Bhutan

Capital: Thimphu
King: Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Prime minister: Tshering Tobgay
National Anthem: Druk tsendhen
Currencies: Bhutanese ngultrum, Indian rupee

Country Name

  • Conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Conventional short form: Bhutan
  • Local long form: Druk Gyalkhap
  • Local short form: Druk Yul

Etymology

  • "Bhutan" may have its origins in the Sanskrit word “Bhu-Utthan” meaning “highlands”.
  • Alternatively, it may also be interpreted as “Bhots-ant” meaning "End of Tibet".
  • Lho Mon (southern land of darkness), Lho Tsendenjong (southern land of the Tsenden cypress), Lhomen Khazhi (southern land of four approaches) and Lho Men Jong (southern land of medicinal herbs) are some of the many historical names of Bhutan.
  • Bhutan is also commonly known as “The Last Shangrila”.

History

  • Bhutan is believed to have been inhabited in 2000 B.C.
  • The original inhabitants of the region were the “Monpa” people who migrated from Tibet.
  • Since the 17th century, the country was traditionally called “Drukyul” or “Land of the Dragon People”.
  • Tibetan Buddhism was the dominant religion in the country.
  • The kingdom of Bhutan was unified under King Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907.
  • Bhutan led an isolated and peaceful existence for centuries.
  • The British exerted some control over Bhutan's affairs, but never colonized it. Until the 1960s Bhutan was largely isolated from the rest of the world, and its people carried on a tranquil,
  • Bhutan strengthened its ties and contact with India after the Chinese invasion of Tibet.
  • In the 1960s Bhutan’s society underwent a wave of modernization in terms of caste system, women’s rights and land reform.
  • In 1985, Bhutan made its first diplomatic links with non-Asian countries.
  • A pro-democracy campaign emerged in 1991 which caused an eviction and emigration of thousands of Nepali people from Bhutan.
  • In 1998, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck curtailed his absolute monarchy and released a draft constitution in March 2005.
  • Bhutan's first national elections were held in March 2008.
  • The election marked Bhutan's transition from an absolute monarchy to a democracy.

Bhutan flag

Demographics

  • Bhutanese people may be broadly divided into two dominant communities- the Eastern Bhutanese and the Western Bhutanese.
  • The Eastern Bhutanese are called the Sharchops and form the larger group.
  • The Eastern Bhutanese culture is very similar to Tibetan culture.
  • They follow the Nyingmapa form of Himalayan Buddhism.
  • The Western Bhutanese are called the Ngalops.
  • They follow the Drukpa Kagyu form of Himalayan Buddhism.
  • In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and main stream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government.
  • The national language is Dzongkha.
  • The script (Chhokey or "Dharma Language") is identical to classical Tibetan.
  • There are 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan.
  • All languages in the region belong to the the Tibeto-Burman family.
  • Only Nepali belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages.
  • Buddhism and Hinduism are the dominant religions.
  • Majority of the Bhutanese population follows the Mahayana Buddhism which is also the official religion.
  • Proselytism is forbidden by a Royal Government decision.

Government and Politics

  • The government of Bhutan is gradually developing into a constitutional monarchy.
  • The country has a special treaty relationship with India.
  • Administrative divisions comprise of twenty districts.
  • National Day is observed on 17 December (1907).
  • The Constitution is expected to be adopted by the National Assembly in 2008.
  • The legal system is based on the Indian law and the English common law.
  • Bhutan has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
  • The hereditary monarch is the chief of state.
  • The prime minister is the head of government.
  • The cabinet consists of a Council of Ministers nominated by the monarch and approved by the National Assembly.
  • The members of the Royal Advisory Council are also nominated by the monarch.
  • The leader of the majority party is nominated as the prime minister.
  • The National Assembly has the authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds majority vote.
  • The legislative branch is represented by a new bicameral Parliament consisting of the non-partisan National Council and the National Assembly.
  • The judicial branch is represented by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court.

Culture

  • The Bhutanese have managed to preserve their rich heritage due to physical isolation of the region.
  • Due to its un-spoilt Buddhist culture, Bhutan is sometimes referred to as “The Last Shangri-La”.
  • The National Dress for Bhutanese men is the “gho”, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the “kera”.
  • Women wear an ankle-length dress called the “kira”, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist.
  • A long-sleeved blouse or “toego” is worn along with the “kira”.
  • The texture of fabric and the embellishments are seen as status markers.
  • Differently colored scarves and shawls are also important indicators of social standing.
  • All Bhutanese citizens are required to wear the national dress in public areas and as formal wear.
  • Rice, buckwheat, and maize form the staple diet.
  • Bhutanese meals usually consist of pork, beef, yak meat, chicken, and mutton.
  • Ema datshi, a spicy dish with cheese, is the national dish of Bhutan.
  • Milk and milk products from yaks and cows also form a large part of the diet.
  • Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer.
  • The sale of tobacco products is banned in Bhutan.
  • Archery is Bhutan’s national sport.
  • Darts (khuru) and a form of shot put (digor) are equally popular outdoor team sport.
  • Rigsar is a popular form of music which combines traditional elements with modern styles.
  • Traditional musical genres include the zhungdra and boedra.
  • “Chaam” is a sacred masked dance that is performed in religious ceremonies.
  • A certain type of castle fortress known as the dzong is peculiar to Bhutan.
  • The dzongs have served as the religious and secular administration centers for their respective districts.
  • Bhutan has a matriarchal society.

Economy

  • Bhutan has one of the most underdeveloped economies in the world.
  • The economy is mostly based on agriculture and forestry.
  • Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry.
  • The terrain limits the development of infrastructure in the country.
  • Industries are mostly local and small scale.
  • The government is attempting to develop eco-tourism to fuel the nation’s economy and preserve the natural beauty and culture.
  • The GDP (purchasing power parity) as calculated in 2007 was $3.359 billion.
  • 2.5% of the population is unemployed.
  • 31.7% of the population is below poverty line.
  • Agricultural produce includes rice, corn, root crops, citrus, food-grains, dairy products and eggs.
  • The main industries are cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide and tourism.
  • Export commodities include electricity, cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones and spices.
  • Import commodities include fuel and lubricants, grain, aircraft, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics and rice.

Infrastructure

  • Telecommunication services are limited to urban areas and district headquarters.
  • Domestic telephone services are underdeveloped in rural areas.
  • There are ten radio broadcast stations and one television broadcast station.
  • Internet services are very limited.
  • Bhutan has two airports of which one has paved runways.
  • Roadways span over a distance of 8,050 km.

Education

  • Western-style education was introduced to Bhutan in the early 20th century.
  • The traditional form of education was delivered in Buddhist monasteries.
  • Private schools began mushrooming in the 1950s.
  • The private schools were taken over by the government to improve the quality of education.
  • Secondary education was available only in India.
  • The education system was first modernized during the First Development Plan (1961-66).
  • Primary education was made free and accessible to all.
  • One year of preschool is followed by five years of primary education.
  • Grades six through eight constitute the junior high level and grades nine through eleven constitute the high school level.
  • Examinations at the tenth-grade level were conducted by the Indian School Certificate Council.
  • English is used as the medium of instruction in most schools.
  • Most Bhutanese students acquire higher education in Singapore, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States.
  • The literacy rate is 59.5 percent.

Neighbour Countries

Bhutan is surrounded by:

  • India (south, east and west)
  • China (north)

Geographical Settings

  • Bhutan is located in southeastern Asia between India and China.
  • Its geographical coordinates are 27 30 N, 90 30 E.
  • The country covers a total area of 47,000 sq km.
  • Bhutan is a landlocked country.
  • The climate is tropical in the southern plains with severe winters and cool summers in the Himalayan region.
  • The terrain consists mostly of mountains with some fertile valleys and savanna.
  • The highest point is Kula Kangri standing at 7,553 m.
  • Natural resources include timber, hydropower, gypsum and calcium carbonate.
  • 2.3% of the land is arable.

Bhutan Related Topics:

» Colleges and Universities in Bhutan » Sports in Bhutan » Bhutan Maps

Bhutan Tourist Attractions:

  • Paro Taktsang
  • Gangteng Monastery
  • Tashichho Dzong
  • Jomolhari
  • Punakha Dzong
  • Dechen Phodrang Monastery
  • Rinpung Dzong
  • Kichu Lhakang
  • Drukgyal Dzong
  • Mongar Gewog