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The Kingdom of Bhutan; Druk-yul (Tibetan for Land of the Thunder Dragon)

Subtropical monsoon climate in the south; cool moderate climate in central Bhutan;
permanent frost in the high mountains in the north.

Bhutan experiences four seasons - spring (March-May), summer (June-August), autumn (September-November) and winter (December-February). Annual rainfall is concentrated in the monsoon season from mid-June to September.
(Bhutan's Climate )

Between Central and South Asia, bordering Sikkim, India and Tibet; Himalayan foothillsin the south to high Himalayas in the north; main inhabited region is on a central plateau (2,000 - 3,000 m above sea level). Bhutan is a landlocked country, about 300 km long and 150 km wide.

The entire country is mountainous, the elevation runs from 200 to 7,541 m on the Tibet border.
The country has three geographical zones. The southern zone with low forest hills and dense tropical forests has a hot and humid climate. The central zone lies between 2,000 and 3,500 m with a semi-tropical climate. The northern zone lies from east to west between 6,800 and 7,400 m and is part of the great Himalayas.
(Bhutan Maps) (Bhutan's Forests) (Bhutan's Nature)

46,500 km2

Thimphu; approximately 40,000 inhabitants (Thimphu - Capital of Bhutan)

According to the 2005 Population and Housing Census of Bhutan, the population of Bhutan is 634,982. Projected population of 762,035 (2015, source: WFP)

Annual growth rate: -

The population is composed of various ethnic and caste groups. The majority of the population follows matrilineal heritage giving women an advantage in ownership of land and live stock.

Three main population groups:
Ngalops, mountain people of Tibetan descent; Sharchops original inhabitants of Bhutan who live mainly in eastern parts of the and Lhotshampas - inhabitants of Nepalese origin, especially in the south, who have immigrated to Bhutan since the end of the 19th century (30% - 50% of the population)
(Economic & Social Statistics)
(Bhutan's People)

Bhutan Time is 6 hour ahead of GMT.
Bhutan Time UTC+0600 or GMT+0600 (Indian Standard Time)

Dzongkha and English (official languages)
In addition Bumthangkha is spoken in the centre, Sharchopkha in the east, Nepali in the south; a total of 18 different languages are spoken.
Bhotes (Ngalops and the Sharchops) speak various Tibetan dialects, ethnic Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
(Dzongkha- National Language)

Lamaist Tantrayana Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism of the Drukpa sect) = state religion
Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%

The Ngalongs follow the Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, which is Bhutan's state religion. The Sharchhops follow the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The ethnic Nepalis are predominantly Hindu.
(Bhutan's Religions)

National Day:
December 17 (Coronation of the first Druk Gyalpo (king) of Bhutan on 17 December 1907)
The government has declared October 21 as a national holiday on the occasion of the formal accession of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as Chhoetse Penlop.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the fifth Druk Gyalpo.(Bhutan's King)

Bhutan's early history is steeped in Buddhist tradition and mythology. In the early twentieth century a hereditary monarchy, with no formal constitution, was founded and continued the country's policy of isolationism. Under the Indo-Bhutan Treaty, signed in 1949, Bhutan agreed that its external affairs would be guided by India. In 1959, Bhutan closed its borders with Tibet and until now there is no formal diplomatic relations

It is only under the leadership of the third king that Bhutan emerged from its strict isolationism and began to establish links with the global world. Despite the modernization process, Bhutan is very keen on maintaining a careful, controlled policy of development in order to preserve its national identity and national happiness.

British protectorate ended in 1949; Indian-Bhutanese Treaty of Friendship

System of government:
Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy, now with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who is the fifth hereditary King.

The Prime Minister is the head of the government. Bhutan's first elected prime minister was Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley (Dasho). The persent elected prime minister's name is Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is head of state of Bhutan.

Bhutan has its own unique political and administrative system. Its approach to development efforts is guided by the concept of maximizing Gross National Happiness, propounded by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. It forms the basis for identifying directions that are preferred above all others and has directed efforts to improve living standards, including spiritual well-being and preservation of cultural values and the physical environment.

Gross National Happiness places the individual at the center of all development efforts and recognizes that individuals have material, spiritual and emotional needs.

Hereditary monarchy (since 1907)
December 14, 2006: The fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has handed over his responsibilities as the Monarch and head of state of Bhutan to the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who now assumes the full responsibilities of head of state as the fifth Druk Gyalpo.

(Bhutan's King)

Bhutan's first general elections that is electing 47 candidates to the National Assembly were held on 24 March 2008.

(National Assembly elections 2008 and 2013)
(Gross National Happiness (GNH) - a guiding philosophy)

Since 2008 Bhutan has a two chamber parlimamentary system: The Upper House of parliament, the 25-seat National Council, and the Lower House of Parliament (National Assembly - (Tshogdu)) with 47 seats.

The elections were held in December 2007, March 2008 and July 2013.

The government is headed by a Prime Minister. The King is still head o state.

Bhutan has two political parties to date: The Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party or Bhutan Harmony Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT)) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

There is also a Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde). The members of the council are nominated by the monarch.

(Bhutan's National Assembly) ( Elections 2008)

Administrative structure:
Bhutan has actually 20 administrative districts (dzongkhags) divided into several blocks (gewogs). Bhutan's 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs would be divided into 47 constituencies with many political parties and candidates.
(Bhutan Maps)

Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) radio only - Since 1999 there have been a few hours of television daily
Weekly newspapers ("Kuensel", Bhutan Times) - Internet access, satellite television

1 Ngultrum (NU) = 100 chetrums (Ch) Indian rupees are legal tender

Bhutanese ngultrum is not convertible. The Bhutanese currency is pegged to the Indian rupee at par, and the rupee can be circulated freely in Bhutan despite that the ngultrum is the only legal tender currency in the country

There are only two commercial banks in Bhutan with branches around the country: the Bank of Bhutan and the Bhutan National Bank. In general, there are exchange counters at the airport, hotels and the two main cities of Thimphu and Phuentsholing.
(Bhutanese Stamps & Bank Notes)

GDP Gross Domestic Product:
approx. US$ 291,331 million (1996) , approx. US$ 1'810 per c. (2008, source: ITU), GDP growth (% change per year): 7.7% (2012, source: ADB), the country's per capita GDP has more than quintupled, from Nu13,078 in 1981 to Nu69,577 in 2011 (source: ADB 2013)
(Economic & Social Statistics)

Per-capita income (GNI = gross national income) :
The per capita income is estimated at USD 2,418 (2014, source: WFP), USD 2,130 (2011, source: ADB)
(Economic & Social Statistics) (Bhutan's Development)

Natural resources
Around 70 per cent of the country is covered with forests, but only less than 8 per cent of the total land area has potential for agricultural production. The river valleys and flat land most suitable for agriculture are situated in the southern part of the country, whereas the northern mountainous belt under snowline is suitable for animal husbandry.

Bhutan has a potential for hydropower development. The unspoiled natural environment and its preserved cultural heritage represent a good potential to develop high quality eco- and cultural tourism.
(Bhutan's Tourism) (Bhutan's Forests)

The road network in Bhutan is divided into 9 categories .

The country has 6.2 km of Expressway accounting for 0.12% of the total road network, 1628.1 km National Highways (30.36%), 482.0 km District Roads (8.99%), 820.7 km Feeder Roads (15.3%), 163 km Urban Roads (3.04%), 1045.6 km Farm Roads (19.5%), 528.9 km Forest Roads (9.86%), 547.2 km Access Roads (10.2%) and 140.8 km of Power Tiller Tracks (2.63%).
(Road Network)

Source: Department of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Thimphu and UNESCAP
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