Timeline of Bhutanese history

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This is a timeline of Bhutanese history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Bhutan and its predecessor states.


7th century

627Tibetan ruler Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–49) ordered the construction of many Buddhist temples, including two in Bhutan: Jambay Lhakhang at Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Kyichu Lhakhang on the Kyi River in the Paro Valley. [1] The construction of these temples marked the arrival of Buddhism in Bhutan. (to 649)

8th century

747Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, known as "Guru Rimpoche", comes to Bhutan from India at the invitation of Sindhu Raja of the Kingdom of Bumthang, one of the numerous kingdoms predating modern Bhutan. Padmasambhava converts the king to Buddhism and then continues to Tibet. When he returns to Bhutan at the invitation of Trisong Detsen, he oversees the construction of new monasteries in the Paro Valley and sets up his headquarters in Jakar. According to tradition, Padmasambhava thus founds the Nyingma, or "Red Hat," sect of Vajrayana Buddhism. Padmasambhava plays a great historical and religious role as the national patron saint who revealed the tantras to Bhutan. He returned for a third visit during the reign of Murthi Tsenpo (764–817), son of Trisong Detsen. [1] [2]

9th century

807Alternate date for Padmasambhava's invitation to Bhutan by Sindhu Raja. Naguchhi's sons spread the realm into parts of modern Sikkim and Tibet. [3] [4]
809Padmasambhava comes again to Bhutan. [3] Around the same time, independent monarchies develop. [5]
824Tibetan King Ralpacan (reigned 816–836), grandson of Trisong Detsen, goes to war with an Indian people ruler in Bhutan, driving him out. Tibetan troops who remained in Bhutan were called Milog, meaning "those that will not return." The region they settle is referred to as Tshochhen Gyed. Its eight parts or divisions are Wang, Be, Med, Kawang, Chang, Thi, Thim, and Lar. [3] [6]
836Tibetan King Ralpacan is murdered by agents of his brother Langdarma. Tibetans seek refuge in Bhutan from ensuing political and religious upheaval during the reign of Langdarma (836–842). After Langdarma's assassination in 842, Tibetans continue to flee to western Bhutan, thus creating the homeland of the modern Ngalop people. The centuries that follow, known in Tibet as the Era of Fragmentation, are characterized by their lack of political cohesion. During much of this period, the dominant Bhutanese polity was the Kingdom of Bumthang. [2] [7]
900In the late 9th century, ethnic Tibetan forces expel Indian people princes from parts of modern Bhutan. Tibetans in this period and location develop the roots of Ngalong culture. [3] [7] [8]

10th century

1000By the 11th century, Tibetan-Mongol forces occupy the whole of Bhutan. More waves of Tibetans seek refuge in Bhutan from religious persecution. Charismatic lamas become the de facto leaders of regions in western Bhutan. [2] [7]

11th century

12th century

1180Tibetan lama Tsangpa Gyare (1161–1211) founds Ralung Monastery for the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school, named after the thunder dragons ( druk ) he witnessed on his quest for an appropriate foundation site. [2] With the proliferation of the Drukpa, the druk become synonymous with Bhutan and later its central national symbol.

13th century

14th century

1360 Gelug monks flee to Bhutan from Tibet. [5]

15th century

1475 Pema Lingpa, a Bhutanese religious figure and tertön from Bumthang, discovered his first terma from Lake Membar near Bumthang. [2]

16th century

1527 Punakha Dzong is established. [9]

17th century

1616 Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, facing arrest and following visions in which it is said that the chief guardian deities of Bhutan offered him a home, leaves Tibet to establish a new base in western Bhutan, founding Chagri Monastery at the head of the Thimphu Valley.
1627Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal builds Simtokha Dzong at the entrance to Thimphu valley. From this dzong, he exerts control over traffic between the powerful Paro Valley to the west and Trongsa Valley to the east.
Circa 1627, during the first war with Tibet, Portuguese Jesuits Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan on their way to Tibet. They met with Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Zhabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months, Cacella wrote a long letter from Chagri Monastery reporting the travel. This is a rare remaining direct report of the Zhabdrung. [7] [9] [10]
1629Attempted Tibetan invasion fails. [11]
1631Attempted Tibetan invasion fails. [11]
1634Ngawang Namgyal prevails in the Battle of Five Lamas over the Tibetan Empire and Bhutanese forces allied against him. The Zhabdrung is thus the first to unite Bhutan into a single country. The Zhabdrung establishes the Drukpa Lineage as the state religion under the dual system of government, and codifies the system of laws known as the Tsa Yig, based on Buddhist religious law (dharma). [9]
1639Attempted Tibetan invasion fails. [11]
1643A joint Mongol-Tibetan force sought to destroy Nyingma refugees who had fled to Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. The Mongols had seized control of religious and civil power in Tibet in the 1630s and established the Gelug school as the state religion. Bhutanese rivals of Ngawang Namgyal encouraged the Mongol intrusion, but the Mongol force was easily defeated in the humid lowlands of southern Bhutan. [11]
1647Attempted Tibetan invasion fails. [11]
1651Ngawang Namgyal dies; however, his death is kept a secret for fifty-four years in order to keep Bhutan from disintegrating. While the Zhabdrung was supposedly away on an extended religious retreat, his son reigned. [12]
1680Bhutan invades Sikkim. The same year, Ngawang Namgyal's son is succeeded by the Zhabdrung's stepbrother. [12]
1700Bhutan invades Sikkim. [12]

18th century

1714 Tibetan forces, aided by the Mongols, invade Bhutan but fail to gain control. [12]
1730 Cooch Behar first requests Bhutanese assistance in repelling Mughal Empire encroachments, establishing a dependent relationship with Bhutan. [7] [13]
1770Bhutan invades Sikkim, supported by troops from Cooch Behar. [13]
1772In a succession dispute in Cooch Behar, the Druk Desi's nominee for the throne was opposed by a rival who invited British troops; in effect, Cooch Behar became a dependency of the British East India Company. [13]
British expeditionary forces drive Bhutanese garrisons out of Cooch Behar, until that time a Bhutanese dependency. The Druk Desi petitions Lhasa unsuccessfully for assistance. [13] [14] (to 1773)
177425 AprilThe Druk Desi signs a Treaty of Peace with the British East India Company. Under the treaty, Bhutan returns to its pre-1730 boundaries and allows the British to harvest timber in Bhutan. [14]
1784British government turns over to Bhutan the Bengal Duars territory, where boundaries had been poorly defined. As in its other foreign territories, Bhutan left administration of the Bengal Duars territory to local officials and collected its revenues. [14]

19th century

1815British mission to Thimphu fails to reach a conclusion amid increasing border tensions. [14]
1838British mission to Thimphu offers Bhutan a treaty providing for the extradition of Bhutanese officials responsible for incursions into Assam, free and unrestricted commerce between India and Bhutan, and settlement of Bhutan's debt to the British. In an attempt to protect its independence, Bhutan rejected the British offer. [14]
1841British annex Bhutanese controlled Assam Duars, paying a compensation of 10,000 rupees a year to Bhutan. [14]
1842Bhutan cedes control of the troublesome Bengal Duars to Britain. [14]
1862Bhutanese forces raid Sikkim and Cooch Behar; the British respond by withholding all compensation payments and demanding release of all captives and return of stolen property. These demands went unheeded by the Druk Desi, as he was alleged to be unaware of frontier officials' raids. [14]
1864Britain sends a peace mission to Bhutan in the wake of a recent civil war, during a period when two rival claimants to the office of Druk Desi competed for power. [14] Though the British attempt to deal with both Druk Desis, the peace mission is rejected by Bhutan. [14]
NovemberBritain declares war on Bhutan. The Duar War lasts five months, resulting in Bhutan's defeat and cession of significant territory under the Treaty of Sinchula. [14]
186511 NovemberBhutan signs the Treaty of Sinchula, ceding territories in the Assam Duars and Bengal Duars, as well as the eighty-three-square-kilometer territory of Dewangiri in southeastern Bhutan, in return for an annual subsidy of 50,000 rupees. [14]
1870In the 1870s and 1880s, renewed competition among regional rivals – primarily the pro-British penlop of Trongsa and the anti-British, pro-Tibetan penlop of Paro – resulted in the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the penlop of Trongsa. [14] (to 1880)
1885 Ugyen Wangchuck, penlop (governor) of Trongsa, puts down civil unrest across Bhutan, consolidates power, and cultivates closer ties with British India. [11] [15]

20th century

1903The last reigning Shabdrung dies, and a successor is not found until 1906. In the meantime, the civil administration comes under the power of the Ugyen Wangchuck as Druk Desi. [14]
Ugyen Wangchuck volunteers to accompany a British mission to Lhasa as a mediator in the British expedition to Tibet and resulting Anglo-Tibetan Convention. In return, Ugyen is knighted and thereafter continues to accrue greater power in Bhutan. [5] [14] (to 1904)
190717 DecemberUgyen Wangchuck is elected Bhutan's first hereditary ruler (Druk Gyalpo) after having politically unified the country. [15] [16]
19108 JanuaryThe Treaty of Punakha amends two articles of the 1865 Treaty of Sinchula: the British agree to double the annual stipend to 100,000 rupees and "to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan." In turn, Bhutan agrees "to be guided by the advice of the British Government in regard to its external relations." [17]
192621 AugustKing Ugyen Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Wangchuck begins to reign.
192716 MarchCoronation of Jigme Wangchuck.
1931The 7th Shabdrung Jigme Dorji dies at Talo monastery. Jigme Dorji is the last Shabdrung recognized by the government of Bhutan, though subsequent claimants to the incarnation continue today.
1947The British Empire leaves India, and direct political by the British ends. Bhutan remains relatively isolated from international affairs. [14]
19498 AugustIndia and Bhutan sign the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but that Bhutan would be guided by India in its foreign policy. The same year, India cedes to Bhutan some territories lost to the British in the 1865 Treaty of Sinchula. [11] [14] [15] [16]
195224 MarchKing Jigme Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck begins to reign. Bhutan begins a program of planned development and democratization. [15] The same year, the National Assembly is established, and the post of Chief Minister (Gongzim) is abolished. [16]
1957Major glacial lake outburst flood from glacial lakes. [18]
1958 Slavery is abolished. [16]
The first Nationality Act is enacted, defining Bhutanese citizenship and introducing a compulsory registration process. [19]
1959Bhutanese enclaves in western Tibet are seized by the Chinese. [20]
1960Major glacial lake outburst flood from glacial lakes. [18]
1961First Five-Year Plan is introduced. [5]
19645 AprilPrime Minister Jigme Palden Dorji is assassinated in a dispute among competing political factions. The King's own uncle, a military cadre, was among those executed for their role in the attempted coup. After a brief tenure by acting Prime Minister Lhendup Dorji, the post of Prime Minister is abolished until 1998. [5] [16]
1965Unsuccessful attempt to assassinate King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. [16]
1966The capital is moved from Punakha to Thimphu through a transition period when Punakha was the winter capital and Thimphu the summer capital. [5] [21]
1968King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck establishes the first Council of Ministers, or executive cabinet. [16] [22] At the same time, the king renounces his power of veto, which had never been used. [22] The king also creates the High Court (the Thimkhang Gongma) and empowers it to review the king's decisions. [22] The Bank of Bhutan is also founded as a central bank, charged with supervising the transition from a barter economy to a monetary economy. [22]
Major glacial lake outburst flood from glacial lakes. [18]
1969 Jigme Dorji Wangchuck called for a triennial vote of confidence by the National Assembly to renew the Druk Gyalpo's mandate to rule. This vote was later abolished by his successor. [5]
1970Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 300,000. [23]
1971Bhutan joins the United Nations. [15] [16]
197221 JulyKing Jigme Dorji Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Singye Wangchuck begins to reign.
1974MarchStrains between the Wangchucks and Dorjis were relieved with the return that year of the exiled members of the latter family. The reconciliation, however, was preceded by reports of a plot to assassinate the new Druk Gyalpo before his coronation could take place and to set fire to the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of government in Thimphu. Yangki, the Druk Gyalpo's Tibetan mistress, was the alleged force behind the plot. Thirty persons were arrested, including high government and police officials. [5] (to April)
2 JuneCoronation of Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The same year, the first foreign tourists are allowed to enter Bhutan. [16]
1978Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 400,000. [23]
1982The Royal Government establishes the Royal Monetary Authority, the central bank of Bhutan. [24] [25]
198510 JuneThe Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1985 is enacted. [26]
1986Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 500,000. [23]
One thousand illegal Lhotshampa laborers are expelled. [5]
1987 Gasa District is split up among Punakha and Thimphu Districts; Chhukha District is carved out from parts of Samtse, Paro, and Thimphu Districts. [21] [27]
1988Bhutan conducts its first census. As a result, many Lhotshampa (ethnic Nepalis) are branded as illegal immigrants. [16]
After a census, the government begins evicting those it identifies as illegal immigrants among the Nepali-speaking population in southern Bhutan. Over two decades, the population of Bhutanese refugees in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal climbed to 107,000 by 2008 according to UNHCR. [16] [28]
1989The driglam namzha , the official behaviour and dress code, is elevated from recommended to mandatory in public and educational settings. Nepali ceases to be a language of instruction in schools, escalating tensions between Ngalops and Lhotshampas. [16]
Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the Bhutan Peoples' Party, is arrested and imprisoned. [29]
1990Violent ethnic unrest and anti-government protests in southern Bhutan pressing for greater democracy and respect for minority rights. The Bhutan Peoples' Party, whose members are mostly Lhotshampa, begin a campaign of violence against the government. Pro-government citizen militias form in response to rising crime and violence including clashes between Lhotshampa demonstrators and the Royal Bhutan Army. The Bhutan Peoples' Party is subsequently banned. [5] [16]
1991 Jigme Singye Wangchuck threatens to abdicate in face of hardline opposition in the National Assembly to his efforts to resolve ethnic unrest, leaving an international summit to attend to unrest. [5]
1992 Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the illegal Bhutan Peoples' Party, is sentenced to life imprisonment. [16]
Gasa District is carved out from Punakha District; Tashi Yangtse District is split from Trashigang District. Other district boundaries are also changed [21] [27]
2 NovemberThe National Security Act is enacted. The Act defines treason and speech crimes, as well as unlawful assembly, rioting, and states of emergency, providing for lengthy prison sentences, capital punishment, and the use of deadly force by the government to stop unlawful demonstrations. [30]
1994Major glacial lake outburst flood from glacial lakes, devastating Punakha. [18]
1998The Council of Ministers (Lhengye Zhungtshog) replaces the cabinet, and King Jigme Singye Wangchuck withdraws from his role in the decision-making of the cabinet. The post of Prime Minister (Lonchen) is restored. (to 1999)
1999Television is introduced. [16]
18 December Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the illegal Bhutan Peoples' Party, is pardoned and released from prison along with some 40 other political prisoners. He goes into exile in Nepal, a common condition of release among Lhotshampa political dissidents. [29] [31] [32] [33]
2000Bhutan and Nepal reach an agreement regarding the repatriation of certain classes of Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Nepal, subject to joint government verification. Points of contention included that some camp inhabitants were never citizens – or some even residents – of Bhutan before attaining refugee status. Also, the Bhutanese government regarded many political groups among the Nepalese Lhotshampa community, such as the Bhutan Peoples' Party (BPP) and Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP), as terrorist or anti-national groups. [33] [34]

21st century

2001MarchFirst verification of Bhutanese refugees eligible for repatriation commences in Nepalese refugee camps. Actual repatriation is estimated to occur one year out. [34] As of 2011 over 200 refugees in the Khudunabari refugee camp alone had been certified, however no Bhutanese refugees had been repatriated. [35]
2002Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 600,000. [23]
2003Several guerrilla groups seeking to establish an independent Assamese state in northeast India had set up guerrilla bases in the forests of southern Bhutan from which they launch cross-border attacks on targets in Assam. The largest guerrilla group was the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Negotiations aimed at removing them peacefully from these bases failed in the spring of 2003.
15 DecemberThe Royal Bhutan Army began military operations against guerrilla camps in southern Bhutan, in coordination with Indian armed forces who lined the border to the south to prevent the guerrillas from dispersing back into Assam. News sources indicated that of the 30 camps that were targeted, 13 were controlled by ULFA, 12 camps by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), and 5 camps controlled by the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO). By January 2004, government news reports indicated the guerrillas had been routed from their bases.
200420 March Capital punishment in Bhutan is abolished. [36]
200526 MarchProposed constitution is unveiled under which Bhutan would transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. [16]
DecemberKing Jigme Singye Wangchuck announces he will abdicate in 2008, when democratic parliamentary elections are held, and names Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to succeed him. [16]
2006JanuaryAuthorities arrest two civil servants in the village of Nago in Paro District, accusing them of engaging in acts of proselytism under the false pretext of holding an official meeting, maligning the Spiritual Head of Bhutan (Je Khenpo), posing as officials on official business, and giving false information. In accordance with provisions in the Penal Code and the National Security Act, both men are found guilty in a district court. Christian groups maintain the men were arrested due to their religious beliefs since, according to these groups, the men were arrested while showing a Christian film in a Buddhist home. They are sentenced in early June 2006 in an open trial with a public hearing to three and a half years and three years in prison. They did not appeal the court judgment, although the right to appeal was provided for by law. On 28 July 2006, both men were released after payment of a fine. [37]
June Bhutanese refugees in Nepalese refugee camps protest, pressing for third-country resettlement. [16] (to August)
14 DecemberAbdication of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, ahead of the date previously announced; his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck begins to reign.
20075 JanuaryThe Royal Government enacts the Immigration Act of 2007, amending the Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1985 and establishing the Department of Immigration under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to implement and administer immigration laws through immigration offices. The Act endowed officers of the Department of Immigration with broad police and prosecution powers: they may enter any private or official premises in order to search, arrest, seize, detain, interrogate or to demand forfeiture of any vehicles, trains, vessels, aircraft, or goods. [38]
FebruaryBhutan signs an agreement with India giving the kingdom more say in its foreign and defense policies. [16]
3 FebruaryReports allege the current Zhabdrung Rinpoche, Pema Namgyel (b. 20 November 2003 – then a small child) had been held under house arrest in Bhutan along with his parents since October 2005, when the family traveled to meet the Reincarnation Committee. The Committee later denied his reincarnation status. [39] [40] [41]
AprilMock elections are staged to familiarise voters with parliamentary democracy ahead of planned polls in 2008. [16]
31 DecemberFirst National Council election for the 20 elected non-partisan seats in National Council, Bhutan's upper house. Only 15 out of 20 dzongkhags (districts), however, were set to begin voting. In Thimphu, Trashiyangtse, Gasa, Haa and Lhuntse Districts, there were either no candidates or a single candidate, and elections were delayed until 29 January 2008.
2008JanuaryA series of bombs blast the kingdom ahead of elections slated for 24 March. The attacks are blamed on armed Lhotshampa groups. [16] (to February)
24 MarchIn Bhutan's first parliamentary elections, the pro-monarchy Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party wins 45 out of 47 seats in the National Assembly, Bhutan's lower house. Another pro-monarchy party, the People's Democratic Party, wins the remaining two seats in Gasa and Haa Districts.
18 JulyThe Constitution of Bhutan is enacted. The first ever Constitution of Bhutan, it sets forth a bicameral parliamentary democratic framework to safeguard human rights, while enshrining the institution of the monarchy, Drukpa Lineage Buddhism, and traditional Ngalop Bhutanese culture. [42]
NovemberThe government of India alleges links between Assamese separatists and the illegal Bhutanese Druk National Congress. [16]
1 NovemberCoronation of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. [43]
2009April Huanglongbing virus decimates Bhutan's orange crop, an important export for the kingdom. [16]
11 September Parliament enacts the Local Government Act of Bhutan 2009, the sixth legislative reform of Bhutanese local governments since 1999. The Act devolves various administrative powers to Dzongkhags (districts), Dungkhags (subdistricts), Gewogs (village blocks), Chiwogs (constituencies), and Thromdes (municipalities) while retaining legislative authority as the sole purview of the central government. [44]
21 SeptemberThe 6.1-magnitude 2009 Bhutan earthquake strikes Mongar District, causing at least 12 deaths, extensive destruction, and severe aftershocks in Bhutan. [45] [46]
2010MarchA district court interprets the constitutional clause regarding religious "coercion or inducement" to prohibit not only forced conversion but also proselytism in the case of a Christian missionary pastor who used a generator and a projector in a private home on 21 May 2009. The pastor received a sentence of three years imprisonment for infringing the Constitution. [47]
16 June Parliament enacts the Tobacco Control Act, restricting import and possession, and banning the sale of tobacco in Bhutan. [48]
201124 JanuarySonam Tshering, a 23-year-old ordained monk from Langpa in Haa, was caught with 480 grams of chewing tobacco (purchased for Nu.120) en route from Phuntsholing to Thimphu. This presented the first prosecution under the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010 and was the result of a private individual informing the police that Tshering possessed tobacco. Although Tshering revealed the source of his tobacco to mitigate and qualify his offense as a misdemeanor, he failed to identify the location and supplier of the tobacco, apparently somewhere in the border town of Jaigaon. He was thus convicted of a felony, and sentenced to the minimum imprisonment of three years. The conviction and especially the sentence have made the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010 controversial in urban Bhutan due to their severity. Although the Constitution of Bhutan guarantees all persons the right to be represented by a jabmi (attorney), the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court closed the case before any jabmi could offer services. Tshering has since appealed the Dzongkhag Court ruling to the High Court of Bhutan, for which has retained a private attorney. [49] [50]
23 January Local government elections, originally slated for 2008, begin on a staggered scale in 3 of Bhutan's 20 Dzongkhags: Thimphu, Phuntsholing, and Samdrup Jongkhar. [51]
24 FebruaryThe Supreme Court of Bhutan declares unconstitutional the government's raising of personal vehicle import taxes in June 2010 without bicameral presentment and debate, affirming the judgment of the High Court Constitutional Bench against the Attorney General and for the Opposition in Parliament. [52]
28 JuneThe Election Commission announces the results of the first local government elections under the Constitution of Bhutan. [53] Originally slated for 2008, elections faced multiple delays related to voter registration and constituency demarcation. Furthermore, voter turnout crept to 56% of eligible voters amid public sentiments of distrust and futility. [54] In several instances, voters were unable to cast votes; in a few cases, legally unqualified candidates ran and won seats. Disqualified candidates, uncontested seats, and inconclusive results in some constituencies required the Election Commission to rerun elections at a later date. [51] [53] [55] [56] [57]
13 October King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck marries Jetsun Pema. [58] [59] [60] Jetsun Pema, childhood friend of the Fifth King, becomes his Queen in a traditional Buddhist ceremony followed by three days of public holiday and celebrations. [61] [62] [63] The much anticipated wedding, announced 20 May, was the largest media event in Bhutanese history. [64] [65]
20138 MarchThe Speaker of the National Assembly, Jigme Tshultim, sentenced to 2 years 6 months imprisonment for official misconduct, fraud, and deceptive practices; and the then Home Minister, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, and 13 Plot Allotment committee members sentenced to a year imprisonment by the Mongar District Court for official misconduct in the Gyelpozhing land allotment case. [66] On appeal, the convictions and sentences are upheld by the High Court of Bhutan on 16 May [67] and by the Supreme Court on 17 Julyth. [68]
13 April National Council elections held [69]
31 MayPrimary round of National Assembly elections held. Results: DCT—12,457 votes; DNT—35,962 votes; PDP-68,650 votes; DPT—93,949 votes. [70]
13 JulyFinal round of 2013 Bhutanese National Assembly election, held. Results: PDP-32 seats; DPT—15 seats. [71] New Prime Minister: Tshering Tobgay.

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Immigration to Bhutan has an extensive history and has become one of the country's most contentious social, political, and legal issues. Since the twentieth century, Bhutanese immigration and citizenship laws have been promulgated as acts of the royal government, often by decree of the Druk Gyalpo on advice of the rest of government. Immigration policy and procedure are implemented by the Lhengye Zhungtshog Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Department of Immigration. Bhutan's first modern laws regarding immigration and citizenship were the Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1958 and subsequent amendments in 1977. The 1958 Act was superseded by the Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1985, which was then supplemented by a further Immigration Act in 2007. The Constitution of 2008 included some changes in Bhutan's immigration laws, policy, and procedure, however prior law not inconsistent with the 2008 Constitution remained intact. Bhutan's modern citizenship laws and policies reinforce the institution of the Bhutanese monarchy, require familiarity and adherence to Ngalop social norms, and reflect the social impact of the most recent immigrant groups.

Numerous ethnic groups inhabit Bhutan, but the Ngalop people who speak the Dzongkha language constitute a majority of the Bhutanese population. The Bhutanese are of four main ethnic groups, which themselves are not necessarily exclusive – the politically and culturally dominant Ngalop of western and northern Bhutan, the Sharchop of eastern Bhutan, the Lhotshampa concentrated in southern Bhutan, and Bhutanese tribal and aboriginal peoples living in villages scattered throughout Bhutan.

The development of Bhutanese democracy has been marked by the active encouragement and participation of reigning Bhutanese monarchs since the 1950s, beginning with legal reforms such as the abolition of slavery, and culminating in the enactment of Bhutan's Constitution. The first democratic elections in Bhutan began in 2007, and all levels of government had been democratically elected by 2011. These elections included Bhutan's first ever partisan National Assembly election. Democratization in Bhutan has been marred somewhat by the intervening large-scale expulsion and flight of Bhutanese refugees during the 1990s; the subject remains somewhat taboo in Bhutanese politics. Bhutan was ranked 13th most electoral democratic country in Asia according to V-Dem Democracy indices in 2023 with a score of 0.535 out of 1.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Women in Bhutan</span> Overview of the status of women in Bhutan

Economic development in the country of Bhutan has increased opportunities for women to participate in fields such as medicine, teaching, and administration. Women were providing more labor than men in all sectors of the economy. Less than 4 percent of the total female work force was unemployed, compared with nearly 10 percent of men who had no occupation. In particular, nearly 10 percent of government employees were women by 1989. During their government careers, women civil servants were allowed three months of maternity leave with full pay for three deliveries and leave without pay for any additional deliveries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Law of Bhutan</span>

The law of Bhutan derives mainly from legislation and treaties. Prior to the enactment of the Constitution, laws were enacted by fiat of the King of Bhutan. The law of Bhutan originates in the semi-theocratic Tsa Yig legal code, and was heavily influenced through the twentieth century by English common law. As Bhutan democratizes, its government has examined many countries' legal systems and modeled its reforms after their laws.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bhutan–Nepal relations</span> Bilateral relations

Bhutan–Nepal relations refer to the bilateral relations between the Bhutan and Nepal. Relations were formally established in 1983. The two Himalayan countries are both landlocked, separated only by the Indian State of Sikkim. Both countries are bordered by India and the People's Republic of China. However, the current state of relations remains strained owing to the Bhutanese refugee crisis.

Capital punishment in Bhutan was abolished on March 20, 2004 and is prohibited by the 2008 Constitution. The prohibition appears among a number of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution; while some fundamental rights—such as voting, land ownership, and equal pay—extend only to Bhutanese citizens, the prohibition on capital punishment applies to all people within the kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dratshang Lhentshog</span> Bhutanese government agency

The Dratshang Lhentshog is the Commission for the Monastic Affairs of Bhutan. Under the 2008 Constitution, it is the bureaucracy that oversees the Drukpa Kagyu sect of Buddhism, which is the state religion of Bhutan. Although Bhutan has a state religion, the role of the religious bureaucracy is ideally meant to complement secular institutions within a dual system of government.

The Tsa Yig is any monastic constitution or code of moral discipline based on codified Tibetan Buddhist precepts. Every Tibetan monastery and convent had its own Tsa Yig, and the variation in Tsa Yig content shows a degree of autonomy and internal democracy.

Taxation in Bhutan is conducted by the national government and by its subsidiary local governments. All taxation is ultimately overseen by the Bhutan Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue and Customs, which is part of the executive Lhengye Zhungtshog (cabinet). The modern legal basis for taxation in Bhutan derives from legislation. Several acts provide for taxation and enforcement only germane to their subject matter and at various levels of government, while a smaller number provide more comprehensive substantive tax law. As a result, the tax scheme of Bhutan is highly decentralized.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slavery in Bhutan</span> History of slavery in Bhutan until its abolition in 1958

Slavery in Bhutan was a common legal, economic, and social institution until its abolition in 1958. In historical records, unfree labourers in Bhutan were referred to as slaves, coolies, and serfs. These labourers originated mostly in and around Bhutan, Assam, and Sikkim, and were the backbone of Bhutan's pre-money feudal economy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Archery in Bhutan</span>

Archery in Bhutan is the national sport of the Kingdom. Archery was declared the national sport in 1971, when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Since then, the popularity of Bhutanese archery has increased both inside and outside Bhutan, with a measure of government promotion. Bhutan also maintains an Olympic archery team. Previously, competitions were held only at dzongkhag and gewog levels, however modernly, archery tournaments and competitions are held throughout the country. Archery is played during religious and secular public holidays in Bhutan, local festivals (tsechu), between public ministries and departments, and between the dzonkhag and the regional teams. Archery tournaments and performances have also become a significant point of interest for tourism in Bhutan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military history of Bhutan</span>

The military history of Bhutan begins with the Battle of Five Lamas in 1634, marking Bhutan's emergence as a nation under the secular and religious leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Before Bhutan emerged as a separate nation, it remained on the periphery of Tibetan military and political influence. The region that became Bhutan was host to several battles and waves of refugees from turmoil in Tibet. After its founding, Bhutan was invaded numerous times by outside forces, namely Tibetans, Mongols, and the British. Bhutan meanwhile invaded its traditional tributaries in Sikkim, Cooch Behar, and the Duars.

HIV/AIDS in Bhutan remains a relatively rare disease among its population. It has, however, grown into an issue of national concern since Bhutan's first reported case in 1993. Despite preemptive education and counseling efforts, the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases has climbed since the early 1990s. This prompted increased government efforts to confront the spread of the disease through mainstreaming sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV prevention, grassroots education, and the personal involvement of the Bhutanese royal family in the person of Queen Mother Sangay Choden.


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