Country Info


The Dragon Kingdom or more aptly, the "Land of the Thunder Dragon", is probably the closet one can get to a legendary Himalayan Kingdom, one of the last Shangri-Las on earth. Bhutan possesses an amazing landscape and the strange and beautiful monasteries and forts add and aura of mysticism to this land. Although the traditions of its neighbors which include Tibet, Sikkim and India have had some influence on Bhutan, it has generally remained isolated for a long time. With it''s heavily protected borders, it still remains as a traditional and blissfully unspoilt land. 

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 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. Maoist Assamese separatists from India, who have established themselves in the southeast portion of Bhutan, have drawn Indian cross-border incursions.

Geography Bhutan
Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Area: total: 47,000 sq km
Water: 0 sq km
Land: 47,000 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 1,075 km
Border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km
Climate: varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
Terrain: 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
Geography - note: landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes

People Bhutan
Population: 2,139,549
Note: other estimates range as low as 810,000 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.6% (male 438,784; female 407,919)
15-64 years: 56.4% (male 621,666; female 585,550)
65 years and over: 4% (male 43,262; female 42,368) (2003 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.14% (2003 est.)
Birth rate: 34.82 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate: 13.47 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Nationality: 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%
Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Languages: Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
Literacy: 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
Capital: Thimphu
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 Independence: 8 August 1949 (from India)
National holiday: National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)
Constitution: no written constitution or bill of rights; note - the King commissioned a committee to draft a constitution in 2001, but has yet to be approved
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 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. Bhutan''s hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources. The government has made some progress in expanding the nation''s productive base and improving social welfare. 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. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas like industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. 
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.7 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7.7% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 45%
Industry: 10%
Services: 45% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $146 million
Expenditures: $152 million, including capital expenditures of NA
Note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan''s budget expenditures (FY95/96 est.)
Agriculture - products: rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
Exports: $154 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices
Exports - partners: US 24.1%, UK 23.9%, Pakistan 23.1%, France 13.9% (2002)
Imports: $196 million c.i.f. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
Imports - partners: Japan 44.5%, Germany 12.2%, UK 8.5%, Singapore 6%, South Korea 5%, US 4.2% (2002)
Debt - external: $245 million (2000)
Economic aid - recipient: substantial aid from India and other nations
Currency: ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR)
Currency code: BTN; INR
Exchange rates: ngultrum per US dollar - 48.61 (2002), 47.19 (2001), 44.94 (2000), 43.06 (1999), 41.26 (1998)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

Transportation Bhutan
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 3,690 km
paved: 2,240 km
unpaved: 1,450 km (1999 est.)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 2 (2002)
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)