[Country map of Bhutan]



Location: Southern Asia, between China and India

Map references: Asia

total area: 47,000 sq km
land area: 47,000 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than half the size of Indiana

Land boundaries: total 1,075 km, China 470 km, India 605 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: none

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

Terrain: mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna

Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 5%
forest and woodland: 70%
other: 23%

Irrigated land: 340 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: soil erosion; limited access to potable water
natural hazards: violent storms coming down 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
international agreements: party to - Nuclear Test Ban; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea

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


Population: 1,780,638 (July 1995 est.)
note: other estimates range as low as 600,000

Age structure:
0-14 years: 40% (female 342,276; male 368,916)
15-64 years: 56% (female 486,258; male 513,560)
65 years and over: 4% (female 34,215; male 35,413) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.34% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 39.02 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 15.61 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 118.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.03 years
male: 51.56 years
female: 50.48 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.39 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Bhutanese

Ethnic divisions: Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35%, indigenous or migrant tribes 15%

Religions: Lamaistic Buddhism 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%

Languages: Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects; Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: NA
by occupation: agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry and commerce 2%
note: massive lack of skilled labor


conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan

Digraph: BT

Type: monarchy; special treaty relationship with India

Capital: Thimphu

Administrative divisions: 18 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Chirang, Daga, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang

Independence: 8 August 1949 (from India)

National holiday: National Day, 17 December (1907) (Ugyen Wangchuck became first hereditary king)

Constitution: no written constitution or bill of rights

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

Suffrage: each family has one vote in village-level elections

Executive branch:
Chief of State and Head of Government: King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK (since 24 July 1972)
Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde): nominated by the king
cabinet: Council of Ministers (Lhengye Shungtsog); appointed by the king

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Tshogdu); no national elections

Judicial branch: High Court

Political parties and leaders: no legal parties

Other political or pressure groups: Buddhist clergy; Indian merchant community; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign


Diplomatic representation in US: Bhutan has no embassy in the US, but does have a Permanent Mission to the UN, headed by Ugyen TSERING, located at 2 United Nations Plaza, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone [1] (212) 826-1919; note - the Bhutanese mission to the UN has consular jurisdiction in the US
consulate(s) general: New York
honorary consulate(s): San Francisco; Washington, DC

US diplomatic representation: no formal diplomatic relations, although informal contact is maintained between the Bhutanese and US Embassy in New Delhi (India)

Flag: divided diagonally from the lower hoist side corner; the upper triangle is orange and the lower triangle is red; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side


Overview: The economy, one of the world's least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for 90% of the population and account for about half of GDP. 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. The industrial sector is small and 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; however, the government limits the number of tourists to 4,000 per year to minimize foreign influence. Much of the impetus for growth has come from large public-sector companies. Nevertheless, in recent years, Bhutan has shifted toward decentralized development planning and greater private initiative. The government privatized several large public-sector firms, is revamping its trade regime and liberalizing administerial procedures over industrial licensing. The government's industrial contribution to GDP decreased from 13% in 1988 to about 11% in 1993.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.2 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $700 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (October 1994)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $52 million
expenditures: $150 million, including capital expenditures of $95 million (FY93/94 est.)
note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures

Exports: $66.8 million (f.o.b., FY93/94)
commodities: cardamon, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, electricity (to India), precious stones, spices
partners: India 87%, Bangladesh

Imports: $97.6 million (c.i.f., FY93/94 est.)
commodities: fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
partners: India 79%, Japan, UK, Germany, US

External debt: $141 million (October 1994)

Industrial production: growth rate 7.6% (1992 est.); accounts for 18% of GDP; primarily cottage industry and home based handicrafts

capacity: 360,000 kW
production: 1.7 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 143 kWh (1993)
note: Bhutan exports electricity to India

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

Agriculture: rice, corn, root crops, citrus fruit, dairy products, foodgrains, eggs

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $115 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $11 million

Currency: 1 ngultrum (Nu) = 100 chetrum; note - Indian currency is also legal tender

Exchange rates: ngultrum (Nu) per US$1 - 31.374 (January 1995), 31.374 (1994), 30.493 (1993), 25.918 (1992), 22.742 (1991), 17.504 (1990); note - the Bhutanese ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


Railroads: 0 km

total: 2,165 km
paved: NA
unpaved: gravel 1,703 km
undifferentiated: 462 km

Ports: none

total: 2
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1


Telephone system: NA telephones; domestic telephone service is very poor with very few telephones in use
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: international telephone and telegraph service is by land line through India; an earth station was planned (1990)

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (1990)
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 0 (1990)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Royal Bhutan Army, Palace Guard, Militia, Royal Bhutan Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 434,586; males fit for military service 232,121; males reach military age (18) annually 17,365 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP