Bhutan

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 9, 2011
Flag of Bhutan
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Location of Bhutan
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Introduction

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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 10-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.
 
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Geography

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Southern Asia, between China and India
 
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27 30 N, 90 30 E
 
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total: 38,394 sq km
country comparison to the world: 137
land: 38,394 sq km
water: 0 sq km
 
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about one-half the size of Indiana
 
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total: 1,075 km
border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km
 
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0 km (landlocked)
 
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none (landlocked)
 
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varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
 
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mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna
 
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lowest point: Drangeme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m
 
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timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate
 
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arable land: 2.3%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 97.27% (2005)
 
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400 sq km (2008)
 
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95 cu km (1987)
 
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total: 0.43 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 199 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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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
 
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soil erosion; limited access to potable water
 
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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
 
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landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes
 
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People and Society

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noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Bhutanese
 
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Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%
 
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Sharchhopka 28%, Dzongkha (official) 24%, Lhotshamkha 22%, other 26% (2005 Census)
 
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Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
 
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708,427 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
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
 
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0-14 years: 28.9% (male 104,622/female 100,383)
15-64 years: 65.3% (male 245,054/female 217,864)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 21,347/female 19,157) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 24.8 years
male: 25.4 years
female: 24.2 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.201% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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19.13 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
 
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7.12 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
 
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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urban population: 35% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 3.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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THIMPHU (capital) 89,000 (2009)
 
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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 (2011 est.)
 
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200 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 58
 
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total: 44.48 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 56
male: 45.24 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 43.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 67.3 years
country comparison to the world: 159
male: 66.46 years
female: 68.19 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.2 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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5.5% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 129
 
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0.023 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 186
 
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1.7 beds/1,000 population (2006)
country comparison to the world: 112
 
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improved:
urban: 99% of population
rural: 88% of population
total: 92% of population
unimproved:
urban: 1% of population
rural: 12% of population
total: 8% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 87% of population
rural: 54% of population
total: 65% of population
unimproved:
urban: 13% of population
rural: 46% of population
total: 35% of population (2008)
 
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0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
 
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fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
 
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fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
 
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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)
 
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12% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 60
 
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4.8% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 47%
male: 60%
female: 34% (2003 est.)
 
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total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2008)
 
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total: 6.3%
country comparison to the world: 120
male: 5.5%
female: 7.2% (2005)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan
local long form: Druk Gyalkhap
local short form: Druk Yul
 
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constitutional monarchy
 
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name: Thimphu
geographic coordinates: 27 29 N, 89 36 E
time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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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
 
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1907 (became a unified kingdom under its first hereditary king)
 
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National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)
 
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ratified 18 July 2008
 
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civil law based on Buddhist religious law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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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 his 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
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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
 
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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
 
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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
 
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Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) or DPT [Jigme THINLEY]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tshering TOBGAY]
 
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United Front for Democracy (exiled); Druk National Congress (exiled)
other: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community
 
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ADB, BIMSTEC, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
 
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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
 
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the US and Bhutan have no formal diplomatic relations, although informal contact is maintained between the Bhutanese and US Embassy in New Delhi (India)
 
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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 Bhuddhism, while the yellow denotes the ruling dynasty
 
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thunder dragon known as Druk
 
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name: "Druk tsendhen" (The Thunder Dragon Kingdom)
lyrics/music: Gyaldun Dasho Thinley DORJI/Aku TONGMI
note: adopted 1953
 
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Economy

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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.
 
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$3.875 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
$3.63 billion (2009 est.)
$3.34 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$1.412 billion (2010 est.)
 
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6.7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
8.7% (2009 est.)
3% (2008 est.)
 
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$5,500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
$5,300 (2009 est.)
$4,900 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 17.4%
industry: 45%
services: 37.6% (2010 est.)
 
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299,900
country comparison to the world: 164
note: major shortage of skilled labor (2008)
 
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agriculture: 43.7%
industry: 39.1%
services: 17.2% (2004 est.)
 
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4% (2009)
country comparison to the world: 36
2.5% (2004)
 
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23.2% (2008)
 
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lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 37.6% (2003)
 
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46% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
 
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revenues: $576.5 million
expenditures: $666 million
note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2010 est.)
 
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40.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
 
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-6.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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57.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 37
81.4% of GDP (2004)
 
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7.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
4.3% (2009 est.)
 
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NA%
 
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14.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
14.5% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$418.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
$383 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$637.1 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$218.7 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
$186.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
 
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cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism
 
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NA%
 
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1.48 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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184 million kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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1.296 billion kWh (2009 est.)
 
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5.693 billion kWh (2008 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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1,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
 
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1,549 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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-$112.9 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
-$112.9 million (2008 est.)
 
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$509.4 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
$513 million (2008)
 
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electricity (to India), ferrosilicon, cement, calcium carbide, copper wire, manganese, vegetable oil
 
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$620.8 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
$533 million (2008)
 
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fuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice
 
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$1.002 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
$890.9 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$836 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 155
$713.3 million (2006)
 
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ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -
46.6 (2009)
41.487 (2007)
45.279 (2006)
44.101 (2005)
45.317 (2004)
 
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Communications

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26,300 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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394,300 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 170
 
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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)
 
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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)
 
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.bt
 
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9,147 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 125
 
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50,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 174
 
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Transportation

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2 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 211
 
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total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 8,050 km
country comparison to the world: 141
paved: 4,991 km
unpaved: 3,059 km (2003)
 
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Military

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Royal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police) (2011)
 
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18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 202,407
females age 16-49: 180,349 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 157,664
females age 16-49: 144,861 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 7,363
female: 7,095 (2010 est.)
 
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1% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
 
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Transnational Issues

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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; Bhutan protests Chinese road construction and other activities on Bhutanese soil; Chinese border soldiers frequently intrude deep into Bhutanese territory; Bhutan cooperates with India to expel Indian Nagaland separatists
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