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Flag of Bhutan
Map of Bhutan
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. 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 some 85,000 Bhutanese in Nepal remains unresolved; 90% of the refugees are housed in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. Maoist Assamese separatists from India, who have established themselves in the southeast portion of Bhutan, have drawn Indian cross-border incursions.
Geography Bhutan
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates:
27 30 N, 90 30 E
Map references:
total: 47,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 47,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
about 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: Drangme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Kula Kangri 7,553 m
Natural resources:
timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide
Land use:
arable land: 2.98%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.59% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
400 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Nuclear Test Ban
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
note: other estimates range as low as 810,000 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.8% (male 431,883; female 401,386)
15-64 years: 56.2% (male 606,184; female 571,310)
65 years and over: 4% (male 42,193; female 41,220) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.15% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
35.26 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
13.74 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
106.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 53.19 years
female: 52.83 years (2002 est.)
male: 53.53 years
Total fertility rate:
5 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
less than 100 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
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: 42.2%
male: 56.2%
female: 28.1% (1995 est.)
Government Bhutan
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan
Government type:
monarchy; special treaty relationship with India
Administrative divisions:
18 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Chirang, Dagana, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang
note: there may be two new districts named Gasa and Yangtse
8 August 1949 (from India)
National holiday:
National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)
no written constitution or bill of rights; note - Bhutan uses 1953 Royal decree for the Constitution of the National Assembly; on 7 July 1998, a Royal edict was ratified giving the National Assembly additional powers
Legal system:
based on Indian law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
each family has one vote in village-level elections
Executive branch:
chief of state: King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK (since 24 July 1972)
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary, but democratic reforms in July 1998 grant the National Assembly authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote
head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers Lyonpo Khandu WANGCHUK (since 8 August 2001)
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 nominated by the monarch
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu (150 seats; 105 elected from village constituencies, 10 represent religious bodies, and 35 are designated by the monarch to represent government and other secular interests; members serve three-year terms)
elections: last held NA (next to be held NA)
election results: NA
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Appeal (the monarch); High Court (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
no legal parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community; United Front for Democracy (exiled)
International organization participation:
AsDB, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IMF, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OPCW (signatory), SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WTrO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; note - Bhutan has a Permanent Mission to the UN; address: 2 United Nations Plaza, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone [1] (212) 826-1919; the Bhutanese mission to the UN has consular jurisdiction in the US
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
Economy Bhutan
Economy - overview:
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 labor. Bhutan's hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources. The Bhutanese Government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base and improving social welfare. Model education, social, and environment programs in Bhutan 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. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas like industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. Major hydroelectric projects will lead expansion of GDP in 2002 by an estimated 6%.
purchasing power parity - $2.5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 45%
industry: 20%
services: 35% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
note: massive lack of skilled labor
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry and commerce 2%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $146 million
expenditures: $152 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96 est.)
note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures
cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide
Industrial production growth rate:
9.3% (1996 est.)
Electricity - production:
1.876 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0%
hydro: 100%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
380.68 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
1.385 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
21 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
$154 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices
Exports - partners:
India 94%, Bangladesh
$196 million c.i.f. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
Imports - partners:
India 77%, Japan, UK, Germany, US
Debt - external:
$245 million (1998)
Economic aid - recipient:
substantial aid from India and other nations
ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
ngultrum per US dollar - 48.336 (January 2002), 47.186 (2001), 44.942 (2000), 43.055 (1999), 41.259 (1998), 36.313 (1997); note - the Bhutanese ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee which is also legal tender
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Bhutan
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: domestic telephone service is very poor with few telephones in use
international: international telephone and telegraph service is by landline through India; a satellite earth station was planned (1990)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)
37,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
0 (1997)
11,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Internet users:
2,500 (2002)
Transportation Bhutan
0 km
total: 3,285 km
paved: 1,994 km
unpaved: 1,291 km (1996)
Ports and harbors:
2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Military Bhutan
Military branches:
Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, Forest Guards
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 517,470 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 276,303 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 21,167 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$9.3 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.9% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Bhutan
Disputes - international:
approximately 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal, 90% of whom reside in seven UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees camps, place decades-long strains on Nepal

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003