Capital : Thimphu
Languages - Dzongha, Nepali, Assamese, English
Religions - Buddhist, Hindu, Sunni Muslim
This landlocked country in the eastern Himalayan mountains was ruled by Tibet from the c16th and China from 1720. The British East India Company made a treaty with the ruler of Bhutan in 1774 and British influence grew during the C19th. After a short border war in 1863, a treaty was signed in 1865 in which Britain paid Bhutan an annual subsidy. The first hereditary monarch was established in 1907 and under the Anglo-Bhutanese treaty of 1910, the country was given internal autonomy although foreign relations were controlled by the British government of India.
India became independent in 1947 and the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1949. Bhutan agreed to ask Indian advice on foreign relations but not necessarily to accept it. When China annexed Tibet in 1959, over 4000 Tibetan refugees came to Bhutan. Many of them stayed on when they were asked to choose between taking Bhutanese citizenship and returning to Tibet but the rest moved to India. Bhutan was a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in 1983.
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk came to power in 1952 and a national assembly was established in 1953. The king appointed his first cabinet in 1968 but died in 1972 and was suceeded by his western-educated son, Jigme Singye Wangchuk. In 1988, he imposed the language, religion and national dress of his own people, the Dzongkha ethnic minority, on the principally Hindu-Nepali majority, suppressing Nepalese language and customs. From 1989, hundreds of thousands of non-Bhutanese were deported and tensions between the Dzongkha and Hindu Nepalese increased. A number of illegal political parties were formed to protest against Dzongkha policies and several hundred people were reported killed in pro-democracy demonstrations.
Jigme Dorji Wangchuk
Jigme Singye Wangchuk
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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