Location: The Kingdom of Bhutan, 'the land of the thunder dragon' lies in the eastern Himalayas, border north by China and on all other sides by India. It has very high mountains, fertile valleys and thick forests.
HistoryThe first hereditary King of Bhutan was installed on 17 Dec. 1907. An Anglo-Bhutanese Treaty, signed in 1910, placed Bhutan's foreign relations under the supervision of the government of British India. After India became independent, that treaty was replaced in Aug. 1949 by the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Friendship, whereby Bhutan agrees to seek the advice of the government of India with regard to its foreign relations, but remains free to decide whether or not to accept such advice.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuk was succeeded in 1972 by the Western-educated 16-year-old Crown Prince, Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The new King stated his wish to maintain the Indo-Bhutan Treaty and to strengthen friendship with India.
Bhutan joined the UN in 1971 and the Non-Aligned Movement in 1973. In 1983 Bhutan became a founder -member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC).
The Monarchy:Bhutan is a monarchy, without a written constitution. In 1907 the Tongsa Penlop (the governor of the province of Tongsa in central Bhutan), Sir Ugyen Wangchuk, was elected the first hereditary Maharaja of Bhutan. The Bhutanese title is Druk Gyalpo and his successor is now addressed as king of Bhutan. From Oct. 1969 the absolute monarchy was changed to a form of democratic monarchy. The National Assembly (Tshogdu) was reinstituted in 1953.All Bhutanese over 25 years may be candidates. Ten monastic representatives are elected by the central and regional ecclesiastical bodies, while the remaining members are nominated by the king, and include members of the council of ministers (the Cabinet) and the Royal Advisory Council. The Royal Advisory Council (Lodol Tsokde), established in 1965, comprises 10 members. Council of ministers is known as Lhengye Shungtsog.
Recent reports indicate that the mountain kingdom is inching towards democracy. A political transformation is under way, its main force being the reformist monarchy Jigme wangchuk. A royal edict placed before the 510-member National Assembly in June '98 said a two-thirds majority in the house could force the king to abdicate. The Assembly (its term: 5 years) will also throw up the council of ministers, one of whom will remain as chairman for a year. A draft constitution was released in Dec. 2002.
Economy & People: There are 20 districts. A Nepalese minority make up 30-35% of the population. Bhutan, by the world standards is one of the poorest countries. Its economy is largely a subsistence economy. People are engaged I subsistence farming; and barter is practiced. The transition to market economy has changed social life. Life expectancy: 49 years. Urban population is 7%.
Natural Resources: Large deposits of limestone, marble, dolomite, graphite, lead, copper, slate, coal, talc, gypsum, beryl, mica, pyrites and tufa have been found.
Chief crops: Rice, millet, barely, wheat, maize, cardamom, potatoes, oranges, apples. Extensive and valuable forest abound. Live stock includes cattle, yaks, pigs, sheep and goats, and poultry. Industry: Food industry, cement, etc. Trade with Indian dominates.
Free education is available, but there are insufficient facilities to accommodate all school age children. Many students receive higher technical training in India.
All Bhutanese national are obliged to wear the national costume. Under law, Bhutanese women are treated as equal to men.
Tourism:Though Bhutan for long resisted the lure of tourism, it is the principal source of foreign exchange now. The Kingdom was opened to tourism in the autumn of 1974.
Mission in India:
Royal Bhutanese Embassy
Chandra Gupta Marg
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110 021
Tel:26889807, 26889809, 26889230
Indian Mission in Bhutan:
Embassy of India
India House Estate
Fax: 00-975-2-323195, 325341