Bhutan,

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Jigme Singye Wangchuck

Position: King of a monarchy

Took Office: 24 July 1972 (following the death of his father)

Birthdate: 11 November 1955

Education: Ugyen Wangchuk Academy, Bhutan

Spouse: Four wives, all sisters

Children: Four sons, four daughters

Of interest: Wangchuk was crowned king when he was 17 years old. His title is “Druk Gyalpo” or Dragon King. In December 2006, he began transferring power to his eldest son.

while Sharchopkha is spoken in eastern Bhutan. Both of these are used in primary schools in areas where their speakers predominate. The Nepalese largely retain their own language, Nepali.

10 Religions

About 75% of the Bhutanese practice Buddhism, with about 25% practicing Indian and Nepalese forms of Hinduism. While the law provides for religious freedom, the Drukpa sect of the Kagyupa School, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, is the state religion and the law prohibits religious conversions to other faiths. The Drukpa (people of the dragon) came from Tibet in the 12th century and now dominate the collective life of the Bhutanese through a large clerical body estimated at more than 6,000 lamas, or monks, centered in 8 major monasteries and 200 smaller shrines (gompas). This sect incorporates both the ideology of the classical Buddhist scriptures and the indigenous pre-Buddhist animistic (spirit worship) beliefs called Bon.

There are a few Hindu congregations and small numbers of Christians.

11 Transportation

Before the 1961–66 development plan, there were no surfaced roads in Bhutan. In 2002, there were about 3,285 kilometers (2,041 miles) of roads, including about 1,994 kilometers (1,239 miles) of surfaced roads. The national air carrier, Druk Airlines, began operations in 1983 with regular flights between Calcutta, India, and Bhutan’s main airfield at Paro. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), scheduled domestic and international flights carried 35,100 passengers.

12 History

The ancestors of the Bhotes (or Bhotias) came from Tibet, probably in the ninth century. In the fifteenth century, Shabdung Ngawang Nangyal, a Tibetan lama (religious leader), united the country and built most of the fortified villages (dzongs). During the 18th and 19th centuries, British efforts to trade with Bhutan proved unsuccessful. In 1910, British India agreed explicitly not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs, while Bhutan accepted British “guidance” in handling foreign matters. After 1947, India took over this role.

In the 1960s, India helped Bhutan prepare economic plans to modernize the country and end its isolation. Three decades later, reforms introduced by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in June 1998 marked a milestone in Bhutan’s political and constitutional history. Bhutan in June 1999 took major steps toward modernization, legalizing television and the Internet. The first Internet cafe opened in 2000. In 2003, the country’s first university was opened.

There are tensions between Bhutan and India’s northeastern state of Assam. Two separatist groups from Assam maintain well-established bases in Bhutan. Bhutan was reluctant to take direct action against the Indian separatists for fear of attacks on its citizens, but in December 2002, Bhutan’s government announced it would use military might to remove the separatists from bases within its borders.

Relations with Nepal have grown difficult in recent years because of tensions surrounding ethnic Nepalese living in Bhutan. In October 2003, the governments of Bhutan and Nepal agreed to repatriate about 70% of the refugees from the first of seven camps. However in December 2004, three inspectors from Bhutan were injured at one of the camps, bringing to a halt the repatriation process.

Bhutan continues to work toward the ratification of a constitution. On 3 December 2002, the king issued a first draft of a constitution for his country. In March 2005 a final draft was released. The citizens must vote to approve the constitution, but as of 2006, a referendum that would citizen approval had not been scheduled.

13 Government

Bhutan has functioned as a limited monarchy since 1969. The king, who is chief of state and head of government, may be removed at any time by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly. Following political reforms in 1998, the Royal Advisory Council and a Council of Ministers were combined to form a cabinet. The National Assembly, known as the Tsongdu, consists of 154 members. It meets twice a year at Thimphu, the capital. The country is divided into 4 regions, 20 districts (dzongkhas), and 202 blocks (gewog).

14 Political Parties

Political parties are illegal in Bhutan. Opposition groups, composed mainly of ethnic Nepalese, include the Bhutan State Congress (BSC), the

People’s Forum for Democratic Rights, and the Bhutan People’s Party (BPP), a militant group.

15 Judicial System

Local headmen and magistrates (thrimpon) hear original cases. Appeals may be made to a six-member High Court. From here, a final appeal may be made to the king.

There is no written constitution, although a final draft was released in 2005. A vote had yet to be set as of 2006.

16 Armed Forces

Bhutan’s armed forces consisted of the Royal Bhutan Army, the National Militia, the Royal Bhutan Police, body guards and a paramilitary force. India provides training and equipment. In 2001, military spending totaled $9.3 million.

17 Economy

Isolated Bhutan has one of the smallest and poorest economies in the world. Farming or forestry supports 90% of the labor force, who produce 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The country supplies most of its food needs through the production of grains, fruits, some meat, and yak butter. Tourism is becoming important, however. In 2002, there were about 7,000 visitors to Bhutan. The overall GDP growth rate for 1988 through 1998 averaged an annual 6.1%. It dropped in 1999 to 5.5%, but recovered to around 6% in 2000 and 6.5% in 2001. In 2003, GDP grew by 7.3% before dropping to 5.2% in 2004. A slight improvement, to just under 6%, was recorded in 2005.

In 2004, it was estimated that agriculture accounted for 26% of GDP, with industry at 38%, and the services sector at 36%.

18 Income

Bhutan’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $2.9 billion in 2003, or $1,400 per person. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 3%.

19 Industry

Manufacturing as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 3.2% in 1980 to 8.2% in 1990, followed by 12% in 1998. In 2004, it was estimated that industry accounted for 38% of GDP.

Crafts are the principal industrial occupation. Homespun textiles-woven and embroidered cottons, wools, and silks-are the most important products. Other Bhutanese handicrafts include daphne paper; swords; wooden bowls; leather objects; copper, iron, brass, bronze, and silver-work; wood carvings; and split-cane basketry. Also produced in Bhutan are cement, carbide, and particleboard. A large number of sawmills operate throughout the country. Hydroelectric power is an increasingly important sector of the economy.

20 Labor

About 93% of all workers in 2002 were in the agricultural sector, with 5% employed in the services

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

sector and 2% in industry and commerce. There is a severe shortage of skilled labor, and no health and safety standards. Most salaried workers are employed by the government. In 2002, Bhutan had a government-set minimum wage of approximately $2.50 per day, which provided a decent standard of living for a family.

Although there is no set minimum work age, the age of 18 years was established “in all matters of the state.” However, minors under the age of 18 work in agriculture, in shops during holidays, and after school. Trade unions are illegal, and workers do not have the right to strike or to collective bargaining.

21 Agriculture

Only about 2% of the land area was used for seasonal and permanent crop production as of 2005. Agriculture contributed about 26% to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004 and

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

employed 93% of the workforce. Bhutan’s near self-sufficiency in food permitted quantities of some crops to be exported to India in exchange for cereals. Since there is little level space available for cultivation, fields are generally terraced. Stone aqueducts carry irrigation water. The lowlying areas raise a surplus of rice. In 2004, the output of paddy rice is estimated at 45,000 tons. Other crops include wheat, maize, millet, buckwheat, barley, potatoes, sugarcane, cardamom, walnuts, and oranges. Part of the crop yield is used in making beer and chong, a potent liquor distilled from rice, barley, and millet. Paper is made from the daphne plant, which grows wild. Walnuts, citrus fruits, apples, and apricots are grown in government orchards.

22 Domesticated Animals

Yaks, cattle, and some sheep graze in the lowland forests and, during the summer, in the uplands and high valleys. In 2004, there were an estimated 372,000 head of cattle, 41,000 hogs, 20,000 sheep, and 30,000 goats. In that same year, draft animals included 28,000 horses, 18,200 donkeys, and 9,900 mules. Meat production was estimated in 2004 at 6,900 tons, of which 74% was beef. Wool has been in short supply since its importation from Tibet was stopped by the government in 1960. A total of 1,080 tons of animal hides was produced in 2004.

23 Fishing

The government has established a hatchery and started a program of stocking Bhutan’s rivers and lakes with brown trout. Freshwater fish are found in most waterways. In 2003, the total catch was 300 tons.

24 Forestry

In 2002, about 64% of Bhutan’s land area was covered with forests. Although lack of transportation facilities has hampered forest development, timber has become a major export. Roundwood production in 2003 totaled 4.5 million cubic meters (160 million cubic feet), about 99% of which was used for fuel.

25 Mining

The mineral industry of Bhutan is small and dominated by the production of cement, coal, dolomite, and limestone. Estimated production totals for 2004 were: limestone, 288,000 metric tons; dolomite, 275,000 metric tons; cement, 170,000 metric tons; gypsum, 56,000 metric tons; quartzite, 55,000 metric tons; ferrosilicon, 20,000 metric tons; and talc, 3,900 metric tons. In 2004, quarried stones included 4,000 square meters (43,055 square feet) of marble and 9,000 square meters (96,875 square feet) of slate. For centuries, silver and iron have been mined in Bhutan for handicrafts. Deposits of beryl, copper,

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

graphite, lead, mica, pyrite, tin, tungsten, and zinc have also been found. A graphite-processing plant was established at Paro Dzong.

26 Foreign Trade

After the 1960 government ban on trade with Tibet, Bhutan came to trade almost exclusively with India. Trade with countries other than India has increased, however, especially with regard to imports. For 2004, the main export destinations were India (85.6%) and Bangladesh (6.5%), and Japan (4.3%). Main import sources that same year were Germany (41.8%), India (35.5%), Japan, (9.2%), and Austria (4.3%).

Bhutan’s principal exports included electric power (to India), cement, cardamon, timber, gypsum, dolomite, coal, handicrafts, fruit, vegetables, precious stones, spices, ferrosilicon,

calcium carbide, particle board, some preserved foods, alcoholic beverages, yak tails for fly whisks, and yak hair. The main imports were fuel and lubricants, motor vehicles, machinery and parts, cereals, rice, and fabrics.

27 Energy and Power

Wood remains an important source of fuel. However, electric power is, primarily from hydroelectric generating facilities, an increasingly important role. In 2002, electric power generating capacity totaled 0.442 million kilowatts, of which 0.430 million kilowatts (97%) was hydroelectric, and 0.012 million kilowatts was based on conventional fossil fuels. In 2002, Bhutan produced 1.880 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, of which over 99% came from

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorBhutan Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$1,400 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate2.1% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land19 803032
Life expectancy in years: male55 587675
female55 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.1 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)42.2% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people30 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people26 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.24 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

hydroelectric sources. As of 2002, Bhutan had no proven reserves of crude oil, natural gas, nor any oil refining capacity. All its petroleum product needs were met by imports.

28 Social Development

There is no national social welfare system, except for a modest maternal and child welfare program begun in the early 1980s, which includes family planning. Bhutan’s culture does not isolate or disenfranchise (deprive of voting and other rights) women. Polygamy is legal, but only with the consent of the first wife. Discriminatory policies against Nepalese Hindus in the 1980s led to the cultural repression of Hindus, but there are now a growing number of Nepalese employed in the public sector.

While there were improvements as of 2004, restrictions on human rights by the government continued. Abuses included arbitrary arrest and detention, and violence against Nepalese refugees.

29 Health

Bhutan suffers from a shortage of medical personnel. Only 65% of the population has access to medical care. In 2004, there were an estimated 10 physicians, 23 nurses, and 56 midwives per 100,000 people.

The average life expectancy in 2005 was 55 years, while the infant mortality rate was 100 per 1,000 live births in that same year.

Although smallpox has been wiped out, malaria, tuberculosis, and venereal disease remain widespread. Bhutanese refugees in the eastern Nepal region have high rates of measles, cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea, beriberi, and scurvy.

Traditional houses are built of blocks or layers of stone set in clay mortar, with roofs formed of pine shingles kept in place by heavy stones.

Most of the population (an estimated 80% as of 2001) lives in rural areas, many on small family farms. It is, however, expected that the urban population will grow by about 50% over the next two decades, increasing the need for improved housing construction and utility services. All homeowners are eligible for assistance through subsidized timber purchases and group fire insurance.

As of 2000, some 80% of urban and 60% of rural dwellers had access to improved water supplies. Th at same year, 65% of urban and 70% of rural dwellers had access to sanitation services.

31 Education

Although a modern educational system was introduced in Bhutan in the 1960s, more than 50% of school-age children do not attend. Community schools in remote rural areas often lack modern bathrooms, electricity, and drinking water, and students may have to walk several hours a day to get to them. Efforts have been made to improve the education of women, so that girls now account for 45% of primary school enrollment. However, the overall literacy rate for women is still very low and lags far behind that for men. Bhutan’s estimated adult illiteracy rate for the year 2005 stood at 57.8%. About twice as

many women as men were illiterate. The official language for education is Dzongkha (written in the Tibetan script). However, English is widely used.

The educational system consists of seven years of primary schooling followed by two years of junior high, followed by either four years of high school or three years at a technical center.

In 1991 (the latest year for which data was available), Bhutan had 209 schools altogether, including 22 monastic schools, schools for Tibetan refugees, and 6 technical schools. At the highest level, Bhutan was one junior college, two teacher training colleges, and one degree college which is affiliated with the university at Delhi in India. Many teachers from India are employed in Bhutan.

32 Media

In 2003, Bhutan had 25,200 mainline telephones in use, and in 2005, there were an estimated 22,000 mobile phones in use. However, telephone service is said to be very poor.

In 2005, there was only one radio station. It was government owned and included broadcasts in Dzongkha, Nepali, English, and Sharchop. From 1989 to 1999, the government had imposed a ban on private television reception. Television broadcasting was reintroduced to the country in 1999 through the government’s creation of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, which broadcasts locally produced and foreign programs. Th at same year, the government allowed for the licensing of cable companies, of which two were licensed. In 2004 there were about 15,000 cable subscribers. Druknet, the nation’s first Internet service provider, was also established in 1999. By the end of 2003, there were about 15,000 subscribers, including Internet cafés in three major cities. In 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), the country had an estimated 11 radios per 1,000 population.

A weekly government-subsidized newspaper, Kuensel, publishes simultaneous editions in Dzongkha, English, and Nepali, with a total circulation of about 15,000 as of 2004. Indian and other foreign publications are also available.

There are no legal provisions for the right of free expression in Bhutan. The government restricts criticism of the king and of the government policies of the National Assembly.

33 Tourism and Recreation

In 1974, Bhutan opened its door to tourists, but strict entry regulations and the country’s remoteness have restricted the number of visitors. In 2003, there were 6,266 foreign visitors, of which more than 2,500 came from Europe. The beautiful Thimphu, Paro, and Punãkha valleys, with their many monasteries, are accessible to tourists. However, the 1,200-year-old Takstsang Monastery near Paro was destroyed in an April 1998 fire. Archery is the national sport.

34 Famous Bhutanese

Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (1928–1972) instituted numerous social reforms during his reign as king of Bhutan.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Cooper, Robert. Bhutan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

Dogra, R. C. Bhutan. Oxford, England; Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Press, 1990.

Foster, L. Bhutan. Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1989.

Hellum, A. K. A Painter’s Year in the Forests of Bhutan. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2001.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/bhutan/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/bt/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.tourism.gov.bt. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Compiled from the January 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Bhutan

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

DEFENSE

U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 46,500 sq. km.

Cities: Capital—Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities—Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.

Terrain: Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bhutanese.

Population: Approximately 672,425 (according to the 2005 census)

Annual growth rate: 2.12% (2006 est.). Density—14 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Drukpa 50% (which is also inclusive of Sharchops), as well as ethnic Nepalese (Lhotsampas) 35%, and indigenous or migrant tribes 15%.

Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75% (state religion), Indian-and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%.

Languages: Dzongka (official language), English (medium of instruction), Sharchop, Nepali.

Education: Years compulsory—11. Literacy—54% (est.). Primary school gross enrollment rate (2004)—81%. Women’s literacy (2004)—34%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—total: 98.41 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 100.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.); male: 96.14 deaths/1,000 live births). Life expectancy—total population 54.78 years; male 55.02 years; female 54.53 years (2006 est.).

Work force: (2002) Agriculture—93%; Industry: 2%, Services: 5% There is a high unemployment rate.

Government

Type: Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy The Royal Government, prompted by the King, released a draft constitution in March 2005. The King and Crown Prince conducted consultations on the constitution in all 20 dzongkhag (districts.) in 2005 and 2006. Bhutan will adopt the constitution in early 2008.

National Day: December 17 (1907) Government branches: Executive—King or Druk Gyalpo (chief of state), Prime Minister (head of government), Council of Ministers, Royal Advisory Council (together they make the Cabinet or Lhengye Zhungtsho). Advisory—Monastic Order (or Monk Body-Dratshang). Legislative—National Assembly (Tshogdu). Judicial—High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.

Political subdivisions: 20.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 21 and above.

Economy

GDP: (purchasing power parity 2003) U.S. $2.9 billion.

Real growth rate: (2004) 6.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2004) U.S. $929.60.

Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, construction, timber, gypsum, calcium carbide.

Agriculture and forestry: (all figs., 2001) 33.8% of GDP.

Construction: 11.8% of GDP.

Finance: 10.3% of GDP.

Transport and communication: 10% of GDP.

Electricity: 9.9% of GDP.

Government service: 9.9% of GDP.

Manufacturing: 9.8% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (2001-02)—U.S. $97.7 million: hydroelectricity, vegetables and fruits, processed foods, minerals, wood products, textiles, machinery. Imports (2001-02)—U.S.$188.4 million: machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, plastics and rubber products, textiles, whiskies and prepared foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vegetable oils and foodstuffs. Major trade partners—India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Denmark.

PEOPLE

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories—Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin, arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. In a country that is deeply rooted within the Buddhist religion, many people’s sect of religion, as opposed to their ethnic group, characterizes them. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens.

The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descendants of the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as “people of the east.” The Ngalops, Sharchops, and the indigenous tribal people are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 65% of the population. The national language is Dzongka, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.

The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 35% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.

HISTORY

Bhutan’s early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country’s political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country.

In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan’s internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.

In 1972, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, ascended the throne at age 16. He emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. He was perhaps best known internationally for his overarching development philosophy of “Gross National Happiness.” It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient. Satisfied that Bhutan’s democratization process was well in train, he abdicated in December 2006 rather than wait until the promulgation of the new constitution in 2008. His son, Jigme Khesar Namgvel Wangchuck became King upon his adbication.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu); previously, only one vote per family was allowed.

The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected the prime minister.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo—the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions—is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by

the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels. Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/4/2007

King: Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK

Prime Minister: Khandu WANGCHUK

Min. of Agriculture: Sangay NGEDUP

Min. of Education: Thinley GYAMTSHO

Min. of Finance: Wangdi NORBU

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Khandu WANGCHUK

Min. of Health: Jigmi SINGAY, Dr.

Min. of Home & Cultural Affairs: Jigme Y. THINLEY

Min. of Information & Communication: Leki DORJI

Min. of Labor & Human Resources: Ugyen TSHERING

Min. of Trade & Industry: Yeshey ZIMBA

Min. of Works & Human Settlements: Kinzang DORJI

Chief Justice: Sonam TOBGYE

Chmn., Royal Advisory Council: Rinzin GYALTSHEN

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Daw PENJO

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have informal and cordial relations. Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.

ECONOMY

The economy, one of the world’s smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry, and hydro-electricity. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure.

Despite this constraint, hydroelectricity and construction continue to be the two major industries of growth for the country. As these two areas are increasing productivity, there continues to be a positive outlook for development throughout Bhutan. The economic program in the current 5-year-plan (2002-07) places a strong emphasis on improving education and infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing activities in the sectors of information and communication technology, energy, and tourism. After the global slowdown within the travel industry, Bhutan’s tourist industry is beginning to show signs of recovery.

Bhutan’s economy has been on an upturn due to recent subregional economic cooperation efforts. Already this plan has strengthened the current trade relations with India, as well as opened an avenue of trade with Bangladesh. In May 2003, the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan was re-signed.

Bangladesh is Bhutan’s second largest trade partner, after India. In January 2004, as a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bhutan also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

In February 2004 Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development

FOREIGN RELATIONS

India

Relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The treaty ensures India’s neutrality in Bhutan’s internal affairs, in exchange for Bhutan’s agreement to be guided by India in foreign policy matters. But in practice, Bhutan exercises sovereignty on many issues. India is Bhutan’s largest donor and supplies approximately 80% of Bhutan’s foreign assistance. In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. In December 2003, Bhutan military troops expelled Indian insurgents from Assam. Through this joint effort with India, Bhutan strengthened border security and continued cooperation with the Indian military.

China

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although border talks between the two nations have occurred.

Nepal

These two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983. Nepal and Bhutan are currently negotiating to resolve a 16-year-old refugee situation, in which 100,000 refugees are residing in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim they are Bhutanese citizens, while Bhutan alleges that most are non-nationals or “voluntary emigrants,” who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan-Nepal verification team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups, but progress remains stalled.

United Nations

Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and will serve until 2006.

Other Countries

Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The “Friends of Bhutan” group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

DEFENSE

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or $U.S.9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.

U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors Program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri New Delhi–110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html.

AMB:David C. Mulford
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DCM:Geoffrey Pyatt
POL:Theodore Osius
CON:Peter Kaestner
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Holly Higgins
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
CUS:Elliott Harbin
DAO:Frank Rindone
DEA:Ronald Khan
ECO:John Davison
EST:Donald L. Brown
FAA:Randall S. Fiertz
FCS:Carmine D’Aloisio
FIN:Ken Kowalchek
FMO:Mark Moore
GSO:Vincent Romero
ICASS Chair:Mark Ericson
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Terry DeMaegd
IPO:Kimberly Kaestner
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Douglas McGifford
ISSO:Richard Everitt
LEGATT:Kathy Stearman
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
PAO:Larry Schwartz
RSO:George Lambert
State ICASS:John Fennerty

Last Updated: 1/9/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : January 26, 2007

Country Description: Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country led by a king, and is in transition to a constitutional monarchy. Facilities for tourism are limited. There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Bhutan. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi handles all assistance to U.S. citizens.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Visitors are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This may be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. Further information, including a list of authorized tour operators in Bhutan, may be obtained through the Bhutanese Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone +975-2-323251, 2-323252; fax +975-2-323695 or at www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry by air is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese Department of Tourism and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. Travelers should contact the Department of Tourism for the latest daily tariff. At this time, the only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. More information on the airline is available at www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. Visa applications are available from selected travel agencies. Travel agencies will usually arrange for a traveler’s entry visa and clearance. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country. For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching is occasionally reported.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while in Bhutan, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for assistance. The Embassy’s consular staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Please note the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in the populated areas in Bhutan such as Thimphu or Paro are available, but may be limited or unavailable in rural areas. Medical services may not meet Western standards and some medicines are in short supply. Certain emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all tourists. Visitors planning to trek in Bhutan should pay special attention to the risk of altitude illness. Treks in Bhutan can take visitors days or weeks away from the nearest medical facility. Helicopter evacuation from remote areas is not available in Bhutan.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

General road conditions outside of urban areas are poor, and emergency services generally are not available. However, because tourists to Bhutan are required to arrange their trips through registered tour operators, most tourists do not drive themselves, but rather travel in groups with experienced drivers.

Visit the website of Bhutan’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.mti.gov.bt.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Bhutan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Visitors are advised to carry cash or travelers checks, since credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. When credit cards are accepted, an extra service fee, usually a percentage of the overall purchase, is often charged.

Druk Air, the only carrier servicing Bhutan, has rigid restrictions on the amount and size of luggage passengers may carry into the country. Passengers are advised to book bulky items ahead as unaccompanied baggage, since the aircraft servicing Bhutan have limited space available for large bags, and airline employees may not load large pieces of luggage. Flights into and out of Paro Airport are restricted to daylight hours and are dependent on suitable weather conditions. Flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled, particularly during the monsoon season between June and August. Passengers are advised to allow at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights from Paro Airport and to travel on non-restricted air tickets so that they can be rebooked on the first available air carrier if a connecting flight is missed.

Bhutanese customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except medically-prescribed drugs); tobacco products; wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques. It is advisable to contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bhutanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Bhutan recently implemented extremely strict restrictions on the sale or use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. A traveler caught selling tobacco products could be charged with illegal smuggling and fined or imprisoned. Smoking is prohibited in public places. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bhutan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, at any other U.S. Consulate in India, or at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Americans living or traveling in Bhutan are encouraged to register through the State Department’s travel registration website or with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to obtain updated information on travel and security within Bhutan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in person or via mail. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located on Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi 110 021, India. Tel. +91-11-2419-8000, fax +91-11-2419-8407, webpage http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consulate in Calcutta is located at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700 071, India. Tel. +91-33-3984-2400, fax +91-33-2282-2335, webpage http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone +977-1-441-1179; fax +977-1-444-4981, webpage http://nepal.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is located at 120/22 Wireless Road, Bangkok, Thailand. Tel. +66-2-205-4000; fax +66-2-205-4103, webpage http://bangkok.usembassy.gov.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2008. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2008. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-1

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2008. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Type of Government

Bhutan is an absolute monarchy, although it has taken steps to become a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. The executive branch consists of the king, who serves as chief of state, and an appointed prime minister, who serves as head of government assisted by an executive cabinet. Bhutan has a unicameral legislature. Some of its members are chosen by representative voting, and others are appointed by the monarch. The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Background

Bhutan is located in the southeast portion of the Himalayas, between Tibet and India. Archaeological evidence suggests that the aboriginal Bhutanese migrated from Tibet before 2000 BC. Known locally as Druk Yul (Dragon Kingdom), Bhutan was divided into feudal kingdoms until the seventeenth century.

According to legend, the Tibetan monk Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, introduced Buddhism to the region in the eighth century AD. Bhutanese Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, which originated in Tibet. Buddhism played a major role in the development of Bhutanese culture, and the Drukpa sect remains the official state religion.

For centuries Bhutan was divided into numerous fiefdoms that battled for dominance. Each fiefdom developed its own linguistic, religious, and cultural characteristics; as the years passed those distinctions served to isolate each fiefdom from its neighbors.

In AD 1616 Tibetan Lama Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1651) arrived in Bhutan, fleeing the regime in Tibet. Namgyal, a former military leader, enlisted the aid of the wealthy fiefdoms to construct a series of dzongs (fortresses) in the valleys of western Bhutan to deter Tibetan raids. Namgyal established a new government, in which he served as the spiritual leader while governmental authority was vested in the druk desi (similar to a prime minister). Within a few decades most of the surrounding fiefdoms were absorbed into Namgyal’s government.

Namgyal’s armies stopped a Tibetan invasion in 1639, after which Namgyal was given the title shabdrung , an honorific indicating spiritual leadership in the Drukpa sect. The Mongolian armies attempted to invade Bhutan in 1644 and 1647 but were defeated by the Bhutanese. Namgyal’s victories served to strengthen his authority and solidify the local government. After Namgyal’s death in 1651, however, the druk desi system deteriorated as regional leaders began to separate from the central authority.

In the nineteenth century forces loyal to the druk desi decided to occupy the British-controlled territory of Assam in northeastern India. After several years of minor skirmishes in the duars (passages in the foothills) of Assam, Britain declared war. The Duar War (also known as the Anglo-Bhutanese War) lasted five months, from late 1864 into 1865. The scattered Bhutanese forces were unable to mount an effective resistance. In the 1865 Treaty of Sinchula, Bhutan surrendered Assam and Dewangiri, a portion of southeastern Bhutan, in exchange for an annual payment of fifty thousand rupees.

In 1903 British representatives traveled through Bhutan on a mission to Tibet. Ugyen Wangchuk (1861–1926), a local leader from the Tongsa region, guided the British on their journey and helped them to negotiate a treaty with Tibet. By acting as a mediator, Wangchuck won the respect of both the British and the Tibetans and enhanced his prestige among the Bhutanese. In 1907 the Bhutan monarchy was officially established with Wangchuk as the first king.

Though Bhutan behaved largely as a sovereign nation after the establishment of the monarchy, Britain treated Bhutan like a tributary. When the British relinquished authority over India in 1947, Bhutanese and Indian leaders negotiated the future relationship of their countries, resulting in the Indo-Bhutan treaty of 1949. Both countries agreed to remain independent in internal affairs, but India pledged to protect and represent Bhutan in foreign affairs and to continue annual payments for the use of the Dewangiri region.

Government Structure

As Bhutan’s government makes the transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, it has adopted elements of parliamentary government. Under the constitution adopted in 2005, the monarch serves as head of state while governmental power is jointly vested in the legislature and the executive branch, which consists of the prime minister and the cabinet. Bhutan is divided into eighteen administrative districts. In 2007 the Bhutanese government announced plans to convert to a democratic, multiparty system, with its first public elections in 2008. Each household would have a single vote.

The king (his official title is druk gyalpo , or Dragon King) functions as the chief of state and is responsible for addressing the nation, representing the country to foreign leaders, and nominating members to government posts. The king’s chief advisers are the je khenpo , who represents the interests of the nation’s Buddhist monks and the religious community, and the prime minister, who serves as the head of government.

The post of prime minister rotates annually between the five candidates who received the highest number of votes in the previous election cycle. The king nominates ten members of the legislature to serve on the cabinet of ministers; they after confirmed by the legislature. The prime minister and the cabinet handle all executive functions, including foreign policy, creation of budgets and legislative proposals, and administration of government policies.

The legislature, the unicameral Tshogdu (National Assembly), has one hundred fifty members, of whom thirty-five are appointed directly by the monarch, with the advice of the prime minister; ten are appointed to represent the state’s religious communities; and the rest are elected by popular vote. All assembly members serve three-year terms. The legislature has the power to originate and amend legislation; has oversight over some executive decisions; and has the authority to remove the prime minister or the monarch with a two-thirds vote.

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, collectively referred to as the Royal Court of Justice. The National Judicial Commission, with the approval of the monarch, appoints justices for national and regional courts. Commission members are appointed by the legislature with approval of the executive branch. The Bhutanese legal system is based on Buddhist law; the penal code was revised in 2004.

Political Parties and Factions

Under the existing constitution, it is illegal to participate in the formation of political parties. However, in 2005 the king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk (1955–), by royal edict encouraged the formation of political parties in preparation for the country’s 2008 shift to a democratic system.

Despite being illegal, political factions have played a major role in Bhutanese politics. Separatist organizations have arisen in some of the nation’s territories while pro-democracy organizations have been petitioning for reforms since the 1950s. Most of Bhutan’s political groups operate in exile in India or Nepal and are largely focused on representing the rights of the nation’s ethnic groups. For example, the Bhutan State Congress (BSC), formed in 1952, was the nation’s first political party and supported democratization and increased representation for the country’s Nepalese population.

The Bhutan Peoples Party (BPP), a socialist democratic party formed in 1990, has operated in Nepal for several years. The BPP is Bhutan’s largest political party and represents Bhutan’s Nepalese population. The Bhutanese government has called the BPP a terrorist organization because it was involved in riots and instances of ethnic violence in 1991 and 1992. The BPP, in turn, has accused the Bhutanese government of arresting and deporting thousands of democracy supporters during the 1990s. In 2001 the BPP’s founding president, R. K. Budathoki, was assassinated in Nepal.

The Bhutan National Democratic Party (BHDP) and the Druk National Congress (DNC) are pro-democracy groups, operating from exile in India. The BHDP is noted for its promotion of capitalist market reforms and liberal social policies while the DNC, formed in 1994, supports socialist democracy and increased representation for the Sarchops ethnic group.

Bhutan has a number of small communist parties operating in exile, some of which have instigated armed assaults on the government. The Bhutan Communist Party (BCP), located in Nepal, announced in 2003 that it intended to participate in the 2008 government in the hopes of encouraging a transition to communism. The BCP’s political interests include repatriating exiled citizens and establishing free education and an employment-training system for all citizens.

Major Events

After assuming the throne in 1952, the third druk gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, initiated a series of political reforms that reduced the powers of the monarch. In 1953 Wangchuk formed the National Assembly, the nation’s first legislative body, and established the post of prime minister.

Wangchuck also initiated programs to improve Bhutan’s infrastructure and preserve the country’s culture, establishing a national museum, a national library, and an official archive. After China invaded Tibet in 1951 and 1959, Wangchuck strengthened Bhutan’s relationship with India, hoping to discourage China from attempting to annex Bhutan.

In 1962 Prime Minister Jigme Palden Dorji initiated additional reforms that reduced the political influence of the Bhutanese Royal Army (BRA) and the state’s religious lobby. In 1964 an army corporal assassinated Dorji. An investigation revealed a plot that included military leaders and the king’s uncle (he was executed in 1964 for his part in the assassination). The assassination also revealed a growing split between loyalists and modernists within the central government. In 1965 the king’s guards stopped an attempt to assassinate the monarch, after which a number of government officials were removed from their posts and exiled.

In 1968, in an attempt to consolidate support, Wangchuck issued an edict that changed the balance of power in the government: He granted the National Assembly the power to remove executive officers or the king by a two-thirds no-confidence vote. Though a formal constitution would not be written until the twenty-first century, the third druk gyalpo is often credited with taking the first steps toward democratization.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the fourth druk gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, issued a series of edicts designed to “preserve native culture.” The monarchy’s focus on Buddhism and Bhutanese culture isolated the country’s largely Hindu Nepali population. When the Nepalese within Bhutan began to gather into political groups and pressure the government for social reforms, the government responded with force, and violence erupted. During the following decade Bhutan evicted thousands of Nepalese from the southern territories into Nepal. The Nepalese government refused to allow the refugees to enter, so they were sent to UN refugee camps near the Bhutan border. Bhutan and Nepal have yet to create a mutually satisfactory plan for the repatriation of the refugees.

Beginning in 2000 Assamese separatists set up makeshift military bases in southern Bhutan and used them to launch attacks against Indian targets in Assam. The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are the leading parties in the Assamese separatist movement.

Bhutanese representatives joined with Indian officials to negotiate with the ULFA in the spring of 2003. When the negotiations failed, the government issued an edict calling for members of the BRA, a volunteer military force, to begin training for military operations against the separatist bases. On December 15, 2003, the BRA and the Indian military coordinated a set of attacks against the separatist strongholds, eventually routing the rebels from Bhutan. Dozens of Assamese were arrested or killed during the attack; a number of BRA members were killed as well. The 2003 operation was the first time the BRA had taken such action in more than a century.

Twenty-First Century

Bhutan’s government is in a state of flux as the country prepares for the 2008 national elections. The first draft of the new constitution was produced in 2005. The fourth druk gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, abdicated the throne to his son and successor, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (1980–) on December 15, 2006. The fifth druk gyalpo will lead the country during the 2008 governmental restructuring.

As that date approaches, the Bhutanese government is taking steps to solidify its relationships with other countries. For example, in 2007 Bhutan and India signed a new treaty, in which Bhutan no longer promised to be guided by India in foreign affairs, but agreed to maintain a close relationship of cooperation. The new treaty formally ended continued questions about the sovereignty of Bhutan. In addition, the government responded to criticism from human-rights organizations concerning the treatment of Nepalese refugees. It announced its intention to settle the refugee crisis before the 2008 elections.

Hutt, Michael. Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan . New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Aris, Michael. The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan . Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2005.

Mathew, Joseph C. Ethnic Conflict in Bhutan . Jaipur: Nirala Publications, 1999.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

"Bhutan." Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

  • Area: 18,147 sq mi (47,000 sq km) / World Rank: 131
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, Southern Asia, bordering China on the north and northwest and India on the east, south, and west
  • Coordinates: 27°30′N, 90°30′E
  • Borders: 668 mi (1,075 km) / China, 292 mi (470 km); India 376 mi (605 km)
  • Coastline: Bhutan is landlocked
  • Territorial Seas: none
  • Highest Point: Kula Kangri, 24,781 ft (7,553 m)
  • Lowest Point: Drangme River, 318 ft (97 m)
  • Longest Distances: 190 mi (306 km) E-W / 90 mi (145 km) N-S
  • Longest River: Tongsa River, 220 mi (350 km est.)
  • Natural Hazards: Landslides and severe storms
  • Population: 2,049,412 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 140
  • Capital City: Thimphu, west-central Bhutan
  • Largest City: Thimphu, 30,000 (mid-1990s est.)

OVERVIEW

Bhutan is a small, landlocked country in the Himalayan Mountains, between China and India in Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate. To the north and northwest it borders the Chinese autonomous region of Tibet (Xizang Zizhiqu); to the south and southwest, the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam; and to the east, the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (formerly the North-East Frontier Agency).

All of Bhutan is mountainous except for narrow fringes of land at the southern border where the Duars Plain, the lowlands of the Brahmaputra River, protrude northward over the border with India. The rest of Bhutan can be divided into two mountain regions: the Lesser, or Inner, Himalayas, which rise from the Duars Plains through the central part of the country, and the snow-capped peaks of the Great Himalayas at the far north.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains

Bhutan is known for the sometimes dramatic irregularity of its mountainous terrain. Elevations vary from approximately 1,000 ft (305 m) in the south to almost 25,000 ft (7,620 m) in the north—in some places within distances of 60 mi (under 100 km) from each other.

The snowcapped Great Himalayas rise along the Tibetan border to the north, spreading across Bhutan in a belt about 10 mi (16 km) wide. Four peaks in this range have elevations above 20,000 ft (6,096 m). The highest is Kula Kangri, north of Gasa Dzong, at 24,781 ft (7,553 m). Next in height is the country's most famous peak, picturesque Chomo Lhari northwest of Punakha, towering over the Chumbi Valley at an elevation of 23,997 ft (7,314 m). The Great Himalayas have an arctic climate in their highest areas and are permanently snow-covered in many places, with valleys at elevations of 12,000 to 18,000 ft (3,700 to 5,500 m) sloping down from vast glaciers. At lower elevations, yaks graze in pastureland during the summer months.

Spurs extending southward from the Great Himalayas make up the north-south ranges of Bhutan's Inner, or Lesser, Himalayas. Fertile valleys lie between their peaks, which form the watersheds of Bhutan's major rivers. The dominant range in this system is the Black Mountain Range, which runs north to south and divides the country almost equally down the middle. It forms the watershed between the Sankosh and Drangme Chhu rivers. Its highest peak is Black Mountain at 16,514 ft (5,033 m) above sea level. Picturesque gorges are found at its lower elevations. Another major spur in the eastern half of the country is the Donga range.

Several strategically important passes, accessible through the Duars Plain to the south, follow the major river courses through the valleys of Bhutan's Himalayan mountains. They were formerly of great significance for trade. Since Bhutan stopped trading with Tibet in 1953 to impede the spread of Communist influence, the passes have lost their earlier importance. They now serve as escape routes for Tibetan refugees, and Bhutanese authorities regard them with concern as potential invasion routes for Chinese Communist forces. With elevations ranging from approximately 15,000 ft (4,572 m) to more than 20,000 ft (6,096 m), the passes are negotiable only by pack animals or porters. The three most important are those on routes leading from Paro in Bhutan across the northwestern frontier into the Chumbi Valley. Other important passes include those that lead across the mountain spurs of the Inner Himalayan Range. Tashigang in eastern Bhutan and Paro in the west are connected by the country's only lateral communication route, which must cross a series of valleys and ridges.

Hills and Badlands

At the southern edge of the Inner Himalayas, sloping down to the Duars Plain, are low, densely forested foothills called the Siwalik, or Southern, Hills.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Rivers

All of Bhutan's numerous rivers flow southward through gorges and narrow valleys and eventually drain into the Brahmaputra River, some 50 mi (80 km) south of the boundary with India. Except in the east and in the west, the headwaters of the streams are in the regions of permanent snow along the Tibetan border. None of the rivers are navigable, but many are potential sources of hydroelectric power.

Bhutan is drained by four main river systems. The area east of the Black Mountain watershed is drained by the Tongsa River and its tributaries, the Bumtang and Drangme Rivers (river names in Bhutan are often followed by Chu or Chhu, which means river). The Tongsa River (Tongsa Chhu) is known as the Manas River further south, where it enters the Duars Plain and continues on into India. The eastern area of Bhutan drained by this system is known as the Drangme River Basin (Drangme Chhu Basin).

West of the Black Mountain Range the drainage pattern changes to a series of parallel streams, beginning with the Sankosh (or Puna Tsang) River and its tributaries, the Mo River (Mo Chhu) and Pho River (Pho Chhu). These tributaries, originating in northwestern Bhutan and fed by melting snow from the Great Himalayas, flow southward to Punakha, where they join the main river, continuing their southward course into the Indian state of West Bengal.

Farther west is the third major system, the Wong River (Wong Chhu) and its tributaries, including the Paro River (Paro Chhu). They flow through west-central Bhutan, joining to form the Raigye River (Raigye Chhu) before flowing into West Bengal. Still farther west is the smallest system, the Torsa River (Torsa Chhu) (called the Amo Chhu farther north), which flows through the Chumbi Valley and the major urban center of Phuntsholing before entering India.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Bhutan is completely landlocked.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Bhutan has three distinct climates, corresponding to its three topographical divisions. The Duars Plain areas in the south have a hot, humid, subtropical climate, with heavy rainfall. Temperatures generally average between 59°F (15°C) and 86°F (30°C) year round, although temperatures in the valleys of the southern foothills of the Himalayas may rise as high as 101°F (40°C) in the summer.

The central Inner Himalayan region has a temperate climate, with hot summers, cool winters, and moderate rainfall. Temperatures in the capital city of Thimphu, located in the western part of this region, are generally between about 59°F (15°C) and 79°F (26°C) between June and September (the monsoon season), falling to between 25°F (–4°C) and 61°F (16°C) in January. The high mountains of the Greater Himalayas in the north have more severe weather than the regions to the south, with cool summers and cold winters. At their highest elevations, they are snow-covered year round, with an arctic climate.

Rainfall

Like other aspects of Bhutan's climate, rainfall varies by region. The northern Himalayas are relatively dry, with most precipitation falling in the form of snow. The Inner Himalayan slopes and valleys in the central part of the country have moderate rainfall, averaging between 39 and 59 in (100 and 150 cm) annually. Rainfall in the subtropical southern regions averages between about 197 in and 295 in (500 cm and 750 cm) per year.

Bhutan has distinct dry and rainy seasons. The greatest amount of rain falls during the summer monsoon season from late June to the end of September, accompanied by high humidity, flash flooding, and landslides. The weather during this period is generally overcast. Days become bright and sunny during the dry autumn season, which lasts from late September to around the end of November. During winter, which lasts from late November to March, frost occurs in many areas, and snow falls at elevations above 9,843 ft (3,000 m).

In addition to its summer monsoons, Bhutan gets a winter monsoon from the northeast. The name by which Bhutan is known to its own people—Drak Yul, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon—comes from the high-velocity winds of this storm, which thunder down from the mountains. Bhutan's weather becomes drier again in the spring, from early March until mid-April, when summer weather begins. Summer showers are only occasional until the onset of the monsoon season in June.

Forest and Jungles

The southernmost part of the Duars Plain region is composed of savanna, bamboo, and dense jungle vegetation.

Bhutan's Inner Himalayan slopes are densely covered with deciduous forests. Species found at elevations between 5,000 ft to 8,000 ft (1,500 m to 2,400 m) include ash, birch, beech, cypress, maple, and yew. Between 8,000 and 9,000 ft (2,400 to 2,700 m), these give way to oak and rhododendron, with spruce, fir, and juniper trees growing beyond that point, up to the tree line.

Bhutan has a total of more than 5,000 plant species, including many varieties of orchid, the giant rhubarb, magnolias, over 300 species of medicinal plants, and carnivorous plants.

Grasslands

In the far north, livestock graze on pastureland in the alpine valleys of the Greater Himalayas. In the south is the Duars Plain. It lies mostly in India but extends northward across Bhutan's border in strips 6 to 9 mi (10 to 15 km) wide. The northern edges of these plains, which border the Himalayan foothills, have rugged terrain and porous soil. Fertile flatlands are found farther south.

HUMAN POPULATION

Most Bhutanese live in small rural villages in the Inner Himalayan region. Settlements are spread out among the valleys in this region, with farmers living in houses on the lower mountain slopes above their farmland. At higher elevations, population distribution is more concentrated because the lack of level land forces inhabitants to cluster together in smaller areas. The upper reaches of the Himalayas are largely uninhabited except for scattered Buddhist monasteries in valleys.

The capital city of Thimphu is located at the northern edge of the Inner Himalayas, in the western part of the country. The major commercial centers of Phuntsholing, Geylegphug, and Samdrup Jongkhar are located near the southern border.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Bhutan's most productive forestlands are found in the central Inner Himalayan mountain region. Oak, pine, and the tropical hardwoods found on the Duars Plain are the main types of timber harvested. With its abundant rivers and steep mountain slopes, Bhutan has great hydroelectric power potential, although only a small fraction of it is currently being exploited. Further hydroelectric development is being planned. Other natural resources include gypsum and calcium chloride.

FURTHER READINGS

Apte, Robert Z. Three Kingdoms on the Roof of the World:Bhutan, Nepal, and Ladakh. Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1990.

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Web site. Kingdom of Bhutan. http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/ (accessed February 20, 2002)

Dompnier, Robert. Bhutan, Kingdom of the Dragon. Boston: Shambhala, 1999.

Hellum, A. K. A Painter's Year in the Forests of Bhutan. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2001.

Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. Nepal and Bhutan: Country Studies. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. 3rd edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1993.

Swift, Hugh. Trekking in Nepal, West Tibet, and Bhutan: TheSierra Club Travel Guide to the Eastern Himalayas. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1989.

Zeppa, Jamie. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey intoBhutan. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.

GEO-FACT

Bhutan is home to the extremely rare blue poppy, its national flower, which grows only at elevations of about 13,000 ft (4,000 m). The poppy, which can grow as high as 3 ft (1 m) tall, has lavender-colored petals and a bright orange center. A single plant lasts from three to five years, flowering only once each summer.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

"Bhutan." Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

At a Glance

Official Name: Kingdom of Bhutan

Continent: Asia

Area: 18,147 square miles (47,000 sq km)

Population: 2,049,412

Capital City: Thimphu

Largest City: Thimphu (27,000)

Unit of Money: Ngultrums and Indian rupees

Major Languages: Dzongkha (official)

Literacy: 42%

Land Use: 2% arable, 6% meadow, 66% forest, 26% other

Natural Resources: Timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide

Government: Monarchy

Defense: India guarantees security

The Place

Bhutan is a small, landlocked country in south-central Asia, between China and India.

The landscape of Bhutan can be divided into three distinct areas. In the north, the Great Himalayas reach a height of more than 24,000 feet (7,300 m). Alpine shrubs and grasses grow on the high slopes, and the climate remains fairly dry.

To the south of the Great Himalayas are the Lesser Himalayas. These mountain slopes are covered with dense forests. Among the smaller peaks lie cultivated valleys that range from 5,000 to 9,000 feet (1,524 to 2,743 m) high.

The Duars Plain lies in the southern part of Bhutan. The area is about 8 to 10 miles (13 to 16 km) wide and has a hot, steamy climate. The northern half of the region is mostly covered with dense vegetation. Southern Duars consists of bamboo jungles and grassy plains.

The People

Most Bhutanese have settled in the fertile areas of the Lesser Himalayas and along the southwestern border near India. The least populated areas of the country are the cold Great Himalayas region and the mosquito-infested borders of the Duars Plains.

About 90% of the Bhutanese people live in small, isolated rural villages. An important feature near each village is a dzong. It serves as both a monastery and a local administrative office. A dzong is the citizens' main source of political support. Life expectancy is 53 years.

The general way of life in Bhutan differs between the three main ethnic groups. The Bhote make up the largest ethnic group and live in the northern, central, and western parts of the country. Each family is run by the father, but either sons or daughters can inherit land. Women are also free to choose their own husband and petition for divorce.

The Sharchops, indigenous people related to the Bhote, live mostly in the eastern part of the country. Although they share the same religion as the Bhote, they are not as strict. The Nepalese, the third ethnic group, are mainly Hindus. They are divided by a strict social caste system that influences marriage and employment.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Blackbirch Kid's Visual Reference of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Blackbirch Kid's Visual Reference of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-1

"Bhutan." Blackbirch Kid's Visual Reference of the World. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Kingdom of Bhutan




PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 46,500 sq. km.

Cities: Capital—Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities—Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.

Terrain: Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bhutanese.

Population: (2001 est.) 698,950; urban 21%.

Annual growth rate: 2.5%. Density—14 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Ngalops and Sharchops 71%, Lhotsampas (Nepalese) 28%, others 1%.

Religions: Mahayana Buddhism 75% (state religion); Hinduism 25%.

Languages: Dzongka (official language), English (medium of instruction), Sharchop, Nepali.

Education: Years compulsory—11 Literacy—54% (est.). Women's literacy (est.)—20%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—70.7/1,000 (1994). Life expectancy—66 years.

Work force: (1994) Agriculture—57.2%; government—2%; business—1.4%; others—1.4%. There is a high unemployment rate.


Government

Type: Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Previously, various laws and Buddhist values guided the relationship between the state and the people, but currently a 39-member Drafting Committee composed of representatives of the people, judiciary, the Monastic Order, and the Royal Government are writing a Constitution which is expected to be presented to the National Assembly for ratification in 2005.

National Day: December 17 (1907)

Branches: Executive—king or Druk Gyalpo (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers, Royal Advisory Council (together they make the Cabinet or Lhengye Zhungtsho). Advisory — Monastic Order (or Monk Body-Dratshang) Legislative—National Assembly (Tshogdu). Judicial—High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.

Administrative subdivisions: 20.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 21 and above.

Economy

GDP: (2001) U.S.$482 million.

Real growth rate: (2002-03) 6.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2001) U.S.$708.

Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, timber.

Agriculture and forestry: (all figs., 2001) 33.8% of GDP. Construction: 11.8% of GDP.

Finance: 10.3% of GDP.

Transport and communication: 10% of GDP.

Electricity: 9.9% of GDP.

Government service: 9.9% of GDP.

Manufacturing: 9.8% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (2001-02)—U.S.$97.7 million: hydroelectricity, vegetables and fruits, processed foods, minerals, wood products, textiles, machinery. Imports (2001-02)—U.S.$188.4 million: machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, plastics and rubber products, textiles, whiskies and prepared foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vegetable oils and foodstuffs. Major trade partners: India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Denmark.




PEOPLE

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories—Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens.


The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descended from the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as "people of the east." The Ngalops and Sharchops are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 74% of the population. The national language is Dzongka, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.


The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 25% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.




HISTORY

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country's political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.


The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.


In 1972, the present king, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, ascended the throne at age 16. He has emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. The current king has established an overarching development philosophy of "Gross National Happiness." It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient.




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu) when previously, only one vote per family was allowed. The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected a prime minister to serve for the next 3 years.


The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo—the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions—is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.


Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 2/3/04


King: Wangchuck, Jigme Singye

Prime Minister: Thinley, Jigme Y.

Min. of Agriculture: Ngedup, Sangay

Min. of Education: Gyamtsho, Thinley

Min. of Finance: Norbu, Wangdi

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Wangchuk, Khandu

Min. of Health: Singay, Jigmi

Min. of Home & Cultural Affairs: Thinley, Jigme Y.

Min. of Information & Communication: Dorji, Leki

Min. of Labor & Human Resources: Tshering, Ugyen

Min. of Trade & Industry: Zimba, Yeshey

Min. of Works & Human Settlements: Dorji, Kinzang

Chief Justice: Tobgye, Sonam

Chmn., Royal Advisory Council: Gyaltshen, Rinzin

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Penjo, Daw



Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2371, fax: 212-661-0551.




ECONOMY

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry, and hydroelectricity. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. The economic program in the current 5-year-plan (2002-07) places a strong emphasis on improving education and infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing activities in the sectors of information and communication technology, energy, and tourism. Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development.


FOREIGN RELATIONS


India

Relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The treaty ensures India's neutrality in Bhutan's internal affairs, in exchange for Bhutan's agreement to be guided by India in foreign policy matters. India is Bhutan's largest donor and supplies approximately 80% of Bhutan's foreign assistance. In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. Bhutan has requested the insurgents to leave on several occasions in 2001 and 2002. However, the Bhutanese Government finds itself facing an increased number of insurgents in 2003 and has threatened military action against them if negotiations for their voluntary withdrawal fail in the next few months.


China

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although border talks between the two nations have occurred.


Nepal

These two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983. Nepal and Bhutan are currently negotiating to resolve a 13-year-old refugee situation, in which 100,000 refugees are residing in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim they are Bhutanese citizens, while Bhutan alleges that most are non-nationals or "voluntary emigrants," who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan -Nepal verification team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups. A repatriation process is expected to begin in 2004.


United Nations

Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and will serve until 2006.


Other Countries

Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The "Friends of Bhutan" group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.




DEFENSE

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or $U.S.9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.




U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors Program.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

New Delhi (E), Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021, Tel [91] (11) 2419-8000; Fax 2419-0017; COM Fax 2331-5172; USAID Tel 2419-8000, US AID Fax 2419-8454; 2419-8612.

AMB: Robert D. Blackwell
AMB OMS: Betty C. Taylor
DCM: Walter E. North, Acting
POL: Geoffrey R. Pyatt
ECO: Lee A. Brudvig
ORA: William M. Phillips, III
COM: John E. Peters
CON: William M. Bartlett
MGT: Steven J. White
RSO: Nace B. Crawford
IMO: Dennis R. Thatcher
LEGATT: David Ford
CUS: James L. Dozier
DEA: Alan G. Santos
LOC: Laila Mulgaokar
AID: Walter E. North
CDC/GAP: Dora L. Warren
DAO/USDR: COL Steven B. Sboto, USA
ODC: LTC Danny S. Denney, USA
AGR: Chad R. Russell
DHS: Kathy A. Redman
FAA: Howard Nesbitt (res. Singapore)
FAA/CASLO: Joseph G. Ochoa, III (res. Singapore)
IRS: Stanley Beesley (res. Tokyo)


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
November 14, 2003


Country Description: Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country led by a king, and is in transition to a constitutional monarchy. Facilities for tourism are limited. There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Bhutan. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi handles all assistance to U.S. citizens.


Entry and Exit Requirements: Independent travel is not permitted. Further information cam be obtained through the Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone (975) 2-32351, 2-32352; fax (975) 2-323695 or at www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed.


Visitors to Bhutan are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This can be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Department of Tourism, Bhutan and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. The only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. Corporate headquarters address: Druk Air Corporation Ltd., P.O. Box 209, Thimphu, Bhutan. Further information is also available at www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan.


A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian.


For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212)682-2268, fax (212)661-0551.


Safety and security: For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime Information: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to the local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to South Asia," for ways to help ensure a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in the populated areas in Bhutan are available but may be limited or unavailable in rural areas. Medical services may not meet Western standards. Some medicine is in short supply. Emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all tourists.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, U.S. citizens should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or auto fax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Not Applicable (Tourists pay a set fee per day, which includes supplied transportation).
Urban Road Condition s/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Co nditio ns/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor


Although Bhutan's road network is not extensive, reasonably well-maintained, paved, two-lane roads connect principal sites likely to be visited by travelers. Traffic is rarely heavy, but sharp curves, narrow lanes, and limited visibility in mountainous terrain make traveling slow and potentially hazardous. Reduced speeds and special caution are advisable.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning transportation in Bhutan refer to the Bhutanese Department of Tourism's website via the Internet at http://www.tourism.gov.bt/ or the Bhutan Ministry of Trade and Industry's website at http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/.


Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Bhutan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Bhutan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except medically prescribed drugs); wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques. It is advisable to contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212)661-0551, for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than penalties for similar offenses in the United States. Persons violating Bhutan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Special Circumstances: Visitors are advised to carry cash or travelers checks, since credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. Druk Air, the only carrier servicing Bhutan, has rigid restrictions on the amount and size of luggage passengers may carry into the country. Passengers are advised to book bulky items ahead as unaccompanied baggage, since the aircraft servicing Bhutan have limited space available for large bags, and airline employees may not load large pieces of luggage. Flights into Paro Airport are restricted to daylight hours and are dependent on weather. Flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled. Passengers are advised to allow at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights from Paro Airport and to travel on non-restricted air tickets so that they can be rebooked on the first available air carrier if a connecting flight is missed.


Disaster Preparedness: Bhutan has occasional earthquakes. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from

8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Embassy Location and Registration: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at any U.S. Consulate or Embassy in India or Bangladesh. U.S. citizens living in or visiting Bhutan are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. They may also obtain assistance from the U.S. Consulates in India or, to a more limited degree, from the U.S. Embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh or Kathmandu, Nepal.


The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021, telephone (91) (11) 2419-8000, fax: (91) (11) 2419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html


The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone (91) (22) 2363-3611; fax: (91) (22) 2363-0350. Internet home page address is http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov


The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071, telephone (91)(033)2282-3611 through 2282-3615; fax: (91)(33)2282-2335. The Internet home page address is http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov


The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006, telephone (91) (44) 2811-2000; fax: (91) (44) 2811-2027. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.gov


The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Ave, Baridhara, Dhaka 1212, telephone (880) (2) 885-5500, fax (880) (2) 882-3744. The Internet home page address is http://dhaka.usembassy.gov/.


The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located at Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu, telephone (977)(1)4411179; fax(977)(1)4419963. The Internet home page address is http://www.south-asia.com/usa/.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2005. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2005. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/culture-magazines/bhutan

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2005. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/culture-magazines/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Bhutan is a small landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas that is attempting to pursue an alternative to the common approaches to the relationships among science, technology, and ethics. Bordered on the north by Tibet and on the south by India, this Buddhist kingdom is approximately one-third the size of nearby Nepal, with a population estimated at around 1 million persons. In 1959, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Bhutan departed from a period of isolation that had lasted for centuries to accept assistance from India in building its first major road, thus initiating close diplomatic and economic ties with its southern neighbor. Despite its international ties, since 1960 Bhutan has pursued a cautious and circumspect approach to technology and development.

The vision guiding Bhutan's approach has emerged from the core values of Vajrayana Buddhism, specifically the Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma lineages that dominate the country's spiritual landscape. The effect of those values on modern technological development is suggested in the frequently quoted maxim of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the king of Bhutan: "Gross national happiness is more important than gross national product."

Ideas such as ley jumdrey, the law of karma; tha damtshig, the sacred commitment to interpersonal relationships; and the interdependence of all things are illustrated in the ubiquitous iconography of thuenpa puenshi, "the Four Friends," four animals that achieve a common good through thoughtful cooperation, an image that is painted on the walls of classrooms, government offices, hotels, shops, and homes throughout the country. Hagiographies of successful Buddhist practitioners convey the importance of self-discipline, the efficacy of ritual and contemplative practices, and the perfectibility of human beings, along with universal values such as honesty, compassion, harmony, and nonviolence. Divine madmen such as the antinomian folk hero Drukpa Kunley offer a corrective to pretentious, self-important authority and the soporific effects of habituation to mundane, consensus reality.

Guided by those core Buddhist values, Bhutan has approached the ideal of sustainable development, linking technological innovation, environmental conservation, cultural continuity, and good governance through development programs aimed at increasing human welfare rather than focusing only on industrialization and economic diversification. Conservation of the last remaining unspoiled forests in the Himalayan region is a national priority that is grounded in a preexisting indigenous conservation ethic. Protected conservation areas account for about 26 percent of the country's land area. Education in environmental science begins at the kindergarten level, and public banners reinforce that ethic with admonitions such as "Healthy Forest for a Healthy Environment, Let Us Maintain It." The Bhutan Trust Fund of Environmental Conservation, established in 1991, is widely acknowledged as the first national environmental trust in the world and has been a model for similar trusts in other countries.

Foreign exchange primarily involves tourism and hydroelectricity sold to neighboring India. Learning from the experiences of regional neighbors such as Nepal, Bhutan gradually opened its borders to foreign tourists but in 1974 adopted a policy of "high-value, low-volume" tourism to avoid the negative consequences of unrestrained tourism on the natural environment and the indigenous culture. A similar caution has been displayed in the development of hydroelectricity. According to 1996 estimates, only 2 percent of the hydroelectric potential of the nation has been tapped. In addition to the major dam at Chukha, many mini- and micro-hydroelectric projects are scattered throughout the country in order to avoid the watershed damage associated with larger projects while providing electricity directly to remote locales.

Perhaps the most dramatic and far-reaching technological change occurred in 1999 with the lifting of a government ban on broadcast television and the introduction of Internet access. The extent to which traditional Bhutanese values will be displaced by an ideology of consumerism and the values of an advertising culture remains to be seen.


JEFFREY R. TIMM

SEE ALSO Buddhist Perspectives; Social Indicators.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

National Environmental Commission, Royal Government of Bhutan. (1998). The Middle Path: National Environment Strategy for Bhutan. Bangkok, Thailand: Keene Publishing. This book was produced by the National Environment Commission and a policy statement of the Royal Government of Bhutan on conservation and sustainable development.

Priesner, Stefan. (1999). "Gross National Happiness—Bhutan's Vision of Development and Its Challenges." In Gross National Happiness: Discussion Papers. Thimphu, Bhutan: Centre for Bhutan Studies. This is the first book published by the Centre for Bhutan Studies and contains nine papers exploring various aspects of development vis-á-vis the "gross national happiness" concept.

Wangyal, Tashi. (2001). "Ensuring Social Sustainability: Can Bhutan's Education System Ensure Intergenerational Transmission of Values?" Journal of Bhutan Studies 3(1): 108–133. This article explores the role of public education in Bhutan in the transmission of Buddhist values and perspectives in face of increasing globalization of culture.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

POPULATION 692,000
NYINGMAPA BUDDHIST 45 percent
DRUKPA KAGYUDPA BUDDHIST 40 percent
HINDU 14 percent
OTHER 1 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Kingdom of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, is the only independent Buddhist state in the Himalayas. Roughly the size of Switzerland, it has a population estimated to be less than 700,000 and is composed of three major ethnic groups speaking about 19 different languages. Well known for its policy of isolation and conservation, Bhutan today is celebrated for its thriving Buddhist culture and for its ethnolinguistic and ecological diversity.

The Indian saint Padmasambhava, who remains the most important spiritual figure in Bhutan, first brought Buddhism from the south in the eighth century. In the following centuries Buddhism came from the north through Tibetan missionaries, who disseminated Buddhist teachings across the country and firmly established it as the faith of the land. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries immigrants from Nepal brought Hinduism to the southern districts of Bhutan. Since the 1960s there has also been some restricted Christian missionary work in the south.

Before the mid-seventeenth century Bhutan was divided into many fiefdoms ruled by local warlords and chieftains. In the seventeenth century the present nation of Bhutan was created through the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Buddhist hierarch who came into exile from southern Tibet. Zhabdrung's plan to establish a hereditary religious line was not realized, and the new nation came to be ruled by a theocratic government of changing regency. Most of the early regents were monks, but as more and more laypersons vying for power held the regency, the country was beset by anarchy. The theocratic-regent system was replaced by a monarchy in 1907, when Sir Ugyen Wangchuk became the first king. His great-grandson Jigme Singye Wangchuk became the fourth king in 1972.

In the last half of the twentieth century Bhutan stepped out of its historic isolation, establishing diplomatic relations and building roads, schools, hospitals, post offices, and banks. It saw the introduction of television and the Internet, democratization of the political system, and judicial reform—all having immense impact on the simple Buddhist way of living. Gross National Happiness—a concept developed from King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's remark that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product—today forms the main objective of the country's plans and policies, integrating economic development with spiritual edification. A constitution for the country was being developed at the beginning of the twenty-first century, leaving most Bhutanese wondering what role religion would play in shaping this last Mahayana Buddhist state.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Bhutan's main religious traditions are the Drukpa Kagyud and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Although Drukpa Kagyud is the state religion, the Nyingma school dominates central and eastern Bhutan. As they are close in philosophy and practice, most people view them as the same or of equal significance. Thus, there has been little sectarian tension, much less communal conflict, among the country's Buddhist communities.

Most Bhutanese Buddhists, however, have strong reservations about other religious traditions. Some Christian missionary work has been condemned for using material incentives to proselytize and has even become a serious subject of debate in the National Assembly, the nation's highest legislative body. In the 1980s and 1990s there were political conflicts between the Nepali minority and the Bhutanese government, resulting in an exodus of a large number of ethnic Nepali. This ethnic conflict was also partly a religious struggle between Bhutanese Buddhists and Nepali Hindus.

Major Religion

TIBETAN BUDDHISM

DATE OF ORIGIN Seventh century c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 600,000

HISTORY

In Bhutan the first phase of the spread of Buddhism occurred between the seventh and seventeenth centuries. Two Buddhist temples, Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kyerchu Lhakhang in Paro, are believed to have been built by the Tibetan emperor Srongtsen Gampo in the seventh century. The proper advent of Buddhism to Bhutan, however, was the arrival of the Indian master Padmasambhava at the court of a local ruler in Bumthang in the middle of the eighth century. Although there are no historical records of change brought by his mission, oral traditions have it that people took lay Buddhist vows and gave up animal sacrifices.

During the centuries after Padmasambhava's journeys to Bhutan, Buddhist savants from Tibet, including Myos Lhanangpa, Longchenpa, Barawa Gyaltshen Palzang, and Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo, poured into the region. The Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism spread widely in what are now the central and eastern parts of Bhutan and produced such religious figures as Padma Lingpa (1450–1521), perhaps the most famous Bhutanese master in history. Other sects, such as Lhapa, Barawa, Nenying, Sakya, Drukpa, and Karma Kagyud, spread mainly in central and western Bhutan. Thus, during this period Bhutan saw the arrival and propagation of several schools of Tibetan Buddhism and a gradual conversion of the people. Historians also believe that it was at about this time that Bhutan came to be known as Drukyul (Land of the Thunder Dragon), after the Drukpa Kagyud school.

A second phase of Buddhism in Bhutan dates from 1616, the year Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal escaped from Tibet and began his temporal and spiritual unification of Bhutan. Under his supervision the Drukpa Kagyud school of the Tibetan Kagyud tradition was promulgated in the country, and the Zhung Dratshang, or the central ecclesiastical body, was established. All other schools except the Nyingmapa declined after the Drukpa domination of the Bhutanese valleys. During the following centuries the Drukpa Kagyud tradition spread across the entire country through the establishment of numerous branches of the central ecclesiastical body.

For centuries Buddhism influenced all aspects of Bhutanese life, at both the individual and state level. It became the guiding light for an individual's daily life, as well as for the country's development policies, legal system, social service, and traditional etiquette. From the construction of the earliest temples in the seventh century to the writing of the modern constitution, Buddhism has played a vital role in Bhutanese history and forms an integral part of Bhutanese identity.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

The first and fore-most religious figure in Bhutanese Buddhism was Padmasambhava, who lived in the eighth century and who surpasses even the Buddha as an object of worship and prayer. The two most important religious sites in Bhutan, and hundreds of others, are dedicated to this master, and devotion, prayers, and offerings to him form the rudiments of Bhutanese Buddhism.

The second most respected historical figure is Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1651?), under whom the country was unified and a theocratic system of government was founded. Zhabdrung established some of the most important religious institutions and traditions in Bhutan. For example, he created the post of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot of the Drukpa Kagyud school in Bhutan). The Zhabdrung reincarnate (the series of people who are considered his reincarnation) is the other chief hierarch of the Drukpa Kagyud school. The 70th Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choedra (appointed in 1996), is a well-respected and active religious leader.

A major saint of Bhutanese origin is Padma Lingpa (1450–1521), who is widely revered in the Himalayan region as a prominent terton, or discoverer of religious treasures buried for posterity by Padmasambhava and his disciples. Like Zhabdrung, Padma Lingpa has had a profound influence on Bhutanese society through his family lineage and through the religious institutions he founded.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Until the middle of the twentieth century Bhutan produced more prominent historians than religious thinkers and philosophers. The most notable religious scholar of the twentieth century was the Je Khenpo Gedun Rinchen, who composed 11 volumes on Buddhist philosophy, mysticism, grammar, and history. Today, however, Bhutan is witnessing an active generation of Buddhist scholarship. Contemporary Bhutanese religious authors such as Khenpo Tsewang Sonam and Lopon Thegchog are popular even among Tibetan scholars.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The two oldest places of worship in Bhutan are Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kyerchu Lhakhang in Paro, thought to have been built by the Tibetan emperor Srongtsen Gampo in the seventh century. Kurje Lhakhang, where Padmasambhava is believed to have left an imprint of his body on the wall of a cave, is revered. Another sacred place is Taktsang (Tiger's Lair) monastery, which hangs precariously on a cliff in Paro; Padmasambhava is believed to have visited there on a tigress's back. In addition, all Bhutanese districts have forts known as dzongs, which house district religious headquarters, and every village has a temple where people gather for religious ceremonies. Every family home also contains a chapel, or choesham, where most of the family rituals and ceremonies take place. Hundreds of gompas (hermitages) and chotens (monuments containing religious relics) dot the Bhutanese landscape.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Most Bhutanese are devout Buddhists and therefore treat all kinds of sentient life as sacred. Killing of animals is a religious violation and is thus viewed as a social taboo in many districts. There are a number of valleys and mountains, particularly those associated with Padmasambhava, that are considered sacred and powerful landscapes and that attract pilgrims. Monasteries and religious objects, including Buddhist scriptures, statues, and prayer flags, are attributed much sanctity and are treated with respect.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

In Bhutan there are about a half dozen national holidays associated with the Buddha and other Buddhist figures. There are also anniversaries to mark the birthday of the king and to commemorate the founding (17 December 1907) of the monarchy. Major religious festivals, mostly known as tshechu or drubchoe, are observed in the monasteries with colorful religious mask dances performed by monks and folk dances performed by girls.

The most festive occasions, however, are the local village festivals held to propitiate local deities or to celebrate good harvests, among other reasons. During these festivals dances are performed in the temple courtyard during the day, and parties are held in the mornings and evenings.

MODE OF DRESS

Bhutanese men wear a long-sleeved robe known as a gho, which, pulled up to the knees, is then tied at the waist with a sash. Women wear a long dress called a kira, held by silver hooks on the shoulder and tied with a sash at the waist. A short jacket is worn on top of the kira. These garments, worn originally by the Buddhist Bhutanese in the north, has become the national dress and is worn by most Bhutanese. There are, however, a small number of tribal people who continue to wear their unique costumes in the far northern, southern, and eastern parts of the country. Most men and women keep fairly short hair. It is believed that this tradition derives from the shaving of the hair during Padmasambhava's ordination of Bhutanese men and women as lay Buddhists. Monks and lay priests wear red robes similar to those of Tibetan Buddhist clergies.

DIETARY PRACTICES

Although nonviolence and compassion are fundamental to Bhutanese Buddhism, and most people are strongly opposed to taking life, meat is a common part of the Bhutanese diet. This is because much meat eating does not involve killing, as people eat the meat of dead animals from their herds. Since the 1990s a controversial regulation banning the sale of meat during holy months has been enforced. Rice, wheat, maize, and buckwheat are the main staple foods, and Bhutanese are known for their consumption of chilies. Bhutan's best-known dishes are phagsha pah, a pork dish, and ema datshi, chili with cheese.

Most Bhutanese chew doma, the betel nut with slaked lime wrapped in pan (betel leaf). Legend has it that the pre-Buddhist Bhutanese were wild cannibals and that when Padmasambhava tamed them he had to substitute cannibalism with the habit of eating doma, the three parts of which are said to symbolize parts of the human body: the leaf stands for the tongue, the lime for the brain, and the betel nut for the heart.

Although intoxicating drinks form one of the primary Buddhist prohibitions, alcohol, in the form of locally brewed spirits and ciders, is popular in Bhutanese societies, and festivities are marked by drinking. Religious influence, however, has led many to give up alcohol, meat, eggs, and fish and also to observe fasts during holy days and weeks.

RITUALS

Bhutanese Buddhists perform a wide variety of rituals throughout the year. These may be ceremonies known as choga (performances of religious rites with monastic music) or simply the recitation of prayers and scriptures. Ritual services for the sick are common and diverse, and funeral rituals are long (lasting for 21 days or more) and economically cumbersome.

A popular family ritual is the lochoe, which is the annual supplication to the family's tutelary deities. There is no formal Buddhist marriage ritual, and Bhutanese generally do not have a wedding ceremony.

RITES OF PASSAGE

There are no formal rites of passage in Bhutanese Buddhism or in Buddhism in general. A person first becomes a Buddhist by taking refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the dharma (his teachings), and the sangha (the spiritual community). This is done in early childhood before a lama, who cuts the tip of the person's hair and gives him or her a new name. Bhutanese Buddhists use names received from a lama in this manner and do not share family names. The practice of taking refuge and naming is often repeated several times in a person's lifetime as a ritual of blessing. Many tantric practices in Bhutanese Buddhism require specific preliminary procedures such as wang (empowerment), lung (scriptural authorization), and thri (quintessential instructions). Most of the major religious ceremonies in the country are connected to these preliminary rites.

MEMBERSHIP

It is through taking refuge in the Three Jewels—accepting the Buddha as the teacher, the dharma as the path, and the sangha as the companions on the path—that one truly becomes a Buddhist. Most Bhutanese, however, consider themselves to be Buddhists by birth. People who do not believe in le jumday (karma, or the law of cause and effect) or who subscribe to theism are sometimes viewed as heretics.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Buddhism adopts an egalitarian approach to social issues. A person's status is determined not by birth, caste, color, or race but by his or her moral and spiritual qualities. Because it is believed that there is no inherent self and that everyone is equal in being an assembly of psychosomatic components, there is no innate difference in people's status. It is the quality of the physical and spiritual components that determines the personality and that differentiates one person from another.

Bhutanese Buddhists also believe that all sentient beings are endowed with the Buddha nature and that all beings have been a person's mother in the course of the innumerable rebirths he or she has had in this cycle of existence. Both of these beliefs help nurture a sense of equality and equanimity toward all persons. Perhaps because of these religious influences, Bhutan has greater social, racial, and sexual equality than its neighbors.

The strongest and most vivid impact of Buddhism on Bhutanese society is perhaps seen in the application of the two principles le jumday, the law of cause and effect, and tha damtshig, a popular Bhutanese code of moral rectitude (which has a variety of referents, including honesty, fidelity, integrity, gratitude, and loyalty). These concepts dictate the Bhutanese way of life, and since the 1980s they have also taken on strong political overtones. The government has also worked on incorporating into its judicial system and its plan for decentralization the values of Buddhist vinaya (monastic rules), which uses a democratic style of decision-making through consensus.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Although the spirit of Buddhism pervades all facets and all levels of Bhutanese life, there are no formal Buddhist rites and rituals pertaining to family life and marriage. Religious influences are, however, evident in Bhutanese family life. Bhutanese are well known for their laxity and openness in sexual affairs, and most indulge in sexual promiscuity, perhaps because of the influence of tantric figures such as the "crazy saint" Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529). The fact that both polygynous and polyandrous relations remain common may be explained by the same influences.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Since its foundation in the seventeenth century, Bhutan has professed a political system of choesrid zungjug: the union of religious and temporal power. Because theocratic leaders, including monks and religious kings, ruled Bhutan for ages, religion has played a vital role in governing the country.

The resonance of religious influence persists in political idioms such as Tsawa Sum (a concept borrowed from Buddhism to refer to the trio of the king, country, and people) and Gross National Happiness, the overall goal of the country's development policies. The latter concept has been promoted by the king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, as a means of maximizing both spiritual happiness and economic development.

There have been controversies about which sects should be supported by the state. One of the key issues of debate surrounding the drafting of a constitution is whether or not Bhutan should in fact have a secular government. The adoption of a secular system would end the historical status of Buddhism, and of the Drukpa Kagyud school in particular, as the state religion. Most Bhutanese, however, attribute the sovereignty, peace, and prosperity of their country to its close association with Buddhism and pray for its longevity, as can be seen in the last two lines of the national anthem: "May dharma, the teaching of the Buddha, flourish / May the sun of happiness and peace shine on the people."

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The status of the Drukpa Kagyud school as the state religion, and the prerogatives and benefits to which it is entitled, have been issues of persistent questioning and disquiet. The Nyingmapas in central and eastern Bhutan have often accused the state school of a vicious policy of monopolizing the religious domain. They allege that the Drukpa Kagyud school has used coercion to extend its authority and jurisdiction in areas originally dominated by Nyingmapas, and they have even launched antigovernment campaigns in the far eastern districts.

A related issue that has been much debated is the visits of renowned Tibetan lamas from India and elsewhere. Because these lamas often own property given as offerings, and because they compete with local religious figures, some Bhutanese are concerned about the socio-economic effect they have on Bhutanese society.

Another controversial issue, though one that is more political than religious, concerns the dispute between the ruling family and the line of Zhabdrung reincarnates. The last Zhabdrung candidate went into exile to India and lived in Manali, where thousands of Bhutanese pilgrims visited him until his death in 2003.

CULTURAL IMPACT

In Bhutan Buddhism is almost the only theme in art forms such as painting and sculpture, though much of what can be classified as folk craft, comprising architecture, metalwork, weaving, carving, and bamboo work, has little to do with religion. Folk songs evoke both religious and worldly subjects, while monastic hymns and music are of a purely religious nature. Performing arts are more or less bifurcated into profane folk dances and sacred religious dances. The growing number of new songs, dances, and dramas, which are set in modern Western styles and reflect contemporary Bhutanese life, do not usually touch on spiritual themes.

Most traditional Bhutanese literature focuses on religion or is heavily laden with religious content. Even writings on nonreligious topics such as language, history, biography, and folktales could not escape the influence of religion. Today, however, there is an emerging class of literati who are trained in the West or receive a Western-style education and who write in English, although there are also a large number of traditional virtuosi who write in classical Tibetan and take their inspiration from Buddhism.

Other Religions

Hinduism is the only other religion that a visitor to Bhutan may notice. The followers of Hinduism are mostly of Nepali ethnic origin and are concentrated mainly in the southern districts. As in India and Nepal, Hindu communities are divided into four major, and hundreds of minor, castes. The Brahmans, as the highest caste, transmit the religion through family lines and religious schools known as patshalas. Religious training is done in Sanskrit, the language of such Hindu scriptures as the Vedas and the Upanishads and of the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. In the 1970s and 1980s the government, in an endeavor to promote cultural and religious harmony, supported some of these Sanskrit patshalas and also encouraged scholars to write on the similarities between the Buddhist and Hindu religions.

Bhutanese Hindus believe in the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva and observe dozens of religious festivals in a calendar year. The two most important occasions are the Dashain and the Tihar, both falling in October. During Dashain the goddess Kali is worshiped, and hundreds of animals are slaughtered as sacrificial offerings. This practice of animal sacrifice is perhaps the most contentious religious issue for southern Hindus and northern Buddhists. In contrast, Tihar, or Deepavali, which is celebrated with lights and fanfare, is a veneration of the goddess Lakshmi, and even some Buddhist Bhutanese take part in it. Such religious affinity is strengthened by the fact that Lakshmi, along with other gods, appears in both the Hindu and Bhutanese Buddhist pantheon.

Among both Buddhist communities in the north and Hindu communities in the south, there is a growing number of Christian neophytes. The first Christian missionaries arrived in Bhutan as early as the seventeenth century. Active missionary work started only in the 1960s, but Christian movements, facing the opposition of staunch Buddhists, have not succeeded in Bhutan as they have in other parts of the Himalayas. Most Bhutanese shun Christian missionary work as proselytization of the poor and ignorant through economic and material incentives. A small, fledgling movement, Christianity has no known public place of worship or formal organization in Bhutan.

Prior to the arrival of Buddhism, most Bhutanese followed folk beliefs that involved pagan and shamanistic practices. Some of these archaic religious customs—akin to, and often associated with, Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet—are extant in remote valleys. In addition, a wide range of folk beliefs and rituals are prevalent throughout Bhutan and sometimes play even more important roles than the institutionalized religions. Shamans, oracles, fortune-tellers, and astrologers form crucial components of Bhutanese society and are consulted on such occasions as birth, illness, and death as often as are Buddhist and Hindu clerics. They are trusted even more than the clerics on matters such as the construction of a new house, the beginning of a journey or a business, and the tracing of lost items. Although most of their practices have been assimilated into the greater Buddhist system, much of what they do evokes a local and folk religious culture reminiscent of pre-Buddhist Bhutan.

Karma Phuntsho

See Also Vol. 1: Buddhism, Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism

Bibliography

Ardussi, John. "Bhutan before the British: A Historical Study." Ph.D. diss., Australian National University, 1977.

Aris, Michael. Bhutan: The Early History of a Himalayan Kingdom. Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips, 1980.

Gedun Rinchen. dPal ldan 'brug pa'i 'dul zhing lho phyogs nag mo'i ljongs kyi chos 'byung blo gsal rna ba'i rgyan. Thimphu, Bhutan: Tango Monastery, n.d.

Mynak Tulku. "Religion and Rituals." In Bhutan: Mountain Fortress of the Gods. Edited by Christian Schicklgruber and Françoise Pommaret, 137–57. London: Serindia Publications, 1997.

Olschak, Blanche C. Ancient Bhutan: A Study on Early Buddhism in the Himalayas. Zurich: Schweizerische Stiftung für Alpine Forschung, 1979.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

"Bhutan." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

BHUTAN

Compiled from the August 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Bhutan


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 46,500 sq. km.

Cities: Capital—Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities—Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.

Terrain: Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bhutanese.

Population: 2,185,569 note: other estimates range as low as 810,000 (July 2004 est.)

Annual growth rate: 2.12% (2004 est.). Density—14 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas—one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%

Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75% (state religion), Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%

Languages: Dzongka (official language), English (medium of instruction), Sharchop, Nepali.

Education: Years compulsory—11 Literacy—54% (est.). Women's literacy (est.)—20%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—total: 102.56 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 104.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.); male: 100.35 deaths/1,000 live births). Life expectancy—total population: 53.99 years. male: 54.27 years. female: 53.68 years (2004 est.)

Work force: (1994) Agriculture—57.2%; government—2%; business—1.4%; others—1.4%. There is a high unemployment rate.

Government

Type: Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Previously, various laws and Buddhist values guided the relationship between the state and the people, but currently a 39-member Drafting Committee composed of representatives of the people, judiciary, the Monastic Order, and the Royal Government are writing a Constitution which is expected to be presented to the National Assembly for ratification in 2005.

National Day: December 17 (1907)

Branches: Executive—king or Druk Gyalpo (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers, Royal Advisory Council (together they make the Cabinet or Lhengye Zhungtsho). Advisory—Monastic Order (or Monk Body-Dratshang) Legislative—National Assembly (Tshogdu). Judicial—High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.

Administrative subdivisions: 20.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 21 and above.

Economy

GDP: (2001) U.S.$482 million.

Real growth rate: (2002-03) 6.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2002) U.S.$1,300.

Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, timber, gypsum, calcium carbide.

Agriculture and forestry: (all figs., 2001) 33.8% of GDP.

Construction: 11.8% of GDP.

Finance: 10.3% of GDP.

Transport and communication: 10% of GDP.

Electricity: 9.9% of GDP.

Government service: 9.9% of GDP.

Manufacturing: 9.8% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (2001-02)—U.S.$97.7 million: hydroelectricity, vegetables and fruits, processed foods, minerals, wood products, textiles, machinery. Imports (2001-02)—U.S.$188.4 million: machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, plastics and rubber products, textiles, whiskies and prepared foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vegetable oils and foodstuffs. Major trade partners: India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Denmark.


PEOPLE

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories—Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens.

The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descended from the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as "people of the east." The Ngalops and Sharchops are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 74% of the population. The national language is Dzongka, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.

The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 25% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.


HISTORY

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country's political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.

In 1972, the present king, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, ascended the throne at age 16. He has emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. The current king has established an overarching development philosophy of "Gross National Happiness." It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu) when previously, only one vote per family was allowed. The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected a prime minister to serve for the next 3 years.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo—the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions—is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.

Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/23/04

King: Wangchuck , Jigme Singye
Prime Minister: Zimba Yeshey
Min. of Agriculture: Ngedup , Sangay
Min. of Education: Gyamtsho , Thinley
Min. of Finance: Norbu , Wangdi
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Wangchuk , Khandu
Min. of Health: Singay , Jigmi
Min. of Home & Cultural Affairs: Thinley , Jigme Y.
Min. of Information & Communication: Dorji , Leki
Min. of Labor & Human Resources: Tshering , Ugyen
Min. of Trade & Industry: Zimba , Yeshey
Min. of Works & Human Settlements: Dorji , Kinzang
Chief Justice: Tobgye , Sonam
Chmn., Royal Advisory Council: Gyaltshen , Rinzin
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Penjo , Daw

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have informal and cordial relations.

Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.


ECONOMY

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry, and hydroelectricity. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. The economic program in the current 5-year-plan (2002-07) places a strong emphasis on improving education and infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing activities in the sectors of information and communication technology, energy, and tourism. Bhutan has applied for membership in the

World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

India

Relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The treaty ensures India's neutrality in Bhutan's internal affairs, in exchange for Bhutan's agreement to be guided by India in foreign policy matters. India is Bhutan's largest donor and supplies approximately 80% of Bhutan's foreign assistance. In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. Bhutan has requested the insurgents to leave on several occasions in 2001 and 2002. However, the Bhutanese Government finds itself facing an increased number of insurgents in 2003 and has threatened military action against them if negotiations for their voluntary withdrawal fail in the next few months.

China

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although border talks between the two nations have occurred.

Nepal

These two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983. Nepal and Bhutan are currently negotiating to resolve a 13-year-old refugee situation, in which 100,000 refugees are residing in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim they are Bhutanese citizens, while Bhutan alleges that most are nonnationals or "voluntary emigrants," who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan-Nepal veri-fication team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups. A repatriation process is expected to begin in 2004.

United Nations

Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and will serve until 2006.

Other Countries

Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The "Friends of Bhutan" group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.


DEFENSE

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or $U.S.9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.


U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors Program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakaya Puri New Delhi-110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html

AMB:David C. Mulford
DCM:Robert O. Blake
CG:William Bartlett
POL:Geoffrey Pyatt
COM:John Peters
CON:William Bartlett
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Chad Russell
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Dumi Nxumalo Martin
CUS:James Dozier
DAO:Steven Sboto
DEA:Alan Santos
ECO:Lee A. Brudvig
EST:Marco DiCapua
FIN:David Sarisky
FMO:William Hedges
GSO:Stephen Ames
ICASS Chair:Ron Olsen
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Joseph Galoski
IPO:Robert Hall
IRS:Laura Livingston
ISO:Sherril Pavin
ISSO:Sherril Pavin
LAB:Loren Holt-Hansen
LEGATT:David Ford
MLO:Mark Ericson
PAO:Michael Anderson
RSO:Nace Crawford
State ICASS:Michael Anderson
Last Updated: 2/1/05

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 11, 2004

Country Description: Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan country led by a king, and is in transition to a constitutional monarchy. Facilities for tourism are limited. There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Bhutan. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi handles all assistance to U.S. citizens.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Visitors are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This may be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. Further information may be obtained through the Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone (975) 2-32351, 2-32352; fax (975) 2-323695 or at http://www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese Department of Tourism and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. The only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. Corporate headquarters address: Druk Air Corporation Ltd., P.O. Box 209, Thimphu, Bhutan. Further information is also available at http://www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country. Travel agencies will usually arrange for travelers' entry visas. For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and other Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime Information: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in the populated areas in Bhutan are available but may be limited or unavailable in rural areas. Medical services may not meet Western standards and some medicines are in short supply. Emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all tourists.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor.
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Tourists pay a set fee per day, which includes transportation so it is unlikely that Bhutanese public transportation will be utilized. Although Bhutan's road network is not extensive, reasonably well-maintained, paved, two-lane roads connect principal sites likely to be visited by travelers. Traffic is rarely heavy, but sharp curves, narrow lanes, and limited visibility in mountainous terrain make traveling slow and potentially hazardous. Reduced speeds and special caution are advisable.

For specific information concerning transportation in Bhutan refer to the Bhutanese Department of Tourism's website via the Internet at http://www.tourism.gov.bt/ or the Bhutan Ministry of Trade and Industry's website at http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is neither direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Bhutan by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Bhutan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except medically-prescribed drugs); wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques. It is advisable to contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 682-2268, fax (212) 661-0551, for specific information regarding customs requirements.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at http://www.ustr.gov/reports/2003/special301.htm.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bhutanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bhutan are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Special Circumstances: Visitors are advised to carry cash or travelers checks, since credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. Druk Air, the only carrier servicing Bhutan, has rigid restrictions on the amount and size of luggage passengers may carry into the country. Passengers are advised to book bulky items ahead as unaccompanied baggage, since the aircraft servicing Bhutan have limited space available for large bags, and airline employees may not load large pieces of luggage. Flights into Paro Airport are restricted to daylight hours and are dependent on suitable weather conditions. Flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled. Passengers are advised to allow at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights from Paro Airport and to travel on non-restricted air tickets so that they can be rebooked on the first available air carrier if a connecting flight is missed.

Disaster Preparedness: Bhutan has occasional earthquakes. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html or telephone Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at any U.S. Consulate or Embassy in India, Bangladesh or Nepal. Americans living or traveling in Bhutan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Bhutan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. By registering, you'll make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact you in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India is located at Shantipath, Chanakyapuri 110021; telephone (91) (11) 2419-8000; fax (91) (11) 2419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html/.

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay), India is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone (91) (22) 2363-3611; fax (91) 22) 2363-0350. Internet home page address is http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata), India is located at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone (91)(33) 2282-3611 through 2282-3615; fax (91)(33)2282-2335. The Internet home page address is http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras), India is located at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006, telephone (91) (44) 2811-2000; fax (91) (44) 2811-2027. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh is located in the Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Avenue, Baridhara, Dhaka, telephone (880-2) 885-5500, fax number (880-2) 882-3744. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://dhaka.usembassy.gov/.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 441-1179; fax (977) (1) 444-4981. The U.S. Embassy's Internet home page address is http://nepal.usembassy.gov.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2006. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2006. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-2

"Bhutan." Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2006. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutan

Bhutan

Bhutan is located in the Himalayan Mountains of South Central Asia. It is surrounded by two giant neighbors, China and India. Bhutan occupies 47,000 square kilometers (18,142 square miles) and is about half the size of the U.S. state of Indiana. Its population was estimated to be 2,185,569 in July 2004, but other estimates place its population at less than half that size. Bhutan's per capita income was estimated to be $1,300 in 2003, about the same as Nepal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Rwanda.

Ethnically, Bhutan's population is primarily Bhote (50%) or Nepalese (35%); religiously, it is Buddhist (75%) and Hindu (25%). With a life expectancy of sixty-three years and an adult literacy rate estimated at 47 percent, the United Nations's Human Development Report 2004 ranked Bhutan 133 out of 177 nations for whom it calculated its Human Development Index.

Founded as a Tibetan Buddhist theocracy in 1616, Bhutan became a secular hereditary monarchy under British influence in 1907. In 1910, the British agreed to leave Bhutan autonomous in its internal affairs while continuing to be responsible for its defense and external affairs. India assumed the responsibilities of the British when it became independent from Britain in 1947. Bhutan's relations with India continue to be extremely important.

Jigme Singye Wangchuck (b. 1955) has served as Bhutan's king since 1972, when he succeeded his father. He is the official and effective supreme authority in the country. Although recent kings have set up power-sharing institutions such as a Royal Advisory Council, a National Assembly, and a Council of Ministers and have accepted some limits on their power, Bhutan has no formal constitution, and there is no doubt about the king's continuing authority. Legislation in the form of a kingly order does not have to be approved by the National Assembly, but the Assembly can reject or modify it. The Council of Ministers is nominated by the king for 5 year terms, if approved by the Assembly. The Royal Advisory Council is chosen solely by the king. Although the king's position is hereditary, reforms adopted in 1998 allow the National Assembly to remove the king by a two-thirds vote.

The National Assembly has 150 members who serve three-year terms. One hundred and five of these are selected by village constituencies, ten by religious bodies, and thirty-five by the monarch to represent government and other secular interests. The previous king gave up the right to veto decisions of the National Assembly in 1968, so it is able to legislate on its own. There are no political parties and the government discourages their formation.

The regular Bhutanese judiciary consists principally of District Courts (twenty in number) and a High Court. It is possible to appeal a High Court decision to the king, who normally assigns such appeals to be processed by his Royal Advisory Council.

Bhutan's status as a monarchy with little citizen participation and the strict limitations on civil liberties its government imposes have led to its being rated as "Not Free" by Freedom House.

See also: India.

bibliography

Amnesty International. "Bhutan." Amnesty International Report 2004. New York: Amnesty International, 2004. <http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/btn-summary-eng>.

Banks, Arthur S., ed. "Bhutan." In Political Handbook of the World 1979. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979.

"Bhutan." In CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bt.html>.

Freedom House. "Bhutan." Freedom in the World 2003: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. New York: Freedom House, 2004. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2003/countryratings/bhutan.htm>.

Turner, Barry. "Bhutan." SYBworld: The Essential Global Reference. <http://www.sybworld.com>.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2004. New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2004. <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2004/pdf/hdr04_HDI.pdf>.

U.S. Department of State. "Bhutan." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices—2003. Washington DC: Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2004. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27945.htm>.

C. Neal Tate

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutan." Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutan." Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-3

"Bhutan." Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/legal-and-political-magazines/bhutan-3

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bhutanese

Bhutanese

PRONUNCIATION: BOOT-un-eez
LOCATION: Bhutan
POPULATION: About 800,000–1.8 million (including Nepalese immigrants and other minorities, and Bhutanese in refugee camps in India and Nepal)
LANGUAGE: Dzongkha (official); Nepali; Assamese; Gurung; Tsangla; some Hindi
RELIGION: Mahayana Buddhism (official); Bon (shamanism); mix of Hinduism and Buddhism; Islam
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 3: Assamese; Bhutia; Gurung; Vol 4: Nepalis

INTRODUCTION

Bhutanese is the name given to the population of the kingdom of Bhutan, a small, landlocked country situated on the northern mountain rim of South Asia. The name Bhutan is derived from a word that means the "borderland" of Bhot, or Tibet. The Bhutanese themselves call their country Druk-Yul or the "Land of the Thunder Dragon." The ruling monarch of the country carries the title Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King."

Bhutan's early history remains obscure, although from the beginning of the 9th century AD the region was settled by Tibetans migrating southwards from the upland plateaus of their homeland. Some historians view this migration as an organized invasion, with Tibetan troops seizing the region from the ruling Hindu maharaja (princely chief). Bhutan assumed a distinct political identity in the early 17th century, when a Tibetan Buddhist monk established his authority as king, taking the title of Dharma Raja. The early Dharma Rajas were both temporal rulers and spiritual leaders, but they gradually left the country's government in the hands of ministers who came to be known as the Deb Rajas. The current king, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, is the fifth in a line of rulers descended from a territorial governor who was elected to become the hereditary king in 1907. The Dharma Raja has continued as leader of the Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, which remains the official monastic order of Bhutan.

The extension of British rule to India's Brahmaputra Valley in the 1820s eventually led to conflict with Bhutan, which lies just to the north of Assam. At various times during the 19th century, Bhutan ceded territory to the British, and in 1910 its external relations were placed under the control of British India. In return, Britain agreed not to interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs.

In 1949, India assumed Britain's role in handling Bhutan's external affairs. The occupation of Tibet by Chinese forces in 1950 further strengthened Bhutan's ties with India, as Bhutan saw the need for foreign support against a potential threat from China. During the 1960s, Bhutan abandoned its historic policy of isolation (foreigners could only enter Bhutan at the invitation of the king) and embarked on a policy of modernization, which led to a coup d'etat against the king at the end of 1964. The political crisis of 1964–1965 compelled the king to forge an alliance between him and the traditionalists and abandon his efforts at modernization. The integration of diverse ethnic and cultural groups into the Bhutanese state was forgotten, and Bhutan became dominated by the Ngalong (Dzongkha-speaking Bhutanese). At this time, the king ruled as a constitutional monarch, although there was a 152-seat national assembly, the Tsongdu, with many of its members elected by popular (though indirect) vote. The king appointed the prime minister, the Cabinet, and a number of delegates to the Tsongdu. Religious groups also appointed a number of representatives to nonelective assembly seats.

Under the king, the state's "Bhutanisation drive" and 1989 promulgation of Driglam Nam Zha (Etiquette and Manners), by which people were required to wear traditional Bhutanese clothes in public, led to ethnic conflict between the Ngalong-dominated state and the people of Nepali origin. As a result, numerous people of Nepali origin were expelled from Bhutan. The majority of them, estimated to be between 100,000 and 135,000 in number, are now living in the refugee camps in eastern Nepal maintained by the UNHCR.

The Bhutanese view the Nepalese as newcomers and fear having them become the most populous ethnic community in the country (they have the model of Sikkim, once an independent country, but now a state in India, in mind). Since 1990, antigovernment extremists among the Nepalese have been waging a terrorist war in Bhutan. Southern Bhutan was placed under Army control, and international human rights agencies have claimed extensive violations of human rights in the Bhutanese security forces' operations against Nepalese dissidents.

In March 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck unveiled the government's new draft constitution—which would introduce major democratic reforms. In December 2006 the King abdicated the throne to his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in order to give him experience as head of state before the democratic transition. In early 2007 India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty to allow Bhutan greater autonomy in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate policy decisions in this area with New Delhi. In July 2007 seven ministers of Bhutan's 10-member cabinet resigned to join the political process, leaving the remaining cabinet to act as a caretaker regime until the new government assumed power following parliamentary elections. Bhutan completed its transition to full democracy in 2008, when its first fully democratic elections to a new National Assembly were held on 24 March 2008. Two parties contested the election: the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT, for Druk Phuensum Tshogpa), which was formed by the merger of the previously established Bhutan People's United Party and All People's Party, which is led by Jigme Y. Thinley, and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), led by Sangay Ngedup. The DPT won over 67% of the vote and 45 of the 47 seats in the new parliament. Thinley's party, which is widely viewed as being the most loyalist of Bhutanese political parties hews closely to the king's vision for Bhutan and seeks to promote the objective of "Gross National Happiness," an all-encompassing political philosophy that seeks to balance material progress with spiritual well-being.

The new government was to adopt the new constitution when it met in May 2008. This was to complete the historic transition from an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary democracy, albeit with considerable power still concentrated in the hands of Bhutan's king.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

Population data for Bhutan are unreliable. The Census of Bhutan, 2005, places the total population at 634,982. This figure, however, excludes a large number of immigrants from Nepal. If the Nepalese and other minorities are included, the population may currently exceed 1.8 million. There are three major ethnic groups in Bhutan: the Bhutia (also Bhotia, or Bhote), Nepalese, and Assamese. Bhutia comprise roughly 50% of Bhutan's population. The Nepalese, who include Rai, Gurung, Limbu, and other peoples, account for another 35%, while the Assamese and tribal groups make up 15% of the country's inhabitants.

Bhutan, with an area of 47,182 sq km (18,217 sq mi), lies in the eastern Himalayan Mountain Range. The country's location between India and Tibet gives it considerable strategic importance. Bhutan falls into three distinct geographic regions. In the south is a narrow strip of lowland known as the Duars Plain. The area receives between 500 cm and 760 cm (200–300 in) of rain a year. It is covered with dense subtropical forest and undergrowth and is hot, humid, and generally unhealthy. North of the Duars is the Inner Himalaya, a region of mountain spurs extending southwards from the main Himalayan Range. Between these spurs lie fertile valleys at elevations between 1,500 m and 2,700 m (5,000–9,000 ft). With a relatively moderate climate, these valleys support agriculture and relatively dense populations. Further to the north, along the Tibetan border, are the main ranges of the Great Himalaya. The highest peaks approach 7,300 m (24,000 ft), with Kula Kangra soaring to 7,554 m (24,784 ft). Below the high peaks are alpine meadows used for grazing yaks in the summer months.

LANGUAGE

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, one of the many dialects of Tibetan spoken by the Bhutia people. In its written form, Dzongkha is identical with Tibetan. Some 40% of the Bhutan's population speak Dzongkha. Other languages spoken in Bhutan include Nepali, Assamese, and Gurung. Tsangla is a language of the Mon family spoken in eastern districts of the country. Some Hindi is found in southern areas that border India.

FOLKLORE

The Bhutanese possess an extensive lore relating to events and personalities of the region's past. One tradition tells of an Indian prince who settled in Bhutan in the 8th century AD and invited the monk Padmasambhava to his kingdom. Known in Tibet as Guru Rimpoche ("Precious Teacher"), Padmasambhava was primarily responsible for introducing Buddhism into Bhutan. Other stories center on the 15th-century lama Pemalingpa, who is seen as an incarnation of Padmasambhava. Pemalingma is known for composing various dances that are popular among the Bhutanese. Another heroic figure of Bhutan's past is Shabdrung, the lama who assumed the title of Dharma Raja in the 17th century and laid the political foundations of Bhutan State.

RELIGION

Approximately 75% of the Bhutanese are Buddhist. Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion of Bhutan. The dominant religious order in the country is the Red-Hat sect (Kargyupa). The Bon religion, which embraces pre-Buddhist shamanistic traditions, is also practiced in Bhutan. Beliefs in sorcerers, spirits, demons, and the need for exorcisms as undertaken in the "devil dances" are thus a part of everyday Bhutanese religious practices. Lamas skilled in rituals are used to perform the necessary religious observances. Animal sacrifice has been replaced in Bhutan by the offering of torma, ritual figures made from dough and butter. Hinduism, or the mix of Hinduism and Buddhism that typifies Nepali culture, is the religion of the Nepalese peoples of Bhutan. Some 5% of the population follow Islam.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is one of the most important festivals in Bhutan. It is celebrated in February with feasting and drinking. Folk dances, including masked dances, are performed and archery competitions held. A recent custom is the exchange of greeting cards between friends and relatives. Domchheo and Tsechu are annual religious festivals marked by worship ceremonies and performances of the ritual masked dances by monks. These are held at monasteries and dzongs, the forts around which many Bhutanese villages are built. Various other Buddhist and Hindu festivals are observed. The king's birthday (February 22) and the National Day of Bhutan (December 17) are celebrated as public holidays.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Birth and marriage in Bhutan are observed with a minimum of ritual, being a social or family event rather than a religious one. Funerals, on the other hand, are elaborate affairs. After a death, a lama is called in to extract the spirit (sem) from the body and speed it on its way. The body is placed in a sitting position before an altar, on which various ritual objects—including torma (figurines made of dough and butter)—are placed. A lama leads the service for the dead, reciting passages from various Buddhist texts. Cremation is the usual form of disposal of the corpse, although bodies may be buried or thrown in a river. Rituals are performed for 49 days after death, and during this period an effigy of the deceased is kept in the house. The end of the mourning period is marked by a feast, as is the first anniversary of the death.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

A Bhutanese host greets a guest by bowing slightly, extending his or her hands towards the ground with palms facing the visitor, and moving the hand in a gesture inviting the guest into the house. The host may also say, "Yala! Yala! Kuzu zangpola?" (Hello! How do you do?). The guest, after responding in an appropriate manner, is then seated in the drawing room where she or he is served tea, beer, or other refreshments. Men and women mix and converse freely, without the restrictions that separate the sexes among other groups in South Asia.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Bhutan historically remained isolated from the outside world, and it was only in the 1960s that the country embarked on a path of modernization. As a result, Bhutan ranks among the lowest of the South Asian countries in terms of indices of development. Leading causes of death include respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and dysentery, various skin and parasitic infections, and malaria. Infant mortality rates are extremely high, running at over 70 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003. The natural increase of population is 2.17% per year (2006 est.).

Bhutan is a predominantly rural country, with nearly 90% of the population living in villages scattered throughout the country. Although there are a handful of small towns in Bhutan, only Thimphu, the capital, exceeds 20,000 inhabitants in size. Domestic architecture in the north is Tibetan in style, while southern areas show Indian influences in house types and construction. Living standards are generally low, with per capita income standing at US$1,400 per year (2006 est.), making Bhutan one of the poorest countries in the world.

Bhutan's mountainous terrain makes for difficult land communications. No railroads exist in the country, and there are only 2,418 km (1,502 mi) of road providing links with India. Bhutan's national airline, Druk Air, links the town of Paro with India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

FAMILY LIFE

The various ethnic groups that make up Bhutan's population are endogamous, i.e., they marry within their own community. The age of marriage has been raised by the government to 16 years for women and 21 years for men. Although in the past marriages were arranged, more and more young couples are beginning to select partners for themselves on the basis of mutual attraction. Compared to the elaborate and expensive Hindu marriage ceremonies, Bhutanese marriages are relatively simple. A lama officiates at the religious ceremony. Offerings of chang (beer) are made to ghosts and spirits, and betel leaves, areca nuts, and fruits are distributed to those present at the wedding. Guests are provided with food and entertainment.

The Bhutanese are essentially monogamous. Polyandry (multiple husbands) has recently been abolished, and polygamy (multiple wives) has been restricted to a maximum of three wives per man. Bhutan is essentially a matriarchy, and a bride does not necessarily move into her husband's household, as is common throughout much of the Indian subcontinent. The new husband may reside with his wife's family if their need for labor warrants it. Alternatively, the new couple may set up their own household on their own plot of land. Divorce is permitted in Bhutanese society, although compensation is required from the party seeking the separation.

CLOTHING

Bhutanese dress consists of a long, loose robe (ko) that reaches the ankles. During the day, the robe is hoisted up and fastened at the waist by a woven belt so that it reaches the knees. At night, it is let down to the ankles. The coat fastens at the neck and, generally, during the day is left open. The sleeves are long and loose. Bhutanese men seldom wear a hat, but they sometimes wrap a scarf around the head at night. Shoes are rarely worn, though some men wear sandals, and those of the wealthier class use Tibetan-style woolen boots. Every man carries a long knife slung from his belt. When the ko is tied in the "up" position, it forms a pouch that is used for carrying objects.

Bhutanese women wear the kira, a woven dress that is fastened at each shoulder by silver buckles. A woven belt is tied around the waist. Women commonly wear necklaces of coral and turquoise, strung together with silver amulets. The hair is usually cut short.

FOOD

Rice is the main food in Bhutan and is eaten with meat whenever this is available. Though most Bhutanese are Buddhists, they are nonvegetarian and eat beef, pork, goat, chicken, and eggs. A typical Bhutanese meal might consist of thugpa, a meat soup prepared with herbs, rice (of the round, red variety), and a meat curry or omelet. Sweet rice (white rice cooked in milk and sugar) is served on special occasions. Tea, made with salt and butter, is a Bhutanese staple. Beer (chang) is made from cereals and served to guests and friends, as well as being offered to the gods.

At high altitudes where rice is not cultivated, barley and buckwheat are grown. The cereals are ground, then roasted or fried, and stored for future use. Fried corn powder is as popular among the Bhutanese as tsampa (roasted ground barley) is among Tibetans. Milk is scarce and of poor quality, although a hard cheese is made from yak milk.

EDUCATION

No formal schools existed in Bhutan before the early 1960s, except for those associated with religious institutions. Despite a concerted effort on the part of the government, and especially King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, to improve education, Bhutan lags behind other South Asian countries in its educational achievements. A modern educational system was introduced into Bhutan only in the 1960s. Although in 2004 education was made compulsory up to the age of 11, only about 73% of primary-school-age children attend school, and this figure drops to 35% at the secondary-school level. Education, however, is a major priority of Bhutan's development programs and there now exist over 350 educational institutions in the country. These include The Royal University of Bhutan, founded in 2003, which was established to consolidate the management of tertiary education in the country. It is a federated university with 10 member colleges spread across the Kingdom. Literacy among adults now stands at about 47%. International organizations such as the World Bank and UNICEF are involved in promoting educational projects in Bhutan.

Bhutanese seeking higher education or professional training have to turn to foreign educational institutions. Most Bhutanese students being educated abroad receive technical training in India, Singapore, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and the United States. English-speaking countries attracted the majority of Bhutanese students. The vast majority of Bhutanese students return to their homeland.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Bhutan's culture is deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. The country began as a theocracy (i.e., its ruler was a religious leader), and even today lamas are highly influential in the affairs of the country. The dzongs (forts) and monasteries remain centers of political, economic, social, and religious life. It is here that festivals are celebrated with religious music and masked dances, and lamas continue the traditions of Buddhist learning. Religion finds architectural expression in numerous chorten (relic mounds) and temples, while dzongs are often patterned after the Potala, the Dalai Lama's palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Religious objects such as the mandala (Buddhist Wheel of Life) and thanka (a painted religious scroll) are works of art in their own right.

WORK

Bhutan is essentially an agrarian country, with 67% of its labor force involved in subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry. Much of the land is mountainous or heavily forested, and less than 3% of the country's area is under permanent cultivation. Rice, wheat, maize, and millet are the main crops grown in the country. Fruit production is important, with apples, peaches, plums, and apricots among the varieties grown. Livestock raised in the region include cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and the yak, a bovine adapted to high altitudes.

Although Bhutan restricts the number of tourists allowed into the country in order to limit foreign influences, tourism has great potential. The tourist dollar accounts for about 1.6% of the gross national product, but this figure may be expected to increase in the future. Electricity, timber and wood products, fruits and vegetables, and cement are important export items. India is Bhutan's major trade partner.

SPORTS

The Bhutanese are well known for their archery skills, and archery competitions are commonly held at the time of festivals and national holidays.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

Bhutanese have limited access to modern forms of entertainment. In June 2000 FM radio service became available for western Bhutan with the inauguration of the main FM station at Dobchula and one relay station at Takti in the south. The FM service was extended to central Bhutan in January 2001 and the rest of the country in 2005.

In 1989, in an attempt to preserve Bhutan's culture, the government banned the viewing of foreign television by ordering all TV antennas in the country to be dismantled, but in June 1999 permitted television—and later, the Internet—into the country. The last country in the world to permit television within its borders, Bhutan—which had remained virtually unchanged for centuries—was suddenly bombarded with 46 cable channels. The introduction of television into Bhutan was sparked by the World Cup Soccer Final of France in 1998. The 3-0 victory of the home side over Brazil was watched by thousands on a big screen in Bhutan's National Square. TV in Bhutan was such a success that a year later, on the 25th anniversary of his coronation, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk decided to allow the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), founded in 1973, to broadcast TV programming. However, the vast majority of Bhutan's population today (some 70%) do not even have electricity, let alone access to television.

Now, both cable TV, the Internet, and cell phone service are available in Bhutan, providing access to the outside world. With its new satellite television service (launched in February 2006), BBS's programming is now received in almost 40 Asian countries—from Turkey in the West to Indonesia in South East Asia.

The impact of access to TV screens has changed Bhutanese society considerably, especially one that, as a matter of policy, attempts to preserve and conserve traditional values. The editor of Bhutan's only regular newspaper, the bi-weekly Kuensel, explained that the thinking in the country is that as it will never be a military or economic power, its strength must be its unique society. He believes that television represents a direct threat to this. Some observers have noted an increase in violence among children and a rise in crime, while others note that the more the Bhutanese are exposed to globalization, the more likely they are to lose their own culture. Such concerns have led to the regulation of the industry and control what goes out over the airwaves through acts such as the 2006 Information, Communication, and Media Act, which bans the broadcasting of material (e.g. pornography and the U.S. wrestling series WWE, both of which, it is believed, leads to violence among Bhutanese children) thought to be detrimental to Bhutanese society.

The government publishes a bi-weekly newspaper, Kuensel, which faces competition from two other private newspapers the Bhutan Times and the Bhutan Observer, which began publication in 2006. But with the country's low literacy rate (47% in 2003), the papers have a very small circulation. Religious festivals and folk traditions such as singing and dancing are the primary forms of entertainment and recreation.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Bhutanese women are skilled at weaving and make their own clothing, bedding, tablecloths, floor coverings, and items for religious use. Embroidery is a favorite art. Much effort goes into making costumes and masks for the ritual dances performed at festivals. Smiths excel in working gold, silver, brass, and other metals.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Bhutanese live in the least-developed country in all of South Asia. Despite efforts at modernization since the 1960s, poverty, lack of potable water, inadequate health care, illiteracy, and difficulties in transportation remain serious problems. Bhutan is heavily dependent on foreign aid in its efforts to improve the life of its people. Recently, ethnic tensions between the Bhutanese and Nepalese minority have created a problem in the country. Mindful of what happened in nearby Sikkim, where Indian immigrants eventually outnumbered the native Sikkimese and voted to accede to India, Bhutan has acted to restrict immigration from Nepal. Despite this, some estimates place the Nepalese population as high as 40% of Bhutan's total. The Nepalese see themselves as second-class citizens, resent government restrictions on them, and demand a greater say in the affairs of the country. They also object to government efforts to develop a Bhutanese "national identity" based on a Bhutia model.

GENDER ISSUES

Women in Bhutan enjoy considerable freedom and equal opportunity both in government and society in general. This is attributed mainly to the strong influence of Buddhism in every aspect of Bhutanese religion, culture, and tradition. In Mahayana Buddhism, male and female are considered equal. Women are treated as equal to men under Bhutan law. The law of inheritance, for example, reserves equal rights for all children, irrespective of sex and age. Both men and women enjoy equal freedom to choose their partners. In contrast to other South Asian countries, parents in Bhutan do not have strong gender preferences for their children and treat girls and boys equally.

However, although officially the government encourages greater participation of women in political and administrative life, male members of the traditional aristocracy dominate the social system. Economic development has increased opportunities for women to participate in fields such as medicine, both as physicians and nurses; teaching; and administration. Reflecting the dominance of males in society, girls were outnumbered three to two in primary and secondary-level schools.

Women play a significant role in the agricultural work force, where they outnumber men, who were leaving for the service sector and other urban industrial and commercial activities. Up to 90% of all Bhutanese women are involved in agricultural work (70% of the land registered in Bhutan is owned by women), although this figure is decreasing as more opportunities become available for women in other sectors of the economy.

The government founded the National Women's Association of Bhutan in 1981 primarily to improve the socioeconomic status of women, particularly those in rural areas. The association, at its inaugural session, declared that it would not push for equal rights for women because the women of Bhutan had already come to "enjoy equal status with men politically, economically, and socially."

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chakravarti, B. A Cultural History of Bhutan. Chittraranjan, India: Hilltop Publishers, 1980.

Dimri, Jaiwanti. The Drukpa Mystique: Bhutan in the 21st Century. Delhi: Authorspress, 2004.

Karan, P. P. Bhutan: A Physical and Cultural Geography. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1967.

Matles, Andrea, ed. Nepal and Bhutan: Country Studies. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993.

Upreti, B. C. Bhutan (Dilemma of Change in a Himalayan Kingdom). Delhi: Kalinga Publications, 2004.

Wangchuck, Ashi Dorji Wangmo. Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan. New Delhi: Viking Books, 2006.

—by D. O. Lodrick

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhutanese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bhutanese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese-0

"Bhutanese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bhutanese-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.