Bhutan Information
About Bhutan

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National name: Druk Yul, "Land of the Thunder Dragon"
Common name: Bhutan
Location: Strategic location between China and India; landlocked; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes
Area: 47,000 sq km (18,182 sq mi); water: 0 sq km; land: 47,000 sq km
Area - comparative: about the size of Switzerland
Population: 810, 000; growth rate: 2.1%; birth rate: 35/1000; infant mortality rate: 105/1000; Fertility rate: 5 children born/woman
Literacy rate: total population 42% (1995); male: 56%; female: 28%
Capital city: Thimphu (pop 46,000)

Bhutan Flag - Click to enlarge
Bhutan Flag

Monetary unit: Ngultrum
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
Ethnicity/Race: Bhote, Ngalops and Sharchops 50%, Nepali 35%, indigenous or migrant tribes 15%
Official Language: Dzongkha; Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
Religion: 75% Buddhist, 25% Hindu
Government: Monarchy; special treaty relationship with India
Independence: 8 August 1949 (from India)
National holiday: National Day (Ugyen Wangchuk became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)
King: Jigme Singye Wangchuk (since 1972)
Foreign Minister: Lyonpo Jigme Thinley

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.

GDP: US$2.3 billion; GDP per head: US$1,100
Real growth rate: 6%; Inflation: 7.4%
Arable land: 3% Agriculture: Rice, corn, citrus, dairy, eggs
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide
Major industries: Cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide
Electricity - production: 1.876 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 0%; hydro: 100%; other: 0%; nuclear: 0% (2000)
Electricity - consumption: 380.68 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 1.385 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 21 million kWh (2000)
Major trading partners: India, Bangladesh, Japan, UK, Germany, USA
Exports: $154 million (f.o.b., 2000): electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices
Exports - partners: India 94%, Bangladesh
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Labor force: massive lack of skilled labor; agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry and commerce 2%.


Railways: none. Highways: total: 3,285 km; paved: 1,994 km; unpaved: 1,291 km (1996). Ports and harbors: none. Waterways: none. Airports with paved runway: one
Telephone: domestic: domestic telephone service is very poor with few telephones in use
international: international telephone and telegraph service is by landline through India;

Climate: varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
Geography: 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 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
View Map of Bhutan

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: less than 100 (1999 est.)

Legal system: based on Indian law and English common law
Suffrage: each family has one vote in village-level elections
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
Executive branch: chief of state: King Jigme Singye Wangchuk (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)

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 expenditures - $9.3 million
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.9%

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

This page was last updated on May 04, 2003

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