macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Bhutan

Map of Bhutan

Bhutan (its capital Thimphu) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Bhutan's economy, small and less developed, is based largely on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than half of the population. Because rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive, industrial production is primarily of the cottage industry type. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and is dependent on India for financial assistance and migrant laborers for development projects, especially for road construction. Multilateral development organizations administer most educational, social, and environment programs, and take into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. Bhutan's largest export - hydropower to India - is creating employment and will probably sustain growth in the coming years. Only 5% of Bhutan's 30,000 megawatt hydropower potential is currently tapped. The large amount of equipment needed to import materials to build hydropower plants has expanded Bhutan's trade and current account deficits. Bhutan's GDP has rebounded strongly since the global recession began in 2008. Bhutan hopes to play a larger role in regional economic integration as a member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation."

Economic growth rate
2011: 8.1%
2010: 8.3%
2009: 6.7%

Labor force in agriculture
2004: 43.7%

Unemployment rate
2009: 4%

Health expenditures
2009: 5.5% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 35%

Ethnic groups
Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%

Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%

Net migration rate
2012: zero


This is a landlocked and mostly mountainous country, about half the size of Indiana, between China and India.


Unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, can remove a monarch with two-thirds vote. Village-level elections with one vote per family. National Assembly consists of 105 members elected at the village level, 10 representative from religious bodies and 35 appointed by the monarch.  Capital: Thimphu

Recent History

Independence from India in 1949.

In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.