History of Bhutan

Brief History of Bhutan Summarized

A brief review of the history of Bhutan, an Asian country.

Bhutan’s early years

In 1500 BC people lived in Bhutan herding animals. In the 7th century AD Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan. In the 8th century, an Indian named Padmasambhava did much to further the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. Since then, Buddhism has been an integral part of the culture of Bhutan.

However, for centuries the people of Bhutan were disunited. Then, in 1616, Ngawang Namgyal became the spiritual leader of Bhutan. He took the title of Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Under his command, Bhutan became a united country.

Ngawang Namgyal also divided Bhutan’s government into spiritual and secular. The Zhabdrung was the spiritual leader while a person named Desi ran the secular administration.

Meanwhile, in 1627 two Portuguese Jesuit priests became the first Europeans to visit Bhutan.

The 18th century was a time of political instability in Bhutan when many Desi were killed. Meanwhile, the British were becoming increasingly powerful in India. Bhutan signed a treaty with the British for the first time in 1774.

However, Britain and Bhutan quarreled over the Duars (the lower hills of Bhutan). War finally broke out in 1864. After the war, the Duars were taken by the British.

Modern Bhutan

In 1907 Ugyen Wangchuk was elected King of Bhutan. Then, in 1910, Bhutan and Great Britain signed a treaty. Britain agreed not to interfere in Bhutan’s internal affairs as long as the Bhutanese accepted British advice on their foreign relations.

In 1947 India became independent. In 1949, India signed a treaty with Bhutan. India agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese affairs as long as Bhutan accepted India ‘s advice on its internal affairs.

In the 1960s, Bhutan ended its isolation. Bhutan joined the Colombo Plan in 1962. Bhutan joined the Universal Postal Union in 1969 and the United Nations in 1971. Meanwhile, the King of Bhutan introduced a series of reforms, although he was keen to preserve Bhutanese traditions. The king created the National Assembly and the Royal Army of Bhutan.

In 1999 satellite television was allowed for the first time in Bhutan.

Then, at the beginning of the 21st century, Bhutan became a democratic country. In 2005 the king unveiled a new constitution. The first democratic parliamentary elections were held in 2008.

Today, Bhutan is an overwhelmingly agricultural country. Any industry is a cottage industry. Currently, the population of Bhutan is 758,000.

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