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Bhutan's Information

Flag of Bhutan
Land Area 38,394 km2
Total Area 38,394km2 (#133)
Population 750,125 (#164)
Population Density 19.54/km2
Government Type Constitutional Monarchy
GDP (PPP) $6.43 Billion
GDP Per Capita $8,100
Currency Ngultrum (BTN)
More Information Bhutan
Largest Cities

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The legendary land of Bhutan was first settled in the ninth century by wandering migrants from the Tibet region of China.

Called Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) by its people, the strikingly beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the eastern Himalayas, sandwiched between China and India.

In Bhutan's early years there wasn't a functional government, instead there were small monarchies ruled by a deb (king) scattered across the region. Tibetan-Mongol military forces overran the modest kingdoms by the 11th century, transforming the landscape into a single kingdom influenced by religion.

Pre-modern Bhutan emerged in the 17th century with a theocratic government, founded by expatriate Drupka Monk, Ngawang Namgyal, who sought liberation from the oppressive Gelugpa subsect led by the Dalai Lama in Lhasa.

Under the guidance of Namgyal, Bhutan strengthened as a country, and successfully prevented invasions against Tibetan military forces throughout the 1600s.

Although invaders were kept at bay, civil unrest grew following the death of Namgyal - whose passing was kept a closely guarded secret for 54 years.

Bhutanese forces successfully invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar in the 18th century, but were quickly ousted by the British East India Company in 1722. In addition to claiming the Cooch Behar territory, the British East India Company also invaded Bhutan in 1744.

Despite an attempt at a peace treaty between the two forces, small battles ultimately flared into the Duar War in 1864. Unfortunately, Bhutan lost against the British, and the Bengal Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom.

Internal struggles persisted through the late 1800s, leading to the rise of Tongsa governor, Ugyen Wangchuck, who conquered his political enemies and united Bhutan.

In 1907, Wangchuck was elected hereditary king of the country by an assembly of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families. Two years later, Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha granting Britain control of the country's foreign affairs, and subsequently became an Indian princely state.

Long influenced by the cultures of the British government and India, Bhutan was granted independence from India in 1949. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck instituted the new legislature, advocating a more democratic society, and in 1971 Bhutan joined the United Nations.

The transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy was made in 2008 and the first general elections were held.

Today Bhutan's major trading partner is India, however many of its people still live in poverty, with widespread illiteracy a major social problem.

Despite these shortcomings, based Bhutan is rated as one of the happiest countries in Asia.

The small, landlocked country is completely bordered by mountains, making it difficult to navigate as there are few roads and no domestic (in-country) airlines or trains. Bhutan welcomes international travelers via (very pricey) Druk-Air, and the only ground entries into the country are through the towns of Phuntsholing and Samdrup Johghar.

The capital city of Thimphu sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet, on the banks of the Wong Chu river, and remains the site of royal government offices, and serves as a powerful magnet for adventure travelers from around the world.

This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.

Bhutan Trivia

What Languages are Spoken in Bhutan?

The Sino-Tibetan language of Dzongkha serves as the mother tongue of the Bhutanese people residing in eight western districts of the country. The language is used in government administration and as the medium of instruction in Bhutan’s schools. The language uses the Tibetan alphabet for writing.

Which Languages Are Spoken in Bhutan?

What are the Ecological Regions of Bhutan?

The ecological regions in Bhutan are divided into six Biomes including tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.

Ecological Regions Of Bhutan

What is the biggest city in Bhutan?

Thimpu is the Kingdom of Bhutan’s largest and capital city. Around 115,000 people live in the city.

Biggest Cities And Towns In Bhutan

What is the capital of Bhutan?

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan.

What Is The Capital Of Bhutan?

Who Was the First Prime Minister of Bhutan?

Jigme Thinley was the first prime minister of Bhutan, holding office between 1998 and 1999.

Prime Ministers of Bhutan

What Kind of Government Does Bhutan Have?

Since 18 July 2008, the Government of Bhutan has been a constitutional monarchy with the King being the Head of State and the Prime Minister heads the executive branch of the government.

What Type Of Government Does Bhutan Have?

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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