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capital of Bhutan, Thunder Dragon, constitutional monarchy, Thimphu, Dzongkha

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Bhutan, monarchy in South Asia, in the eastern Himalayas, on the Indian subcontinent. It is bounded on the north by the Tibet region of China, and to the south, east, and west by India. During most of its early history, Bhutan was divided into a number of independent principalities located in the major valleys. A unified Bhutan emerged with a dual system of civil and spiritual rule in the 16th century. Since 1907 it has been ruled by a hereditary monarch of the Wangchuck family. Bhutan remained a secluded country until the 1950s. In 1960 the government began to transform the country into a modern nation with economic aid from India. While the development process has gained considerable momentum in recent years, Bhutan is still grouped by the United Nations (UN) among the least developed countries of the world. Democratic reforms began to be introduced in 1998, launching Bhutan’s transition from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy. The name Bhutan means “Land of the Thunder Dragon” in Dzongkha, the country’s official language. The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu.



Armington, Stan. Lonely Planet Bhutan. Lonely Planet, 1998. Informative guide to the wonders of Bhutan.

Crossette, Barbara. So Close to Heaven: Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms. Knopf, 1995. Contemporary American account and discovery of Bhutan and Buddhism.

Dompnier, Robert. Bhutan: Kingdom of the Dragon. Shambhala , 1999. A striking photographic journey through an isolated Buddhist culture.

Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. Nepal and Bhutan, Country Studies. 3rd ed.. Library of Congress, 1993. Concise overview of political, economic, social, and cultural systems.

Schicklgruber, Christian, and Francoise Pommaret, eds. Bhutan: Mountain Fortress of the Gods. Shambhala, 1997. Accounts of history, culture, and religion coupled with stunning photographs.


Karan, Pradyumna P., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington. Author of Bhutan, Environment, Culture, and Development Strategy, Nepal: Development and Change in a Landlocked IGngdom, and other books.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

capital of Bhutan, Thunder Dragon, constitutional monarchy, Thimphu, Dzongkha, eastern Himalayas, Indian subcontinent, developed countries, South Asia, official language, development process, early history, United Nations, world, century, transition, west, Land, government, recent years

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