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Kingdom of Bhutan

Brug rGyal-Khab (Wylie)
Dru Gäkhap
Flag Emblem
AnthemDruk Tsendhen
Capital Thimphu
Official language(s) Dzongkha
Demonym Bhutanese
Government Constitutional democratic monarchy
 -  King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
 -  Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley
Formation Early 17th century 
 -  Wangchuk Dynasty 17 December 1907 
 -  Constitutional Monarchy 2007 
 -  Total 38,394 km2 
14,824 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) <1 (estimate)
 -  July 2009 estimate 691,141[1] (163rd)
 -  2005 census 634,982[2] 
 -  Density 18.1/km2 (154th)
47/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $3.490 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $5,312[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.389 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $2,114[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.619[4] (medium) (132nd)
Currency Ngultrum2 (BTN)
Time zone BTT (UTC+6:00)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+6:00)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .bt
Calling code 975
1 The population of Bhutan had been estimated based on the reported figure of about 1 million in the 1970s when the country had joined the United Nations and precise statistics were lacking.[5] Thus using the annual increase rate of 2–3%, the most population estimates were around 2 million in the year 2000. A national census was carried out in 2005 and it turned out that the population was 672,425. Consequently, United Nations Population Division had down-estimated the country's population in the 2006 revision[6] for the whole period from 1950 to 2050.
2 Indian rupee is also legal tender

Coordinates: 27°25′01″N 90°26′06″E / 27.417°N 90.435°E / 27.417; 90.435 The Kingdom of Bhutan (pronounced /buːˈtɑːn/) is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by China. Bhutan was separated from the nearby state of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, and from Bangladesh to the south by West Bengal. The Bhutanese called their country Druk Yul (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་ཡུལ་ 'drug yul) which means "Land of the Thunder Dragon".[7]

Bhutan used to be one of the most isolated nations in the world. Developments including direct international flights, the Internet, mobile phone networks, and cable television have increasingly modernized the urban areas of the country. Bhutan balanced modernization with its ancient culture and traditions under the guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Rampant destruction of the environment has been avoided. The government takes great measures to preserve the nation's traditional culture, identity and the environment. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, citing a global survey conducted by the University of Leicester in 2006 called the "World Map of Happiness".[8]

Bhutan's landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism being the second-largest religion. The capital and largest city is Thimphu. After centuries of direct monarchic rule, Bhutan held its first democratic elections in March 2008. Among other international associations, Bhutan is a member of the United Nations and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The total area of the country is currently 38,394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi)[9].



"Bhutan" may be derived from the Sanskrit word Bhu-Utthan (भू-उत्थाने; highlands). In another theory of Sanskritisation, Bhoṭa-anta (भोट-अन्त) means "At the end of Tibet", as Bhutan is immediately to Tibet's south.

Historically Bhutan was known by many names, such as 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).[7]


Stone tools, weapons, elephants, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC, although there are no existing records from that time. Historians have theorized that the state of Lhomon (literally, "southern darkness", a reference to the indigenous Mon religion), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference to the Monpa, the aboriginal peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and AD 600. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong (Sandalwood Country), and Lhomon Khashi, or Southern Mon (country of four approaches), have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.[10]

View of Tashichoedzong, Thimphu, seat of the Bhutanese government since 1952

The earliest transcribed event in Bhutan was the passage of the Buddhist saint Padma Sambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) in 747.[11] Bhutan's early history is unclear, because most of the records were destroyed after fire ravaged the ancient capital, Punakha, in 1827.[12] By the 10th century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various sub-sects of Buddhism emerged which were patronized by the various Mongol warlords. After the decline of the Mongols in the 14th century, these sub-sects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the Drukpa sub-sect by the 16th century.

Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms, when the area was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzong (fortresses), and promulgated a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralized control. Many such dzong still exist and are active centers of religion and district administration. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal also brought Nepalese people from Gorkha when Ram Shah was King of Gorkha. He brought 42 Nepalese families under the leadership of Bishnu Thapa Magar in 1616. Circa 1627, Portuguese Jesuit Estêvão Cacella and another priest were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan on their way to Tibet. They met with Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Shabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months Cacella wrote a long letter from the Chagri Monastery reporting on his travels. This is a rare extant report of the Shabdrung.[13]

After Namgyal's death in 1651, Bhutan fell into civil war. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Tibetans attacked Bhutan in 1710, and again in 1730 with the help of the Mongols. Both assaults were successfully thwarted, and an armistice was signed in 1759.

Map of Bhutan
A thrikheb (throne cover) from the 19th century. Throne covers were placed atop the temple cushions used by high lamas. The central circular swirling quadrune is the Gankyil in its mode as the "Four Joys".

In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British East India Company which assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese, and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next 100 years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–1865), a confrontation for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro and Tongsa led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the ponlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several civil wars and rebellions in the period 1882–1885.

In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by an assembly of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families. The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed a treaty which "let" Great Britain "guide" Bhutan's foreign affairs. In reality, this did not mean much given Bhutan's historical reticence. It also did not seem to apply to Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. The greatest impact of this treaty seems to be the perception that it meant Bhutan was not totally sovereign.[citation needed]

After India gained independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. A treaty similar to that of 1910 in which Britain gained power with respect to Bhutan's foreign relations was signed 8 August 1949 with the newly independent India.[citation needed]

The Trongsa Dzong.

In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck established the country's legislature – a 130-member National Assembly – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of 16 after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.

In late 2003, the Bhutanese army successfully launched a large-scale operation to flush out anti-India insurgents who were operating training camps in southern Bhutan.


Democratic reform and modernization

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced significant political reforms, transferring most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.[14]

In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country's Gross National Happiness (Bhutan is the only country to measure happiness[15]), but warned that the "misuse" of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.[16]

A new constitution was presented in early 2005. In December 2005, Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate the throne in his son's favor in 2008. On 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. Bhutan has now entered a new era of democracy, starting with its first national parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.

On November 6, 2008, 28-year old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, eldest son of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was crowned King, thus marking a new era in the history of this Himalayan kingdom.[17]


The Taktshang Monastery, also known as the "Tiger's Nest". Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country.

Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche ordered the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen to have 108 temples built all over the Himalayas. Doing so would aid in subduing a demoness and allow for the construction of Samye Temple in Tibet. Two of the 108 temples are in Bhutan, one in Paro and the other in Bumthang and were built around AD 637.[citation needed]

Government and politics

Bhutan's political system has developed from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy. In 1999, the fourth king of Bhutan created a body called the Lhengye Zhungtshog (Council of Ministers). The 'Druk Gyalpo' (King of Druk Yul) is head of state. Executive power is exercised by the Lhengye Zhungtshog, the council of ministers. Legislative power was vested in both the government and the former Grand National Assembly. On the 17th of December 2005, the 4th King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, announced to a stunned nation that the first general elections would be held in 2008, and that he would abdicate the throne in favor of his eldest son, the crown prince.[18] King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck took the throne on December 14, 2006 upon his father's abdication. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was adorned with Bhutan's Raven Crown at an ornate coronation ceremony in Thimphu on Thursday, November 6, 2008, becoming the world's youngest reigning monarch and head of the newest democracy.[19]

The new democratic system comprises an upper and lower house, the latter based on political party affiliations. Elections for the upper house (National Council) were held on December 31, 2007, while elections for the lower house, the 47-seat National Assembly, were held on March 24, 2008. Two political parties, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Sangay Ngedup, and the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) headed by Jigmi Thinley, competed in the National Assembly election. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa won the elections taking 45 out of 47 seats in the parliament.[20]

Judicial power is vested in the courts of Bhutan. The Chief Justice is the administrative head of the Judiciary.

Military and foreign affairs

The Royal Bhutan Army is Bhutan's military service. It includes the Royal Bodyguard and the Royal Bhutan Police. Membership is voluntary, and the minimum age for recruitment is 18. The standing army numbers about 6,000 and is trained by the Indian Army.[21] It has an annual budget of about US$13.7 million — 1.8 percent of the GDP. Being a landlocked country, Bhutan has no navy.

Though the 1949 treaty with India is still sometimes misinterpreted to mean that India controls Bhutan's foreign affairs, the government of Bhutan handles all of its own foreign affairs, including the sensitive (to India) border demarcation issue with China. The 1949 treaty has been superseded by the 2007 treaty with India, which clarified that Bhutan was master of its own foreign relations. Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 21 countries, and with the European Union, with missions in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Kuwait. It has two UN missions, one in New York and one in Geneva. Only India and Bangladesh have residential embassies in Bhutan, while Thailand has a consulate office in Bhutan. By a long standing treaty, Indian and Bhutanese citizens may travel to each other's countries without a passport or visa using their national identity cards instead. Bhutanese citizens may also work in India without legal restriction. Bhutan does not have formal diplomatic ties with its northern neighbour, the People's Republic of China, although exchanges of visits at various levels between the two have significantly increased in recent times. The first bilateral agreement between China (PRC) and Bhutan was signed in 1998, and Bhutan has also set up honorary consulates in Macau and Hong Kong. Bhutan’s border with China is largely not demarcated and thus disputed in some places. Approximately 269 square kilometers remain under discussion between China and Bhutan.[22]

On 13 November 2005, Chinese soldiers crossed into the disputed territories between China and Bhutan, and began building roads and bridges.[23] Bhutanese Foreign Minister Khandu Wangchuk took up the matter with Chinese authorities after the issue was raised in the Bhutanese parliament. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang of the People's Republic of China has said that the border remains in dispute and that the two sides are continuing to work for a peaceful and cordial resolution of the dispute.[24] An Indian intelligence officer has said that a Chinese delegation in Bhutan told the Bhutanese that they were "overreacting." The Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel has said that China might use the roads to further Chinese claims along the border.[23]

On 8 February 2007, the Indo-Bhutan Friendship TreatyPDF (30.6 KB) was substantially revised. In the Treaty of 1949 Article 2 states: "The Government of India undertakes to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan. On its part the Government of Bhutan agrees to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations." In the revised treaty it now reads as "In keeping with the abiding ties of close friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India, the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government of the Republic of India shall cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other." The revised treaty also includes this preamble: "Reaffirming their respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity", an element that was absent in the earlier version. The Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007 strengthens Bhutan's status as an independent and sovereign nation.

Bhutan has no formal relations with the United States,[25] Russia, China, the United Kingdom or France. Informal contact with the United States is made through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.[25]


Topographic map of Bhutan
Gangkhar Puensum from Ura La, Bhutan

The northern region of the country consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) above sea level; the highest point is claimed to be the Kula Kangri, at 7,553 metres (24,780 ft), but detailed topographic studies claim Kula Kangri is wholly in Tibet[citation needed] and modern Chinese measurements claim that Gangkhar Puensum, which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, is higher at 7,570 metres (24,840 ft). The lowest point is in the valley of Drangme Chhu, where the river crosses the border with India. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.

The Black Mountains in the central region of Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Mo Chhu and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 and 2,700 metres (4,900 and 8,900 ft) above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. The forests of the central Bhutan mountains consist of Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests in higher elevations and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests in lower elevations. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.

Jacaranda trees in Bhutan

In the south, the Shiwalik Hills are covered with dense Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars Plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10 to 15 kilometres (6.2 to 9.3 mi) wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars. The northern Duars, which abuts the Himalayan foothills, has rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savannah grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra River in India. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the country had a forest cover of 64% as of October 2005.

Terraced farming in the Punakha valley.

The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.


The Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan.

The Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and its value is pegged to the Indian rupee. The rupee is also accepted as legal tender in the country.

Though Bhutan's economy is one of the world's smallest, it has grown rapidly in recent years, by eight percent in 2005 and 14 percent in 2006. In 2007, Bhutan had the second fastest growing economy in the world, with an annual economic growth rate of 22.4 percent. This was mainly due to the commissioning of the gigantic Tala Hydroelectricity project. As of March 2006, Bhutan's per capita income was US$1,321.

Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture, forestry, tourism and the sale of hydroelectric power to India. Agriculture provides the main livelihood for more than 80 percent of the population. Agrarian practices consist largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Handicrafts, particularly weaving and the manufacture of religious art for home altars, are a small cottage industry. A landscape that varies from hilly to ruggedly mountainous has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. This, and a lack of access to the sea, has meant that Bhutan has not been able to benefit from significant trading of its produce. Bhutan does not have any railways, though Indian Railways plans to link southern Bhutan to its vast network under an agreement signed in January 2005.[26] Bhutan and India signed a 'free trade' accord in 2008, which additionally allowed Bhutanese imports and exports from third markets to transit India without tariffs.[27] The historic trade routes over the high Himalayas, which connected India to Tibet, have been closed since the 1950 military takeover of Tibet (although smuggling activity still brings Chinese goods into Bhutan).

The industrial sector is in a nascent stage, and though most production comes from cottage industry, larger industries are being encouraged and some industries such as cement, steel, and ferro alloy have been set up. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian contract labour. Agricultural produce includes rice, chilies, dairy (some yak, mostly cow) products, buckwheat, barley, root crops, apples, and citrus and maize at lower elevations. Industries include cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages and calcium carbide.

Incomes of over Nu 100,000 per annum are taxed, but very few wage and salary earners qualify. Bhutan's inflation rate was estimated at about three percent in 2003. Bhutan has a Gross Domestic Product of around USD 2.913 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 162nd largest economy in the world.

Haa Valley in Bhutan.

Per capita income is around $1,400,[1] ranked 124th. Government revenues total $272 million, though expenditures amount to $350 million. 60 percent of the budget expenditure, however, is financed by India's Ministry of External Affairs.[28] Bhutan's exports, principally electricity, cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones and spices, total 128 million (2000 est.). Imports, however, amount to €164 million, leading to a trade deficit. Main items imported include fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery, vehicles, fabrics and rice. Bhutan's main export partner is India, accounting for 58.6 percent of its export goods. Hong Kong (30.1 percent) and the Bangladesh (7.3 percent) are the other two top export partners.[1] As its border with Tibet is closed, trade between Bhutan and China is now almost non-existent. Bhutan's import partners include India (74.5 percent), Japan (7.4 percent) and Sweden (3.2 percent).

In a response to accusations in 1987 by a journalist from UK's Financial Times that the pace of development in Bhutan was slow, the King said that "Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product."[29] This statement appears to have presaged recent findings by western economic psychologists, including 2002 Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, that question the link between levels of income and happiness. The statement signaled his commitment to building an economy that is appropriate for Bhutan's culture and people, based on Buddhist spiritual values, and has served as a unifying vision for the economy. In a survey in 2005, 45 percent of Bhutanese reported being very happy, 52 percent reported being happy and only three percent reported not being happy. Based on this data, the Happy Planet Index estimates that the average level of life satisfaction in Bhutan is within the top 10 percent of nations worldwide, and certainly higher than other nations with similar levels of GDP per capita.


Bhutan is divided into four dzongdey (administrative zones). Each dzongdey is further divided into dzongkhag (districts). There are twenty dzongkhag in Bhutan. Large dzongkhags are further divided into subdistricts known as dungkhag. At the basic level, groups of villages form a constituency called gewog (blocks) and are administered by a gup, who is elected by the people.

Dzongkhags (districts) of Bhutan.
  1. Bumthang
  2. Chukha (old spelling: Chhukha)
  3. Dagana
  4. Gasa
  5. Haa
  6. Lhuntse
  7. Mongar
  8. Paro
  9. Pemagatshel (Pemagatsel)
  10. Punakha
  1. Samdrup Jongkhar
  2. Samtse (Samchi)
  3. Sarpang (old spelling: Sarbhang)
  4. Thimphu
  5. Trashigang (Tashigang)
  6. Trashiyangtse
  7. Trongsa (Tongsa)
  8. Tsirang (Chirang)
  9. Wangdue Phodrang (Wangdi Phodrang)
  10. Zhemgang (Shemgang)

Cities and towns

see Category:Cities, towns and villages in Bhutan


Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops(Westerners) and Scharchops(Easterners) respectively. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops ("Easterners"), the dominant group, who are originate from the eastern part of Bhutan (but who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism). They are called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups. In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and mainstream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government.

The national language is Dzongkha, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script, here called Chhokey ("Dharma Language"), is identical to classical Tibetan. In the schools English is the medium of instruction and Dzongkha is taught as the national language. Ethnologue lists 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language. Until the 1980s, the government sponsored the teaching of Nepali in schools in Southern Bhutan. However, after the armed uprising in the south, Nepali was dropped from the curriculum. The languages of Bhutan are still not well-characterized, and several have yet to be recorded in an in-depth academic grammar.

Religions of Bhutan
religion percent

The literacy rate is 59.5 percent.[30] The country has a median age of 22.3 years.[31] Bhutan has a life expectancy of 62.2 years (61 for males and 64.5 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females in the country.

It is estimated that between two thirds and three quarters of the Bhutanese population follow Vajrayana Buddhism, which is also the state religion. About one quarter to one third are followers of Hinduism. Muslim and non-religious communities account for less than 1% of the population.[32] The current legal framework, in principle guarantees freedom of religion; proselytism, however, is forbidden by a royal government decision.[32]


Bhutanese thanka of Mt. Meru and the Buddhist Universe, 19th century, Tongsa Dzong, Tongsa, Bhutan

Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the early 1960s. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country's culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage.[33] Hinduism is the second dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. Both religions co-exist peacefully and receive support from the government,[34] and enjoy royal patronage. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-la.

While Bhutanese citizens are free to travel abroad, Bhutan is viewed as inaccessible by many foreigners. There is a widespread misconception that Bhutan has set limits on tourist visas.[citation needed] Another reason for it being an unpopular destination is the cost, which is high for tourists on tighter budgets. Entry is free for citizens of India and Bangladesh, but all other foreigners are required to sign up with a Bhutanese tour operator and pay around $200 per day that they stay in the country.

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, the kira, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist. An accompaniment to the kira is a long-sleeved blouse, the toego, which is worn underneath the outer layer. Social status and class determine the texture, colours, and decorations that embellish the garments. Differently coloured scarves and shawls are important indicators of social standing, as Bhutan has traditionally been a feudal society. Jewellery is mostly worn by women, especially during religious festivals and public gatherings. To strengthen Bhutan's identity as an independent country, Bhutanese law requires all Bhutanese citizens to wear the national dress in public areas and as formal wear.

Rice, buckwheat, and increasingly maize, are the staple foods of the country. The local diet also includes pork, beef, yak meat, chicken, and mutton. Soups and stews of meat and dried vegetables spiced with chillies and cheese are prepared. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chilies, might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have banned the sale of tobacco.

Changlimithang Stadium, during a parade.

Bhutan's national sport is archery, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic standards in technical details such as the placement of the targets and atmosphere. There are two targets placed over 100 meters apart and teams shoot from one end of the field to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrows per round. Traditional Bhutanese archery is a social event and competitions are organized between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There are usually plenty of food and drink complete with singing and dancing. Attempts to distract an opponent include standing around the target and making fun of the shooter's ability. Darts (khuru) is an equally popular outdoor team sport, in which heavy wooden darts pointed with a 10 cm nail are thrown at a paperback-sized target ten to 20 meters away.

Another traditional sport is the digor, which resembles the shot put and horseshoe throwing. Cricket has gained popularity in Bhutan, particularly since the introduction of television channels from India. The Bhutanese national cricket team is one of the more successful associate nations in the region. Football is also an increasingly popular sport. In 2002, Bhutan's national football team played Montserrat, in what was billed as The Other Final; the match took place on the same day Brazil played Germany in the World Cup final, but at the time Bhutan and Montserrat were the world's two lowest ranked teams. The match was held in Thimphu's Changlimithang National Stadium, and Bhutan won 4–0. A documentary of the match was made by the Dutch filmmaker Johan Kramer.

Rigsar is an emerging style of popular music in Bhutan, played on a mix of traditional instruments and electronic keyboards, and dates back to the early 1990s; it shows the influence of Indian popular music, a hybrid form of traditional and Western popular influences. Traditional genres include the zhungdra and boedra.

Chaam, sacred masked dances, are annually performed during religious festivals.

Characteristic of the region is a type of castle fortress known as the dzong. Since ancient times, the dzongs have served as the religious and secular administration centres for their respective districts.

Bhutan has numerous public holidays, most of which centre around traditional seasonal, secular and religious festivals. They include the winter solstice (around January 1, depending on the lunar calendar), the lunar New Year (February or March), the King's birthday and the anniversary of his coronation, the official start of monsoon season (September 22), National Day (December 17), and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations.

Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colourful wooden or composition face masks and stylized costumes, depict heroes, demons, dæmons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient lore and art of mask-making.

Inheritance in Bhutan generally goes in the female rather than the male line. Daughters will inherit their parents' house. A man is expected to make his own way in the world and often moves to his wife's home. Love marriages are common in urban areas, but the tradition of arranged marriages is still common in the villages. Although uncommon, polygamy is accepted, often being a device to keep property in a contained family unit rather than dispersing it.[citation needed] The previous King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006, has 4 Queens, all of whom are sisters.

The University of Texas at El Paso in the United States has adopted Bhutanese architecture for its buildings on campus, as have the nearby Hilton Garden Inn and other buildings in the city of El Paso.[35]

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace Global Peace Index[36] 40 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 132 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 49 out of 180

See also


  1. ^ a b c Central Intelligence Agency. "Bhutan". The World Factbook. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Census of Bhutan-2005" (PPT). UN. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bhutan". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009. Human development index trends: Table G" (PDF). The United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  5. ^ "United Nations Human Rights Website – Treaty Bodies Database – Document – Summary Record – Bhutan". 2001-06-05. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  6. ^ "world population prospects the 2008 revision". 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "The World's Happiest Countries". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  9. ^ "Bhutan Portal". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  10. ^ "WIAS :: Bhutan". World Institute for Asian Studies. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  11. ^ "Buddhist Channel | Buddhism News, Headlines | Travel | Taktshang: a Buddhist legend".,963,0,0,1,0. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  12. ^ "Main Page – Bhutannica". Bhutannica<!. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  13. ^ Stephen Cacella – page on
  14. ^ Hoffman, Klus; (2006) Democratization from above: The case of Bhutan
  15. ^ Larmer, Brook; (2008) Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment
  16. ^ Cathy Scott-Clark, Adrian Levy. "Fast forward into trouble", "The Guardian", 14 June 2003. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  17. ^ [Nitasha Kaul (2008) "Bhutan Crowns a Jewel" UPI Asia Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  18. ^ Gelay Jamtsho, Keys to Bhutan (2008-10-31). "His Majesty the King’s historic National Day Address – 2005". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  19. ^ "Coronation". BBC News. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  20. ^ Royalist party wins election in Bhutan (2008-03-25). "Royalist party wins election in Bhutan". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  21. ^ Dec 19, 2003 (2003-12-19). "''Asian Times''". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  22. ^ "''Kuensel''". 2006-12-13. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  23. ^ a b "''''". Archived from the original on 2006-08-24.,000500020006.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  24. ^ "''''". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  25. ^ a b "Bhutan Country Specific Information". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  26. ^ "''The Tribune''". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  27. ^ "WTO". WTO. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  28. ^ India's Ministry of External Affairs provides financial aid to neighbouring countries under "technical and economic cooperation with other countries and advances to foreign governments." The Tribune, Chandigarh
  29. ^ Greenwald, Jeff. "Yoga Journal". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  30. ^ "Report". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  31. ^ World Population Prospects- The 2006 Revision, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
  32. ^ a b "International Religious Freedom Report 2007 – Bhutan". U.S. Department of State. 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  33. ^ "Buddha Dordenma Image Foundation". Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  34. ^ "Kuensel Newspaper – Durga Puja in the capital". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  35. ^ See UTEP Handbook of Operations for more details.
  36. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

Further reading

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : Bhutan
Quick Facts
Capital Thimphu
Government Constitutional Monarchy; special treaty relationship with India
Currency Ngultrum (BTN)
Area total: 47,000 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 47,000 km2
Population 672,425 (2005 census)
Language Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
Religion Vajrayana Buddhist 75%, Indian and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Electricity 220V/50Hz
Calling Code +975
Internet TLD .bt
Time Zone GMT +6

Bhutan [1] is a small country in the Himalayas between Tibet and India.

Besides the stunning natural scenery, the enduring image of the country for most visitors is the strong sense of culture and tradition that binds the kingdom and clearly distinguishes it from its larger neighbors. Bhutan is the only Vajrayana Buddhist nation in the world, and the profound teachings of this tradition remain well preserved and exert a strong influence in all aspects of life. Due to its pristine environment and harmonious society, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan has been called "The Last Shangrila."


In terms of average wage, Bhutan is rated as a poor country, but the land is fertile and the population small, so the people are well fed, and beggars and homeless are nonexistent. In addition, the current generation receives free education, and all citizens have access to free medical care. If a patient's ailment cannot be treated in the country, then the government refers the patients to reputed hospitals abroad.The sale of tobacco products is banned (foreign tourists and NGOs are exempt, though it is illegal for them to sell tobacco to locals), and smoking in public areas is a fineable offense.

A unique aspect of Bhutan is that progress is not purely defined by economic achievements as in most countries, but also based on the level of cultural and environmental preservation and development. This ideology was the brain child of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who, having gained a modern education in India and the UK, realized that mere economic success did not necessarily translate into a content and happy society. Consequently, soon after his coronation in 1974, the young king began to float the idea of developing a new set of guidelines by which to govern the country. Slowly these ideas took shape, and in 1998 the GNH indicator was established. GNH stands for "Gross National Happiness" and is defined by the following four objectives: to increase economic growth and development, preserve and promote the cultural heritage, encourage sustainable use of the environment, and establish good governance. Currently, work is in progress on converting the GNH from being a mere guiding principle for the country's development into a workable set of standard indicators. As a result of this more humane style of governance, Bhutan has developed high environmental protection standards (the use of plastic bags, for example, is completely banned) and a peaceful and harmonious society that actively protects its rich culture and profound Buddhist traditions. Major sources of income for the kingdom are agriculture, tourism and hydroelectric power.

Still, while Bhutan is often painted as a modern-day Shangri-La in the Western press, the country remains poor, with average life expectancy around 66 and a 7.2 per mil infant mortality rate. The kingdom became a parliamentary democracy in March 2008 upon the command of the Fourth King.

Culturally, Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist with a national language (although there are regional variations - such as Sharchopkha, the predominant language in Eastern Bhutan), and a common dress code and architectural style.

The official name for the country is Druk Yul - Land of the Thunder Dragon - but due to the harmonious nature of the society, it has acquired the additional nickname of Deki Druk (Yul) - (Land of) the Peaceful Thunder Dragon.


The first humans probably arrived sometime after the Ice Age, and little is known about Bhutan's prehistory. Historical records began with the arrival of Buddhism in the 7th century, when Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) visited Bhutan and established monasteries.

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.

In December 2006, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transferred power to his oldest son, the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, bestowing upon him the title of the fifth Druk Gyalpo. The official coronation took place in November 2008. The fifth King is Boston and Oxford educated.

Guru Rinpoche

It is not possible to travel far in Bhutan without seeing images of a man wearing a tall elaborate hat and with eyes that are open wide and staring forward into space. This is the great 8th century sage of Vajrayana Buddhism, Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche as he often called. According to legend, Padmasambhava was reincarnated into a lotus blossom as an eight year old child, and from very young he possessed great wisdom and insight. Furthermore, he had mastery of the elements and so like a potter manipulating basic clay and turning it into beautiful pots, he was was able to transform harmful action and substances into something positive and beneficial.

Guru Rinpoche's special association with Bhutan began when he traveled to the town now known as Jakar at the invitation of a local king to subjugate negative forces. The mission was a success, and from this encounter Buddhism spread throughout the land. A body print of the great sage exists to this day at Kurjey Lhakhang in Jakar, and he is also associated with many other sacred sites in Bhutan, with perhaps the most notable being the cliff-hanging Taktshang Monastery in Paro.


Although the country expanse is quite small Bhutanese weather varies from location to location mainly depending upon the elevation. In the North of Bhutan on the borders with Tibet it is perennially covered with snow. In the western, central and eastern Bhutan (Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Wandue, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse) you will mostly experience cold European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. Punakha is an exception as it is in a lower valley and summer is pretty hot but winter is pleasant. Southern Bhutan bordering with India is hot and humid with a sub-tropical climate. The monsoon is the determining factor for rain here. Spring and autumn are the best season to visit Bhutan. There are four distinct seasons similar in their divisions to those of Western Europe. The Monsoon occurs between June and August when the temperature is normally between 8° and 21°C (46°-70°F). Temperatures drop dramatically with increases in altitude. Days are usually very pleasant (average about 10°C/50°F) with clear skies and sunshine. Nights are cold and require heavy woolen clothing, particularly in winter. Generally, October, November and April to mid-June are the best times to visit – rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures are conducive to active days of sightseeing. The foothills are also very pleasant during the winter...

National Holidays


  • January 2 (not fixed) - Winter Solstice (Western Bhutan only)
  • January 27 (not fixed) - Traditional Day of Offerings (a day to offer food to hungry creatures - celebrated as new year in Eastern Bhutan)
  • February 21-23 (every year) - Birth Anniversary of HM the Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck
  • February 25-26 - (not fixed) - New Year (losar)
  • May 2 (every year) - Birth Anniversary of Third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
  • May 4 (not fixed) - Shabdrung Kuchoe (commemorates the passing of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1651 CE)
  • June 7 (not fixed) - Commemoration of Lord Buddha's Parnirvana.
  • July 2 (not fixed) - Anniversary of the Birth of Guru Rinpoche
  • September 24 (not fixed) - Thimphu Drubchen (Thimphu Only)
  • September 28 (not fixed) - Hindu ceremony of Dashain
  • September 28-30 (not fixed) - Thimphu Tshechu(Thimphu Only)
  • November 1 Coronation of the fifth Druk Gyalpo (king of Bhutan)
  • November 9 (not fixed) - Descending Day of Lord Buddha
  • November 11 (every year) - Birth Anniversary of HM the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
  • December 17 (every year) - National day, commemorating the 1907 coronation of the first hereditary king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck

In addition to the above national holidays, there are also Tshechu holidays which are celebrated regionally.

  • Travellers and Magicians [2], Bhutan's first internationally acclaimed feature film was made in 2003 and showcases life in Bhutan.
  • Beyond the Sky and the Earth (buy) - a novel by Jamie Zeppa telling the true story of a young Canadian's (Jamie) experiences teaching at schools in Bhutan - very entertaining and informative.
  • The Raven Crown (buy) A book by Michael Aris about the origins of the Buddhist monarchy in Bhutan.
  • Bhutan Link [3], Bhutan's first interactive, 360-degree/wide angle panoramic virtual tour.
  • Kuenselonline [4]. Partially government owned - a newspaper with a forty year history.
  • BBS [5]. The official TV broadcasting station
  • The Bhutan Times [6]. An independent source of news on Bhutan - commercial and somewhat tabloid in nature.
  • The Bhutan Observer [7]. An independent source of news on Bhutan - a social leaning paper with in-depth stories.
  • Radio Valley [8]. Bhutan's first Private FM Radio Station. A program called "With Love From Home" can be listened online.
  • Kuzoo FM [9] An English language radio channel - mixture of youth orientated music and discussion programs - FM 105.
  • Centennial Radio An English and Dzongkha (National Language) program.


Bhutan can culturally and geographically be divided into three regions, which are further divided into 20 districts or dzongkhag (singular and plural):

Central Bhutan (Jakar, the sacred Bumthang Valleys and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park)
Eastern Bhutan (Mongar and the famous cloth weaving area of Lhuentse)
Western Bhutan (Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang and the sacred valley of Paro)
  • Jakar - An administrative town in the north and the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan.
  • Mongar - One of the largest towns in east Bhutan.
  • Paro - The location of the international airport and Taktsang Monastery.
  • Punakha - A former winter capital of Bhutan.Still hosts the Monastic Body in Winter.
  • Phuentsholing - A town on the Indian border. The point of entry for travelers arriving by bus from Kolkata.
  • Samdrup Jongkhar - An administrative town in the southeast, near the Indian border.
  • Trashigang - A picturesque administrative town in the east.
  • Trongsa - A small administrative town famous for its dzong and the Tower of Trongsa

Other destinations

The majority of tourists do "cultural tours" where they visit important destinations in a vehicle. This allows maximum coverage of the country within a limited period of time. Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, and Jakar are popular destinations. Further afield, the unexplored region of Zhemgang (birders paradise, excellent wildlife viewing) and Eastern Bhutan are the least visited.


Treks are the best way to see and "feel" the country. The Snowman Trek below is the toughest but there are plenty of other easy and fun hikes and treks.

Snowman Trek with Gangkar Puensum

This trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan due to distance, altitude, weather conditions and remoteness. A very fit trekking group could tackle the final stage from Tshochenchen to Bumthang (Day 22: 21 km, 13 hours) in one day. Seasons: The Snowman Trek is frequently closed because of snow and is almost impossible during winter. The recommended season for this trek is mid-June to mid-October.

Official Site of National Parks and Protected Areas in Bhutan: [10]

Get in

Everybody except citizens of India and Bangladesh must apply for a visa at least 30 days in advance of their proposed date of entry into Bhutan. There is no issuing of Visa on arrival. The local travel operator processes the visa on behalf of the guests. While the visa itself costs a reasonable US$20 for 14 days (extendable once), the visa will not be issued without pre-paid bookings for a tour, which costs from US$200 per person per night. These fees include room, board, guide, and transportation within Bhutan.The Airfare is not included. This policy is influenced by the Gross National Happiness (GNH) policy,whereby the country intentionally develops slowly and learns from mistakes made by other countries. This is a sustainable tourism policy whereby price controls the number of arrivals. Bhutan cannot afford to have too many tourists as it will dilute the rich and ancient tradition & culture. The very asset that attracts tourists will be soon destroyed. Although the tours are organized by private local tour operators, the cost is set & monitored by the government and so not negotiable. It is illegal to under cut prices for the tours. However, a rule of thumb is that tours are slightly cheaper during off-season (January, June, & July) and more expensive for groups of three or less. There is surcharge of $40 per night for solo travelers and $30 pp/per night for groups of two people. There is also a surcharge for luxury hotels and certain treks. The only other options for visiting the country are to receive an invitation by "a citizen of some standing" or a volunteer organization. Once the tour or invitation has received government approval, visas will be issued either by immigration at Paro airport or in Phuentsholing - basically all the work for a visa application is completed within Bhutan. There is no need to visit a Bhutanese embassy or consulate.

As travel to Bhutan almost invariably requires at least one flight change in India, Nepal, or Thailand, ensure that you can meet the visa requirements of those countries before departing on your journey. Nepal and Thailand offer visa on arrival or visa waiver for many nationalities. India generally requires visa procedures to be completed before arrival, and this can take up to two weeks.

Bhutan has a number of embassies and consulates, including those listed below [11].

  • India: Royal Bhutanese Embassy - Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021. Tel: 609217/ 609218, Fax:6876710
  • U.S.: Consulate General of Bhutan - 2 UN Plaza, 27th Floor, New York NY 10017. Tel:(212) 826-1919, Fax:(212) 826-2998.
  • Canada: Honorary Consul of Bhutan - 150 Isabella Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 1V7. Tel:(613) 232-1222 Fax:(613)569-4667
  • Hong Kong: Honorary Consul of Bhutan - Unit B, 1/F, Kowloon Centre, 29-43 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel:23762112.
  • Thailand: The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Bangkok - Jewelry Trade Center Building, Rm. 1907, 19th Floor, 919/1 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500. Tel:2671722, 630119 - Fax:6301193.

There are only two legal entry points into Bhutan: Paro's airport, and the land border with India at Phuentsholing. A third border crossing from Samdrup Jongkhar in southeastern Bhutan into India's Assam state is open, but for exit only - see Samdrup Jongkhar - 'get out' section for more detailed information.

  • Paro Airport (PBH) is the country's sole international airport. It is in the south west of the country and served only by the country's flag carrier Druk Air [12]. Druk operates 2 planes (two airbuses) which fly routes to Bangkok, Kolkata, Delhi, Dhaka, Gaya, Kathmandu, Siliguri (Bagdora) and Yangon. Note that Druk Air will not issue tickets without a visa clearance number. E-tickets have been in use since April 1st 2008.
  • Bagdogra Airport (IXB) [13]. Serving the city of Siliguri in the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal, Bagdogra is a four hour drive from the Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing. Bagdogra receives frequent flights from major cities within India, and Druk Air operates flights from Bangkok on Sundays and Wednesdays (with out going flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays).
  • From Kolkata: The Royal Bhutanese Government runs a service to Phuentsholing. These buses depart from Kolkata's Esplanade bus station at 7PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and from the Phuentsholing Bhutan Post office at 3PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The journey takes around 18 hours and costs 300Rps/Nu. The buses are comfortable, but because much of the highway to Kolkata is like the surface of the moon, don't bank on getting much sleep on the way.
  • From Siliguri: There is frequent service between Siliguri and Phuentsholing/Jaigaon. It is roughly a four hour journey. Buses operated by Royal Bhutan Government depart from across the main highway from the bus station, near Heritage Hotel, at 7:30AM and 1:30PM daily. Tickets cost Rs 62 and are available on entering the bus.

By train

There are no railways in Bhutan, but a link to Phuentsholing from India is under the final stages of construction and may open in 2010. Until then, the nearest options (both in India) are:

  • Hasimara on the main Kolkata/Siliguri line to Assam is the nearest railway station to Phuentsholing, 17 km away.
  • New Jalpaiguri Station (NJP) in Siliguri is a popular choice for travellers heading to Bhutan by land. There are direct shared taxis from NJP to Jaigaon or there is the option of buses from Siliguri bus station. A taxi between the station and the bus station costs around 80rs max. Trains from NJP should be booked ahead, as it is a popular stations amongst locals. There are not any trains leaving from this station with a tourist quota.
  • Route permits are required to travel around Bhutan, and there are check posts in most districts east and north of Thimphu where you are required to produce these documents in order to proceed. These permits are issued by the immigration office in Thimphu (Northern end of Norzin Lam).
  • The roads that cross the country are characterized by their twists, turns, and steep inclines, but despite the difficult topography, they are generally very well-maintained and safe. Local and inter-district bus services are not so comfortable and stop frequently. Tourists usually prefer to travel by a 4 wheeler-offroad or mini bus, which can be reserved through a tour operator. However, traveling by local or inter-district bus allows the traveler to meet Bhutanese people first hand and get more of a "feel" for really being in Bhutan.
  • As the public transport running between towns in Bhutan is infrequent, hitching is a very common way to get around. The thumb in the air symbol, however, is not recognized, and you will need to flag down a passing vehicle in order to get one to stop. NB: As some drivers pick up passengers as a means of supplementing their incomes, it is customary to offer payment when getting out of the vehicle (the amount depends roughly on the distance, but it will be comparable to the cost of traveling by bus). However, most drivers require nothing, and are more than happy just to have some company and the opportunity to make a new friend. If you plan to hitch a lot (and in some rural areas there is no other way to get around), it is a good idea to take a few small gifts to offer the drivers as an expression of your appreciation.
  • Due to the mountainous terrain, roads are frequently blocked by rock falls during the summer monsoon season. Therefore, it is best to avoid traveling long distances from the beginning of June to the end of August. However, if you must travel at this time, carry ample bottled water and snacks because if the landslide is substantial it could take some time to clear the road.
  • At an altitude of 3750 meters, the section of road that runs through the Thrumshingla Pass connecting Bumthang and Mongar is the highest in the country and offers some spectacular scenery. However, due to the steep sides of the valley it is especially susceptible to rock falls, so be prepared for long waits during the monsoon period in particular.

Food and refreshment

While there are ample restaurants on highways between main towns and the hygiene standards at such places is acceptable, the quality of the food is very low and the choice of dishes limited. In addition, the dining halls offer an environment no better than a bus station waiting room. Therefore, it is generally better to prepare food and refreshment for the journey at the point of departure.


Permits are required to visit all monasteries, dzongs and sacred sites deemed of special significance. These permits are issued by the Cultural Affairs Office in Thimphu.

  • Scenery. As most of Bhutan is in the Himalayas and foothills, scenery is mostly characterized by high mountains and towns precariously perched on ridges. The Paro and Bumthang valleys are especially impressive.
  • The dzongs are ancient fortresses that now serve as the civil and monastic administration headquarters of each district. Apart from the architecture, which in itself makes a dzong worth visiting, they also hold many art treasures.
Taktsang Monastery, Paro
Taktsang Monastery, Paro
  • Kurje Lhakhang, Jakar. A temple built around a cave with a body print of Guru Rinpoche embedded in the wall. Guru Rinpoche practiced meditation here on his first visit to Bhutan and as such it is the earliest Buddhist relic in the country.
  • Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest), Paro. This is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world, and Guru Rinpoche visited here on his second visit to Bhutan. The temple is built on a 1,200 meter cliff and is Bhutan's most well known sacred site.
  • Singye Dzong , Lhuentse. This is is a sacred valley located near the Tibetan border. The main temple in the valley was founded by Yeshi Tsogyal, and Guru Rinpoche visited the region on his second visit to Bhutan. However, partly due to the fact that the valley is in a sensitive area near the border and also partly due to Bhutan wishing to preserve the sanctity of its sacred sites, the valley is not open for tourists.

See also: Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent

  • Trekking: Bhutan is a popular place for trekking, though the walks are generally quite tough as there are no places to stay or eat in the higher regions, and so all food and camping equipment must be carried in. The Fall and Spring are the best seasons for undertaking a trek. In the Summer, the paths are too muddy, while in Winter they are snow covered. However, despite the difficulties of the treks, all efforts and discomforts are more than compensated for by the stunning scenery and extremely friendly, gentle and hospitable people that are met along the way. See: Wilderness backpacking.
  • Festivals: Tshechu is the largest religious festival in Bhutan and is celebrated in the late Summer and Fall throughout the country (see city articles for local information), though Thimphu Tshechu is the most famous and attracts around 30,000 people. The highlight of the tshechu ceremonies is the the masked dances by monks, which were developed according to precise instructions given by past Buddhist masters. According to Buddhist philosophy, all experiences leave an imprint in the mind stream that produces a corresponding result in the future, and so viewing these dances, which are imbued with sacred symbolism, is considered to be a very auspicious and sanctifying experience. While the event is not held in a solemn atmosphere and there is much merriment, visitors are reminded that it is still a religious festival that is of great importance to Bhutanese people, and so appropriate behavior is expected.
  • Archery: This is the national sport of Bhutan and competitions are held throughout the country at most weekends. Visitors are very welcome to watch and also to add voice to the boisterous cheering that accompanies these events.


Common Languages

  • Dzongkha. The mother tongue of most people residing in Western Bhutan, and the kingdom's official language.
  • Sharchopkha. The major regional language spoken in Eastern Bhutan.
  • Bumthangkha. Similar to Sharchopkha - spoken in the Bumthang region.
  • English and Hindi. Both languages are understood by most people in urban areas.


  • La. The suffix 'la' is an honorific, and many Bhutanese feel that their remarks sound too harsh if it is not used, and this carries over even into English. So, don't be surprised if you hear expressions such as "Yes-la" or "I'm not sure-la". It just implies respect.
  • Reach. In Bhutan, the verb 'reach' means to 'take' or 'accompany' (a person). For example: "I'll reach you to the bus station" means "I'll take/accompany you to the bus station."
  • Cousin-brother, Cousin-sister. Extended families living under one roof are common in Bhutan. As a result, the dividing line between siblings and cousins is blurred, and so it is not uncommon to be introduced to a "cousin-brother" or "cousin-sister". Although these people are just cousins, the English word implies a more distant relationship than is the fact in Bhutan.
  • Woven cloth. Bhutanese handwoven fabric is prized around the world, and is available stitched into clothing, wall hangings, table mats and rugs.
  • Yathra. A brightly colored woven material made from wool and dyed with natural colors. It is sold in pieces or sewn into jackets, bags, rugs and wall hangings. Yathra is available in Thimphu and other cold areas, but is a specialty of the Jakar area.
  • Dappa. Hand made wooden bowls. The halves of the bowl fit tightly together so they can be used to carry cooked food, which is their function in Bhutan. However, they also make excellent salad or cookie bowls. Dappa are a specialty of the Trashi Yangtse region, but can be purchased throughout the country.
  • Bangchung. Small bamboo woven baskets with two tightly fitting halves. They are a specialty of the southern Bhutan, but available throughout the country.


Rice is a staple with every meal. Vegetable or meat dishes cooked with chili and/or cheese comprise the accompanying cuisine.

Bhutanese food has one predominant flavor - chili. This small red condiment is not only added to every dish but is also often eaten raw. So, if you don't like spicy-hot food, make this abundantly clear before ordering a meal. Otherwise, you'll be spending the next hour dousing your mouth with cold yogurt or milk.

  • Ema-datsi. Ema means chili and datsi is a kind of cottage cheese, so ema-datsi is a kind of spiced-up Welsh rarebit.
  • Kewa-datsi. A potato, cheese and chili dish.
  • Shamu-datsi. A mushroom, cheese and chili dish.

Kewa-datsi and shamu-datsi tend to be less hot that ema-datsi; all three dishes are generally served with rice.

  • Mutter paneer. Though not a Bhutanese dish, this Indian staple of curried peas and cheese is readily available throughout Bhutan and is therefore an additional choice for vegetarians.
  • Cheese momo. A small steamed bun that traditionally contained cheese, cabbage and sometimes onion. However, these days other vegetables, including green papaya, may be substituted for cabbage.
  • Khuli. Buckwheat pancakes - a specialty of Bumthang. They are often served with ema-datsi as an alternative to rice.
  • Puta. A dish of buckwheat noodles usually served with curd - a specialty of Bumthang

Imtrat run canteens that sell excellent Indian dishes along with tea from 9.30AM to 4.30PM. The quality of the food is very good, while the price is low. The canteens are located throughout the country, especially along main highways.

  • Ara. A local spirit brewed from rice or corn. It is popular in rural areas.
  • Tea. Located next to the tea growing regions of Assam and Darjeeling, a steaming cuppa remains the popular drink in Bhutan, with both the butter variety (suja) and sweet milk kind (cha) readily available throughout the country.
  • Coffee. The coffee culture that has swept most of the planet is just beginning to creep into the country. However, for the most part, coffee in Bhutan means the instant variety and it is served simply white or black.


All towns connected by motorable roads have hotels, though the standard varies considerably. International standard hotels are mostly found in tourist areas or major towns, while five star accommodation is only available in Paro, Jakar, Punakha, Gangtey and Thimphu.

It is important to note that the hotel rates shown on the city articles are only relevant to people who have residency, visa exemption (generally this only applies to Indian nationals) or who are visiting the country as an invited guest. Other visitors can only enter the country as part of a tour, for which the daily rates are set by the Bhutanese authorities at around $250 per person per night irrespective of the hotel rates (except for very expensive hotels where a surcharge is added).



  • It is possible to receive instruction on Buddhist practice at any monastery, though for discussions on Buddhist philosophy it is better to consult with the khenpos or loppons (teachers) at Buddhist colleges (shedra), such as, for example, Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery in Jakar, Tango Monastery near Thimphu or Chokyi Gyatso Institute in Deothang.
  • Deer Park Thimphu [14] holds various Dharma related events in the capital, including weekly meditation sessions.

Weaving - Bhutanese woven cloth is prized throughout the world for its unique designs and high quality, and there is a weaving center in Khaling in Trashigang.


There are a few NGOs based in Bhutan, so it is possible to arrange volunteer work. However, Bhutan is very selective about who it engages in this field. In addition, it is highly unlikely that a position can be found while visiting Bhutan, so those interested in undertaking volunteer work here should first seek employment with NGOs overseas and then express a preference to be located in Bhutan.

  • Crime is not a problem in Bhutan, and it remains one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Bears are a threat in remote mountainous regions.
  • Hospitals and clinics are located throughout the country, even in the remotest areas. However, travelers should not expect hi-tech facilities, and at many of the Basic Health Units the resident doctor is often away.
  • Indigenous medical facilities are located in all district capitals, with the largest being in Thimphu, so it is also possible to have ailments diagnosed and treated using natural herbal compounds while in Bhutan.
  • Waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, giardia and even typhoid are not uncommon in Bhutan, especially during the summer monsoon season. Therefore, ensure that all water has been thoroughly boiled or otherwise purified before consuming.
  • In case of emergency, it is advisable to carry first aid material, which might include a few antibiotics and acetamenophin (paracetamol).
  • Altitude sickness can strike at altitudes as low as 2,500m. Be aware of this before embarking on expeditions in the mountains. If you suffer palpitations, shortness of breath or severe headaches, inform your guide and head to a lower altitude immediately. Take altitude sickness seriously. It can and does kill.
  • The hygiene standard is acceptable in tourist areas. However, it is probably wise to prepare medicine for stomach upsets.
  • The Street dog population is very high in Thimphu (and to a lesser extent in many of the towns). Most of the animals are extremely docile and there are very few cases of tourists ever being bitten. Still, it is best to err on the side of safety and not to disturb the animals. Moreover, if bitten, immediately receive a rabies vaccination. Although incidences of the disease are uncommon, it inevitably proves fatal if left untreated.
  • Malaria and Dengue fever are not common problems in Bhutan, though there are outbreaks in the Indian border regions during the summer monsoon season.
  • The king and former king are accorded a great deal of respect in Bhutan. It is wise to bear this in mind when conversing with local people.
  • Sacred objects. Always pass mani stones, stupas and other religious objects with your right side nearest to the object, and turn prayer wheels in a clockwise direction. Never sit on mani stones or stupas.
  • Clothing. When visiting temples, remove shoes and head gear and wear clothing that expresses respect for the sacred nature of the site. You will need to wear pants and long shirts.
  • Donations. At monasteries, it is custom to make a small donation to the monks as a sign of respect; and also to the Buddhist statues as a means of developing a generous and spacious mind. There are many places in each temple where you can donate, and it is expected that you donate to each place. Remember to have small notes for this gesture. However, this is not mandatory.
  • Smoking. It is illegal to smoke at monasteries and in public places.
  • Tobacco. Products containing tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco etc) should not be taken to sacred sites.
  • US Dollar, US dollars are widely accepted. Bhutanese currency is only needed for soft drinks and buying small souvenir items.
  • Money exchange. Banks operate a money exchange service for major currencies
  • ATM. Bhutan does not operate an international ATM service, though certain shops specializing in tourist goods accept payment by credit card.
  • Western Union Money Transfer, Thimphu Post Office. This facility can receive transfer of funds from overseas, but cannot make payments from customers' personal accounts.
Travel Warning

WARNING: Although Indian currency is legal tender in Bhutan, the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan has issued a notice banning the use of Indian 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes. Nonetheless, as of Oct 2009, the 500 rupee note is largely accepted by most locals. Government owned establishments do not accept the abovesaid notes, and hence it is advisable to carry sufficient currency in either Bhutanese currency or in the form of Indian 100 rupee notes

  • The international dialing code for Bhutan is 975
  • Most centers of population have internet cafes, though they are relatively expensive, and the connection is slow. Please make sure your travel agent find an appropriate internet cafe in advance if you need a connection for work.
  • Telephone call booths are existent in major towns in Bhutan
  • Most of Bhutan has mobile phone coverage, and as B-Mobile has agreements with some Asian and European countries on mobile roaming, cellular phones from these countries can be operated in Bhutan
  • Sikkim - a former independent kingdom, now part of India. The region has no air connection with Bhutan, and so travelers need to go overland via Siliguri.
  • Kolkata - Druk Airways flies between Paro and Kolkata. In addition, the Bhutan Government operates an overnight bus service from Phuentsholing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The buses depart from Bhutan Post office at 3 p.m., and the journey takes around 18 hours and costs 300 Rps/Nu.
  • Nepal - many travelers to Bhutan combine the visit with a trip to this other Himalayan kingdom and Druk Airways operate flights from Paro to Kathmandu.
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Bhutan is a Himalayan country located in between India and China. It has a population of about 600 thousands and it is sub-divided in to 20 districts. Bhutan's national language is Dzongkha, originally spoken dialect of western Bhutan. Recently, the country has instituted a constitutional democracy form of government. Lynpo Jigme Y. Thinley is the first prime minister of the constitutional democracy of Bhutan.06:07, 17 August 2008 (UTC)Thayechograb

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BHUTAN, an independent kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas, lying between the Brahmaputra and the southern face of the mountains. It is under various commercial and other arrangements with the government of India, from whom it receives an annual subsidy of £3333. It is bounded on the N. by Tibet; on the E. by a tract inhabited by various uncivilized independent mountain tribes; on the S. by the British province of Assam, and the district of Jalpaiguri; and on the W. by the independent native state of Sikkim. The whole of Bhutan presents a succession of lofty and rugged mountains abounding in picturesque and sublime scenery. This alpine region sends out numerous rivers in a southerly direction, which, forcing their passage through narrow defiles, and precipitated in cataracts over the precipices, eventually pour themselves into the Brahmaputra. Of the rivers traversing Bhutan, the most considerable is the Manas, flowing in its progress to the Brahmaputra under the walls of Tasgaon, below which it is unfordable. At the foot of Tasgaon Hill it is crossed by a suspension bridge. The other principal rivers are the Machu, Tchinchu, Torsha, Manchi and Dharla. Information respecting the country accumulates but slowly. In 1863 Captain Godwin Austen accompanied Sir Ashley Eden's mission to the court of the Deb raja, and made a survey of the route to Punakha. There has also been a certain amount of geographical sketching combined with trigonometrical observations; and there are the route surveys of native explorers. In 1887-1888 two native Indian explorers "R. N." and "P. A." traversed a part of Western Bhutan, but were forced to retire owing to the disturbed state of the districts. They re-entered the country on the east from Dewangiri. Here they explored the Kuru, or Lhobrak Chu, which proves to be the largest river in Bhutan. It drains the tract between the Yamdok Tso and Tigu Lakes, and is fed by the glaciers of the Kulha Kangri and other great ranges. The Lhobrak was finally identified with the Manas river, a geographical discovery of some importance. A previously unknown tribe, the Chingmis, were discovered in Eastern Bhutan, who are socially on a higher level than the Bhutias, and differ from them chiefly in the matter of wearing pigtails. Some excellent survey work was done in Bhutan by a native surveyor during the progress of the Tibetan Expedition in 1904. The Monla Kachung pass (17,500 ft.), by which "R. N." crossed into Tibet, is nearly on the meridian of Gualpara, and is one of the most important passes between Bhutan and Tibet. East of Bhutan, amongst the semi-independent hill states which sometimes own allegiance to Tibet and sometimes assert complete freedom from all authority, the geographical puzzle of the course of the Tsanpo, the great river of Tibet, has been solved by the researches of Captain Harman, and the explorations of the native surveyor "K. P." The Tsanpo has been definitely ascertained to be the same river as the Brahmaputra. The tracts inhabited by the aboriginal tribes entitled Lo Nakpo, Lo Karpo and Lo Tawa ("Lo" signifies "barbarous" in Tibetan), are described as a pleasant country; the lands on either side of the Tsanpo being well cultivated and planted with mangoes, plantains and oranges.

Nothing is known certainly about the area and population of Bhutan, the former being estimated at 16,800 sq. m. At the head of the Bhutan government there are nominally two supreme authorities, the Dharm raja, the spiritual head, and the Deb raja, the temporal ruler. Recently official correspondence has been written in the name of the Dharm raja, but it is not known whether this change really signifies anything. To aid these rajas in administering the country, there is a council of permanent ministers, called the Lenehen. Practically, however, there is no government at all. Subordinate officers and rapacious governors of forts wield all the power of the state, and tyranny, oppression and anarchy reign over the whole country. The Dharm raja succeeds as an incarnation of the deity. On the death of a Dharm raja a year or two elapses, and the new incarnation then reappears in the shape of a child who generally happens to be born in the family of a principal officer. The child establishes his identity by recognizing the cooking utensils, &c., of the late Dharm raja; he is then trained in a monastery, and on attaining his majority is recognized as raja, though he exercises no more real authority in his majority than he did in his infancy. The Deb raja is in theory elected by the council. In practice he is merely the nominee of whichever of the two governors of East and West Bhutan happens for the time to be the more powerful. The people are industrious, and devote themselves to agriculture, but from the geological structure of the country, and from the insecurity of property, regular husbandry is limited to comparatively few spots. The people are oppressed and poor. "Nothing that a Bhutia possesses is his own," wrote the British envoy in 1864; "he is at all times liable to lose it if it attracts the cupidity of any one more powerful than himself. The lower classes, whether villagers or public servants, are little better than the slaves of higher officials. In regard to them no rights of property are observed, and they have at once to surrender anything that is demanded of them. There never was, I fancy, a country in which the doctrine of `might is right' formed more completely the whole and sole law and custom of the land than it does in Bhutan. No official receives a salary; he has certain districts made over to him, and he may get what he can out of them; a certain portion of his gains he is compelled to send to the durbar; and the more he extorts and the more he sends to his superior, the longer his tenure of office is likely to be." Physically the Bhutias are a fine race, although dirty in their habits and persons. Their food consists of meat, chiefly pork, turnips, rice, barley-meal and tea made from the brick-tea of China. Their favourite drink is thong, distilled from rice or barley and millet, and Marwa, beer made from fermented millet. A loose woollen coat reaching to the knees, and bound round the waist by a thick fold of cotton cloth, forms the dress of the men; the women's dress is a long cloak with loose sleeves. The houses of the Bhutias are of three and four storeys; all the floors are neatly boarded with deal; and on two sides of the house is a verandah ornamented with carved work generally painted. The Bhutias are neat joiners, and their doors, windows and panelling are perfect in their way. No iron-work is used; the doors open on ingenious wooden hinges. The appearance of the houses is precisely that of Swiss chalets, picturesque and comfortable - the only drawback being a want of chimneys, which the Bhutias do not know how to construct. The people nominally profess the Buddhist religion, but in reality their religious exercises are confined to the propitiation of evil spirits, and the mechanical recital of a few sacred sentences. Around the cottages in the mountains the land is cleared for cultivation, and produces thriving crops of barley, wheat, buckwheat, millet, mustard, chillies, etc. Turnips of excellent quality are extensively grown; they are free from fibre and remarkably sweet. The wheat and barley have a full round grain, and the climate is well adapted to the production of both European and Asiatic vegetables. Potatoes have been introduced. The Bhutias lay out their fields in a series of terraces cut out of the sides of the hills; each terrace is riveted and supported by stone embankments, sometimes 20 ft. high. Every field is carefully fenced with pine branches, or protected by a stone wall.

A complete system of irrigation permeates the whole cultivated part of a village, the water being often brought from a long distance by stone aqueducts. Bhutias do not care to extend their cultivation, as an increased revenue is exacted in proportion to the land cultivated, but devote their whole energies to make the land yield twice what it is estimated to produce. The forests of Bhutan abound in many varieties of stately trees. Among them are the beech, ash, birch, maple, cypress and yew. Firs and pines cover the mountain heights; and below these, but still at an elevation of eight or nine thousand feet, is a zone of vegetation, consisting principally of oaks and rhododendrons. The cinnamon tree is also found. Some of the roots and branches were examined by Captain Samuel Turner during his journey to Tibet; but the plant being neither in blossom nor bearing fruit, it was impossible to decide whether it was the true cinnamon or an inferior kind of cassia. The leaf, however, corresponded with the description given of the true cinnamon by Linnaeus. The lower ranges of the hills abound in animal life. Elephants are so numerous as to be dangerous to travellers; but tigers are not common, except near the river Tista, and in the dense reed jungle and forests of the Dwars. Leopards abound in the Hah valley; deer everywhere, some of them of a very large species. The musk deer is found in the snows, and the barking deer on every hill side. Wild hogs are met with even at great elevations. Large squirrels are common. Bears and rhinoceros are also found. Pheasants, jungle fowls, pigeons and other small game abound. The Bhutias are no sportsmen. They have a superstitious objection to firing a gun, thinking that it offends the deities of the woods and valleys, and brings down rain.

A species of horse, which seems indigenous to Bhutan, and is used as a domestic animal, is called ldngan, from Tangastan, the general appellation of that assemblage of mountains which constitutes the territory of Bhutan. It is peculiar to this tract, not being found in any of the neighbouring countries of Assam, Nepal, Tibet or Bengal, and unites in an eminent degree the two qualities of strength and beauty. The tfngan horse usually stands about thirteen hands high, is short-bodied, clean-limbed, deep in the chest and extremely active, his colour usually inclining to piebald. In so barren and rude a country the manufacturing industry of its people is, as might be expected, in a low stage, the few articles produced being all destined for home consumption. These consist of coarse blankets and cotton cloths made by the villagers inhabiting the southern tract. Leather, from the hide of the buffalo, imperfectly tanned, furnishes the soles of snow boots. Circular bowls are neatly turned from various woods. A small quantity of paper is made from a plant described as the Daphne papyrifera. Swords, iron spears and arrow-heads, and a few copper caldrons, fabricated from the metal obtained in the country, complete the list of manufactures.

Trade connections are rather with Tibet than with India. In 1901-1902 the value of the import and export trade with British India amounted only to £57,000. The military resources of the country are on an insignificant scale. Beyond the guards for the defence of the various castles, there is nothing like a standing army. The total military force was estimated by the British envoy in 1864 at 6000. The climate of Bhutan varies according to the difference of elevation. At the time when the inhabitants of Punakha (the winter residence of the rajas) are afraid of exposing themselves to the blazing sun, those of Ghasa experience all the rigour of winter, and are chilled by perpetual snows. Yet these places are within sight of each other. The rains descend in floods upon the heights; but in the vicinity of Tasisudon, the capital, they are moderate; there are frequent showers, but nothing that can be compared to the tropical rains of Bengal. Owing to the great elevation and steepness of the mountains, dreadful storms arise among the hollows, often attended with fatal results.


Bhutan formerly belonged to a tribe called by the Bhutias Tephu, generally believed to have been the people of Kuch Behar. About A.D. 1670 some Tibetan soldiers subjugated the Tephus, took possession of the country and settled down in it. The relations of the British with Bhutan commenced in 1772, when the Bhutias invaded the principality of Kuch Behar, a dependency of Bengal. The Kuch Behar Raja applied for aid, and a force under Captain James was despatched to his assistance; the invaders were expelled and pursued into their own territories. Upon the intercession of Teshu Lama, then regent of Tibet, a treaty of peace was concluded in 1774 between the East India Company and the ruler of Bhutan. In 1783 Captain S. Turner was deputed to Bhutan, with a view of promoting commercial intercourse, but his mission proved unsuccessful. From this period little intercourse took place with Bhutan, until the occupation of Assam by the British in 1826. It was then discovered that the Bhutias had usurped several tracts of low land lying at the foot of the mountains, called the Dwars or passes, and for these they agreed to pay a small tribute. They failed to pay, however, and availed themselves of the command of the passes to commit depredations within the British territory. Captain R. B. Pemberton was accordingly deputed to Bhutan to adjust the points of difference. But his negotiations yielded no definite result; and every other means of obtaining redress and security proving unsuccessful, the Assam Dwars were wrested from the Bhutias, and the British government consented to pay to Bhutan a sum of £l000 per annum as compensation for the resumption of their tenure, during the good behaviour of the Bhutias. Continued outrages and aggressions were, however, committed by the Bhutias on British subjects in the Dwars. Nothwithstanding repeated remonstrances and threats, scarcely a year passed without the occurrence of several raids in British territory headed by Bhutia officials, in which they plundered the inhabitants, massacred them, or carried them away as slaves. In 1863 Sir Ashley Eden was sent as an envoy to Bhutan to demand reparation for these outrages. He did not succeed in his mission; he was subjected to the grossest insults; and under compulsion signed a treaty giving over the disputed territory to Bhutan, and making other concessions which the Bhutan government demanded. On Sir A. Eden's return the viceroy at once disavowed his treaty, sternly stopped the former allowance for the Assam Dwars, and demanded the immediate restoration of all British subjects kidnapped during the last five years. The Bhutias not complying with this demand, the governor-general issued a proclamation, dated the 12th of November 1864, by which the eleven Western or Bengal Dwars were forthwith incorporated with the queen's Indian dominions. No resistance was at first offered to the annexation; but, suddenly, in January 1865, the Bhutias surprised the English garrison at Dewangiri, and the post was abandoned with the loss of two mountain guns. This disaster was soon retrieved by General Sir Henry Tombs, and the Bhutias were compelled to sue for peace, which was concluded on the i ith of November 1865. The Bhutan government formally ceded all the eighteen Dwars of Bengal and Assam, with the rest of the territory taken from them, and agreed to liberate all kidnapped British subjects. As the revenues of Bhutan mainly depended on these Dwars, the British government, in return for these concessions, undertook to pay the Deb and Dharm rajas annually, subject to the condition of their continued good behaviour, an allowance beginning at £ 2500 and rising gradually to the present figure. Since that time the annexed territories have settled down into peaceful and prosperous British districts. The recent relations between the Indian government and Bhutan have been satisfactory; and during the troubles with Tibet in 1904 the attitude of the Bhutias was perfectly correct and friendly.

See Report on Explorations in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet (Deva Dun, 1889); Tanner, "Our present Knowledge of the Himalayas," R.G.S. Proceedings, vol. xiii. (T. H. H.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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  1. a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. Official name: Kingdom of Bhutan.


See also



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  • IPA: /ˈbutan/

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Singular Plural
Nominative Bhutan Bhutany
Genitive Bhutanu Bhutanów
Dative Bhutanowi Bhutanom
Accusative Bhutan Bhutany
Instrumental Bhutanem Bhutanami
Locative Bhutanie Bhutanach
Vocative Bhutanie Bhutany

Derived terms

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  • adjective: bhutański


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Simple English

Kingdom of Bhutan

འབྲུག་ཡུལ(Druk Yul)

File:Flag of File:Bhutan
Official flag Coat of Arms
National information
National motto: One Nation, One People
National anthem: Druk tsendhen
About the people
Official languages: Dzongkha, English
Population: (# of people)
  - Total: 2,232,291 (ranked 139)
  - Density: 45 per km²
Geography / Places
[[Image:|250px|none|country map]] Here is the country on a map.
Capital city: Thimphu
Largest city: Thimphu
  - Total: 47,500 (ranked 132)
  - Water:n/a km² (n/a%)
Politics / Government
Established: December 17, 1907
Leaders: King: Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

Prime Minister: Lyonpo Jigme Y Thinley

Economy / Money
(Name of money)
International information
Time zone: +6
Telephone dialing code: 975
Internet domain: .bt

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country in the Himalaya mountains of South Asia. It is ruled by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has been king since 1972. Bhutan was founded in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The Bhutanese people are proud they have always been an independent country. Bhutan's capital city is Thimphu. The official language is Dzongkha.

800,000 people live in Bhutan. There are also about 100,000 people from Nepal who lived in Bhutan before 1989, but these people were pushed out of the country. The people and government of Bhutan are proud of their culture which is based on Tibetan Buddhism. 97% of Bhutan's people believe in Buddhism.

Until 1974 Bhutan was closed to the outside world. Now people can visit the country, but only in small numbers. The only airport is in the Paro district. The country is bordered on the south by the Republic of India and on the north by Tibet, which is part of China since 1949. The main export of Bhutan is hydroelectricity which is sold to India. The economy of Bhutan is very small but is growing quickly. The currency is the Ngultrum, which is similar to the Indian rupee.

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