The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, mountainous nation of southern Asia, located in the Himalaya Mountains between India and China. The local name for the country, Druk Yul, means "land of the thunder dragon", as the thunder believed to be the sound of roaring dragons.
|National motto: None|
|King||Jigme Singye Wangchuck[?]|
|Prime minister||Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 128th |
- Total (2002)
August 8, 1949
|Time zone||UTC +6|
|National anthem||Druk tsendhen|
A Buddhist theocracy was established in Bhutan in the early 17th century. The area, historically close to Tibet to the north, came under the influence of the British in India during the 19th century and a protectorate was established in 1910, with Britain assuming control of foreign affairs, but refraining from interference in internal affairs.
After India itself became independent in 1947 it in turn assumed this role and granted independence to Bhutan in 1949, though it retains a protective role. The current monarchy, originally established in 1907 adopted a policy of driving out non-natives Bhutanese, which has caused approximately 100,000 Nepalese and Indians to flee to neighbouring countries.
Head of state is the King or Druk Gyalpo, presently Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Although his title is hereditary, he can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote from the parliament, the unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu. This body has 154 seats, and is composed of locally elected town representatives (105), religious representatives (12) and members nominated by the king (37), all of whom serve a three-year term.
In his executive work, the monarch is aided by a council of ministers or cabinet (Lhengye Shungtsog), with members appointed by the king, approved by the National Assembly, and serving fixed, five-year terms.
Bhutan is divided into 18 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural):
Bhutan is a very mountainous and landlocked nation, situated within the eastern Himalayas. Mountain peaks in the north reach up to over 7,000 m, the highest point being the Kula Kangri[?] at 7,553 m. The southern part of the country has a lower altitude, and contains several fertile and densely forested valleys that flow down into the Brahmaputra river in India.
The majority of the population lives in the central highlands. The country's largest city, the capital Thimphu (population 27,000), is located in the western part of these highlands. The local climate varies from tropical in the south to cool winters and hot summers in the central valleys, with severe winters and cool summers occurring in the Himalayas.
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 labour. Bhutan's hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources.
Model education, social, and environment programmes in Bhutan are underway with support from multilateral development organisations, always taking Bhutan's wish for preservation of its traditions into account. The government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base and improving social welfare, though detailed controls and uncertain policies in many areas continue to hamper foreign investment. Major hydroelectric projects will lead expansion of GDP in 2002 by an estimated 6%.
About half of the population are indigenous Bhutanese, known as the Ngalop[?] or Bothe, who are closely related to Tibetan tribes. Major ethnic groups are the Lhotshampa, who originate from Nepal, and the Sharchop[?] (from Assam). While Dzongkha[?] is the official language, many local dialects are spoken in remote mountain villages, some with only a few speakers.
Bhutan is one of the most secluded nations in the world, and access for foreigners is restricted to certain areas, although these are expanding. Most of the population lives in small rural villages, and supports itself through agriculture, growing crops or breeding yaks. Buddhist religion forms an important part of life.