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Bhutan country facts

Kingdom of Bhutan South Asia Thimphu 733,643 inhabitants 38,394 sq km 19.11 inhabitants/sq km ngultrum (BTN) population evolution



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 pledged to hold a national referendum for its approval. In December 2006, the King abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK, in order to give him experience as head of state before the democratic transition. 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 30,000 Bhutanese refugees - 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 (sq km)

total: 38,394 sq km
land: 38,394 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative (sq km)

about one-half the size of Indiana

Land boundaries (km)

total: 1,136 km
border countries: China 477 km, India 659 km

Coastline (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

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Drangeme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate

Land use (%)

arable land: 2.49%
permanent crops: 0.46%
other: 97.06% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

319.1 sq km (2010)

Total renewable water resources (cu km)

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%

Languages (%)

Sharchhopka 28%, Dzongkha (official) 24%, Lhotshamkha 22%, other 26% (includes foreign languages) (2005 est.)

Religions (%)

Lamaistic Buddhist 75.3%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 22.1%, other 2.6% (2005 est.)


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 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 27.3% (male 102,196/female 97,923)
15-24 years: 20.1% (male 75,327/female 72,472)
25-54 years: 40.8% (male 159,868/female 139,236)
55-64 years: 5.8% (male 22,769/female 19,699)
65 years and over: 6% (male 23,153/female 21,000) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Bhutan

Median age (years)

total: 26.2 years
male: 26.8 years
female: 25.6 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

1.13% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

18.12 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

6.78 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 35.6% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.65% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

THIMPHU (capital) 99,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

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: 1.15 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female
total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

180 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 37.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 38.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 68.98 years
male: 68.06 years
female: 69.95 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.02 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

4.1% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

0.07 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

1.8 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 99.4% of population
rural: 97.3% of population
total: 98.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 0.6% of population
rural: 2.7% of population
total: 1.9% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 74.5% of population
rural: 31.1% of population
total: 46.9% of population
unimproved: urban: 25.5% of population
rural: 68.9% of population
total: 53.1% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)

0.2% (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

1,100 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2012 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2013)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

5.3% (2008)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight (%)

12.8% (2010)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)

4.7% of GDP (2011)

Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.8%
male: 65%
female: 38.7% (2005 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 (%)

total: 7.2%
male: 7.3%
female: 7.2% (2012)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan
local long form: Druk Gyalkhap
local short form: Druk Yul

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 (various royal decrees); first constitution drafted November 2001 - March 2005, ratified 18 July 2008 (2011)

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


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 and his son immediately succeeded him; the nearly two-year delay between the former King's abdication and his son's coronation on 6 November 2008 was to ensure an astrologically auspicious coronation date and to give the new king, who had limited experience, deeper administrative expertise under the guidance of his father
head of government: Prime Minister Tshering TOBGAY (since July 2013)
cabinet: Council of Ministers (Lhengye Zhungtshog) nominated by the monarch in consultation with the prime minister and approved by the National Assembly; members serve fixed, five-year terms; the leader of the majority party is nominated as the prime minister
elections: the monarchy is hereditary, but the 2008 constitution grants the Parliament authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote; election of a National Assembly last occurred in July 2013, resulting in the transfer of power to the former opposition party

Legislative branch

bicameral Parliament or Chi Tshog consists of the non-partisan National Council or Gyelyong Tshogde (25 seats; 20 members elected by each of the 20 administrative districts (dzongkhags) for four-year terms and 5 members appointed by the king); and the National Assembly or Tshogdu (47 seats; members nominated by the two parties and elected by direct, popular vote for five-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; 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 44.52%; PDP 32.53%; DNT 17.04%; DCT 5.9%; second round poll held on 13 July 2013 - percent of vote by party - PDP 54.88%, DPT 45.12%; 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 four 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 Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) or DPT [Jigme THINLEY]; Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party or BNK [Sonam TOBGAY]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tshering TOBGAY]; Druk Nymrub Tshogpa or DNT; Druck Chirwang Tshogpa or DCT

Political pressure groups and leaders

United Front for Democracy (exiled); Druk National Congress (exiled)
other: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none; note - the Permanent Mission to the UN for Bhutan has consular jurisdiction in the US; the permanent representative to the UN is Kunzang C. NAMGYEL (since February 2014); address: 343 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017; telephone [1] (212) 682-2268; FAX [1] (212) 661-0551
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US and Bhutan have no formal diplomatic relations, although frequent informal contact is maintained via the US embasssy in New Delhi (India) and Bhutan's Permanent Mission to the UN

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

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 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. 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 - is creating employment and will probably sustain growth in the coming years. Only 5% of Bhutan’s 30,000 megawatt hydropower potential is currently tapped. The large amount of equipment needed to import materials to build hydropower plants has expanded Bhutan's trade and current account deficits. Bhutan’s GDP has rebounded strongly since the global recession began in 2008. Bhutan hopes to play a larger role in regional economic integration as a member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$5.235 billion (2013 est.)
$4.947 billion (2012 est.)
$4.529 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.133 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

5.8% (2013 est.)
9.2% (2012 est.)
8.5% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$7,000 (2013 est.)
$6,700 (2012 est.)
$6,100 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 13.8%
industry: 41.2%
services: 45% (2013 est.)

Labor force

note: major shortage of skilled labor (2012)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 62%
industry: 19%
services: 19% (2012 est.)

Unemployment rate (%)

2.1% (2013)
4% (2009)

Population below poverty line (%)

12% (2012)

Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 37.6% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index



revenues: $588.2 million
expenditures: $639.5 million
note: the government of India finances nearly one-quarter of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

27.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-2.4% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt (% of GDP)

38.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
44.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

11% (2013 est.)
10.9% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate (%)


Commercial bank prime lending rate (%)

14% (31 December 2013 est.)
14% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$224.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$191.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money

$1.099 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.062 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$915 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$874.4 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$283.4 million

Agriculture - products

rice, corn, root crops, citrus; dairy products, eggs


cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism

Industrial production growth rate (%)

7% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

$401.5 million (2013 est.)
-$311.6 million (2012 est.)


$721.8 million (2012 est.)
$662.2 million (2011 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.)


$1.28 billion (2012 est.)
$1.185 billion (2011 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

fuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice

Imports - partners (%)

India 72.3%, South Korea 6% (2013 est.)

External debt ($)

$1.275 billion (2011)
$836 million (2009)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$63.5 million

Exchange rates

Currency converter
ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -
56.61 (2013 est.)
53.44 (2012 est.)
45.73 (2010 est.)
46.68 (2009 est.)
43.51 (2008 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June


Electricity - production (kWh)

7.23 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

1.68 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

5.4 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

20 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

1.505 million kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

1.1% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

98.9% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

1,719 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

1,998 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

335,700 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

27,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

560,000 (2012)

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)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

14,590 (2012)

Internet users

50,000 (2009)



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 (km)

total: 8,050 km
paved: 4,991 km (includes 622 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,059 km (2003)


Military branches

Royal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police) (2009)

Military service age and obligation (years of age)

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)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 202,407
females age 16-49: 180,349 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 157,664
females age 16-49: 144,861 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 7,363
female: 7,095 (2010 est.)

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

Largest cities of Bhutan

These are the 50 largest cities of Bhutan ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Phuntsholing 65,892
2 Punakha 18,170
3 Samdrup Jongkhar 14,134
4 Geylegphug 7,464