Overview

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia a the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India. To the west, it is separated from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim, while farther south it is separated from Bangladesh by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Bhutan’s capital and the largest city is Thimphu.

Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefs until the early 17th century. At that time the lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, the first Zhabdrung Rinpoche, who was fleeing religious presecution in Tibet, unified the area and cultivated a distinct Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire and retained strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, based on global survey, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eight-happiest in the world. Ini 2016, the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations ranks Bhutan as the 84th happiest country.

Bhutan’s landscapes ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, where some peaks exceed 7000 metres (23000 ft). Its total area was reported as approximately 46500 km2 (18000 sq mi) in 1997 and 38394 km2 (14824 sq mi) in 2002. Bhutan’s state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism and the population, as of 2015 estimated as 742,737 people, is predominantly Buddhist.

In 2008, Bhutan made the transition form absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy and held its first general election. As well as being a member of the United Nations, Bhutan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and hosted SAARC’s sixteenth summit in April 2010.