OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Bhutan
CAPITAL: Thimphu
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 46,620 Sq Km (18,000 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 1,756,000


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Bhutan is a landlocked country located in the East Himalayan Mountains of Central Asia. It is bound by the Tibetan region of China to the north as well as India to the south, east and west. The country is almost entirely mountainous except for the southern Duars Plain that extends to India from the foothills of the Himalayas. The country is nearly divided equally into two by the Black Mountain Range with the land running down through the densely forested ridges and fertile, densely populated valleys to the low foothills that meet the Duars Plain. Permanent snowfields and glaciers are found high in the Himalayas. Major Cities (pop. est.); Thimphu 30,000, Phuntsholing 10,000 (1993). Land Use; forested 66%, pastures 6%, agricultural-cultivated 3%, other 25% (1993).


CLIMATE: The densely populated valleys of Bhutan have a temperate climate, while the country as a whole has three climatic zones. (1.) The Duars Plain has a subtropical climate characterized by high humidity and heavy rainfall. (2.) The central belt of flat valleys is characterized by cool winters and hot summers with moderate rainfall while (3.) the high valleys have cold winters and cool summers. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,020 to 1,520 mm (40 to 60 inches) and over 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) the land is permanently covered with snow and glaciers. Average temperature ranges in Thimphu are from 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) in July.


PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Bhote who are also known as the Sharchops and account for around 50% of the population. They are believed to be the earliest inhabitants and are mainly located in the eastern regions. The Ngalops who account for 15% to 20% of the population are of Tibetan origins and the Nepalese account for 25%. The principal ethnic minorities are made up of the Gurung, Rai and Limbu groups and the smaller minorities include the Lepcha immigrants from Sikkim as well as the Santals and Paharias from India.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 31 persons per sq km (81 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 13.1% urban, 86.9% rural (1985). Sex Distribution; 51.0% male, 49.0% female (1988). Life Expectancy at Birth; 49.2 years male, 47.8 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 40% under 15, 26% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1988). Birth Rate; 38.3 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 16.4 per 1,000 (1989). Increase Rate; 21.9 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 127.0 per 1,000 live births (1989).


RELIGIONS: The official religion is Lamaism, which is a Tibetan form of Buddhism of the Mahayana branch. Most Bhotes are Lamaists and Lamaism accounts for around 75% of the population while the remaining 25% following a form of Buddhist influenced Hinduism.


LANGUAGES: The official language is Dzongkha which is a Tibetan dialect mostly spoken by Bhotes. Additionally three other languages are also spoken (1.) Bumthangkha in the central region, (2.) Sharchopkha in the eastern region and (3.) Nepalese in the southern region. Many educated Bhutanese are, in addition to their native language, also fluent in Hindu and English.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 124,000 or 18.0% (1977).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1949 the Indo-Bhutan Treaty signed by India recognized Bhutan's internal autonomy, although it contained provisions for accepting India's guidance regarding foreign affairs. In 1972 King Jigme Singye Wangchuk was crowned and remains closely allied with India. However, Bhutan has attempted to assert its autonomy in foreign policy matters by conducting annual talks with China over border issues since 1984 as well as establishing direct diplomatic contact with several countries. In 1971 Bhutan joined the UN and appointed a permanent representative in 1985. In 1989 the King imposed a code of conduct called Driglam Manzha to ensure the preservation and promotion of national unity due to fears over the growth rate of the ethnic Nepalese living along the Indian border as well as the immigration of peasants from Nepal and India. In Sept. 1990 thousands of ethnic Nepalese took to the streets in protest and several were killed as a result of clashes with the security forces. Subsequently, a security cordon has been established along the Indian border to halt the free flow of militants returning from India. During 1991 there were noises of a "pro-democracy movement" by the people against the absolute monarchy of Bhutan while the government claimed the campaign was being led by Nepalese immigrants that it referred to as "anti-national terrorists". Also during 1991 some 50,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin fled the country to the neighboring states of India, while some dissident Nepalese groups formed a "liberation organization" with several members being arrested. In 1992 Bhutan suffered a near disastrous revolt, after three years of trying to overcome a growing pro-democracy movement, when some 70,000 Nepalese civil servants, soldiers and policemen as well as a number of top politicians fled the country causing a near vacuum in some areas of the government. In 1993 the government was still unable to resolve the uprising by its Nepalese minority who claimed that 53% of Bhutans residents were Nepalese while the government claimed that less than one-third were resident and the remainder were illegal aliens. In April 1993 a meeting between the Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and King Wangchuk to discuss the refugee situation ended in failure, although in July further discussions were held into setting up a joint committee to determine the refugees' citizenship.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) divided into 100 Chetrums.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $253,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $83,300,000 (1993). Imports; Nu 3,064,100,000 (1993). Exports; Nu 2.097,900,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $3,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; Nu -966,200,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 348,000 or 53.4% of total population (1984). Unemployed; 6.5% (1984).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partner is India.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Apples, Barley, Cardamom, Coal, Corn, Dolomite, Maize, Millet, Oranges, Potatoes, Rice, Timber, Wheat, Yaks.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Distilling, Food Processing, Forestry, Handicrafts, Matches, Mining, Wood Milling.

MAIN EXPORTS: Alcoholic Beverages, Coal, Dolomite, Fruit, Handicrafts, Postage Stamps, Potatoes, Rice, Rosin, Sawn Timber, Talc Powder.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 2,500 km (1,553 mi) (1990). Vehicles; cars 2,590 (1988), trucks and buses 1,367 (1988). Merchant Marine; nil. Air Transport; passenger-km 4,381,000 (2,722,000 passenger-mi) (1986), cargo ton-km N/A.


COMMUNICATIONS: Weekly Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation of 10,500 (1989). Radio; receivers 23,000 (1994). Television; receivers 200 (1983). Telephones; units 3,800 (1993).


MILITARY: 7,000 (1993) total active duty personnel with 100% army.


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