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