Bhutan facts on every entity in the world

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 to British India. 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 to Bhutan the areas annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations.

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 routed the incumbent party. The disposition of some 23,000 Nepali Bhutanese refugees of the roughly 100,000 who fled or were forced out of Bhutan in the 1990s - housed in two UN refugee camps in Nepal - remains unresolved.



Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates

27.30° N, 90.30° E

Area 137/257

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:

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)

Total renewable water resources

78 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.34 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)

per capita: 458 cu m/yr (2008)

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, 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


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.)

Population 165/238


note: the Factbook population estimate is consistent with the first modern census of Bhutan, conducted in 2005; previous Factbook population estimates for Bhutan, which were on the order of three times the total population reported here, were based on Bhutanese Government publications that did not include the census (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 26.76% (male 101,418/female 97,132)

15-24 years: 19.68% (male 74,373/female 71,600)

25-54 years: 41.6% (male 164,520/female 144,089)

55-64 years: 5.85% (male 23,271/female 20,144)

65 years and over: 6.12% (male 23,754/female 21,618) (2015 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: 26.7 years

male: 27.2 years

female: 26.1 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 112/233

1.11% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 106/224

17.78 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 141/225

6.69 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 105/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 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 (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 59/184

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

Infant mortality rate 61/224

total: 35.91 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 36.27 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 35.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 158/224

total population: 69.51 years

male: 68.56 years

female: 70.51 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 128/224

1.97 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

65.6% (2010)

Health expenditures 167/191

3.6% of GDP (2013)

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


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 154/191

5.9% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 59/138

12.8% (2010)

Education expenditures 86/173

5.5% of GDP (2013)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 13 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 119/134

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


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 (2014)

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 tern

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 4-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 2017); National Assembly election first round held on 31 May 2013 and second round on 13 July 2013

election results: National Council - independents 20; note - all candidates required to run as independents; National Assembly - first round poll held on 31 May 2013 - percent of vote by party - DPT 44.5%; PDP 32.5%; DNT 17.0%; DCT 5.9%; second round held on 13 July 2013 - 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); Indian merchant community

International organization participation


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


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 other infrastructure difficult and expensive, industrial production is primarily of the cottage industry type. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and is dependent on India for financial assistance and migrant laborers for development projects, especially for road construction. Bhutan inked a pact in December 2014 to expand duty-free trade with Bangladesh, the only trade partner with which Bhutan enjoys a surplus.

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 expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.

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 building 12 new hydropower dams with a combined capacity of 10,000 megawatts by 2020 in accordance with a deal signed in 2008 with India. The high volume of imported materials to build hydropower plants has expanded Bhutan's trade and current account deficits. However, Bhutan and India in April 2014 agreed to begin four additional hydropower projects, which would generate 2,120 megawatts in total.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 168/230

$6.383 billion (2015 est.)

$5.929 billion (2014 est.)

$5.571 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.209 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 11/225

7.7% (2015 est.)

6.4% (2014 est.)

4.9% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 147/230

$8,200 (2015 est.)

$7,700 (2014 est.)

$7,200 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 75/179

21.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

22.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

28.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 68.4%

government consumption: 21.5%

investment in fixed capital: 47.1%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 37.3%

imports of goods and services: -74.3%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 16.8%

industry: 40.5%

services: 42.7% (2015 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 22/202

6% (2015 est.)

Labor force 161/233


note: major shortage of skilled labor (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 57%

industry: 21%

services: 22% (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate 18/207

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% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 72/144

38.7 (2012)

38.1 (2007)


revenues: $608 million

expenditures: $692.7 million

note: the government of India finances nearly one-quarter of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 104/219

26.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 121/220

-3.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 18/176

98.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

91.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 184/226

5.7% (2015 est.)

8.3% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate


Commercial bank prime lending rate 48/184

14.2% (31 December 2015 est.)

14.2% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 159/192

$738.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$683.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 167/193

$1.305 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.184 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 159/191

$1.018 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.01 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 115/121

$320 million (31 December 2013)

$283.4 million (31 December 2012)

Current account balance 102/197

-$591 million (2015 est.)

-$459 million (2014 est.)

Exports 179/224

$375 million (2015 est.)

$409.2 million (2014 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.)

Imports 179/223

$965 million (2015 est.)

$927.6 million (2014 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 151/206

$1.855 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$1.844 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 116/120

$173.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$145.4 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -

63.9 (2015 est.)

60.98 (2014 est.)

61.03 (2013 est.)

53.44 (2012 est.)

46.67 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 109/220

7.147 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - consumption 141/219

2.085 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 29/218

5.147 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 90/219

159 million kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 120/214

1.499 million kW (2013 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 210/214

0.7% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 59/214

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 4/214

99.3% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 162/212

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - production 114/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 104/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 166/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 112/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 162/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 188/212

2,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 161/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 183/213

1,870 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production 164/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 123/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 70/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 169/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 118/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 188/212

320,800 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 176/219

total subscriptions: 23,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 165/217

total: 628,300

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 86 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: urban towns and district headquarters have telecommunications services

domestic: low teledensity; domestic service is poor especially in rural areas; mobile-cellular service, started 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 (2012)

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)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 0, FM 9, shortwave 1 (2007)

Television broadcast stations

1 (2007)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 126/232

14,590 (2012)

Internet users 155/217

total: 203,100

percent of population: 27.7% (2014 est.)


Airports 198/236

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)

Roadways 135/223

total: 10,578 km

paved: 2,975 km (includes 2,180 km of natonal highways)

unpaved: 7,603 km (2013)

Military and Security

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