Following Britain’s victory in the 1865 Duar War, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding land to British India. Ugyen WANGCHUCK - who had served as the de facto ruler of an increasingly unified Bhutan and had improved relations with the British toward the end of the 19th century - was named king 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. Bhutan negotiated a similar arrangement with independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned to Bhutan a small piece of the territory annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. Under a succession of modernizing monarchs beginning in the 1950s, Bhutan joined the UN in 1971 and slowly continued its engagement beyond its borders.
In March 2005, King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK unveiled the government's draft constitution - which introduced major democratic reforms - and held a national referendum for its approval. In December 2006, the King abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK. In early 2007, India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty, eliminating the clause that stated that Bhutan would be "guided by" India in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate closely with New Delhi. Elections for seating the country's first parliament were completed in March 2008; the king ratified the country's first constitution in July 2008. Bhutan experienced a peaceful turnover of power following parliamentary elections in 2013, which resulted in the defeat of the incumbent party. The disposition of some 18,000 refugees of the roughly 100,000 who fled or were forced out of Bhutan in the 1990s - and who are housed in two UN refugee camps in Nepal - remains unresolved.



Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates

27 30 N, 90 30 E

Map references



total: 38,394 sq km
land: 38,394 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

about one-half the size of Indiana

Land boundaries

total: 1,136 km
border countries (2): China 477 km, India 659 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


mean elevation: 2,220 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Drangeme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate

Land use

agricultural land: 13.6%
arable land 2.6%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 10.7%
forest: 85.5%
other: 0.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

320 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

violent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's Bhutanese 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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

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

People and Society

Contraceptive prevalence rate

65.6% (2010)


750,125 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Bhutanese

Ethnic groups

Ngalop (also known as Bhote) 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%


Sharchhopka 28%, Dzongkha (official) 24%, Lhotshamkha 22%, other 26% (includes foreign languages) (2005 est.)


Lamaistic Buddhist 75.3%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 22.1%, other 2.6% (2005 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 26.27% (male 100,672/female 96,368)
15-24 years: 19.21% (male 73,398/female 70,704)
25-54 years: 42.39% (male 169,079/female 148,873)
55-64 years: 5.94% (male 23,869/female 20,656)
65 years and over: 6.2% (male 24,301/female 22,205) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 46.9%
youth dependency ratio: 39.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 7.4%
potential support ratio: 13.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 27.2 years
male: 27.7 years
female: 26.6 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.09% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

17.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

6.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 38.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.69% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

THIMPHU (capital) 152,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.16 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.09 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 25,801
percentage: 18% (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

148 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 33.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 33.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.1 years
male: 69.1 years
female: 71.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.93 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

3.6% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.26 physicians/1,000 population (2012)

Hospital bed density

1.8 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 77.9% of population
rural: 33.1% of population
total: 50.4% of population
urban: 22.1% of population
rural: 66.9% of population
total: 49.6% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.13% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

600 (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.9% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

12.8% (2010)

Education expenditures

7.4% of GDP (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.9%
male: 73.1%
female: 55% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.6%
male: 9.2%
female: 9.9% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan
local long form: Druk Gyalkhap
local short form: Druk Yul
etymology: named after the Bhotia, the ethnic Tibetans who migrated from Tibet to Bhutan; Bod is the Tibetan name for their land; the Bhutanese name "Druk Yul" means "Land of the Thunder Dragon"

Government type

constitutional monarchy


name: Thimphu
geographic coordinates: 27 28 N, 89 38 E
time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Chirang, Daga, Gasa, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang, Tashi Yangtse, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang


17 December 1907 (became a unified kingdom under its first hereditary king)

National holiday

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


previous governing documents were various royal decrees; first constitution drafted November 2001 - March 2005, ratified 18 July 2008; amended 2011 (2016)

Legal system

civil law based on Buddhist religious law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Bhutan
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK (since 14 December 2006); note - King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK abdicated the throne on 14 December 2006 to his son
head of government: Prime Minister Tshering TOBGAY (since July 2013)
cabinet: Council of Ministers or Lhengye Zhungtshog members nominated by the monarch in consultation with the prime minister and approved by the National Assembly; members serve 5-year terms
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary but can be removed by a two-third vote of Parliament; leader of the majority party in Parliament is nominated as the prime minister, appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Chi Tshog consists of the non-partisan National Council or Gyelyong Tshogde (25 seats; 20 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 5 members appointed by the king; members serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly or Tshogdu (47 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: National Council election last held on 23 April 2013 (next to be held in 2018); National Assembly election first round held on 31 May 2013 and second round on 13 July 2013
election results: National Council - seats by party - independent 20 (all candidates required to run as independents; National Assembly - first round - percent of vote by party - DPT 44.5%; PDP 32.5%; DNT 17.0%; DCT 5.9%; second round - percent of vote by party - PDP 54.9%, DPT 45.1%; seats by party - PDP 32, DPT 15

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 5 justices including the chief justice); note - the Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction in constitutional matters
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the monarch upon the advice of the National Judicial Commission, a 4-member body to include the Legislative Committee of the National Assembly, the attorney general, the Chief Justice of Bhutan and the senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; other judges (drangpons) appointed by the monarch from among the High Court judges selected by the National Judicial Commission; chief justice serves a 5-year term or until reaching age 65 years, whichever is earlier; the 4 other judges serve 10-year terms or until age 65, whichever is earlier
subordinate courts: High Court (first appellate court); District or Dzongkhag Courts; sub-district or Dungkhag Courts

Political parties and leaders

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party or BKP [Sonam TOBGAY]
Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) or DPT [Pema GYAMTSHO]
Druck Chirwang Tshogpa or DCT
Druk Nymrub Tshogpa or DNT
People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tshering TOBGAY]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Druk National Congress (exiled)
United Front for Democracy (exiled)
other: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepali-Bhutanese organizations (exiled)

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none; note - the Permanent Mission to the UN for Bhutan has consular jurisdiction in the US; the permanent representative to the UN is Kunzang C. NAMGYEL (since February 2014); address: 343 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017; telephone [1] (212) 682-2268; FAX [1] (212) 661-0551
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US and Bhutan have no formal diplomatic relations, although frequent informal contact is maintained via the US embassy in New Delhi (India) and Bhutan's Permanent Mission to the UN

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; the dragon, called the Druk (Thunder Dragon), is the emblem of the nation; its white color stands for purity and the jewels in its claws symbolize wealth; the background colors represent spiritual and secular powers within Bhutan: the orange is associated with Buddhism, while the yellow denotes the ruling dynasty

National symbol(s)

thunder dragon known as Druk Gyalpo; national colors: orange, yellow

National anthem

name: "Druk tsendhen" (The Thunder Dragon Kingdom)
lyrics/music: Gyaldun Dasho Thinley DORJI/Aku TONGMI
note: adopted 1953


GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.085 billion (2015 est.)

Economy - overview

Bhutan's economy, small and less developed, is based largely on hydropower, agriculture, and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than half of the population. Because rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and

Multilateral development organizations administer most educational, social, and environment programs, and take into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious

Bhutan’s largest export - hydropower to India - could spur sustainable growth in the coming years if Bhutan resolves chronic delays in construction. Bhutan currently taps only 5% of its 30,000-megawatt hydropower potential and is behind schedule in buildi

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$6.432 billion (2016 est.)
$6.066 billion (2015 est.)
$5.766 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - real growth rate

6% (2016 est.)
5.2% (2015 est.)
3.8% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$8,100 (2016 est.)
$7,800 (2015 est.)
$7,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

37.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
31.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
35% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 53.4%
government consumption: 18.7%
investment in fixed capital: 64.3%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 42.4%
imports of goods and services: -78.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 16.4%
industry: 42.1%
services: 41.5% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


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

Industrial production growth rate

6.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

note: major shortage of skilled labor (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 57%
industry: 21%
services: 22% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate

2.6% (2014 est.)
2.9% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line

12% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 30.6% (2012)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

38.7 (2012)
38.1 (2007)


revenues: $640.4 million
expenditures: $703.3 million
note: the government of India finances nearly one-quarter of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

30.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

30% of GDP (2016 est.)
27.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.9% (2016 est.)
4.5% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate


Commercial bank prime lending rate

13.7% (31 December 2016 est.)
13.75% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$710.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$669.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$1.25 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.174 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$929.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.031 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$320 million (31 December 2013)
$283.4 million (31 December 2012)

Current account balance

-$579 million (2016 est.)
-$581 million (2015 est.)


$500 million (2016 est.)
$580.3 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

electricity (to India), ferrosilicon, cement, calcium carbide, copper wire, manganese, vegetable oil

Exports - partners

India 83.8%, Hong Kong 10.8% (2013 est.)


$1.1 billion (2016 est.)
$997 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

fuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice

Imports - partners

India 72.3%, South Korea 6% (2013 est.)

Debt - external

$2.261 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.911 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$267.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$238 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -
68.39 (2016 est.)
64.15 (2015 est.)
64.15 (2014 est.)
61.03 (2013 est.)
53.44 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 187,531
electrification - total population: 76%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 53% (2012)

Electricity - production

7.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

2.085 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

5.147 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

200 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

1.499 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

0.7% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

99.3% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

3,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

3,135 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

300,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 21,811
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 676,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: urban towns and district headquarters have telecommunications services
domestic: domestic service inadequate, especially in rural areas; mobile-cellular service, begun in 2003, is now widely available
international: country code - 975; international telephone and telegraph service via landline and microwave relay through India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV station established in 1999; cable TV service offers dozens of Indian and other international channels; first radio station, privately launched in 1973, is now state-owned; 5 private radio stations are currently broadcasting (2012)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 295,000
percent of population: 39.8% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 162,864
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 538,041 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

A5 (2016)


2 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)


total: 10,578 km
paved: 2,975 km (includes 2,180 km of natonal highways)
unpaved: 7,603 km (2013)


Military branches

Royal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police) (2009)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; militia training is compulsory for males aged 20-25, over a 3-year period (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

lacking any treaty describing the boundary, Bhutan and China continue negotiations to establish a common boundary alignment to resolve territorial disputes arising from substantial cartographic discrepancies, the largest of which lie in Bhutan's northwest and along the Chumbi salient