Bhutan
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A Closer Look at... Bhutan
OFFICIAL NAME
Kingdom of Bhutan
GEOGRAPHY
  Located in southern Asia, between C hina and India. Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah. Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.
AREA
  46,500 sq. km. / 17,954 sq. miles
COMPARATIVE
  slightly smaller than the combined area of Vermont and New Hampshire.
POPULATION
  770,000
CAPITAL
  Thimphu (population approximately 55,000)
LITERACY
  42.2% (age 15+ and can read and write)
LANGUAGE
 

Official: Dzongkha

Other: Nepali (Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects) and Tibetan (Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects).

RELIGION
 

Lamaistic Buddhist - 75%
Hindu - 25%

Bhutan is the only official Buddhist kingdom in the world. The Bhutanese call their country Druk-yul, meaning “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. The Drukpa sect of Kagyupa Buddhism (a branch of Tibetan Buddhism) is the state religion. Buddhism is considered an integral part of Bhutanese national identity. There is a close relationship between state power and Buddhist priesthood. Non-Buddhists suffer political and social discrimination. Hinduism is also a recognized religion in Bhutan. Major Hindu festivals are national holidays and are celebrated by the royal family. Proselytism and conversion to other faiths are strictly prohibited.
Source: CSW

POLITICS
  Evolving from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Previously, various laws and Buddhist values guided the relationship between the state and the people, but currently a 39-member Drafting Committee composed of representatives of the people, judiciary, the Monastic Order, and the Royal Government are writing a Constitution which is expected to be presented to the National Assembly for ratification in 2005. Bhutan became independent from I ndia on August 8, 1949.
INCOME
  Per capita income US$ 760 a year
CURRENCY
  Ngultrum (Nu)
TIME ZONE
  GMT/UTC +6
SOURCES
  Statistics provided by a variety of sources, but mostly the U.S. State Department, the U.N. Statistics Division, and BBC News.

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