Bhutan is a south Asian landlocked state which is in the Eastern Himalayas. It is the second least populated country in South Asia right after the Maldives. Phuntsholing is the financial center of Bhutan while Thimphu is the largest and its capital city. Bhutan is bordered by two nations: China and India. Other close neighbors include the Union of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Bhutan has a population of over 797,765 people and occupies an area of about 14,824 sq miles. The Bhutanese nation, which is on the Silk Road between Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Tibet, established its unique culture based on Buddhism.
Since it was never colonized, Bhutan’s Independence has endured for centuries. Previously the country was headed by Zhabdrung Rinpoche (a spiritual leader), and it had numerous fiefdoms which were under the Buddhist theocracy. After the nineteenth century’s civil war, the house of Wangchuck reunited Bhutan and created a relationship with the British. Currently, they have a disputed boundary with China. It also established a strategic alliance with India when the Chinese communism was rising.
The country became a constitutional monarchy in 2008 and had their first election on the same year. Bhutan ranks as the least corrupt, second in per capita income and first in ease of doing business and economic freedom in 2016 in South Asia. The country has diplomatic relation with 52 nations and the EU, but they lack any formal ties with permanent members of the UN’S Security Council. It has a parliamentary democracy type of government under Bhutan’s King who is referred to as "Dragon King".
History Of Bhutan’s Borders
Bhutan is a compact state with a shorter width than length. Due to its landlocked status, the country has no territorial water. Previously their boundary extended south into Assam, but the British pushed it back through numerous treaties and wars until 1865 when the Sinchula treaty helped them get some land back. India took some of the territories under the Punakha treaty. Currently, the total Bhutan boundary is about 708 miles long.
Countries Bordering Bhutan
China is an East Asian self-governing nation and the most populated in the world with over 1.404 billion residents. It is one of the largest countries in the world which occupies an area of about 3,700,000 sq miles. The Chinese government has control over five self-governing regions, Hong Kong, four direct municipalities, Macau and 22 provinces. China is on the northwest and the northern side of Bhutan. China was the earliest civilization on earth whose political system was based on dynasties which began in the twenty-first century BCE with the Xia dynasty. The country became the fastest growing state in the world in 1978 after the introduction of economic reforms. China had the biggest economy by PPP (purchasing power parity) and second largest by nominal GDP in the world.
The China-Bhutan border is a 292miles sinuous stretch which separates the Tibet to the northern side from Bhutan to the south. The boundary is between two tripoints which are created between India, Bhutan, and China. The border is on the eastern regions of the Himalayas. The two nations do not have an official diplomatic relationship. The boundary between Bhutan and Tibet was never officially demarcated.
The two nations have disputed over a part of Bhutan which China claimed to be their territory. Bhutan and China signed an agreement for keeping peace on their boundary in 1998. However, construction of the road by China on a piece of land which Bhutan believes is part of their territories incited the tension between the two states again. China presented the evidence confirming the parcel of land to be part of their country and after some negotiations, they reached an agreement in 2002.
There is a border crossing between the two countries in Pagri. Pagri is a town in Tibet which is close to the Bhutan border. Pagri is 14,100ft high and is considered to be one of the highest places in the world. Pagri was of military importance during the twentieth century when the British Tibet Expedition camped there.
India has a land area of about 1,210,219 sq miles and ranked seventh globally. India is bounded by Bengal Bay to the southeastern side, the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Indian Ocean to the southern side. It shares a land boundary with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, China, and Pakistan. The South Asian country is the second most populous nation globally with over 1.2 billion.
The region was home to the Indus valley civilization of the third millennium BCE. Social stratification which exists in India to date began in the first millennium BCE together with Jainism and Buddhism. Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism arrived in India during the medieval period, and together with Sikhism, they all helped to improve the India’s unique culture. The British took over the subcontinent during the nineteenth century, and after a non-violent resistance, the country gained their independence in 1947. The country’s economy was the third biggest by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and the sixth largest by GDP in the world in 2017.
Bhutan borders India to the northeastern side. The 434miles long Bhutan-India boundary connects the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal and Assam to Bhutan. The peace treaty which was signed after the Bhutan War in 1865 demarcated the boundary between the two countries. It was further refined and detailed in the period between 1973-1984 through talks between India and Bhutan. Since the Bhutan-China boundary is closed, the India-Bhutan border is the only land access into Bhutan. The only checkpoint for foreigners is between Phuntsholing (Bhutan) and Jaigaon (India).
The government of India deployed twelve SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) battalions and over one hundred and thirty-two border posts to protect the Indian-Bhutan boundary from their side. They established a bilateral Bhutan-India group boundary Management which collaboratively protects and assesses the boundary between the two nations. The government of India increased the border posts after the India-China border standoff in 2017.
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