The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, mountainous nation of south Asia, located in the Himalaya Mountains between India and China. The local name for the country, Druk Yul (pronounced dru ü), means "land of the dragon"; it is also called Druk Tsendhen, "land of the thunder dragon", as the thunder there is said to be the sound of roaring dragons.
Main article: History of Bhutan
A Buddhist theocracy was established in Bhutan in the early 17th century. The area, historically close to Tibet to the north, came under the influence of the British in India during the 19th century and a protectorate was established in 1910, with Britain (India after 1947) assuming control of foreign affairs, but refraining from interference in internal affairs.
Main article: Politics of Bhutan
Head of state is the King or Druk Gyalpo, presently Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Although his title is hereditary, he can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote from the parliament, the unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu. This body has 154 seats, and is composed of locally elected town representatives (105), religious representatives (12) and members nominated by the king (37), all of whom serve a three-year term.
Executive powers of the monarch was transferred to the council of ministers or cabinet (Lhengye Shungtsog) in 1998. Candidates to the council of ministers are nominated by the king, and elected by the National Assembly, and serving fixed, five-year terms.
Government policies are framed around the core idea of preserving traditional culture and values. This has, however, generated some dissent from some southern Bhutanese of Nepalese descent (lhotsampa), who are reluctant to abide by the rules and regulations of another culture.
Bhutan is divided into 20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural):
Main article: Geography of Bhutan
Bhutan is a very mountainous and landlocked nation, situated within the eastern Himalayas. Mountain peaks in the north reach up to over 7000 meters, the highest point being the Kula Kangri at 7553 meters. The southern part of the country has a lower altitude, and contains several fertile and densely forested valleys that flow down into the Brahmaputra river in India. Over 70% of the country is forested.
The majority of the population lives in the central highlands. The country's largest city, the capital Thimphu (population 50,000  (http://www.smec.com.au/media/latest/bhutan.htm)), is located in the western part of these highlands. The local climate varies from tropical in the south to cool winters and hot summers in the central valleys, with severe winters and cool summers occurring in the Himalayas.
Main article: Economy of Bhutan
The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture, forestry and the sale of hydro-electric power to India (which is reported to supply 75% of Government revenue). Agriculture, which provides the main livelihood for more than 90% of the population, 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. Incomes of over Nu100,000 per annum are taxed, but very few wage and salary earners qualify.
Bhutan's main economic partner is India as its border with Tibet is closed. Bhutan's currency, the ngultrum, is interchangeable with the Indian rupee. The industrial sector is minimal, with any production being of the cottage industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian contract labour. Bhutan's hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources.
Model education, social, and environment programmes in Bhutan are underway with support from multilateral development organisations, always taking Bhutan's wish for preservation of its traditions into account. The government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base and improving social welfare, though detailed controls and uncertain policies in many areas continue to hamper foreign investment. Major hydroelectric projects will lead expansion of GDP in 2002 by an estimated 6%.
Main article: Demographics of Bhutan
About half of the population are indigenous Bhutanese, known as the Ngalop, who are closely related to Tibetan tribes. Major ethnic groups are the Sharchop, also of Tibetan descent, and the Lhotshampa, who originate in Nepal. While Dzongkha is the official language, many local languages are spoken, some, in remote areas, with only a few speakers.
Main article: Culture of Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the most secluded nations in the world, and access for foreigners is restricted to certain areas, although these are expanding. Most of the population lives in small rural villages, and supports itself through agriculture, growing crops or breeding yaks, but urbanisation is increasing. The Buddhist religion is an important part of life.
ar:بوتان bg:Бутан de:Bhutan es:Bután eo:Bhutano et:Bhutan fr:Bhoutan id:Bhutan ja:ブータン ms:Bhutan nl:Bhutan no:Bhutan pl:Bhutan pt:Butão ru:Бутан sl:Butan (država) fi:Bhutan sv:Bhutan [[th:ประเทศภูฏาน]] zh:不丹王国