Country Listing

Bhutan Table of Contents



Government: World's only Buddist kingdom. De facto constitutional monarchy with Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) head of state and head of government. Royal family members serve as close advisers and heads of some ministries. Executive comprises Royal Advisory Council and Council of Ministers. Unicameral National Assembly (Tshogdu), two-thirds of its 150 members--representatives of general public--indirectly elected every three years, balance are monastic representatives appointed by Buddhist hierarchy and government officials appointed by Druk Gyalpo. Executive comprises Royal Advisory Council and Council of Ministers.

Politics: No legal political parties; political activities carried out by elite factions. Starting in late 1980s unrest among Nepalese minority in south led to government's parallel efforts to accommodate ethnic communities and restrict separatist activities amid increasing discontent and violence.

Administrative Divisions: Four administrative zones (dzongdey) provide central government services at local levels; eighteen districts (dzongkhag) divided into either subdistricts (dungkhag, 67) or village groups (gewog, 191). Thimphu District not included in zonal administration. Municipal corporations at Thimphu and Phuntsholing; 4,500 other villages and settlements.

Judiciary: Civil law system heavily influenced by Buddhist law based on seventeenth century code. Druk Gyalpo final level of appeal. High Court and district courts; minor civil disputes adjudicated by village heads.

Foreign Relations: Major aid recipient from India, major international organizations, and developed countries. Traditionally relied first on Britain and then on India to direct foreign affairs, increasingly asserted independence since joining United Nations in 1971. In 1991 maintained diplomatic relations with only sixteen nations. Member of Asian Development Bank, Colombo Plan, Coordination Bureau of Non-Aligned Countries, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Development Association, International Monetary Fund, International Telecommunications Union, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, United Nations and its affiliated agencies, and Universal Postal Union.

Media: Kuensel, government-owned weekly newspaper. Bhutan Broadcasting Service offers shortwave programming; daily FM broadcasts in Thimphu; no foreign television reception

Data as of September 1991