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The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, mountainous nation of southern Asia,
located in the Himalaya Mountains between India and China. The local name
for the country, Druk Yul, means "land of the thunder dragon", as the
thunder believed to be the sound of roaring dragons.

                                         Official language Dzongkha
                                         Capital           Thimphu
A Buddhist theocracy was established in
Bhutan in the early 17th century. The    King              Jigme Singye
area, historically close to Tibet to the
north, came under the influence of the   Prime minister    Lyonpo Kinzang
British in India during the 19th century                   Dorji
and a protectorate was established in    Area              Ranked 128th
1910, with Britain assuming control of   - Total          47,000 km²
foreign affairs, but refraining from     - % water        Negligible
interference in internal affairs.        Population        Ranked 139th
                                         - Total (2002)   2,094,176
After India itself became independent in - Density        45/km²
1947 it in turn assumed this role and
granted independence to Bhutan in 1949,  Independence      From India
though it retains a protective role. The - Date           August 8, 1949
current monarchy, originally established Currency          Ngultrum
in 1907 adopted a policy of driving out  Time zone         UTC +6
non-native Bhutanese, which has caused
approximately 100,000 Nepalese and       National anthem   Druk tsendhen
Indians to flee to neighbouring          Internet TLD      .BT
                                         Calling Code      975

Head of state is the King or Druk Gyalpo, presently Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Although his title is hereditary, he can be removed by a two-thirds majority
vote from the parliament, the unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu. This
body has 154 seats, and is composed of locally elected town representatives
(105), religious representatives (12) and members nominated by the king
(37), all of whom serve a three-year term.

In his executive work, the monarch is aided by a council of ministers or
cabinet (Lhengye Shungtsog), with members appointed by the king, approved by
the National Assembly, and serving fixed, five-year terms.


Bhutan is divided into 18 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural):

   * Bumthang
   * Chhukha
   * Chirang
   * Daga
   * Geylegphug
   * Ha
   * Lhuntshi
   * Mongar
   * Paro
   * Pemagatsel
   * Punakha
   * Samchi
   * Samdrup Jongkhar
   * Shemgang
   * Tashigang
   * Thimphu
   * Tongsa
   * Wangdi Phodrang


Bhutan is a very mountainous and landlocked nation, situated within the
eastern Himalayas. Mountain peaks in the north reach up to over 7,000 m, the
highest point being the Kula Kangri at 7,553 m. The southern part of the
country has a lower altitude, and contains several fertile and densely
forested valleys that flow down into the Brahmaputra river in India.

The majority of the population lives in the central highlands. The country's
largest city, the capital Thimphu (population 27,000), is located in the
western part of these highlands. The local climate varies from tropical in
the south to cool winters and hot summers in the central valleys, with
severe winters and cool summers occurring in the Himalayas.


The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on
agriculture and forestry, providing the main livelihood for more than 90% 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. 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 labour. Bhutan's hydropower
potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources.

Model education, social, and environment programmes in Bhutan are underway
with support from multilateral development organisations, always taking
Bhutan's wish for preservation of its traditions into account. The
government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base
and improving social welfare, though detailed controls and uncertain
policies in many areas continue to hamper foreign investment. Major
hydroelectric projects will lead expansion of GDP in 2002 by an estimated 6%.


About half of the population are indigenous Bhutanese, known as the Ngalop
or Bothe, who are closely related to Tibetan tribes. Major ethnic groups are
the Lhotshampa, who originate from Nepal, and the Sharchop (from Assam).
While Dzongkha is the official language, many local dialects are spoken in
remote mountain villages, some with only a few speakers.

The official religion of Bhutan is the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, which
is adhered to by about three quarters of the population. A quarter of the
Bhutanese are Hindus.


Bhutan is one of the most secluded nations in the world, and access for
foreigners is restricted to certain areas, although these are expanding.
Most of the population lives in small rural villages, and supports itself
through agriculture, growing crops or breeding yaks. Buddhist religion forms
an important part of life.

Archery is Bhutan's national sport, with traditional competitions being held
regularly in most villages. Characteristic for the region is a type of
fortress known as Dzong architecture.
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