Bhutan. In February, Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk, King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk’s and Queen Jetsun Pema’s first-born son were born. According to countryaah, the current population of Bhutan is 771,619. The little boy thus became the crown prince of the mountain kingdom and took over after his uncle as the first in the throne. In honor of the Crown Prince, thousands of volunteers planted a total of 108,000 trees in the country.
In August, China expressed its interest in establishing diplomatic relations with Bhutan. The play came in connection with Bhutan Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji meeting with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. According to thereligionfaqs, China and Bhutan have long disputed the boundary between the two countries.
In September, Bhutan announced that the country would not attend the South Asian Regional Cooperation Organization (SAARC) summit in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad in November. The Bhutanese authorities referred to the rising terrorism in the region which severely impaired the chances of holding a successful meeting.
History. – It is only a few years ago that the story of Bhutan begins to be known in its broad outline. Until the beginning of the 17th century, Bhutan was only a marginal region of Tibet without a proper political organization. Then an internal dispute of the lamaist sect ‘Brug-pa over the succession of its leader led to the flight in Bhutan (1616) of the unsuccessful candidate Ṅag-dbaṅ-rnamrgyal (1594-1651). He gave the country an ecclesiastical organization and an embryo of state institutions; the country was named ‘Brug-yul from that of the dominant sect (Bhutan is the Indian name). After the death of the founder there was a deleterious fluctuation in the systems of succession: inheritance, election, incarnation. The latter form took over and from the end of the 17th century the Bhutan was nominally ruled by an incarnation of Ṅag-dbaṅ-rnamrgyal called ž abs – dru ṅ or rgyal – ts ‛ ab (Dharma Raja for Indians and Europeans). The actual government instead soon passed into the hands of a regent (sde – srid, Deb Raja for the Indians), usually secular, appointed for a term of three years and representing the interests of the ruling aristocracy; in the latter emerged the governors of the six districts, of which the most influential were those of Paro and Tongsa.
Repeated attempts by the Dalai-Lama to subdue the Bhutan to Tibet (1644-47, 1657, 1676-78) and other Tibetan interventions in the internal quarrels of the country (1714, 1731) were unsuccessful and the country remained independent from the point of view religious as well as political. In the 18th century, some expansion to the south took place, where the state of Kuch Bihar in North Bengal recognized the high dominance of Bhutan for several decades. This led to a conflict with the English, which resulted in the 1774 treaty pushing the Bhutanese back to their mountains. Further frictions led to another short war (1864-65), which cost the Bhutan some sacrifices of territory, but not independence.
Meanwhile the old regime had degenerated into a feudal anarchy, in which the authority of the sde – srid was almost nil and in which even China tried to intervene. Finally, the civil war of 1885 saw the final victory of the governor of Tongsa, U-rgyan-dbaṅ-p‛yug (1861-1926). The last sde-srid (a great lama) resigned his office in 1905 and U-rgyan-dbaṅ-p‛yug, in agreement with the Indian government, on December 17, 1907 proclaimed himself hereditary ruler (‘Brug rgyal – po, Maharaja for the Indians), obtaining in the following years the submission of all the other feudal lords. The last ž abs – dru ṅ he died in 1933 and his reincarnation was not allowed. A treaty concluded with England in 1910 recognized the internal independence of Bhutan, whose relations with foreign countries, however, passed under British control. Under the second ruler ‘Jigs-med-dbaṅ-p‛yug (1926-1952) the Indian republic, with the treaty of 8 August 1949, assumed the position already held by England and returned some strips of territory ceded by Bhutan in 1865. Under ‘Jigs-med-rdo-rje-dbaṅ-p‛yug (1952-1972), which in 1963 assumed the royal title outwardly, Bhutan was admitted to the UN (1971).
At the same time, the first steps were taken towards a modernization of the country. In 1952 a kind of parliament was established (ts ‛ ogs – ‘ du) and four years later agrarian and social reforms began, such as the abolition of serfdom, construction of roads, etc. Economic development naturally availed itself of Indian support, especially after Prime Minister Nehru’s visit to Bhutan (1958). These innovations, however modest, did not go without repercussions. In 1964 the prime minister was assassinated and shortly thereafter there was a failed coup d’état and an attempt on the sovereign. But this did nothing but speed up the times; and there were construction of hospitals, schools, power plants, etc. In 1968 the Bhutan formally became a constitutional monarchy. The progressive policy of the ruler, who died in 1972, was continued by his young son and successor ‘Jigs-med-seṅ-ge-dbaṅ-p‛yug.