Country Listing

Bhutan Table of Contents



Salient Features: Underdeveloped economy with ties to India as a result of geographic position and historical relationship. Predominantly agricultural; limited industrial activity; services--particularly related to tourism, growing part of economy. Development of hydroelectric capabilities for domestic use and export also increasingly important. Increasing domestic concern and international cooperation with respect to environmental protection and resource conservation. Foreign aid--once 100 percent from India but increasingly from domestic sources, European countries, and international organizations (72.5 percent in 1987- 92)--major component in economic development. Trade union activity illegal; less than 1 percent of population involved in industrial work.

Gross National Product (GNP): Nu3.9 billion (1988, Nu-- ngultrum). Per capita GNP US$150.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Nu3.4 billion (1988).

Agriculture: Including fishing and forestry: 46.2 percent of GDP projected for 1991. Traditionally self-sufficient in food production, rice imports increasing in late 1980s. Eighty-seven percent of population involved in agriculture. Less than 6 percent of land cultivable; most farms terraced or used illegal tsheri (shifting cultivation). Major crops corn and rice. Cash crops oranges, apples, and cardamon. Livestock raised throughout country. Fresh water and hatchery fishing important dietary supplement. Modest use of irrigation and fertilizers. Abundant forest resources--about 70 percent of country covered with forests; lumber industry 15 percent of GDP.

Industry: 26.4 percent of GDP projected for 1991. Only 1 percent of population involved in industry and construction in late 1980s. Basic industries: handicrafts, cement, food processing, wood milling, and distilling; 400 small-scale cottage and industrial units. Limestone for cement production major mining and quarrying product. Hydroelectric power major energy producer.

Services: 29 percent of GDP projected for 1991. Most commercial services tourist-oriented plus domestic-oriented wholesale and retail trade. Tourism largest foreign-exchange earner (US$2 million in 1987).

Resources: High-grade limestone and slate; marble, dolomite, and graphite; deposits of copper, gypsum, lead, tin, tungsten, zinc, coal, beryl, mica, pyrites, tufa, and talc. Abundant hydroelectric power sources.

Foreign Trade: Principally with India. Total exports in 1990 Nu1.2 billion in 1990, primarily electricity and processed raw materials. Total imports in Nu1.8 billion in 1990, primarily rice and manufactured goods.

Balance of Payments: Early 1980s trade imbalance--imports 80 percent of total trade--decreased as decade progressed. Exports represented 40 percent, imports 60 percent of total annual trade in 1990.

Foreign Aid: Once 100 percent dependent on India for development funds and government revenue; since 1960s major inputs from Colombo Plan, World Bank, United Nations, and private sources, plus domestic contributions, decreased Indian aid to 27.5 percent (Nu2.6 billion) of total input in Sixth Development Plan (1987-92).

Currency/Exchange Rate: Ngultrum (Nu). US$1 = 18.329 (January 1991). Ngultrum on par with Indian rupee.

Fiscal Year: July 1 to June 30.

Data as of September 1991