Difference between revisions of "Bhutan"

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{{Needs-Attention|This is just part of the Wikipedia article, sections of most interest for Buddhism + basic description of geography and climate. What do we do about entries for Buddhist countries?}}
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{{distinguish|Bataan|Bohtan|Butuan}}
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{{pp-move-indef}}
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{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2014}}
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{{coord|27.417|90.435|region:BT|format=dms|display=title}}
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{{Infobox country
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| conventional_long_name =Kingdom of Bhutan
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| common_name = Bhutan
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| native_name = {{lang|dz|{{bo-textonly|འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་}}}} ([[Dzongkha]]) <br />''{{lang|dz-Latn|Druk Gyal Khap}}''
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| image_flag = Flag of Bhutan.svg
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| image_coat = Bhutan emblem.svg
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| symbol_type = Emblem
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| national_anthem = ''{{lang|dz-Latn|[[Druk tsendhen]]}}''<br />{{small|''The Thunder Dragon Kingdom''}}<br /><center></center>
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| image_map = Bhutan (orthographic projection).svg
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| alt_map = A map of the world, centred on South Asia, highlighting Bhutan
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| map_caption =
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| image_map2 = Bhutan in its region.svg
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| alt_map2 = A map of east-central Asia, highlighting Bhutan
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| capital = [[Thimphu]]
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| coordinates = {{Coord|27|28.0|N|89|38.5|E|type:city}}
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| largest_city = capital
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| official_languages = [[Dzongkha]]
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| demonym = Bhutanese
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| government_type =[[Unitary state|Unitary]] [[parliamentary system|parliamentary]] [[constitutional monarchy]]
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| leader_title1 = [[Druk Gyalpo|King]]
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| leader_name1 = [[Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck]]
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| leader_title2 = [[List of Prime Ministers of Bhutan|Prime Minister]]
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| leader_name2 = [[Tshering Tobgay]]
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| legislature = [[Parliament of Bhutan|Parliament]]
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| upper_house = [[National Council (Bhutan)|National Council]]
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| lower_house = [[National Assembly (Bhutan)|National Assembly]]
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| sovereignty_type = [[History of Bhutan|Formation]]
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| established_event1 = Unification of Bhutan
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| established_date1= 17th century
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| established_event2= [[House of Wangchuck]]
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| established_date2 = 17 December 1907
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| established_event3 = [[Bhutan-India relations|Indo-Bhutan Treaty]]
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| established_date3 = 8 August 1949
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| established_event4 = [[United Nations|UN membership]]
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| established_date4 = 21 September 1971
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| established_event5= [[Constitution of Bhutan|Constitutional monarchy]]
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| established_date5 = 18 July 2008
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| area_km2 = 38,394
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| area_footnote = <ref name="FYP9">{{cite web |url = http://www.gnhc.gov.bt/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/5yp09_main.pdf |title = 9th Five Year Plan (2002–2007) |publisher = Royal Government of Bhutan |year = 2002 |accessdate = 22 August 2011 }}</ref><ref name="official">{{cite web |url = http://www.bhutan.gov.bt/government/aboutbhutan.php |archiveurl = https://web.archive.org/web/20120423102833/http://www.bhutan.gov.bt/government/aboutbhutan.php |archivedate = 23 April 2012 |title = National Portal of Bhutan |publisher = Department of Information Technology, Bhutan |accessdate = 22 August 2011 }}</ref>
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| area_rank = 133rd
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| area_sq_mi = 14,824 <!--38,394 km2-->
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| percent_water = 1.1
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| population_estimate = {{UN_Population|Bhutan}}{{UN_Population|ref}}
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| population_census = 634,982<ref name=census>{{cite web |url = http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/meetings/wshops/Thailand_15Oct07/docs/Countries_presentations/Bhutan_Results.ppt |title = Population and Housing Census of Bhutan — 2005 |format = PPT |publisher = UN |year = 2005 |accessdate = 5 January 2010 }}</ref>
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| population_estimate_year = {{UN_Population|Year}}
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| population_estimate_rank = 165th
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| population_census_year = 2005<sup>a</sup>
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| population_density_km2 = 19.3 <!--691141 / 38394-->
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| population_density_sq_mi = 50.1<!--691141 / 14824--><!--Do not remove per [[WP:MOSNUM]]-->
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| population_density_rank = 196th
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| GDP_PPP = $8.010 billion<ref name=imf2>{{cite web |url = https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2017/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?pr.x=47&pr.y=10&sy=2017&ey=2020&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=514&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=|title = Butan |publisher = International Monetary Fund }}</ref>
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| GDP_PPP_year = 2018
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| GDP_PPP_rank =
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| GDP_PPP_per_capita = $9,805<ref name=imf2/>
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| GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 115th
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| GDP_nominal = $2.610 billion<ref name=imf2/>
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| GDP_nominal_year = 2018
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| GDP_nominal_rank =
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| GDP_nominal_per_capita = $3,197<ref name=imf2/>
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| GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 130th
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| Gini = 38.7 <!--number only-->
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| Gini_year = 2012
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| Gini_change = <!--increase/decrease/steady-->
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| Gini_ref =<ref name="wb-gini">{{cite web |url = http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI/ |title = Gini Index |publisher = World Bank |accessdate = 2 March 2011 }}</ref>
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| Gini_rank =
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| HDI = 0.607 <!--number only, between 0 and 1-->
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| HDI_year = 2015 <!--Please use the year to which the HDI data refers and not the publication year-->
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| HDI_change = increase<!--increase/decrease/steady-->
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|HDI_ref = <ref name="HDI">{{cite web |url=http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf |title=2016 Human Development Report  |year=2016 |accessdate=21 March 2017 |publisher=United Nations Development Programme }}</ref>
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| HDI_rank = 132nd
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| currency = [[Bhutanese ngultrum|Ngultrum]] {{nowrap|([[ISO 4217|BTN]])}} and [[Indian rupee]] {{nowrap|([[ISO 4217|INR]])}}
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| currency_code =
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| time_zone = [[Bhutan Time|BTT]]
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| utc_offset = +6
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| utc_offset_DST = +6
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| time_zone_DST = not observed
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| drives_on = [[Right- and left-hand traffic|left]]
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| calling_code = [[Telephone numbers in Bhutan|+975]]
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| cctld = [[.bt]]
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| footnote_a = The population of Bhutan had been estimated based on the reported figure of about 1 million in the 1970s when the country had joined the United Nations and precise statistics were lacking.<big><ref>{{cite web |url = http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/073f330f9a61c6b0c1256aca004f2ea8?OpenDocument |title = Treaty Bodies Database – Document – Summary Record – Bhutan |publisher = [[Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights]] (UNHCHR) |date = 5 June 2001 |accessdate = 23 April 2009 }}</ref></big> Thus, using the annual increase rate of 2–3%, the most population estimates were around 2 million in the year 2000. A national census was carried out in 2005 and it turned out that the population was 672,425. Consequently, [[United Nations Population Division]] reduced its estimation of the country's population in the 2006 revision<big><ref>{{cite web|url=http://esa.un.org/unpp |title=World Population Prospects |publisher=[[United Nations]] |year=2008 |accessdate=4 December 2009 |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20100107202521/http://esa.un.org/unpp/ |archivedate=7 January 2010 |deadurl=yes |df=dmy }}</ref></big> for the whole period from 1950 to 2050.
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| religion = [[Vajrayana|Buddhism]] 74.8%
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| area_magnitude = 1 E10
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}}
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{{Contains Tibetan text}}
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'''Bhutan''' ({{IPAc-en|b|uː|ˈ|t|ɑː|n}}; {{bo-textonly|འབྲུག་ཡུལ་}} ''{{transl|dz|[[Druk]] Yul}}''), officially the '''Kingdom of Bhutan''' ({{bo-textonly|འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་}} ''{{lang|dz-Latn|Druk Gyal Khap}}''),<ref name=Driem478>{{cite book |last1=Driem |first1=George van |title=Dzongkha {{=}} Rdoṅ-kha |date=1998 |publisher=Research School, CNWS |location=Leiden |isbn=90-5789-002-X |page=478 }}</ref> is a landlocked country in [[South Asia]]. Located in the [[Eastern Himalayas]], it is bordered by [[Tibet Autonomous Region]] of [[China]] in the north, the [[Sikkim]] state of [[India]] and the [[Chumbi Valley]] of [[Tibet]] in the west, the [[Arunachal Pradesh]] state of India in the east, and the states of [[Assam]] and [[West Bengal]] in the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region's second least populous nation after the [[Maldives]]. [[Thimphu]] is its capital and largest city, while [[Phuntsholing]] is its financial center.
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The [[independence of Bhutan]] has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in [[History of Bhutan|its history]]. Situated on the ancient [[Silk Road]] between [[Tibet]], the [[Indian subcontinent]] and [[Southeast Asia]], the Bhutanese state developed a distinct [[Bhutanese culture|national identity]] based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the [[Zhabdrung Rinpoche]], the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy. Following a civil war in the 19th century, the [[House of Wangchuck]] reunited the country and established relations with the British Empire. Bhutan fostered a strategic partnership with India during the rise of Chinese communism and has a disputed border with the People's Republic of China. In 2008, it transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held the first election to the [[National Assembly of Bhutan]].  The [[National Assembly of Bhutan]] is part of the bicameral parliament of the [[Bhutanese democracy]].<ref>{{Cite news|url=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1582573/What-use-is-democracy-to-idyllic-Bhutan.html|title=What use is democracy to idyllic Bhutan?|last=Dalrymple|first=William|date=2008-03-23|work=The Telegraph|access-date=2017-10-24|language=en-GB|issn=0307-1235}}</ref>
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The country's landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of {{nowrap|{{convert|7000|m|ft}}}}. The highest mountain in Bhutan is the [[Gangkhar Puensum]], which is also a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. There is also diverse [[wildlife in Bhutan]].
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In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in [[Index of Economic Freedom|economic freedom]], [[Ease of doing business index|ease of doing business]], and [[Global Peace Index|peace]]; second in per capita income; and is the [[Corruption Perceptions Index|least corrupt country]] as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a [[least developed country]]. Hydroelectricity accounts for the major share of its exports.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.adb.org/features/bhutan-s-hydropower-sector-12-things-know |title=Bhutan's Hydropower Sector: 12 Things to Know |publisher=Asian Development Bank |date=30 January 2014 }}</ref> [[Politics of Bhutan|The government]] is a parliamentary democracy; the head of state is the [[King of Bhutan]], known as the "[[Druk Gyalpo|Dragon King]]". Bhutan maintains diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the European Union, but does not have formal ties with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It is a member of the United Nations, [[SAARC]], [[BIMSTEC]] and the [[Non Aligned Movement]]. The Royal Bhutan Army maintains extensive military relations with the Indian Armed Forces.
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Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of [[Gross National Happiness|gross national happiness]].<ref>{{Cite web|url=http://www.ophi.org.uk/policy/national-policy/gross-national-happiness-index/|title=Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index {{!}} OPHI|website=www.ophi.org.uk|language=en-US|access-date=2017-10-02}}</ref>
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==Etymology==
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The precise etymology of "Bhutan" is unknown, although it is likely to derive from the [[Old Tibetan|Tibetan]] [[Exonym and endonym|endonym]] "Bod" used for [[Tibet]]. Traditionally, it is taken to be a transcription of the [[Sanskrit]] ''Bhoṭa-anta'' "end of [[Tibet]]", a reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture.<ref>{{cite book |title = A Cultural History of Bhutan |volume = 1 |first = Balaram |last = Chakravarti |publisher = Hilltop |year = 1979 |page = 7 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=6VxuAAAAMAAJ }}</ref><ref name="Names&Histories">Taylor, Isaac. ''[https://archive.org/details/namesandtheirhi00taylgoog Names and Their Histories; a Handbook of Historical Geography and Topographical Nomenclature]''. Gale Research Co. (Detroit), 1898. Retrieved 24 September 2011.</ref><ref name="lcweb2.loc.gov">U.S. Library of Congress, Country Studies, Bhutan, HISTORICAL SETTING, BHUTAN
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Origins and Early Settlement, A.D. 600–1600, http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+bt0014)</ref>
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Since the 17th century the official name of Bhutan has been ''Druk yul'' (country of the [[Drukpa Lineage]], the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, a reference to the country's dominant Buddhist sect) and Bhutan only appears in English-language official correspondence.<ref name="lcweb2.loc.gov"/>
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Names similar to Bhutan — including Bohtan, Buhtan, Bottanthis, Bottan and Bottanter — began to appear in Europe around the 1580s. [[Jean-Baptiste Tavernier]]'s 1676 ''Six Voyages'' is the first to record the name ''Boutan''. However, in every case, these seem to have been describing not modern Bhutan but the [[Tibet (1912–51)|Kingdom of Tibet]]. The modern distinction between the two did not begin until well into the Scottish explorer [[George Bogle (diplomat)|George Bogle]]'s 1774 expedition — realizing the differences between the two regions, cultures and states, his final report to the [[East India Company]] formally proposed labelling the [[Druk Desi]]'s kingdom as "Boutan" and the [[Panchen Lama]]'s as "Tibet". The EIC's surveyor general [[James Rennell]] first anglicized the French name as Bootan and then popularized the distinction between it and greater Tibet.<ref name="Kuensel">[https://web.archive.org/web/20120216090138/http://www.keystobhutan.com/bhutan/bhutan_history_europe.php "History of Bhutan: How Europe heard about Bhutan"]. ''Kuensel''. 24 August 2003. Retrieved 28 September 2011.</ref>
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Locally, Bhutan has been known by many names. One of the earliest Western records of Bhutan, the 1627 ''Relação'' of the [[Kingdom of Portugal|Portuguese]] [[Jesuit]]s [[Estêvão Cacella]] and [[João Cabral]], records its name variously as ''Cambirasi'' (among the [[Koch Bihar]]is<ref>Cacella, Estêvão. Trans. by Baillie, Luiza Maria. [http://www.thlib.org/static/reprints/jbs/JBS_01_01_01.pdf "Report which Father Estevao Cacella of the Society of Jesus Sent to Father Alberto Laercio, Provincial of the Province of Malabar of East India, about His Journey to Cathay, until He Came to the Kingdom of Bhotanta"] (1627). Retrieved 28 September 2011.</ref>), ''Potente'', and ''Mon'' (an endonym for southern Tibet).<ref name="Kuensel"/> The first time a separate Kingdom of Bhutan appeared on a western map, it did so under its local name as "Broukpa".<ref name="Kuensel"/> Others including ''Lho Mon'' ("Dark Southland"), ''Lho Tsendenjong'' ("Southland of the [[Cypress]]"), ''Lhomen Khazhi'' ("Southland of the Four Approaches") and ''Lho Menjong'' ("Southland of the [[medicinal herb|Herbs]]").<ref>{{cite book |title = Beneath Blossom Rain: Discovering Bhutan on the Toughest Trek in the World |series = Outdoor Lives |first = Kevin |last = Grange |publisher = University of Nebraska Press |year = 2011 |isbn = 0-8032-3433-3 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=bWco7DY94fsC }}</ref><ref>{{cite book |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=ZvrWAAAAMAAJ |title = The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife |volume = 2 |series = The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife: Southeast Asia and India, Central and East Asia, Middle East |first = William M. |last = Clements |publisher = Greenwood Press |year = 2006 |isbn = 0-313-32849-8 |page = 105 }}</ref>
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==History==
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{{main article|History of Bhutan|Timeline of Bhutanese history}}
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{{Multiple image
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|align = right
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|footer = Two of Rennell's EIC maps, showing the division of "Thibet or Bootan" into separate regions.
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|image1 = 1777 Rennell - Dury Wall Map of Delhi and Agra, India - Geographicus - DelhiAgrah-dury-1777.jpg
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|alt1 = Near Delhi, Tibet appears as "Thibet or Bootan"
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|caption1 = 1777
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|width1 = 165
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|image2 = 1786 - A map of Bengal, Bahar, Oude & Allahabad - James Rennell - William Faden.jpg
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|alt2 = "Thibet" with its interior and "Bootan" clearly separated
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|caption2 = 1786
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|width2 = 250
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}}
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Stone tools, weapons, elephants, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC, although there are no existing records from that time. Historians have theorized that the state of ''Lhomon'' (literally, "southern darkness"), or ''Monyul'' ("Dark Land", a reference to the [[Monpa people|Monpa]], the [[indigenous peoples|aboriginal]] peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and AD 600. The names ''Lhomon Tsendenjong'' ([[Sandalwood]] Country), and ''Lhomon Khashi'', or Southern Mon (country of four approaches), have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.<ref name="WIAS">{{cite web |url = http://www.worldinstituteforasianstudies.org/buthan.html |title = Bhutan |publisher = World Institute for Asian Studies |date = 21 August 2006 |accessdate = 23 April 2009 |deadurl = yes |archiveurl = https://web.archive.org/web/20090801085158/http://www.worldinstituteforasianstudies.org/buthan.html |archivedate = 1 August 2009 |df = dmy-all }}</ref><ref name="CS0">{{Country study|country=Bhutan|abbr=bt|editor=Savada, Andrea Matles|year=1991|section=Origins and Early Settlement, A.D. 600–1600|author=Worden, Robert L|pd=yes}}</ref>
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[[File:Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown (Paro, Bhutan).jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|The [[dzong architecture|Dzong]] in the [[Paro valley]], built in 1646.]]
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[[Buddhism]] was first introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan king [[Songtsän Gampo]]<ref name=Padel>{{cite book |title = Tigers in Red Weather: a Quest for the Last Wild Tigers |first = Ruth |last = Padel |publisher = Bloomsbury Publishing USA |year = 2006 |isbn = 0-8027-1544-3 |pages = 139–40 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=zYLJp0X04mUC }}</ref> (reigned 627–649), a convert to Buddhism, who actually had extended the Tibetan Empire into Sikkim and Bhutan,<ref>Sailen Debnath,  Essays on Cultural History of North Bengal, {{ISBN|978-81-86860-42-7}}; & Sailen Debnath,  The Dooars in Historical Transition, {{ISBN|978-81-86860-44-1}}</ref> ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at [[Bumthang (town)|Bumthang]] in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near [[Paro, Bhutan|Paro]]) in the [[Paro Valley]].<ref name=CS1>{{Country study|country=Bhutan|abbr=bt|editor=Savada, Andrea Matles|year=1991|section=Arrival of Buddhism|author=Worden, Robert L|pd=yes}}</ref> Buddhism was propagated in earnest<ref name=Padel/> in 746<ref name=Hattaway>{{cite book |title = Peoples of the Buddhist World: a Christian Prayer Diary |first = Paul |last = Hattaway |publisher = William Carey Library |year = 2004 |isbn = 0-87808-361-8 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=OzEOKNPsv2EC |page = 30 }}</ref> under King Sindhu Rāja (''also'' Künjom;<ref name=Rennie>{{cite book |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=sHAnAtNrUQoC |title = Bhutan: Ways of Knowing |first1 = Frank |last1 = Rennie |first2 = Robin |last2 = Mason |publisher = IAP |pages = 18, 58 |year = 2008 |isbn = 1-59311-734-5 }}</ref> Sendha Gyab; Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled [[Indian people|Indian]] king who had established a government in Bumthang at Chakhar Gutho Palace.<ref name=HBB>{{cite book |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=yA9uAAAAMAAJ |title = History of Bhutan Based on Buddhism |first = C. T. |last = Dorji |publisher = Sangay Xam, Prominent Publishers |year = 1994 |isbn = 81-86239-01-4 }}</ref>{{rp|35}} <ref name=Harding>{{cite book |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=rlxdncBwpbgC |title = The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa |first = Sarah |last = Harding|publisher = Snow Lion Publications |year = 2003 |isbn = 1-55939-194-4 }}</ref>{{rp|13}}
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[[File:Tashigang Dzong 111120.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|[[Trashigang Dzong]], built in 1659.]]
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Much of early Bhutanese history is unclear because most of the records were destroyed when fire ravaged the ancient capital, [[Punakha]], in 1827. By the 10th century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various subsects of Buddhism emerged that were patronized by the various [[Mongols|Mongol]] warlords. After the decline of the [[Yuan dynasty]] in the 14th century, these subsects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the [[Drukpa Lineage]] by the 16th century.<ref name=CS1/><ref name=CS4>{{country study |country=Bhutan |abbr=bt |editor=Savada, Andrea Matles |year=1991 |section=Rivalry among the Sects |author=Worden, Robert L |pd=yes}}</ref>
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[[File:Thrikheb.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|A ''thrikhep'' (throne cover) from the 19th century. Throne covers were placed atop the temple cushions used by high [[lama]]s. The central circular swirling quadrune is the [[gankyil]] in its mode as the "Four Joys".]]
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Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring [[fiefdom]]s, when the area was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, who had fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable ''[[dzong architecture|dzongs]]'' or fortresses, and [[promulgation|promulgated]] the [[Tsa Yig]], a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralized control. Many such ''dzong'' still exist and are active centers of religion and district administration. [[Portuguese people|Portuguese]] [[Society of Jesus|Jesuits]] [[Estêvão Cacella]] and [[João Cabral]] were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan in 1627,<ref>{{cite book |title=The History of Bhutan |author=Karma Phuntsho| year= 2013 | publisher = Random House India  | isbn=9788184003116 | pages=224–227}}</ref> on their way to Tibet. They met Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Zhabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months Cacella wrote a long letter from the [[Chagri Monastery]] reporting on his travels. This is a rare extant report of the Zhabdrung.<ref name=LP>{{cite book |title = Bhutan |series = Country Guides |first1 = Lindsay |last1 = Brown |first2 = Stan |last2 = Armington |edition = 3 |publisher = [[Lonely Planet]] |year = 2007 |pages = 26, 36 |isbn = 1-74059-529-7 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=s-L8NUlW_QgC }}</ref><ref>{{cite book |title = Jesuit on the Roof of the World: Ippolito Desideri's Mission to Eighteenth-Century Tibet |first = Trent |last = Pomplun |publisher = Oxford University Press |year = 2009 |isbn = 0-19-537786-9 |page = 49 |url = https://books.google.com/books?id=-3iG4p85PHgC }}</ref>
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When Ngawang Namgyal died in 1651, his passing was kept secret for 54 years[1651-1705]. After a period of consolidation, Bhutan lapsed into internal conflict. In the year 1711 Bhutan went to war against the [[Mughal Empire]] and its [[Subedar]]s, who restored [[Koch Bihar]] in the south. During the chaos that followed, the Tibetans unsuccessfully attacked Bhutan in 1714.<ref name=CS3>{{Country study|country=Bhutan|abbr=bt|editor=Savada, Andrea Matles|year=1991|section=Administrative Integration and Conflict with Tibet, 1651–1728|author=Worden, Robert L|pd=yes}}</ref>
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In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of [[Cooch Behar district|Cooch Behar]] to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British [[East India Company]] which assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the [[British India|British]] were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the [[Duar War]] (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the [[Bengal]] [[Duars]]. After Bhutan lost the war, the [[Treaty of Sinchula]] was signed between [[British India]] and Bhutan. As part of the [[war reparations]], the Duars were ceded to the [[United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|United Kingdom]] in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.
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 +
During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of [[Paro, Bhutan|Paro]] and [[Tongsa]] led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of [[Ugyen Wangchuck]], the ''poenlop'' (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several civil wars and rebellions during 1882–85.<ref name=CS2>{{Country study|country=Bhutan|abbr=bt|editor=Savada, Andrea Matles|year=1991|section=British Intrusion, 1772–1907|author=Worden, Robert L|pd=yes}}</ref>
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In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by the Lhengye Tshog of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families , with the firm petition made by Gongzim Ugyen Dorji. [[John Claude White]], British Political Agent in Bhutan, took photographs of the ceremony.<ref>{{cite book|first1=John|last1=Hannavy|title=Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=Kd5cAgAAQBAJ|year=2013|publisher=Routledge|isbn=978-1-135-87327-1|page=1496}}</ref> The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed the [[Treaty of Punakha]], a [[subsidiary alliance]] which gave the British control of Bhutan's foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as an Indian [[princely state]]. This had little real effect, given Bhutan's historical reticence, and also did not appear to affect Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. After the new [[Dominion of India|Union of India]] gained [[Independence of India|independence]] from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. On 8 August 1949, a treaty similar to that of 1910, in which Britain had gained power over Bhutan's foreign relations, was signed with the newly independent India.<ref name=WIAS/>
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 +
In 1953, King [[Jigme Dorji Wangchuck]] established the country's legislature – a 130-member [[National Assembly]] – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of sixteen after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.
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===Political reform and modernization===
 +
{{further information|Law of Bhutan|Constitution of Bhutan}}
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Bhutan's political system has recently changed from an [[absolute monarchy]] to a [[constitutional monarchy]]. King [[Jigme Singye Wangchuck]]  transferred most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for [[impeachment]] of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.<ref>{{cite web |url = http://www.democracy-international.org/fileadmin/di/pdf/papers/di-bhutan.pdf |archiveurl = https://web.archive.org/web/20110610012322/http://www.democracy-international.org/fileadmin/di/pdf/papers/di-bhutan.pdf |archivedate = 10 June 2011 |last = Hoffman |first = Klus |title = Democratization from Above: The Case of Bhutan |format = PDF |date = 1 April 2006 |accessdate = 24 April 2010 }}</ref>
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In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country's [[gross national happiness]],<ref name="GNH">{{cite journal |last = Larmer |first = Brook |date = March 2008 |title = Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment |journal = National Geographic |issn = 0027-9358 |url = http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/bhutan/larmer-text/2 |accessdate = 19 June 2010 }}</ref> but warned that the "misuse" of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.<ref>{{cite web |first1 = Cathy |last1 = Scott-Clark |first2 = Adrian |last2 = Levy |url = https://www.theguardian.com/weekend/story/0,3605,975769,00.html |title = Fast Forward into Trouble |work = The Guardian |date = 14 June 2003 |accessdate = 1 September 2011 }}</ref>
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A new constitution was presented in early 2005. In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate the throne in his son's favour in 2008. On 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed by the first national [[Elections in Bhutan|parliamentary elections]] in [[Bhutanese National Council election, 2007–2008|December 2007]] and [[Bhutanese general election, 2008|March 2008]].
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On 6 November 2008, 28-year-old [[Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck]], eldest son of King [[Jigme Singye Wangchuck]], was crowned King.<ref>{{cite news |first = Nitasha |last = Kaul |title = Bhutan Crowns a Jewel |work = UPI Asia |agency = United Press International |url = http://www.upiasia.com/Politics/2008/11/10/bhutan_crowns_a_jewel/1962 |date = 10 November 2008 |accessdate = 19 June 2011 |archiveurl = https://web.archive.org/web/20110615005027/http://www.upiasia.com/Politics/2008/11/10/bhutan_crowns_a_jewel/1962 |archivedate = 15 June 2011 |deadurl = no }}</ref>
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==Geography==
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{{refimprove|section|date=December 2017}}<!--3 paragraphs have no citations-->
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{{Main article|Geography of Bhutan}}
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[[File:Bhutan topo en.jpg|thumb|upright=1.6|A topographic map of Bhutan.]]
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Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the eastern [[Himalayas]], landlocked between the [[Tibet Autonomous Region]] to the north and the Indian states of [[Sikkim]], [[West Bengal]], [[Assam]], and [[Arunachal Pradesh]] to the west and south. It lies between latitudes [[26th parallel north|26°N]] and [[29th parallel north|29°N]], and longitudes [[88th meridian east|88°E]] and [[93rd meridian east|93°E]]. The land consists mostly of steep and high [[mountains of Bhutan|mountains]] crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. Elevation rises from {{convert|200|m|ft|abbr=on}} in the southern foothills to more than {{convert|7000|m|ft|abbr=on}}. This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan's outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.<ref name=official/>
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The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of [[Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows]] reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over {{convert|7000|m|ft|abbr=on}} above sea level; the highest point in Bhutan is [[Gangkhar Puensum]] at {{convert|7570|m|ft}}, which has the distinction of being the [[highest unclimbed mountain]] in the world.<ref name=CIA>{{cite web |url = https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html |title = Bhutan – The World Factbook |publisher = [[Central Intelligence Agency]] }}</ref> The lowest point, at {{convert|98|m|ft|abbr=on}}, is in the valley of [[Drangme Chhu]], where the river crosses the border with India.<ref name=CIA/> Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.
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The [[Black Mountains (Bhutan)|Black Mountains]] in the central region of Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the [[Mo Chhu]] and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between {{convert|1500|and|4925|m|ft|abbr=on}} above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. The forests of the central Bhutan mountains consist of [[Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests]] in higher elevations and [[Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests]] in lower elevations. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The [[Torsa River|Torsa]], [[Raidak]], [[Sankosh]], and [[Manas River|Manas]] are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.
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In the south, the [[Shiwalik Hills]] are covered with dense [[Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests]], alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around {{convert|1500|m|ft|abbr=on}} above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical [[Duars]] Plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a {{convert|10|to|15|km|mi|abbr=on}} wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars.
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The northern Duars, which abut the Himalayan foothills, have rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy [[savanna]]h grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the [[Brahmaputra River]] in India. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the country had a forest cover of 64% as of October 2005.
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<gallery mode="packed" caption="Landscape of Bhutan">
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File:082 - Gangkar Puensum - 7,570m (Dochula pass) (4677022812).jpg|[[Gangkar Puensum]], the highest mountain in Bhutan
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File:Himalayan Landscape.jpg|Sub-alpine Himalayan landscape
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File:Himalayan peak from Bumthang.jpg|A Himalayan peak from [[Bumthang (town)|Bumthang]]
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File:Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan.JPG|[[Jigme Dorji National Park]]
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File:HaaValley.jpg|The [[Haa District|Haa Valley]] in Western Bhutan
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</gallery>
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=== Climate ===
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{{See also|Thimphu#Geography and climate}}
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The climate in Bhutan varies with elevation, from subtropical in the south to [[temperate climate|temperate]] in the highlands and [[polar climate|polar-type]] climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, [[monsoon]], autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.<!--Library of Congress|Geography-->
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==External links==
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{{Sister project links|voy=Bhutan|d=Q917}}
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* [http://www.bhutan.gov.bt/ Bhutan.gov.bt] – Official Government Web Portal of Bhutan
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* {{CIA World Factbook link|bt|Bhutan}}
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* [http://www.library.gov.bt/misc/bhutan-links.html Bhutan Links] at the [[National Library of Bhutan]].
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* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12480707 Bhutan profile], [[BBC News]].
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* [https://web.archive.org/web/20120829213752/http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/govpubs/for/bhutan.htm Bhutan] from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs''.
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* [http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/64215/Bhutan Bhutan], ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' entry.
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* {{Dmoz|Regional/Asia/Bhutan}}
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* {{Wikiatlas|Bhutan}}
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* [http://www.tourism.gov.bt/ Tourism Council of Bhutan]
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* [http://www.ifs.du.edu/ifs/frm_CountryProfile.aspx?Country=BT Key Development Forecasts for Bhutan] from [[International Futures]].
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{{Bhutan topics}}
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{{Countries of Asia}}
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{{South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation}}
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{{Monarchies}}
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{{Authority control}}
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[[Category:Bhutan| ]]
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[[Category:Landlocked countries]]
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[[Category:Least developed countries]]
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[[Category:Member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation]]
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[[Category:Member states of the United Nations]]
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[[Category:Nepali-speaking countries and territories]]
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[[Category:South Asian countries]]
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[[Category:States and territories established in 1949]]
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[[Category:Countries in Asia]]
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[[Category:Tibetan Buddhist places]]
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Revision as of 11:57, 18 June 2018

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Coordinates: 27°25′01″N 90°26′06″E / 27.417°N 90.435°E / 27.417; 90.435

Kingdom of Bhutan
འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་ (Dzongkha)
Druk Gyal Khap
Flag of Bhutan
Flag
{{{coat_alt}}}
Emblem
Anthem: Druk tsendhen
The Thunder Dragon Kingdom
A map of the world, centred on South Asia, highlighting Bhutan
A map of east-central Asia, highlighting Bhutan
Capital
and largest city
Thimphu
27°28.0′N 89°38.5′E / 27.4667°N 89.6417°E / 27.4667; 89.6417
Official languages Dzongkha
Religion Buddhism 74.8%
Demonym Bhutanese
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• King
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Tshering Tobgay
Legislature Parliament
National Council
National Assembly
Formation
• Unification of Bhutan
17th century
17 December 1907
8 August 1949
21 September 1971
18 July 2008
Area
• Total
38,394 km2 (14,824 sq mi)[1][2] (133rd)
• Water (%)
1.1
Population
• 2016 estimate
797,765[3] (165th)
• 2005a census
634,982[4]
• Density
19.3/km2 (50.0/sq mi) (196th)
GDP (PPP) 2018 estimate
• Total
$8.010 billion[5]
• Per capita
$9,805[5] (115th)
GDP (nominal) 2018 estimate
• Total
$2.610 billion[5]
• Per capita
$3,197[5] (130th)
Gini (2012) 38.7[6]
medium
HDI (2015) Increase 0.607[7]
medium · 132nd
Currency Ngultrum (BTN) and Indian rupee (INR)
Time zone UTC+6 (BTT)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+6 (not observed)
Drives on the left
Calling code +975
ISO 3166 code [[ISO 3166-2:Script error: No such module "ISO 3166".|Script error: No such module "ISO 3166".]]
Internet TLD .bt
  1. The population of Bhutan had been estimated based on the reported figure of about 1 million in the 1970s when the country had joined the United Nations and precise statistics were lacking.[8] Thus, using the annual increase rate of 2–3%, the most population estimates were around 2 million in the year 2000. A national census was carried out in 2005 and it turned out that the population was 672,425. Consequently, United Nations Population Division reduced its estimation of the country's population in the 2006 revision[9] for the whole period from 1950 to 2050.

Bhutan (/bˈtɑːn/; འབྲུག་ཡུལ་ Druk Yul), officially the Kingdom of Bhutan (འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་ Druk Gyal Khap),[10] is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north, the Sikkim state of India and the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, the Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and the states of Assam and West Bengal in the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region's second least populous nation after the Maldives. Thimphu is its capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is its financial center.

The independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy. Following a civil war in the 19th century, the House of Wangchuck reunited the country and established relations with the British Empire. Bhutan fostered a strategic partnership with India during the rise of Chinese communism and has a disputed border with the People's Republic of China. In 2008, it transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held the first election to the National Assembly of Bhutan. The National Assembly of Bhutan is part of the bicameral parliament of the Bhutanese democracy.[11]

The country's landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The highest mountain in Bhutan is the Gangkhar Puensum, which is also a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. There is also diverse wildlife in Bhutan.

In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business, and peace; second in per capita income; and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country. Hydroelectricity accounts for the major share of its exports.[12] The government is a parliamentary democracy; the head of state is the King of Bhutan, known as the "Dragon King". Bhutan maintains diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the European Union, but does not have formal ties with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It is a member of the United Nations, SAARC, BIMSTEC and the Non Aligned Movement. The Royal Bhutan Army maintains extensive military relations with the Indian Armed Forces.

Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.[13]

Etymology

The precise etymology of "Bhutan" is unknown, although it is likely to derive from the Tibetan endonym "Bod" used for Tibet. Traditionally, it is taken to be a transcription of the Sanskrit Bhoṭa-anta "end of Tibet", a reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture.[14][15][16]

Since the 17th century the official name of Bhutan has been Druk yul (country of the Drukpa Lineage, the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, a reference to the country's dominant Buddhist sect) and Bhutan only appears in English-language official correspondence.[16]

Names similar to Bhutan — including Bohtan, Buhtan, Bottanthis, Bottan and Bottanter — began to appear in Europe around the 1580s. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's 1676 Six Voyages is the first to record the name Boutan. However, in every case, these seem to have been describing not modern Bhutan but the Kingdom of Tibet. The modern distinction between the two did not begin until well into the Scottish explorer George Bogle's 1774 expedition — realizing the differences between the two regions, cultures and states, his final report to the East India Company formally proposed labelling the Druk Desi's kingdom as "Boutan" and the Panchen Lama's as "Tibet". The EIC's surveyor general James Rennell first anglicized the French name as Bootan and then popularized the distinction between it and greater Tibet.[17]

Locally, Bhutan has been known by many names. One of the earliest Western records of Bhutan, the 1627 Relação of the Portuguese Jesuits Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral, records its name variously as Cambirasi (among the Koch Biharis[18]), Potente, and Mon (an endonym for southern Tibet).[17] The first time a separate Kingdom of Bhutan appeared on a western map, it did so under its local name as "Broukpa".[17] Others including Lho Mon ("Dark Southland"), Lho Tsendenjong ("Southland of the Cypress"), Lhomen Khazhi ("Southland of the Four Approaches") and Lho Menjong ("Southland of the Herbs").[19][20]

History

Near Delhi, Tibet appears as "Thibet or Bootan"
1777
"Thibet" with its interior and "Bootan" clearly separated
1786
Two of Rennell's EIC maps, showing the division of "Thibet or Bootan" into separate regions.

Stone tools, weapons, elephants, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC, although there are no existing records from that time. Historians have theorized that the state of Lhomon (literally, "southern darkness"), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference to the Monpa, the aboriginal peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and AD 600. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong (Sandalwood Country), and Lhomon Khashi, or Southern Mon (country of four approaches), have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.[21][22]

The Dzong in the Paro valley, built in 1646.

Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo[23] (reigned 627–649), a convert to Buddhism, who actually had extended the Tibetan Empire into Sikkim and Bhutan,[24] ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near Paro) in the Paro Valley.[25] Buddhism was propagated in earnest[23] in 746[26] under King Sindhu Rāja (also Künjom;[27] Sendha Gyab; Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled Indian king who had established a government in Bumthang at Chakhar Gutho Palace.[28]:35 [29]:13

Trashigang Dzong, built in 1659.

Much of early Bhutanese history is unclear because most of the records were destroyed when fire ravaged the ancient capital, Punakha, in 1827. By the 10th century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various subsects of Buddhism emerged that were patronized by the various Mongol warlords. After the decline of the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century, these subsects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the Drukpa Lineage by the 16th century.[25][30]

File:Thrikheb.jpg
A thrikhep (throne cover) from the 19th century. Throne covers were placed atop the temple cushions used by high lamas. The central circular swirling quadrune is the gankyil in its mode as the "Four Joys".

Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms, when the area was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, who had fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzongs or fortresses, and promulgated the Tsa Yig, a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralized control. Many such dzong still exist and are active centers of religion and district administration. Portuguese Jesuits Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan in 1627,[31] on their way to Tibet. They met Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Zhabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months Cacella wrote a long letter from the Chagri Monastery reporting on his travels. This is a rare extant report of the Zhabdrung.[32][33]

When Ngawang Namgyal died in 1651, his passing was kept secret for 54 years[1651-1705]. After a period of consolidation, Bhutan lapsed into internal conflict. In the year 1711 Bhutan went to war against the Mughal Empire and its Subedars, who restored Koch Bihar in the south. During the chaos that followed, the Tibetans unsuccessfully attacked Bhutan in 1714.[34]

In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British East India Company which assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro and Tongsa led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the poenlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several civil wars and rebellions during 1882–85.[35]

In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by the Lhengye Tshog of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families , with the firm petition made by Gongzim Ugyen Dorji. John Claude White, British Political Agent in Bhutan, took photographs of the ceremony.[36] The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha, a subsidiary alliance which gave the British control of Bhutan's foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as an Indian princely state. This had little real effect, given Bhutan's historical reticence, and also did not appear to affect Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. After the new Union of India gained independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. On 8 August 1949, a treaty similar to that of 1910, in which Britain had gained power over Bhutan's foreign relations, was signed with the newly independent India.[21]

In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck established the country's legislature – a 130-member National Assembly – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of sixteen after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.

Political reform and modernization

Bhutan's political system has recently changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transferred most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.[37]

In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country's gross national happiness,[38] but warned that the "misuse" of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.[39]

A new constitution was presented in early 2005. In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate the throne in his son's favour in 2008. On 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed by the first national parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.

On 6 November 2008, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, eldest son of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was crowned King.[40]

Geography

A topographic map of Bhutan.

Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas, landlocked between the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the west and south. It lies between latitudes 26°N and 29°N, and longitudes 88°E and 93°E. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. Elevation rises from 200 m (660 ft) in the southern foothills to more than 7,000 m (23,000 ft). This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan's outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.[2]

The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m (23,000 ft) above sea level; the highest point in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 metres (24,840 ft), which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.[41] The lowest point, at 98 m (322 ft), is in the valley of Drangme Chhu, where the river crosses the border with India.[41] Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.

The Black Mountains in the central region of Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Mo Chhu and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 and 4,925 m (4,921 and 16,158 ft) above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. The forests of the central Bhutan mountains consist of Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests in higher elevations and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests in lower elevations. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.

In the south, the Shiwalik Hills are covered with dense Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars Plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10 to 15 km (6.2 to 9.3 mi) wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars.

The northern Duars, which abut the Himalayan foothills, have rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savannah grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra River in India. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the country had a forest cover of 64% as of October 2005.

Climate

The climate in Bhutan varies with elevation, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.

External links

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