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Bhutan, See : Flags, Maps

Bhutan (South Asia)

Introduction ::Bhutan


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 to British India. 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. A refugee issue of over 100,000 Bhutanese in Nepal remains unresolved; 90% of the refugees are housed in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. In March 2005, King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK unveiled the government's draft constitution - which would introduce major democratic reforms - and pledged to hold a national referendum for its approval. In December 2006, the King abdicated the throne to his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK, in order to give him experience as head of state before the democratic transition. In early 2007, India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty to allow Bhutan greater autonomy in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate policy decisions in this area with New Delhi. In July 2007, seven ministers of Bhutan's ten-member cabinet resigned to join the political process, and the cabinet acted as a caretaker regime until democratic elections for seats to the country's first parliament were completed in March 2008. The king ratified the country's first constitution in July 2008.

Geography ::Bhutan

View Larger Map


Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates:
27 30 N, 90 30 E

Map references:




total: 38,394 sq km country comparison to the world: 136 land: 38,394 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:

about one-half the size of Indiana

Land boundaries:

total: 1,075 km

border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)



varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas


mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Drangeme Chhu 97 m

highest point: Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m

Natural resources:

timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate

Festival dancers - Bhutan

Land use:

arable land: 2.3%

permanent crops: 0.43%

other: 97.27% (2005)

Irrigated land:

400 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

95 cu km (1987)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.43 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)

per capita: 199 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

violent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's name, which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season

Environment - current issues:

soil erosion; limited access to potable water

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note:

landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes

People ::Bhutan


699,847 country comparison to the world: 164 note: the Factbook population estimate is consistent with the first modern census of Bhutan, conducted in 2005; previous Factbook population estimates for this country, which were on the order of three times the total population reported here, were based on Bhutanese government publications that did not include the census (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 30.2% (male 106,410/female 102,164)

15-64 years: 64.3% (male 235,988/female 208,484)

65 years and over: 5.5% (male 20,169/female 17,926) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 24.3 years

male: 25 years

female: 23.7 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.236% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 101

Birth rate:

19.62 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 95

Death rate:

7.25 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 124

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population country comparison to the world: 88


urban population: 35% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 4.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.12 male(s)/female

total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 46.92 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 55 male: 47.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 45.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 66.71 years country comparison to the world: 158 male: 65.89 years

female: 67.57 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.29 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 105

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 113

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

fewer than 100 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 162

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: intermediate

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)


noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)

adjective: Bhutanese

Ethnic groups:

Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several
Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%


Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%


Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 47%

male: 60%

female: 34% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 11 years

male: 12 years

female: 11 years (2008)

Education expenditures:

5.1% of GDP (2008) country comparison to the world: 63

Government ::Bhutan

Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan

conventional short form: Bhutan

local long form: Druk Gyalkhap

local short form: Druk Yul

Government type:

constitutional monarchy


name: Thimphu

geographic coordinates: 27 29 N, 89 36 E

time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha,
Chirang, Daga, Gasa, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro,
Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang,
Tashi Yangtse, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang


1907 (became a unified kingdom under its first hereditary king)

National holiday:

National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17
December (1907)


ratified 18 July 2008

Legal system:

based on Indian law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK (since 14 December 2006); note - King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK abdicated the throne on 14 December 2006 and his son immediately succeeded him; the nearly two-year delay between the former King's abdication and his son's coronation on 6 November 2008 was to ensure an astrologically auspicious coronation date and to give the new king, who had limited experience, deeper administrative expertise under the guidance of this father

head of government: Prime Minister Jigme THINLEY (since 9 April 2008)

cabinet: Council of Ministers (Lhengye Shungtsog) nominated by the monarch, approved by the National Assembly; members serve fixed, five-year terms; note - there is also a Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde); members are nominated by the monarch (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary, but democratic reforms in July 1998 grant the National Assembly authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote; election of a new National Assembly occurred in March 2008; the leader of the majority party nominated as the prime minister

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of the non-partisan National Council (25 seats; 20 members elected by each of the 20 electoral districts (dzongkhags) for four-year terms and 5 members nominated by the King); and the National Assembly (47 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote for five-year terms)

elections: National Council elections last held on 31 December 2007 and 29 January 2008 (next to be held by December 2012); National Assembly elections last held on 24 March 2008 (next to be held by March 2013)

election results: National Council - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - DPT 67%, PDP 33%; seats by party - DPT 45, PDP 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Appeal (the monarch); High Court (judges appointed by the monarch); note - the draft constitution establishes a Supreme Court that will serve as chief court of appeal

Political parties and leaders:

Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) or DPT
[Jigme THINLEY]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tshering TOBGAY]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

United Front for Democracy (exiled); Druk National Congress (exiled)

other: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community

International organization participation:

Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, NAM,
WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none; note - the Permanent Mission to the UN for Bhutan has consular jurisdiction in the US; the permanent representative to the UN is Daw PENJO; address: 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; telephone [1] (212) 682-2268; FAX [1] (212) 661-0551

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

the US and Bhutan have no formal diplomatic relations, although informal contact is maintained between the Bhutanese and US Embassy in New Delhi (India)

Flag description:

divided diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side; the dragon, called the Druk (Thunder Dragon), is the emblem of the nation; its white color stands for purity and the jewels in its claws symbolize wealth; the background colors represent spiritual and secular powers within Bhutan: the orange is associated with Bhuddism, while the yellow denotes the ruling dynasty

National anthem:

name: "Druk tsendhen" (The Thunder Dragon Kingdom)

lyrics/music: Gyaldun Dasho Thinley DORJI/Aku TONGMI

note: adopted 1953

Economy ::Bhutan

Economy - overview:

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than 60% of the population. Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and dependence on India's financial assistance. The industrial sector is technologically backward, with most production of the cottage industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian migrant labor. Model education, social, and environment programs are underway with support from multilateral development organizations. Each economic program takes into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. Hydropower exports to India have boosted Bhutan's overall growth. New hydropower projects will be the driving force behind Bhutan's ability to create employment and sustain growth in the coming years.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$3.526 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 170 $3.301 billion (2009 est.)

$3.123 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.397 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 26 5.7% (2009 est.)

2.7% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$5,000 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 144 $4,800 (2009 est.)

$4,600 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 17.6%

industry: 45%

services: 37.4% (2006)

Labor force:

299,900 country comparison to the world: 164 note: major shortage of skilled labor (2008)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 63%

industry: 6%

services: 31% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

4% (2009) country comparison to the world: 36 2.5% (2004)

Population below poverty line:

23.2% (2008)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.3%

highest 10%: 37.6% (2003)

Public debt:

57.8% of GDP (2009) country comparison to the world: 40 81.4% of GDP (2004)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.3% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 127 4.9% (2007 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

NA% (31 December 2009 est.)

NA% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$335 million (31 December 2008) country comparison to the world: 164 $381.1 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of broad money:

$NA (31 December 2009)

$647.6 million (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$NA (31 December 2008)

$169.9 million (31 December 2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs


cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

Electricity - production:

1.48 billion kWh (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 140

Electricity - consumption:

184 million kWh (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 178

Electricity - exports:

1.296 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 118

Oil - consumption:

1,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 190

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 140

Oil - imports:

1,250 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 183

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 199

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 202

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 204

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 53

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 80

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 200

Current account balance:

$164 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 55 $116 million (2007 est.)


$513 million (2008) country comparison to the world: 166 $350 million (2006)

Exports - commodities:

electricity (to India), ferrosilicon, cement, calcium carbide, copper wire, manganese, vegetable oil

Exports - partners:

India 86.3%, Bangladesh 8.1%, Italy 1.5% (2008)


$533 million (2008) country comparison to the world: 187 $320 million (2006)

Imports - commodities:

fuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice (2008)

Imports - partners:

India 63%, Japan 12.3%, China 5.1% (2008)

Debt - external:

$836 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 152 $713.3 million (2006)

Exchange rates:

ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar - 46.6 (2009), 41.487 (2007), 45.279 (2006), 44.101 (2005), 45.317 (2004)

note: the ngultrum is pegged to the Indian rupee

Communications ::Bhutan

Telephones - main lines in use:

26,300 (2009) country comparison to the world: 182

Telephones - mobile cellular:

327,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 169

Telephone system:

general assessment: urban towns and district headquarters have telecommunications services

domestic: low teledensity; domestic service is poor especially in rural areas; mobile-cellular service available since 2003

international: country code - 975; international telephone and telegraph service via landline and microwave relay through India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (2009)

Broadcast media:

state-owned TV station established in 1999; cable TV service offers dozens of Indian and other international channels; first radio station, privately launched in 1973, is now state-owned; 1 private radio station began operations in 2006 (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

9,147 (2010) country comparison to the world: 125

Internet users:

50,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 173

Transportation ::Bhutan


2 (2010) country comparison to the world: 196

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)


total: 8,050 km country comparison to the world: 141 paved: 4,991 km

unpaved: 3,059 km (2003)

Military ::Bhutan

Military branches:

Royal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police) (2009)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 198,553

females age 16-49: 176,226 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 153,985

females age 16-49: 140,437 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 7,432

female: 7,153 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 135

Transnational Issues ::Bhutan

Disputes - international:

Bhutan cooperates with India to expel Indian Nagaland separatists; lacking any treaty describing the boundary, Bhutan and China continue negotiations to establish a common boundary alignment to resolve territorial disputes arising from substantial cartographic discrepancies, the largest of which lie in Bhutan's northwest and along the Chumbi salient


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