Location and History




Bhutan is a landlocked country about 300km long and 150km wide, encompassing 38,394 sq km. The high Himalayas to the north separate the kingdom from the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, while the rugged eastern region borders the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Sikkim.


The country can be divided into three distinct climate zones corresponding broadly to the three                                    

geographical divisions. The southern belt has a hot, humid climate while central Bhutan has a cool temperate climate.

The northern region has severe alpine climate and is perpetually under snow. Rainfall can differ within relatively short distances due to rain shadow effects.


A conscious policy of isolation complemented by formidable geographical barriers has enabled the Kingdom to maintain it’s independence throughout its history. Ancient stone implements and other archaeological findings indicate that there were settlements in Bhutan dating back to 2000 B.C. The chronicled history of the Kingdom, however, begins with the advent of Buddhism in the eighth century.

In 747, A.D., the Buddhist sage Padmasambhava, popularly revered in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche or the Precious Master, visited the country and introduced Buddhism. Since then, Buddhism has played a predominant role in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural evolution of the country. In the centuries that followed, Lamas or Buddhist teachers and local nobility established

their own separate domains throughout the country.

In the 17th century, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1652), a leader of the Drukpa Kargyu School of

Buddhism consolidated the country under a unified power and established the Chhoesi system of governance, whereby the temporal and religious authority were separated and vested in the Druk Desi (Temporal Head) and Je Khenpo (Spiritual Head) respectively. By the end of the 17th century, the country emerged with a distinct political and cultural identity, with an unprecedented degree of political stability.

During the second half of the 18th century, the country witnessed a resurgence of political instability. The unity of the country was affected by internal dissent. External threats in the latter half of the 19th century added a new dimension to the political quandary. It was against this background that a need for strong leadership emerged. Peace and stability were restored with the enthronement of His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck (1907-1926). On December 17, 1907 with the signing and sealing of the Oath of Allegiance in a grand ceremony in Punakha Dzong, Ugyen Wangchuck became the first hereditary monarch of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The great Nga Chudrugma seal of Shabdrung, which was the official seal of all successive Shabdrungs, was imprinted in red on the top of the page of the document. It was then signed aand seald by all the members of the Lhengye Tshog, the central Monk Body, Penlops, Dzongpoens, and other government officials as well as the senior monk. The establishment of monarchy ushered in an era of peace and stability and most significantly unified the country under a central authority. It also set in motion a process of contact with the outside world and laid the foundation for the country as a modern nation state.

The institution of monarchy is highly revered in the country as successive Kings have lead Bhutan from an era of an isolated, poor, backward country to modern nation state, today.