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BHUTAN: Profile


Location Map of Bhutan

Location   Southeast Asia

Size/Area

18,000 square miles
Religion Buddhism and Hinduism
Population '600,000'
State Language  Dzongkha
Second Languages  Nepali and English
Neighbors Tibet (China) and India
Type of Government Hereditary monarchy,established in 1907
Constitution No written constitution or Bill of Rights
Per capita Income $470 (estimated)
Economy Agriculture/Hydro power and Tourism

Bhutan is a monarchy with sovereign power vested in the king. There is no constitution or Bill of Rights. The king exercises strong, active, and direct power over the government. Bhutan has no legal judiciary ; judges serve at the king's pleasure. The legislature called the National Assembly is party less and most of the members are nominees of the king or people's representatives taken by consensus. People cannot change the government. Political parties and formation of unions are banned in Bhutan.

Back to 1971, Bhutan was in sheer isolation. It appeared in the international field only in 1971 when it became the member of United Nations and so far Bhutan has established diplomatic relation with only a few countries. Bhutan has close relations with India and by a 1949 treaty, agrees to be guided by India in regard to its external affairs.

Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture and forestry. It exports cement, cardamom, citrus fruits and electricity. Hydroelectric power potential and tourism are key resources although the government limits foreign tourists.

Since 1989 television in Bhutan has been banned. Bhutan has no TV station of its own. It regards television and tourism as threat to its culture and tradition.

There is no freedom of speech, press, assembly or association. There are limitations on the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion and citizen's privacy.

The Wangchuk Dynasty of hereditary monarchs has ruled the country since 1907. jigme.jpgKing Jigme Singye Wangchuk is the fourth hereditary monarch on the throne since 1972.

Bhutan is a land of immigrants. The population of Bhutan comprises of three main ethnic groups. The Ngalongs of west and the Sharchops of eastern Bhutan though sometimes commonly identified as Drukpas bear different ethnic identity and place of origin. Although both groups are Buddhists the former are Kayugpa and the later practice Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism. Lhotshampas, the Nepali speaking populace along the southern belt are the Hindus.


Ethnic Groups    |   Settlement of Southern Bhutanese    |   National Assembly of Bhutan    |   Tsa Wa Sum
Human Rights Instruments Bhutan has signed/ ratified