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Relations with China
The Kingdom of Bhutan
Information from http://www.card.zju.edu.cn/class/intro/intro_c/bhutan.htm




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.






Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates:

27 30 N, 90 30 E

Map references:



total: 47,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 47,000 sq km

Area - comparative:

about half the size of Indiana

Land boundaries:

total: 1,075 km
border countries:
China 470 km, India 605 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas


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

Environment - current issues:

soil erosion; limited access to potable water

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note:

landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes






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.)

Median age:

total: 20.1 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20.3 years (2002)

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.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2003 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 104.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 106.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 102.49 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 53.58 years
male: 53.9 years
female: 53.25 years (2003 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.94 children born/woman (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

less than 100 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:



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%


Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%


Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.2%
male: 56.2%
female: 28.1% (1995 est.)





Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form:

Government type:

monarchy; special treaty relationship with India



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


8 August 1949 (from India)

National holiday:

National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)


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

Legal system:

based on Indian law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


each family has one vote in village-level elections

Executive branch:

chief of state: King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK (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: local elections last held November 2002 (next to be held NA 2005)
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:


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)

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 - 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.


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:


Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3% (2002 est.)

Labor force:

note: massive lack of skilled labor

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry and commerce 2%

Unemployment rate:



revenues: $146 million
expenditures: $152 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96 est.)
note: the government of
India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures (FY95/96 est.)


cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide

Industrial production growth rate:

9.3% (1996 est.)

Electricity - production:

1.896 billion kWh (2001)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 0.1%
hydro: 99.9%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:

379.3 million kWh (2001)

Electricity - exports:

1.4 billion kWh (2001)

Electricity - imports:

16 million kWh (2001)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - consumption:

1,020 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - exports:

NA (2001)

Oil - imports:

NA (2001)

Agriculture - products:

rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs


$154 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:

electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices

Exports - partners:

India 95%, Bangladesh 4% (1997)


$196 million c.i.f. (2000 est.)

Imports - commodities:

fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice

Imports - partners:

India 82%, Japan 3% (1997)

Debt - external:

$245 million (2000)

Economic aid - recipient:

substantial aid from India and other nations


ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR)

Currency code:


Exchange rates:

ngultrum per US dollar - 48.6103 (2002), 47.1864 (2001), 44.9416 (2000), 43.0554 (1999), 41.2594 (1998)

Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June

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