Bhutan


Bhutan
/booh tahn"/, n. Bhutanese, adj.
a kingdom in the Himalayas, NE of India: foreign affairs under Indian jurisdiction. 1,865,191; ab. 19,300 sq. mi. (50,000 sq. km). Cap.: Thimphu.

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Bhutan

Introduction Bhutan -
Background: In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs. This role was assumed by independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned the areas of Bhutan annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. A refugee issue of some 100,000 Bhutanese in Nepal remains unresolved; 90% of the refugees are housed in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. Maoist Assamese separatists from India, who have established themselves in the southeast portion of Bhutan, have drawn Indian cross- border incursions. Geography Bhutan
Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates: 27 30 N, 90 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 47,000 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 47,000 sq km
Area - comparative: about half the size of Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 1,075 km border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
Terrain: mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Drangme Chhu 97 m highest point: Kula Kangri 7,553 m
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide
Land use: arable land: 2.98% permanent crops: 0.43% other: 96.6% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 400 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: violent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's name which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season Environment - current issues: soil erosion; limited access to potable water Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Nuclear Test Ban signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes People Bhutan -
Population: 2,094,176 note: other estimates range as low as 810,000 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.8% (male 431,883; female 401,386) 15-64 years: 56.2% (male 606,184; female 571,310) 65 years and over: 4% (male 42,193; female 41,220) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.15% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 35.26 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 13.74 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/ female total population: 1.07 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 106.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 53.19 years female: 52.83 years (2002 est.) male: 53.53 years
Total fertility rate: 5 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 100 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural) adjective: Bhutanese
Ethnic groups: Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampasone of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%
Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Languages: Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 42.2% male: 56.2% female: 28.1% (1995 est.) Government Bhutan -
Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan conventional short form: Bhutan
Government type: monarchy; special treaty relationship with India
Capital: Thimphu Administrative divisions: 18 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Chirang, Dagana, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang note: there may be two new districts named Gasa and Yangtse
Independence: 8 August 1949 (from India)
National holiday: National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)
Constitution: no written constitution or bill of rights; note - Bhutan uses 1953 Royal decree for the Constitution of the National Assembly; on 7 July 1998, a Royal edict was ratified giving the National Assembly additional powers
Legal system: based on Indian law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: each family has one vote in village- level elections
Executive branch: chief of state: King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK (since 24 July 1972) elections: none; the monarch is hereditary, but democratic reforms in July 1998 grant the National Assembly authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers Lyonpo Khandu WANGCHUK (since 8 August 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers (Lhengye Shungtsog) nominated by the monarch, approved by the National Assembly; members serve fixed, five- year terms; note - there is also a Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde), members nominated by the monarch
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu (150 seats; 105 elected from village constituencies, 10 represent religious bodies, and 35 are designated by the monarch to represent government and other secular interests; members serve three-year terms) elections: last held NA (next to be held NA) election results: NA
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Appeal (the monarch); High Court (judges appointed by the monarch) Political parties and leaders: no legal parties Political pressure groups and Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese
leaders: organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community; United Front for Democracy (exiled) International organization AsDB, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD,
participation: ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IMF, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OPCW (signatory), SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - Bhutan has a Permanent Mission to the UN; address: 2 United Nations Plaza, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone [1] (212) 826- 1919; the Bhutanese mission to the UN has consular jurisdiction in the US consulate(s) general: New York Diplomatic representation from the the US and Bhutan have no formal
US: diplomatic relations, although informal contact is maintained between the Bhutanese and US Embassy in New Delhi (India)
Flag description: divided diagonally from the lower hoist side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side Economy Bhutan
Economy - overview: The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, providing the main livelihood for more than 90% of the population. Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links. The industrial sector is technologically backward, with most production of the cottage industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian migrant labor. Bhutan's hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources. The Bhutanese Government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base and improving social welfare. Model education, social, and environment programs in Bhutan are underway with support from multilateral development organizations. Each economic program takes into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas like industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. Major hydroelectric projects will lead expansion of GDP in 2002 by an estimated 6%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 45% industry: 20% services: 35% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7% (2000 est.)
Labor force: NA note: massive lack of skilled labor Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry and commerce 2%
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $146 million expenditures: $152 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96 est.) note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures
Industries: cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide Industrial production growth rate: 9.3% (1996 est.) Electricity - production: 1.876 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 0.05% hydro: 99.95% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 380.68 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 1.385 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 21 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
Exports: $154 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices
Exports - partners: India 94%, Bangladesh
Imports: $196 million (c.i.f., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
Imports - partners: India 77%, Japan, UK, Germany, US
Debt - external: $245 million (1998) Economic aid - recipient: substantial aid from India and other nations
Currency: ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR)
Currency code: BTN; INR
Exchange rates: ngultrum per US dollar - 48.336 (January 2002), 47.186 (2001), 44.942 (2000), 43.055 (1999), 41.259 (1998), 36.313 (1997); note - the Bhutanese ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee which is also legal tender
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June Communications Bhutan - Telephones - main lines in use: 6,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: domestic telephone service is very poor with few telephones in use international: international telephone and telegraph service is by landline through India; a satellite earth station was planned (1990) Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 37,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 0 (1997)
Televisions: 11,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .bt Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA
Internet users: 500 (2000) Transportation Bhutan - Railways: 0 km Highways: total: 3,285 km paved: 1,994 km unpaved: 1,291 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none Airports: 2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Military Bhutan -
Military branches: Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, Forest Guards Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 517,470 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 276,303 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 21,167 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $9.3 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.9% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Bhutan - Disputes - international: approximately 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal, 90% of whom reside in seven UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees camps, place decades-long strains on Nepal

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Bhutanese Druk-yul

Kingdom, Himalayas.

Area: 14,824 sq mi (38,394 sq km). Population (2004 est.): 700,000 (not including some 100,000 refugees in Nepal). Capital: Thimphu. There are three main ethnic groups: the Buddhist Sharchops (Assamese) in the east; the Tibetan Buddhist Bhutia, about three-fifths of the population, in the northern, central, and western areas; and the Hindu Nepalese in the southwest. Languages: Dzongkha (official), Tibetan dialects. Religion: Mahayana Buddhism (official). Currency: ngultrum. The northern part of the country lies in the Great Himalayas, with peaks surpassing 24,000 ft (7,300 m) and high valleys lying at 12,000–18,000 ft (3,700–5,500 m). Spurs radiate southward, forming the Lesser Himalayan ranges. Several fertile valleys there, at elevations of 5,000–9,000 ft (1,500–2,700 m), are fairly well populated and cultivated. South of these mountains lies the Duars Plain, controlling access to the strategic mountain passes; much of it is hot and steamy and covered with dense forest. The Bhutanese economy is mainly agricultural; nearly all exports go to India. Bhutan is a monarchy with one legislative house; its head of state and head of government is the monarch. Bhutan's mountains and forests long made it inaccessible to the outside world, and its feudal rulers banned foreigners until well into the 20th century. It nevertheless became the object of foreign invasions; in 1865 it came under British influence, and in 1910 it agreed to be guided by Britain in its foreign affairs. It later became oriented toward British-ruled India, though much of its trade continued to be with Tibet. India took over Britain's role in 1949, and the Chinese army's presence in neighbouring Tibet since 1950 further strengthened Bhutan's ties with India. The apparent Chinese threat made its rulers aware of the need to modernize, and it has embarked on a program to build roads and hospitals and to create a system of secular education.

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▪ 2009

Area:
38,394 sq km (14,824 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 682,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji and, from April 9, Lyonchen Jigmi Thinley

      The year 2008 was a historic one for Bhutan, which on March 24 held its first democratic elections for the lower house of the parliament and thereby transformed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy. In the election more than 250,000 voters cast their ballots, and the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT), led by Lyonchen Jigmi Thinley, won 45 seats, while the People's Democratic Party (PDP) captured 2 seats. Thinley was sworn in as prime minister on April 9. On July 18 Bhutan promulgated a new constitution. The transition to democracy was initiated by former king Jigme Singye Wangchuk. In 2006 he abdicated in favour of his Oxford-educated eldest son, Jigme Khesar Wangchuk, who would remain king in a largely ceremonial role.

      Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Bhutanese, who had been forced to leave the country in the early 1990s when strict citizenship rules were enforced, were living in refugee camps in Nepal and were barred from voting. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3,000 refugees had been resettled in the U.S., New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, and The Netherlands.

      Thanks to a boom in tourism and hydropower, Bhutan's economic growth rate stood at 8%. Living standards were among the region's highest, with an average per capita income of more than $1,400. Hydropower exports to India drove GDP growth to above 20% in 2007, and total exports to India in 2006–07 amounted to about $200 million. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Bhutan in May and addressed a joint session of the parliament.

Keshab Poudel

▪ 2008

Area:
38,394 sq km (14,824 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 658,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and, from July 31, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji

      Mock elections were held in April 2007 as Bhutan prepared to transition from an absolute monarchy to a multiparty democracy. Bhutan's first general elections were scheduled for 2008. A new king was crowned in December 2006 after King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who had ruled for 34 years, abdicated in favour of his Oxford-educated eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.

      The fate of more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees staying in UN High Commissioner for Refugees-administered camps in eastern Nepal remained uncertain. Though the U.S., Canada, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand announced early in 2007 that they were ready to resettle the refugees, little progress was made. The U.S. offered to take at least 60,000 refugees. Meanwhile, internal security was threatened when the Bhutan Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), a group that had formed in 2003 in the Nepalese refugee camps, announced plans to wage a people's war.

      Following the completion during the year of the Tala Hydroelectric Project, which supplied India with power, plans were approved for work to begin in 2008 on the Punatsangchu-I project. India and Bhutan updated their 1949 Peace and Friendship Treaty in February 2007, when King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk visited New Delhi. No headway was made, however, in the stalled border talks between Bhutan and China.

Keshab Poudel

▪ 2007

Area:
38,394 sq km (14,824 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 790,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk and, from December 14, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup and, from September 7, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk

      Bhutan witnessed a major political exercise in 2006 as public consultation meetings were held in all 20 administrative districts on the draft constitution, which was to be promulgated by 2008. In July Bhutan signed a landmark trade agreement with India for power from the Bhutanese Tala Hydroelectric Project. In the traditional yearly rotation, on September 7 Prime Minister Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup handed over the reins of the Bhutanese government to Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk. On December 14 King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who had ruled for more than 30 years, abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.

      Overall, economic progress remained good; the country earned a hard currency reserve of $513 million and registered GDP growth of about 7%. Although unemployment was projected at only 3%, it was reportedly rampant.

      Bhutan continued to struggle with finding a solution for the more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who had been living in Nepal for 16 years. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Bhutanese refugee leaders living in the Nepalese camps pressed the Nepalese government to internationalize the issue. Exiled Bhutanese human rights leader Teknath Rijal ended his “fast unto death” on the third day, after government assurances that it would deal with the refugee problem. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees proposed the resettlement of refugees in a third country, but the process was stalled following opposition from refugee leaders. In September a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation led by Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe visited Thimpu and discussed the refugee issue with King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Kolbe also proposed a resettlement of the refugees and indicated that the U.S. would be willing to take up to 70,000 of them.

Keshab Poudel

▪ 2006

Area:
38,394 sq km (14,824 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 776,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and, from September 5, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup

      While maintaining its record of internal tranquility, Bhutan headed toward political reform in 2005. King Jigme Singye Wangchuk forwarded a document to every household proposing a new democratic constitution that would authorize the parliament to impeach the king and form a multiparty system with the government accountable to the legislature. Economically, the country enjoyed expanded electricity sales to India and a growth rate of 7%.

      In the traditional annual rotation of prime ministers, Lyonpo Ngedup took office in September. During the year Bhutan banned foreign television channels—including Indian channels, which were considered a threat to the country's deeply Buddhist cultural values—and smoking in public places.

      Despite several rounds of ministerial-level talks, more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees were still languishing in refugee camps in Nepal after having spent more than 15 years waiting for repatriation. In August Indian police prevented a group of Bhutanese refugees from trying to cross into India to reach their native land. During the year Bhutanese and Chinese officials discussed ways to settle an ongoing border dispute between the two countries. Meanwhile, Bhutan continued to maintain its isolation and allowed only a limited number of tourists to enter the country.

      In December King Wangchuk announced that he would abdicate in 2008 and be succeeded by his son Crown Prince Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.

Keshab Poudel

▪ 2005

Area:
38,394 sq km (14,824 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 700,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Jigme Y. Thinley and, from August 18, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba

      Virtually untouched by terrorist activities in the past, Bhutan began 2004 with a small-scale war as its 8,000-man army was sent to flush out Indian insurgent groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam that were hiding in Bhutanese territory. The problem of the more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who were languishing in camps in Nepal was nowhere close to a solution. A number of refugees formed a Bhutan Communist Party to wage war (on the Nepalese model) against the Bhutanese establishment. Following a violent incident at one refugee camp, an official Bhutanese joint verification team quit the camp and suspended the negotiations with Nepalese authorities. Exiled human rights activist Teknath Rijal traveled to Geneva to publicize the refugees' plight.

      In Bhutan's traditional annual rotation of the prime ministership, Yeshey Zimba took over the post on August 18. The country's economy saw a healthy growth in 2004, and GDP climbed to about 7%. The government pursued three large hydropower projects—at Tala, Kuricchu, and Basochhu—with the goal of increasing electrical power.

Keshab Poudel

▪ 2004

Area:
47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 685,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji and, from August 30, Lyonpo Jigme Y. Thinley

      On June 28, 2003, Bhutan's National Assembly elected a 10-member Council of Ministers consisting of 6 ministers from the old cabinet and 4 new members from a list nominated by the king. The new cabinet took office in mid-July, and on August 30 the Assembly elected Lyonpo Jigme Y. Thinley prime minister. The primary duty of the Assembly was to approve the final draft of the new constitution submitted to the king in June by the Constitution Drafting Committee.

      The government continued to be concerned primarily with the problem of bases established on Bhutanese territory by three Indian “terrorist” organizations to support their revolutionary activities against the Indian state governments of Assam and West Bengal. More than 2,000 militants were believed to be operating out of these camps. For three years Bhutan had sought to negotiate the closure of the bases, and India had offered its military support as well. Discussions with Nepal over Bhutanese refugees living in camps in eastern Nepal showed some progress.

      Bhutan's economy continued to prosper both internally and externally. One positive achievement was the decision to redistribute 50,000 ha (about 122,000 ac) of excess land to landless families.

Leo E. Rose

▪ 2003

Area:
47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 721,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Chairmen of Council of Ministers Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and, from August 14, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji

      The political situation in Bhutan continued to be stable at both the national and the district levels in 2002. In mid-August Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji replaced Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk as prime minister, but the rest of the cabinet remained intact. The king stated that the cabinet's primary tasks would continue to be to expel the three Indian local political forces from Assam and West Bengal from the bases they had established in southern Bhutan, to complete the draft of the new constitution by the end of October, and to implement the ninth economic development plan.

      Several rounds of talks had been held with the Assamese (ULFA) and the BODO militants since 1998. Though both groups had agreed to close down the bases that they had established on Bhutanese territory, as of mid-2002 several of these camps were still functioning. In addition, a new Indian organization, the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, based in West Bengal, established camps on Bhutanese territory. Bhutan continued its talks with India on this issue, and agreement was reached that this was an issue of concern to both governments and that India “was fully behind” the Bhutan government.

      Bhutan's discussions with Nepal on the Bhutanese in “refugee camps” in southeastern Nepal continued, and some progress was made in resolving this dispute. Bhutan also held meetings with China, Australia, and Singapore. Bhutan's economy continued to flourish in 2001–02.

Leo E. Rose

▪ 2002

Area:
47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 692,000 (excluding more than 100,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Chairmen of Council of Ministers Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and, from August 8, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk

      The close working relationship between the king of Bhutan, the Council of Ministers (Lhengye Zhungtshog), and the National Assembly continued throughout 2001. On August 8 Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk took over as chairman of the council from Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, but most council ministers retained their posts. A Civil and Criminal Procedure Code, under which the powers of the judiciary were expanded and the judicial process defined, was passed on July 23 by the National Assembly.

      Discussions with Nepal continued on the status of refugees from Bhutan in seven refugee camps in southeastern Nepal. Some headway was made with a verification process, but it was evident by midyear that it would take at least another year to complete the work. Little progress was made in persuading the Assamese militants in southeastern Bhutan to withdraw their forces back into India.

      The economy continued to flourish in 2001, owing primarily to the expansion of hydropower resources. Much of the power generated was sold to India, and enough currency was earned to make Bhutan's economy self-supporting. Some economic problems emerged as the number of foreign tourists declined substantially after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Leo E. Rose

▪ 2001

Area:
47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 667,000 (excluding 96,000 refugees in Nepal)
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Chairman of the Cabinet Lyonpo Jigmi Yozer Thinley

      There was some shifting of posts in the cabinet in mid-2000 with Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba's appointment as chairman, but the younger generation of cabinet members appointed in 1999 continued in office. The good working relationship between the cabinet, the National Assembly, and King Jigme Singye Wangchuk continued, and the process of establishing a more decentralized district and local administrative system also progressed.

      The most serious domestic and external policy issue involved the establishment of numerous armed bases in southeastern Bhutan by an Assamese insurrection force that ignored Bhutan's order that it withdraw back into India. Bhutan and India were reportedly negotiating a joint military operation against this force. Bhutan also continued its dialogue with Nepal over the Bhutanese refugee issue.

      Bhutan's per capita income continued to grow at an impressive 12.5% estimate in 2000, but for the first time in recent years there were some job shortages for Bhutan's graduating classes.

Leo E. Rose

▪ 2000

Area:
47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 658,000
Capital:
Thimphu
Head of state:
Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Head of government:
Chairman of the Cabinet Lyonpo Jigmi Yozer Thinley

      The gradual liberalization of the government begun in mid-1998 by Bhutan's king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, continued through 1999. The new Cabinet (Lhengyel Shangtsog) was directly elected by the National Assembly (Tshogdu) and, under the new rules, the Cabinet was directly responsible to the National Assembly rather than to the king. Also, the king was the head of state but no longer the head of government, a position now held by the chairman of the Cabinet. Another potentially critical new law established a more decentralized system in which the powers of the elected local and district councils were expanded.

      Dialogue between Bhutan and Nepal regarding the repatriation to Bhutan of the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin who had lived in UN-monitored refugee camps in eastern Nepal since 1990 continued in 1999 but with no progress in resolving the issue. A National Assembly resolution in July reiterated that the refugees who had left Bhutan voluntarily should not be allowed to return.

      Bhutan's economy grew spectacularly in 1999. The estimated annual growth rate was 11–12%. Under a new policy, 30% of the annual government budget was directed to educational or medical programs.

Leo E. Rose

▪ 1999

      Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 633,000 (excluding Bhutanese of Nepalese origin declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, nearly 100,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal)

      Capital: Thimphu

      Head of state and government: Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk

      Bhutan took a major step toward constitutional government in 1998. The king, after dismissing the appointed Cabinet in June, agreed to the National Assembly's choice of new ministers, even though they differed from the nominees he had recommended. Furthermore, the king agreed to grant the National Assembly the right to test his rule in periodic votes of confidence and even demand his abdication.

      Remaining unresolved was the issue of the repatriation to Bhutan of the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin who had lived in eight UN-monitored refugee camps in eastern Nepal since 1990, when Bhutan launched a national policy that everyone was to adhere to Bhutanese Buddhist traditions. Adding to the problem was the dismissal in early 1998 of 219 Nepalese-speaking civil servants, many of whom were related to pro-democracy activists or to refugees in the UN camps. Human rights activists attempted to use Prince Charles's visit to Bhutan in February as an opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Bhutanese refugees.

CLAUDE RAKISITS

▪ 1998

      Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 860,000 (excluding Bhutanese of Nepalese origin declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, nearly 100,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal)

      Capital: Thimphu

      Head of state and government: Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuk

      In August 1997 the foreign secretary of Nepal, Kumar Gyawali, met with Bhutan's king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, in Bhutan's capital, Thimphu. The main topic of discussion was the repatriation to Bhutan of the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin who had taken shelter in eight UN-monitored refugee camps in eastern Nepal since 1990, when Bhutan launched a national policy that everyone adhere to Bhutanese Buddhist traditions. Although the outcome of the meeting was not disclosed, the fact that the king had met with Gyawali led to speculation that this issue was close to being resolved. During previous discussions Bhutan had always insisted that only the refugees who had been forcefully evicted would be allowed back in Bhutan. Nepal, however, maintained that most refugees had been forced to sign statements of voluntary migration, thus forfeiting, according to Bhutanese law, their right to return.

      In August Bhutan entered into discussion with Bangladesh to export to that country 125 MW of electricity. It was expected that an agreement between the two nations would soon be signed after further talks.

CLAUDE RAKISITS

▪ 1997

      The monarchy of Bhutan is a landlocked state situated in the eastern Himalayas between China and India. Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 842,000 (excluding Nepalese residents declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, nearly 100,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal). Cap.: Thimphu. Monetary unit: ngultrum, at par with the Indian rupee (which is also in use), with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 35.65 ngultrums to U.S. $1 (56.16 ngultrums = £ 1 sterling). Druk gyalpo (king) in 1996, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

      In April 1996 Bhutan and Nepal held their seventh round of ministerial talks on the repatriation of nearly 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin who had taken shelter in eight UN-monitored refugee camps in eastern Nepal. As with the previous talks, the participants failed to reach an agreement, particularly on the criteria for determining Bhutanese citizenship. The refugee problem developed after Bhutan launched in 1988 a national policy demanding that everyone adhere completely to Bhutanese Buddhist traditions. Bhutanese of Nepalese origin claimed that this policy was an attempt to suppress Nepalese culture, and, accordingly, thousands fled to Nepal. (CLAUDE RAKISITS)

▪ 1996

      The monarchy of Bhutan is a landlocked state situated in the eastern Himalayas between China and India. Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 816,000 (excluding Nepalese residents declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, more than 100,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal or India). Cap.: Thimphu. Monetary unit: ngultrum, at par with the Indian rupee (which is also in use), with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 33.90 ngultrums to U.S. $1 (53.59 ngultrums = £1 sterling). Druk gyalpo (king) in 1995, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

      In April 1995 Bhutan and Nepal held their sixth round of ministerial talks, begun in 1991, in an attempt to resolve the status of approximately 85,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin (called Lhotsampas) who had taken shelter in eight UN-run refugee camps located in eastern Nepal. The participants failed to reach an agreement, however. Nepal wanted to repatriate all the refugees who claimed to be Bhutanese, while the representatives of Bhutan insisted on joint verification of the refugees' nationality before allowing them back into the country.

      The refugee problem developed after the Bhutanese government, fearing a threat to the monarchy, the religion, and the laws of Bhutan from the Hindu Lhotsampas, tightened its immigration laws and demanded that the Lhotsampas accept the Bhutanese Buddhist traditions. Discrimination against Lhotsampas reportedly was increasing in the army and in public service.

      Bhutan rejected claims by the banned Bhutan People's Party (BPP), that evictions were state-sponsored. The BPP's campaign of terror was directed against the government and loyal Lhotsampas from across the Bhutan-India border. It severely disrupted trade and industry in the vibrant economic zone of southern Bhutan, where most Lhotsampas resided. (CLAUDE RAKISITS)

▪ 1995

      The monarchy of Bhutan is a landlocked state situated in the eastern Himalayas between China and India. Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 800,000 (excluding Nepalese residents declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, more than 100,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal or India). Cap.: Thimphu. Monetary unit: ngultrum, at par with the Indian rupee (which is also in use), with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 31.37 ngultrums to U.S. $1 (49.89 ngultrums = £1 sterling). Druk gyalpo (king) in 1994, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

      In 1994 Bhutan, one of the world's most isolated kingdoms, failed to resolve a dispute over the issue of granting citizenship to settlers from neighbouring Nepal. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees criticized Bhutan because an estimated 100,000 settlers, mostly Nepalese, remained in refugee camps. A small Nepalese population in Bhutan dated back to at least the 1930s, but waves of immigrants from India and Nepal had swelled the number in the past three decades. Nepalese activists, who said they were waging a pro-democracy campaign against an absolute monarchy, claimed that 53% of Bhutan's residents were Nepalese. The government contended that barely a third were Nepalese and that many of those were illegal aliens.

      Bhutanese Interior Minister Lyonpo Dago Tshering and two associates traveled to Nepal to discuss the refugee issue, but no progress was reported. The two sides, however, agreed to set up a joint committee to determine the citizenship of the refugees, but there was no agreement on how to start the identification work.

      The nation printed the world's first three-dimensional postage stamp in 1994—a futuristic holographic issue commemorating the first U.S. moon landing 25 years earlier. The sale of stamps to foreign collectors had become one of Bhutan's most profitable enterprises. In a nation that depended on foreign aid for about half its budget and had only a handful of exports, the postal service brought in up to $485,000 a year from abroad. (DILIP GANGULY)

▪ 1994

      The monarchy of Bhutan is a landlocked state situated in the eastern Himalayas between China and India. Area: 47,000 sq km (18,150 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 1,546,000 (official projection based on 1980 census includes some 600,000-700,000 Nepalese residents purportedly declared stateless by the Bhutanese government in late 1990, more than 80,000 of whom are now refugees in Nepal). Cap.: Thimphu. Monetary unit: ngultrum, at par with the Indian rupee (which is also in use), with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 31.15 ngultrums to U.S. $1 (47.19 ngultrums = £ 1 sterling). Druk gyalpo (king) in 1993, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

      Four years after trying to quash an uprising by its Nepalese minority, Bhutan was still unable to solve its most pressing problem in 1993. Nepalese activists, who professed to be waging a prodemocracy campaign against an absolute monarchy, asserted that 53% of Bhutan's residents were Nepalese. The government claimed that barely a third were Nepalese and that all others were illegal aliens from India and Nepal. Some 80,000 Nepalese who had fled Bhutan were sheltered in camps on the Nepal-Bhutan border.

      A Nepalese delegation visited Bhutan in July to discuss the refugee issue, although a meeting in April between King Jigme Singye Wangchuk and Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had ended in failure. The two discussed setting up a joint committee to determine the citizenship of the refugees, but nothing more was accomplished. The International Red Cross visited Bhutan in January to investigate alleged violations of human rights and appalling living conditions in prisons. After increasing incidents of piracy of Buddhist statues and antiques, Bhutan planned to enact special laws to deal with antiques smugglers. Bhutan also donated a Himalayan bear to the Kuwaiti zoo to help repair the damage done by Iraqi troops during the Gulf war.

      (DILIP GANGULY)

* * *

Introduction
Bhutan, flag of   country of south-central Asia, located on the eastern ridges of the Himalayas. Historically a remote kingdom, Bhutan became less isolated in the second half of the 20th century, and consequently the pace of change began to accelerate. With improvements in transportation, by the early 21st century a trip from the Indian border to the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu, that once took six days by mule could be made in just a few hours by car along a winding mountain road from the border town of Phuntsholing. The governmental structure also changed radically. Reforms initiated by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (reigned 1952–72) in the 1950s and '60s led to a shift away from absolute monarchy in the 1990s and toward the institution of multiparty parliamentary democracy in 2008.

      The economic core of Bhutan lies in the fertile valleys of the Lesser Himalayas, which are separated from one another by a series of high and complex interconnecting ridges extending across the country from north to south. The political nucleus of Bhutan is centred in the Paro and Thimphu valleys in the Lesser Himalayan region. Its location between the Assam-Bengal Plain of India to the south and the Plateau of Tibet (Tibet, Plateau of) of southwestern China to the north gives the country considerable geopolitical significance.

Land
      Bhutan's northern and western boundary with the Tibet Autonomous Region (part of China), although undefined, generally follows the crest of the Great Himalayas. In the Duars Plain to the south of the Himalayan range lies Bhutan's boundary with the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. Bhutan borders the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Sikkim to the southwest.

Relief
 Physically, Bhutan may be divided into three regions from north to south: the Great Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the Duars Plain.

The Great Himalayas
      The northern part of Bhutan lies within the Great Himalayas; the snowcapped peaks in this region reach an elevation of more than 24,000 feet (7,300 metres). High valleys occur at elevations of 12,000 to 18,000 feet (3,700 to 5,500 metres), running down from the great northern glaciers. Alpine pastures on the high ranges are used for grazing yaks (yak) in the summer months. To the north of the Great Himalayas are several “marginal” mountains of the Plateau of Tibet (Tibet, Plateau of) that form the principal watershed between the northward- and the southward-flowing rivers. A dry climate is characteristic of the Great Himalayan region.

      Until about 1960 the tempo of life in the Great Himalayas continued much as it had for centuries. Long relatively undisturbed in their ways, Bhutanese traders carried cloth, spices, and grains across the mountain passes into Tibet and brought back salt, wool, and sometimes herds of yaks. The absorption of Tibet by China, however, necessarily pushed Bhutan toward ending its isolation; the event brought major changes to the way of living in those high regions, as military precautions were taken to guard against the potential danger of a Chinese incursion from Tibet.

      Spurs from the Great Himalayas radiate southward, forming the ranges of the Lesser Himalayas (also called Inner Himalayas). The north-south ranges of the Lesser Himalayas constitute watersheds between the principal rivers of Bhutan. Differences in elevation and the degree of exposure to moist southwest monsoon winds determine the prevailing vegetation, which ranges from dense forest on the rain-swept windward slopes to alpine vegetation at higher elevations. Several fertile valleys of central Bhutan are in the Lesser Himalayas at elevations varying from 5,000 to 9,000 feet (1,500 to 2,700 metres). These valleys, notably the Paro, Punakha, Thimphu, and Ha, are relatively broad and flat, receive moderate rainfall (from 40 to 50 inches [about 1,000 to 1,270 mm] or less a year), and are fairly well populated and cultivated.

The Duars Plain
      South of the Lesser Himalayas and the foothills lies the narrow Duars Plain, which forms a strip 8 to 10 miles (12 to 16 km) wide along the southern border of Bhutan. The Himalayan ranges rise sharply and abruptly from this plain, which constitutes a gateway to the strategic mountain passes (known as dwars (Duars) or dooars) that lead into the fertile valleys of the Lesser Himalayas. Subject to abundant rainfall (200 to 300 inches [5,100 to 7,600 mm] a year), the entire Duars tract is hot and steamy and is covered with dense semitropical forest and undergrowth.

      The northern part of the Duars, immediately bordering the mountains, consists of a rugged, irregular, and sloping surface. At the foot of the mountains, small villages are found in forest clearings, but most of the area is thickly covered with vegetation inhabited by an array of large wild animals. The southern part of the Duars, bordering India, is mostly covered with savanna (grassy parkland) and bamboo jungle. In many areas the savannas have been cleared for rice cultivation. The principal trade routes between central Bhutan and India follow the valleys of the main rivers.

Drainage
      Bhutan's mountainous territory is dissected by numerous rivers. The main rivers from west to east are the Torsa (Amo), Wong (Raidak), Sankosh (Mo), and Manas. All the rivers flow southward from the Great Himalayas and join the Brahmaputra River in India.

Climate
      Bhutan's climate is perhaps more diverse than that of any other similarly sized area in the world. The climate changes with elevation, producing striking meteorologic contrasts, and differing exposures to sunlight and moisture-laden winds result in complex local variations. Three principal climatic regions can be distinguished: the hot, humid, subtropical tract of the Duars Plain and its adjacent foothills; the cooler region of the Lesser Himalayas; and the alpine tundra region of the Great Himalayas. A temperate climate occurs only in the central mountain valleys. For instance, in Thimphu, in the country's west-central region, in January, high temperatures are usually in the low 50s F (about 12 °C) and low temperatures in the mid-30s F (about 2 °C); in July, Thimphu's temperatures are somewhat warmer, typically rising to the mid-60s F (about 19 °C) and dropping to the mid-50s F (about 13 °C). The remainder of the country experiences either extreme heat, as in the Duars, or extreme cold, as in the north.

Plant and animal life
      Bhutan's flora is notable for its great variety and its continuous transition from tropical through temperate to exclusively alpine forms. The moist zone of tropical deciduous vegetation occupies the south, in the Duars Plain and adjoining hills. Tall, dense grasses used in the manufacture of paper and pulp are an important plant resource in the lower elevations. Forests of pine, with some oak, dominate the slopes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet (900 and 1,800 metres). At higher elevations the forests contain a mixture of many species—pine, oak, walnut, rhododendron, ash, poplar, willow, aspen, and magnolia. The most valuable forests are located between 6,000 and 9,000 feet (1,800 and 2,700 metres); these magnificent forests contain cypress, fir, spruce, and juniper. Birch can be found up to the timberline at 14,000 feet (4,200 metres). Alpine shrubs and grasses grow on the higher slopes of the Great Himalayas.

      Sambar deer, gaurs (type of wild ox), rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, and other animals are found in Bhutan, particularly along the Manas and Sankosh rivers in the central and eastern regions and in the country's forest-covered hills. To preserve this wildlife and its natural environment, the government of Bhutan has established a number of protected areas, including the Royal Manas National Park (1966), which adjoins India along the banks of the Manas River and is home to the rare golden langur (a slender long-tailed monkey). The extensive Jigme Dorji National Park (1974), in northwestern Bhutan, is unique in spanning all three of the country's climate zones.

People (Bhutan)

Ethnic groups and languages
 There are three major ethnic groups in Bhutan: the Bhutia (also called Ngalop), the Nepalese, and the Sharchop. The Bhutia are the largest ethnic group and make up about half of the population. They are the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who came southward into Bhutan beginning about the 9th century. The Bhutia are dominant in northern, central, and western Bhutan. They speak a variety of Tibeto-Burman languages, and the most common of these, Dzongkha, is Bhutan's official language; the written language is identical with Tibetan (Tibetan language). The Bhutia dominate Bhutan's political life.

      An ethnically mixed population is found in southern and southwestern Bhutan. The Nepalese (including members of the Gurung ethnic group) predominate in the region and constitute roughly one-third of the country's total population; they are the most recent arrivals in Bhutan. Most speak Nepali (Nepali language). The growing numbers of Nepalese prompted the Bhutanese government to ban further immigration from Nepal beginning in 1959 and to prohibit Nepalese settlement in central Bhutan. Relatively little assimilation has taken place between the Tibetan and Nepalese groups, and tension between the two communities has remained a major internal political problem for Bhutan.

      Most of the people in eastern Bhutan are ethnically related to the hill tribes living in adjacent areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The Sharchop, as these people are called, are believed to have been the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan.

Religion
 Nearly three-fourths of Bhutan's population follows Buddhism, primarily of the Tibetan variety. Of the four major branches of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingma (Rnying-ma-pa) ( Rnying-ma-pa) and Kagyu ( Bka'-brgyud-pa) are practiced in Bhutan. Nyingma is the older of the two sects, and it has existed in both Bhutan and Tibet since about the 8th century. The Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the 11th century, has many subsects, of which Drukpa Kagyu is the strongest in Bhutan. Since its establishment in the early 17th century, the Drukpa subsect has become increasingly prominent in Bhutan's political and religious life. Most Bhutanese are adherents of Drukpa Kagyu, and in the early 21st century it constituted the official state religion. Although the Nyingma and Kagyu groups have maintained their separate sectarian identities, historical relations between the two traditions have been close, stemming largely from commonalities in doctrine and lineage of leadership.

      Bhutanese Buddhism, though belonging to the larger family of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, has a unique character. Although monasteries are ubiquitous, neither the monastic organization nor monastic scholasticism dominate Bhutanese society. Rather, the spirit of Bhutanese Buddhism is captured by the ideal of lamas (lama) (spiritual leaders), who by the practice of meditative disciplines have attained siddha (perfection, miraculous powers) but otherwise remain inconspicuous in everyday life.

      Aside from Buddhism, Hinduism commands a significant following in Bhutan, particularly within the Nepalese community. Hindus constitute nearly one-fourth of the population. There also is a tiny Christian population, although proselytization is illegal in Bhutan.

Settlement patterns
 Bhutan is a relatively sparsely populated country, with a rate of population increase close to the world average in the early 21st century. Its most thinly populated sections are the cold and rugged Great Himalayan region and the malarial tracts bordering the Duars Plain. The adverse physical conditions in both these areas limit most of the population to two regions: the fertile and intensively farmed Lesser Himalayan valleys of central and western Bhutan and the southwestern portions of the country near the Indian border.

      Much of Bhutan's population lives in very small, scattered villages. Until the late 1960s the country had no urban settlements. However, with road construction and economic development, some of the larger villages have grown into towns, a few dozen of which have been deemed “urban centres” by the government. By the early 21st century such urban centres contained nearly one-third of the population.

 Southern Bhutan's domestic architecture resembles that of neighbouring areas of India, while in the Great Himalayan region and the Lesser Himalayan valleys the architecture is typically Tibetan. Especially in the Himalayan regions, a notable feature of Bhutan's settlements is the dzong, or fortress-monastery. The dzong served as a stronghold against enemies in the past, and it now plays an important role as a combined administrative centre and monastery. Almost every populated valley has a dzong, which usually is situated on a prominent site overlooking a stream or river. The dzongs serve as focal points of Bhutan's political, economic, religious, and social life. Their thick white walls, which slope inward in Tibetan style, shelter Buddhist lamas, government officials, and artisans.

      Of the larger urban centres or towns, Phuntsholing, in the Duars Plain, is the most important. It is the southern terminus of a major highway from Thimphu and functions as the gateway to the well-populated Lesser Himalayan valleys. A vigorous commercial sector has developed in the centre of the town. Bhutan's capital, Thimphu, was a mere cluster of houses in the 1960s, but since that time it has developed into a sizable town. Its venerable dzong has been rebuilt and enlarged to house the Bhutan government secretariat. After Thimphu, Paro is Bhutan's fastest-growing town. Since the mid-1980s, scheduled air service has been established between Paro and the cities of Kolkata (Calcutta) (Calcutta) and New Delhi, India; Dhaka, Bangl.; Bangkok, Thai.; and Kathmandu, Nepal.

Economy
      The Bhutanese economy is largely agrarian, and the significant variations in elevation and climate across the country allow Bhutan's farms to support a wide variety of crops and livestock. However, the amount of land available for agriculture is only a small fraction of the total area of the country; the adverse climate, poor soil, and steep slopes in much of Bhutan have made it necessary to leave a large land area covered with forest growth, meadows, and grasslands. The relatively low, well-watered, and fertile valleys of central Bhutan have the largest percentage of cultivated land.

      The main priority of Bhutan's development strategy has been to bring the country out of its geographic isolation. To this end, Bhutan has relied on external assistance from India, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Asian Development Bank. The success of a series of five-year plans—the first of which was launched in 1961—has depended largely on the regular flow of funds from India to Bhutan and on the availability of Indian technical personnel. Much of the country's development budget has been devoted to improvement of the infrastructure, but the five-year plans also have emphasized the exploitation of agricultural and power resources, and the country's economy has been on a general upward trend since the late 20th century. Propelling much of the growth has been the Chhukha Hydel hydroelectric power project (completed in 1987–88), which enabled the country not only to provide for its own energy needs but also to export electricity to India.

Agriculture and forestry
      Progressive changes in farming and forestry practices have been introduced in Bhutan since the late 20th century to increase the productivity of the agricultural sector. A large number of orchards have been established, and thousands of fruit plants have been distributed to farmers to popularize fruit growing. Emphasis also has been given to the development of small-scale irrigation schemes. In the early 21st century the sector remains a leading contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) and a top employer of Bhutan's labour force.

 Most Bhutanese farms are small in size, and terraces are used extensively to raise crops on hillslopes. Corn (maize), potatoes, rice, citrus fruits, apples, and various spices, including nutmeg, mace, and cardamom, are among the chief crops. Cattle, pigs, and horses are the principal livestock raised on Bhutan's scattered pastures.

      About two-thirds of Bhutan is covered with forests. Consequently, timber production emerged as an important component of the economy, and there are many sawmills situated throughout the country. Growth of the forestry industry has been restrained, however, by legislation aimed at preserving the country's extensive forest cover.

Resources and power
      Geological surveys have revealed an array of valuable mineral deposits in Bhutan, but mining remains a slow-growing portion of the economy. Calcium carbide—the country's main mineral export—limestone, dolomite, gypsum, coal, marble, quartzite, and talc are the primary products of the country's mining activities. Other minerals, extracted in smaller quantities, include slate, beryl, pyrite, and various gemstones, as well as a number of metals, such as lead, copper, tin, iron, and silver.

      The vast majority of Bhutan's energy is provided by hydroelectric power stations. The Chhukha Hydel project, which harnesses the waters of the Raidak River, was historically one of the largest single investments undertaken in Bhutan, and it represented a major step toward exploiting the country's huge hydroelectric potential. The sale of surplus energy from the Chhukha project to India ultimately financed the venture. Since the completion of the Chhukha project in the late 1980s, several other hydroelectric dams and generators were put into operation, and by the early 21st century electricity had become the country's top export.

Manufacturing
      Manufacturing, which began in Bhutan about 1970, has grown considerably, with four industries—producing cement, chemicals, wood products, and processed foods—arising as pillars of the sector by the early 21st century. The rapid expansion of these and other industries in both the public and private sectors is attributable largely to the availability of sufficient power (and proceeds) from the country's hydroelectric projects. Nearly all Bhutan's manufacturing centres are located in the south, close to the Indian border. Phuntsholing, with nearly half of Bhutan's manufacturing activity, is the largest industrial centre.

Finance
      Until the 1960s Bhutan did not have a currency; its people bartered for the goods they could not produce themselves. Now the country has a cash economy, with the Royal Monetary Authority issuing the ngultrum, the national currency. The country also has a few commercial banks, most of which are jointly owned (in various combinations) by the government of Bhutan, the government of India, and private interests. A development bank that specializes in industrial and agricultural loans was established in 1988. A stock exchange, open to citizens of Bhutan only, was founded in Thimphu in 1993.

Trade
      Because Bhutan is landlocked, trade and transit arrangements with India play a critical role in its economic life. free trade with India prevails, and India is the source of the great majority of Bhutan's imports, which include machinery, transport equipment, base and fabricated metals, petroleum products, vegetables and other food, and textiles. India also is the recipient of the bulk of Bhutan's exports. Electricity is the country's principal export, followed by copper wire and cable, calcium carbide, metal alloys, cement, and polyester yarn. Cardamom and other spices, gypsum, timber, and handicrafts also are exported, albeit on a smaller scale. Secondary trading partners, for the most part in Asia, have included Japan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, and Singapore. In 2004 Bhutan became a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation and also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement.

Services
      Limited tourism, closely controlled by the government, began to develop in Bhutan in the mid-1970s. In the early 1990s, however, the tourism industry was privatized, and since that time the volume of tourists, tourist facilities, and tourist income increased monumentally. In the early 21st century there remained a government-imposed daily tourist tariff to ensure significant tourist input into the economy.

      With greater government expenditure on education and social services, as well as increased allowance to civil servants, government and financial services also expanded since the late 20th century. The services sector—including primarily public administration and defense, finance, trade and restaurants, and public utilities—generates more than one-third of Bhutan's GDP, but it engages a smaller proportion of the country's workforce.

Labour
      The rise in school enrollments and the increase in literacy since the late 20th century have benefited the country's economic development. However, they also contributed to serious imbalances in the labour force. Formal schooling generally has directed students away from agricultural vocations; consequently, by the early 21st century rural areas had begun to experience significant labour shortages, while Bhutan's educated youth struggled to find employment in urban areas. Meanwhile, the number of Bhutanese sufficiently trained in medicine, engineering, education, and other professional fields continued to fall short of the country's needs.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Bhutan's development plans have stressed the improvement of transportation and communications, and by the early 21st century the combined sectors had become a significant contributor to the country's GDP. The roughly 120-mile (200-km) highway linking Phuntsholing to Thimphu is part of an expanding network of roads the government built to open up the country. Highways constructed through difficult mountain terrain connect roads from India to Thimphu and to Paro in western Bhutan, to Tongsa in central Bhutan, and to Tashigang in eastern Bhutan. The construction of a major east-west road also has been completed. Bhutan has one international airport, in Paro, from which Druk Air, the national airline, offers flights to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Thailand. Indian engineers have assisted the Bhutanese government in laying telephone lines and exchanges, and the principal administrative centres of Bhutan have telecommunication links with India. In 1999 television and the Internet were legalized, and a satellite communication system was established near Thimphu.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 Until the 1950s, Bhutan was an absolute monarchy whose sovereign was styled the druk gyalpo (“dragon king”). During the second half of the 20th century, the monarchs increasingly divested themselves of their power, and in 2008 King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, the fifth in a royal line that had been established in 1907, completed the transfer of governmental authority to a popularly elected, multiparty, bicameral legislature. While the monarch remained the titular head of state, the prime minister (generally expected to be the leader of the majority party in the legislature) became the actual head of government.

      Historically, the government of Bhutan was autocratic, with no law codes or courts or any of the common features of public administration. Major change came, however, when the third monarch, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (reigned 1952–72), began to restructure the country's government to share administrative responsibility, which formerly was his alone. In 1953 a national assembly known as the Tshogdu was established in Bhutan through the king's initiative. It had 151 members, who were elected by village headmen or chosen by the king and the country's official Buddhist monastic order. The Tshogdu met twice a year and passed legislation enacted by the king. The Royal Advisory Council was established in 1965 to advise the king and his ministers on important questions and to supervise the implementation of government programs and policies. The Council of Ministers, composed of the heads of the various government departments, was set up in 1968; the ministers were appointed by the king, and their appointments were ratified by the Tshogdu. The Royal Advisory Council and the Council of Ministers, along with representatives from the clergy, constituted Bhutan's cabinet. The state Buddhist monastic order was involved in government at many levels, and its priests exerted considerable influence.

      Upon his death in 1972, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk was succeeded by his son, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk (reigned 1972–2006), who continued the process of reforming the government. Major changes were introduced in 1998, when the king dissolved the cabinet to have it reconstituted, in part, through election by the Tshogdu. Moreover, the monarch transferred most of his administrative duties to the cabinet and granted to the Tshodgu the authority to remove him through a vote of no confidence. In other words, while the king retained his role as head of state, he relinquished his power as head of government to the Tshogdu.

      On Dec. 14, 2006, Jigme Singye Wangchuk abdicated, passing the throne to his Oxford-educated son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. This event catalyzed the country's transition to a fully democratic government. Over the next year the public was trained in the democratic process through a mock vote, and the country's first official elections—for seats in the National Council, the upper house of a new bicameral parliament—were held on Dec. 31, 2007. Elections for the National Assembly, the lower house, took place in March 2008, completing the conversion of Bhutan's government to a parliamentary democracy. A draft of the new constitution, which was completed in 2005, had yet to be ratified, however.

Local government
      For administrative purposes, Bhutan is divided into some 20 dzongkhags (districts), each with a district officer who is responsible to the minister of home affairs. The districts are divided further into dungkhags (subdistricts), each encompassing a number of gewogs (groups of villages). Village headmen are elected by the people of their villages to three-year terms. Some areas are designated as municipalities and operate on the same administrative level as the gewogs.

Justice
      Bhutan's legal code is based upon traditional Buddhist precepts. In 1968 the judicial system was separated from the executive and legislative branches of government, and a high court was established, primarily to hear appeals from district-level courts. Citizens have the right to appeal decisions of the high court.

Political process
      Political parties were illegal in Bhutan until mid-2007. In April of that year the ban was lifted by royal decree in anticipation of the general elections that would establish Bhutan as a parliamentary democracy. The first legal party to be registered was the People's Democratic Party, followed shortly thereafter by the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party. These two parties were the sole contestants in the subsequent elections of 2007 and 2008. There remain, however, a number of illegitimate (unregistered) political parties, made up mostly of ethnic Nepalese, that operate from abroad.

      Suffrage in Bhutan is universal for citizens who are at least 18 years old. Women are permitted to run for office, but in the early 21st century they continued to be underrepresented in the higher echelons of government and government services; they constituted only a small segment of the National Assembly. However, women have remained active participants in community decision-making processes.

Health and welfare
      In the 1960s and '70s Bhutan ranked low in terms of health indicators. Its infant mortality was high, even for South Asia, and the country's ratio of physicians to the general population lagged behind those of its neighbours. Most of the population lacked access to safe drinking water, and, consequently, infectious gastrointestinal diseases were widespread. Respiratory ailments, especially influenza and pneumonia, also were widely prevalent, and the incidence of parasite infestations, skin diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, and goitre was high in most parts of the country. As a result, the average life expectancy in Bhutan was notably low.

      In the 1980s, however, Bhutan's health conditions began to improve, and by the early 21st century the infant mortality rate had dropped dramatically and life expectancy had climbed to the mid-60s, representing an increase of nearly 20 years. Moreover, investments made by the government in the construction of a sewerage system in the early 1990s had proven effective in helping to curb the spread of infectious diseases.

      More than two dozen public hospitals and some 200 clinics (called basic health units) and dispensaries operate throughout the country. The government also supports the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services (ITMS), a separate network of facilities specializing in indigenous medicine; the ITMS includes a hospital, a training centre, a pharmaceutical and research unit, and numerous clinics and dispensaries.

      Women and men in Bhutanese society enjoy an essentially equal legal status. Bhutan's inheritance laws are favourable to women, and most Bhutanese households are managed by women. The greatest obstacles to the social and economic advancement of Bhutanese women have been the needs for health care, education, and employment opportunities. The National Women's Association of Bhutan (established in 1981) oversees various programs aimed at enabling disadvantaged women to hurdle such hindrances.

Education
      Until the early 1960s, no formal schools existed in Bhutan except those for religious instruction. Since then considerable progress has been made in education, and primary and secondary schools have been established throughout the country. By the end of the 20th century, a policy had been adopted whereby a major portion of the annual government budget was directed toward educational programs.

      Education is not compulsory in Bhutan, and many of the country's children between the ages of 6 and 11 years are not enrolled in primary school. Similarly, only a fraction of Bhutan's older children are enrolled in secondary school. Nevertheless, enrollment rates rose substantially since the late 20th century, and the rate of adult literacy, although only about 60 percent in the early 21st century, also increased dramatically. Growing numbers of students attend the country's various colleges, including Sherubtse Degree College—established at Kanglung in eastern Bhutan in 1983 and affiliated with the University of Delhi—as well as several teacher-training colleges and technical-vocational institutes.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
      The three main ethnic groups of Bhutan—the Bhutia, the Nepalese, and the Sharchop—display considerable variety in their cultures and lifestyles. A typical Bhutia house is a two-storied structure of timber and stone with thick, pounded mud walls to keep out the cold. Livestock are kept on the ground floor, while the family lives above. Inside the house, a family will usually maintain a small Buddhist (Buddhism) shrine in a corner. Among the livestock kept by Bhutia families is the yak, which supplies not only meat but also milk, from which butter is made for use in food preparations, in lamps, and on the shrine altar. Ordinary households may not be able to afford meat in their daily meals, however, and often rely on ema datshi, a chili and cheese stew, or kewa datshi, which adds potatoes to the mix. Both can be considered national dishes, and both are served with basmati or Bhutanese red rice.

      Although the Bhutia have a tradition of polyandry (marriage of a woman to more than one man), their family system is basically patriarchal, with estates divided equally between sons and daughters. Both men and women may choose whom they marry and may initiate a divorce.

      The Sharchop are closely linked to the Bhutia because they share a common religion in Tibetan Buddhism, though among the Sharchop there is often a strong element of the older pre-Buddhist Bon religion. The Sharchop build their houses of stone and wood, often on stilts on the hillslopes. They generally practice shifting agriculture, whereby land is cleared by burning the vegetation, is cultivated for several years, and then is abandoned in favour of another site when the productivity of the soil declines.

      The Nepalese of Bhutan are predominantly Hindus (Hinduism) and have caste and family ties to Nepal and India. Because they live in the warmer climate of southern Bhutan, their houses are made of bamboo and thatch. The Nepalese do not eat beef, and some of them abstain from meat altogether. Instead, they eat the rice and curry dishes that are common among the Hindus of Nepal and India. Their caste system separates different social levels and influences the choice of marriage partners and other social relationships.

The arts
      The major impulse in Bhutanese art comes from Buddhism. The mystic circular pattern known as the mandala is a favourite subject. The mandala adorns the walls and ceilings of Buddhist temples and is painted, embroidered, or appliquéd on the scrolls known as thangkas. One of the most popularly depicted figures is Padmasambhava, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, and another common theme in the visual arts is the group of eight auspicious symbols of Tibetan Buddhism—the right-coiled conch shell, the lotus flower, the eight-spoked wheel of dharma, the parasol, the endless knot, a pair of golden fishes, the victory banner, and the treasure vase. Dancing is central to most religious festivals in Bhutan, and it is used to depict the tales and legends of Buddhist history and mythology.

      The castlelike dzongs, with their gently tapering walls, large courtyards, and long galleries, are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Chorten (stupa)s, or stupas (stupa), small shrines built originally to house sacred relics, are also a common architectural sight in Bhutan; their designs range from simple square structures to large, multilayered pyramidal shapes.

      Bhutan's metalsmiths are skilled in working with bronze, silver, and other fine metals. Their artistry is evident in statues of deities, doors and pillars of temples, bells, trumpets, swords, tables, candlesticks, rice boxes, and jewelry. Every Buddhist temple contains large, brightly painted and gilded statues of the Buddha and his saints.

      Songs of itinerant musicians, the overtone chanting (sometimes called throat singing) of Buddhist monks, and the sounds of long horns echoing across the valleys are all an integral part of Bhutanese music. Many of the ancient Tibetan ritual musics—typically featuring drums, cymbals, and trumpets of various sizes—have been preserved, though the instruments have been modified. For example, trumpets once made of human thighbone are today constructed of metal. Some forms of Bhutanese music, especially within the Nepalese community in the southern part of the country, are more closely related to Indian (as opposed to Tibetan) traditions; such musics may use a flute or a harmonium, in ensemble with a drum, to accompany singing. Other common instruments of Bhutan include plucked lutes, struck zithers, and bamboo flutes. As the country became less isolated since the late 20th century, new types of music emerged. One new genre, called rigsar, blends Bhutanese, Indian, and Western elements within an international popular music idiom.

      Since its establishment in the last decade of the 20th century, Bhutan's film (motion picture) industry has grown tremendously, and by 2005 the country had already produced several dozen films. Although most of the early works were heavily influenced by Bollywood and Hollywood productions, the industry soon began a process of indigenization as producers strove to emphasize local issues, imagery, and artistic idioms. Khyentse Norbu, a prominent Buddhist monk and pioneer in the development of distinctly Bhutanese film, wrote and directed The Cup, a comedy about several young Buddhist monks who are determined to watch the World Cup football (soccer) championship on television at their boarding school, and Travellers and Magicians (2003), filmed entirely in northern Bhutan, which depicts the struggles of a young Bhutanese man who longs to leave his country for a glamorous life abroad; both films won multiple awards at international festivals.

Pradyumna P. Karan Dawa Norbu

History
      Bhutan's rugged mountains and dense forests long rendered it almost inaccessible to the outside world, and the country's rulers reinforced this isolation by banning foreigners until well into the 20th century. Then, under pressure from neighbouring countries with strategic interests in Bhutan, a slow change began. In committing to policies of social and administrative reform coupled with economic development, Bhutan began to cultivate its international contacts.

The emergence of Bhutan
      The historical origins of Bhutan are obscure. It is reported that some four to five centuries ago an influential lama from Tibet, Sheptoon La-Pha, became the king of Bhutan and acquired the title of dharma raja. Bhutan probably became a distinct political entity about this period. La-Pha was succeeded by Doopgein Sheptoon, who consolidated Bhutan's administrative organization through the appointment of regional penlops (governors of territories) and jungpens (governors of forts). Doopgein Sheptoon exercised both temporal and spiritual authority, but his successor confined himself to only the spiritual role and appointed a minister to exercise the temporal power. The minister became the temporal ruler and acquired the title of deb raja. This institution of two supreme authorities—a dharma raja for spiritual affairs and a deb raja for temporal matters—existed until the death of the last dharma raja in the early 20th century. Succession to the spiritual office of dharma raja was dependent on what was considered a verifiable reincarnation of the deceased dharma raja, and this person was often discovered among the children of the ruling families. When the last dharma raja died in the 1930s, no reincarnation was found, and the practice and the office ceased to exist.

      For much of the 19th century Bhutan was plagued by a series of civil wars as the governors of the various territories contended for power and influence. The office of the deb raja, in theory filled by election by a council composed of penlops and jungpens, was in practice held by the strongest of the governors, usually either the penlop of Paro or the penlop of Tongsa. Similarly, the penlops, who were to be appointed by the deb raja, in practice fought their way into office. Throughout most of Bhutanese history a continuous series of skirmishes and intrigues took place throughout the land as superseded jungpens and penlops awaited an opportunity to return to power.

      In 1907, after the dharma raja had died and the deb raja had withdrawn into a life of contemplation, the then-strongest penlop, Ugyen Wangchuk of Tongsa, was “elected” by a council of lamas, abbots, councillors, and laymen to be the hereditary king (druk gyalpo) of Bhutan. The lamas continued to have strong spiritual influence.

Foreign contacts and relations
      Despite its long-standing tendency to isolate itself from the rest of the world, Bhutan was the object of several foreign invasions in the centuries after its establishment. In 1720 a Chinese imperial army invaded Tibet and established suzerainty over both Tibet and Bhutan. Control over Bhutan changed several times thereafter, and the country's exact territorial extent was not clear. The British intervened in Bhutan in 1772–73 and again in 1864–65, at which time the defeated Bhutanese signed a treaty ceding control of their southern border passes to the British. The Bhutanese also agreed to accept British mediation in any future disputes between Bhutan and its neighbours in return for an annual British subsidy.

      Ugyen Wangchuk became Bhutan's druk gyalpo in 1907 with British approval, and in 1910 the Bhutanese government agreed in a treaty to continue to be guided by Great Britain in external affairs in return for an increased annual subsidy and the promise of noninterference in Bhutan's internal affairs. In subsequent decades, Bhutan gradually became oriented toward British-ruled India, though much of its trade was still with Tibet.

      In August 1949 Bhutan concluded a treaty with newly independent India, whereby that country assumed Britain's former role toward Bhutan. As part of this arrangement, India paid an annual subsidy to Bhutan, and a strip of land in the Duars of Assam, known as the Dewangiri, was transferred to Bhutan. India also refrained from interfering in the country's internal administration.

      When the People's Republic of china took control of Tibet in 1950, Bhutan was prompted to strengthen its ties with India. China's suppression of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and its vague assertions of sovereignty over some Bhutanese territory lent urgency to the Chinese threat, and in the 1950s India took measures to strengthen its defensive garrisons along Bhutan's northern border with Tibet. The building of a road network inside Bhutan and toward India was initiated, and the arrival of the first automobiles was a significant step toward ending Bhutan's geographical isolation.

Pradyumna P. Karan

From absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy
      Beginning in the early 1960s, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk embarked on a program to reform the country's economy and its quasi-feudal social system. New roads and hospitals were built, and a system of secular schools was established as an alternative to education in Buddhist monasteries. Transformation of the social system began with the abolition of slavery, the restriction of Bhutia polyandry and Nepalese polygamy, and a slight liberalization of royal rule. Bhutan's government institutions were also restructured, though the king retained firm control over the country's political life. Political instability occasionally surfaced, notably in 1964, when the prime minister was murdered in a dispute between rival political factions, and in 1965, when an unsuccessful assassination attempt was made on the king himself. In 1971 Bhutan officially ended its political isolation by joining the United Nations.

      In 1972, 16-year-old Jigme Singye Wangchuk succeeded his father as king. The new king agreed to abide by the treaty with India and also sought to improve ties with China. Jigme Singye Wangchuk continued his father's reform and development policies, channeling money into infrastructure, education, and health, but he also tried to preserve Bhutan's rich cultural heritage and natural environment. In 1988 Bhutan launched a national policy demanding that everyone adhere completely to Buddhist traditions. Bhutanese of Nepalese origin, who constituted between one-third and one-half of Bhutan's residents (Bhutan's government claimed the former, Bhutan's Nepalese the latter) and who were primarily Hindu (Hinduism), viewed the policy as an attempt to suppress Nepalese culture. Violent protests and ethnic antagonism broke out, and thousands of Bhutan's Nepalese residents fled to Nepal (Bhutan's government claimed that many of the Nepalese had resided in the country illegally). By the early 1990s it was estimated that some 100,000 Nepalese from Bhutan were housed in refugee camps in Nepal; the governments of Bhutan and Nepal held regular meetings to resolve the refugee issue but still had not reached a final agreement by the early 21st century.

      At the same time, Jigme Singye Wangchuk moved to democratize Bhutan. In the late 1990s he relinquished absolute authority. Although the king continued to wield significant power, particularly over security issues, he shared power with the Council of Ministers, whose chair developed de facto into a prime minister. The king also persuaded members of the Tshogdu (Bhutan's national assembly, partly elected by village headmen and partly appointed by the king and the monastic order) to accept a provision that would allow the assembly to call for a vote of confidence on the monarch and even potentially require him to abdicate. In addition, at the behest of the king, extensive efforts were directed toward establishing a written constitution for Bhutan.

      By the turn of the 21st century, Bhutan had moved to embrace democracy as well as to eliminate vestiges of its historical isolation from all angles—geographic, political, economic, social, and technological. Accelerating this initiative was the abdication of the king in 2006 and the transfer of the throne to his politically progressive son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. By the end of 2007 the country had held direct elections—the first in its history—for the National Council, the upper house of a new bicameral parliament. Elections in March 2008 for the National Assembly, the lower house of the new parliament, marked the completion of the change to a democratic system. Meanwhile, the country continued its efforts to dissolve long-standing impediments to international awareness and foreign relations. Limited numbers of tourists were permitted to enter the country beginning in the 1970s, and in 1999 the government lifted its prohibitions on television broadcasting and allowed its citizens access to the Internet. Development policies showed success, as Bhutan's economy experienced significant growth, but these positive measures were offset to some degree by Bhutan's inability to negotiate a settlement with Nepal over refugees and by the resulting periodic ethnic violence in the country.

Pradyumna P. Karan Ed.

Additional Reading
Pradyumna P. Karan, Bhutan: A Physical and Cultural Geography (1967), is a concise but broad survey, with maps and illustrations. Nagendra Singh, Bhutan, a Kingdom in the Himalayas: A Study of the Land, Its People, and Their Government, 3rd rev. ed. (1985), is a more detailed geography. Françoise Pommaret and Yoshiro Imaeda, Bhutan, new ed. (1998), offers travelers an informative guide and a good, detailed introduction. Other useful descriptive works include V.H. Coelho, Sikkim and Bhutan (1971); Dilip Bhattacharyya, Bhutan, the Himalayan Paradise, rev. ed. (1982); and Tom Owen Edmunds, Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon (1988).Analyses of economic conditions and social and cultural policies are found in H.N. Misra, Bhutan: Problems and Policies (1988); Pradyumna P. Karan, Bhutan, Environment, Culture, and Development Strategy (1990); and Pradyumna P. Karan and Shigeru Iijima, Bhutan: Development amid Environmental and Cultural Preservation (1987). Leo E. Rose, The Politics of Bhutan (1977); Nari Rustomji, Bhutan: The Dragon Kingdom in Crisis (1978); Bhabani Sen Gupta, Bhutan: Towards a Grass-Root Participatory Polity (1999); and Awadhesh Coomar Sinha, Bhutan: Ethnic Identity and National Dilemma, 2nd rev. ed. (1998), provide coverage of the country's politics and administration.Nirmala Das, The Dragon Country: The General History of Bhutan (1974), offers a brief historical survey. Michael Aris, Bhutan: The Early History of a Himalayan Kingdom (1979), is a definitive history of early Bhutan. Peter Collister, Bhutan and the British (1987), focuses on Bhutan's foreign relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Michael Hutt, Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan (2005), discusses the Nepalese who left Bhutan for Nepal.Dawa Norbu

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Universalium. 2010.

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