Bhutan is small landlocked kingdom in South Asia with an area of 38,394km². The country neighbors China in the North and West and India in the South and East. The total population of the country is 727,145 according to Bhutan’s Population and House Census 2017. That makes 18 people per square km which is one of the lowest population densities in the world. Thimphu is the largest and capital city of Bhutan consisting of 80,000 people while Phuntsholing is the financial city with a population of 27,658 and located in the South west of the county in an altitude of 300m. The elevation of the country rises from 98m in the South to 7570m in the North. The four major rivers of Bhutan cover 10% of its territory and are nourished by Himalayan glaciers and finally drains in the Brahmaputra River in India.
After the first election held in Bhutan in 2007, the absolute monarchy was drawn back and the new constitution was promulgated in 2008 introducing bicameral parliamentary legislature in the Kingdom. The national assembly of Bhutan is a lower house of parliament with 47 seats of members who are elected by suffrage universal. The national council of Bhutan is the upper house of parliament which has 20 nonpartisan members popularly elected by each Dzongkhong (districts) and 5 members appointed by the king of Bhutan. The king is the head of state and the Prime Minister is head of executive. Lotay Tshering is the current Prime Minister representing the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (Social Democrat Party) who won 30 seats in the election of the national assembly of Bhutan. The remaining 17 seats are occupied by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party). Bhutan also conducts elections for offices in local governments. Dzongkhags (districts), Gewogs (village blocks), and Thromdes (municipalities), all elected members of local administrative governments with varying degrees of authority.
It is believed that human settlement existed in Bhutan since 2000 BC, although there are no existing records of that time. In 7th century AD, the Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo who ordered to build two Buddhist temples; at Bumthang in central Bhutan and Kyichu in Paro Valley, introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. At that time, it was a part of Tibet. In 8th century Padma Sambhava visited Bhutan in an invitation of the King Sendha Gyab to give him treatment by removing negative forces. Once he succeeded, he propagated Buddhism in this land. Bhutan was hugely influenced by the Yuan dynasty like Tibet in 13th century till the 14th century. Then eventually the Drukpa lineage was in power in the 16th century when different subsects vied each other to get political and religious supremacy. Until early 17th century, when Tibetan lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal who had fled religious persecution in Tibet, unified the area of Bhutan, it was a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms. He built many impregnable Dzongs (fortresses) to defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays and promulgated Tsa Yig, a code of law that help to bring local authorities under centralized control. Some of these Dzongs still exist and are used for regional and district administrations. Today’s territory of the Kingdom of Bhutan exists since the treaty took place in 1865 at Sinchula after a war with British. During 1882 to 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck, the Poenlop (governor) of Tongsa, defeated his political enemies in several civil wars and grabbed the power in the center of Bhutan. In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by the Lhengye Tshog of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families, with the firm petition made by Gongzim Ugyen Dorji. The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha, a subsidiary alliance which gave the British control of Bhutan’s foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as an Indian princely state. After the independency of India, on 8 August 1949, the same treaty was signed with newly independent India. Today Bhutan practices constitutional monarchy from absolute monarchy. Since 6 November 2008 Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the Druk Gyalpo or Dragon king of the Bhutan.
Bhutan is situated on the southern slope of eastern Himalayan region enclaved between China and India. It lies between 26°N and 29°N of latitude and 88°E and 99°E of longitude. The lowest point of the Kingdom is 98masl in the valley of Drangme Chhu and the highest level is Gangkhar Puensum culminating 7,570masl which is one of unclimbed mountains in the world. The huge difference of altitude from South to North provides diverse climate and vegetation in a small country like Bhutan. In the middle portion of Bhutan lies another massif known as Black mountains range between 1,500m and 4,925m adorned with subalpine conifer forest in the higher level and temperate broadleaf forest in the lower level. It has four major river systems; the Drangme chhu, the Puna Tsang chhu (Sankosh), the Wang chhu, and the Amo chhu. Each flow swiftly out of the Himalayas, southerly through the Duars to join the Brahmaputra River in India. The Shiwalik Hills range culminating 1500 m covered with dense Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forest; alluvial lowland river valleys situated in the South of the country. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars Plain. Most of the Duars is in India, but a 10 to 15 km wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts, the northern and southern Duars.
Bhutan’s society is made up of numerous ethnic groups but no one group constitute a majority of the Bhutanese population. Mostly the society is made up of four broads but not necessarily exclusive groups: the Ngalop, the Sharchop, several aboriginal peoples, and Lhotshampa (Nepalese descendent).
Ngalop (a term thought to mean the earliest risen or first converted) are people of Tibetan origin who migrated to Bhutan as early as the ninth century. For this reason, they are often referred to in foreign literature as Bhote (people of Bhotia or Tibet). The Ngalop are concentrated in western and northern districts. They introduced Tibetan culture and Buddhism to Bhutan and comprised the dominant political and cultural element in modern Bhutan.
Sharchop (the word means easterner), an Indo-Mongoloid people who are thought to have migrated from Assam or possibly Burma during the past millennium, comprise most of the population of eastern Bhutan. Although long the biggest ethnic group in Bhutan, the Sharchop have been largely assimilated into the Tibetan-Ngalop culture. Because of their proximity to India, some speak Assamese or Hindi. They practice slash-and-burn and tsheri agriculture, planting dry rice crops for three or four years until the soil is exhausted and then moving on.
The third group consists of small aboriginal or indigenous tribal peoples living in scattered villages throughout Bhutan. Culturally and linguistically part of the populations of West Bengal or Assam, they embrace the Hindu system of endogamous groups ranked by hierarchy and practice wet-rice and dry-rice agriculture. They include the Drokpa, Lepcha, and Doya tribes as well as the descendants of slaves who were brought to Bhutan from similar tribal areas in India. The ex-slave communities tended to be near traditional population centers because it was there that they had been forced into service to the state. Together, the Ngalop, Sharchop, and tribal groups were thought to constitute up to 72 percent of the population in the late 1980s.
Officially, the government stated that 28 percent of the national population was Lhotshampa (Nepalese descendant) in the late 1980s, but unofficial estimates ran as high as 30 to 40 percent, and Lhotshampa were estimated to constitute a majority in southern Bhutan. However, the number of legal permanent Nepalese residents in the late 1980s may have been as few as 15 percent of the total population. The first small groups of Nepalese, the most recent major groups to arrive in Bhutan, emigrated primarily from eastern Nepal under Indian auspices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mostly Hindus, the Nepalese settled in the southern foothills and are sometimes referred to as southern Bhutanese. Traditionally, they have been involved mostly in sedentary agriculture, although some have cleared forest cover and conducted Tsheri agriculture. The most divisive issue in Bhutan in the 1980s and early 1990s was the accommodation of the Nepalese Hindu minority. The government traditionally attempted to limit immigration and restrict residence and employment of Nepalese to the southern region. Liberalization measures in the 1970s and 1980s encouraged intermarriage and provided increasing opportunities for public service. More in-country migration by Nepalese seeking better education and business opportunities was allowed.