The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Zealand on Bhutan


CIA on Bhutan

Refugee Resettlement in Canada Information Bulletin No. 1

The following information bulletin was handed out in the refugee camps in May 2008 to more than 15,000 Bhutanese refugees. The goal was to provide information about the Canadian resettlement process and to answer some initial questions about life in Canada.

What you need to know about Canada

  • Resettlement is the word used by Canada to describe the process of bringing you to Canada to live there permanently.
  • Refugees can apply to resettle to Canada, whether they are healthy or sick, young or old.
  • When you come to Canada to live, you will live in cities with other Canadians. You will not live in camps.
  • Refugees receive assistance to resettle in Canada.
  • Refugees who come to Canada are no longer refugees, but permanent residents, and can eventually become citizens.
  • Canada is working with other countries to support repatriation of some refugees who wish to go back to Bhutan.
  • You should contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to apply for resettlement. It doesn’t cost any money to submit an application.

Canada to offer resettlement to refugees from Bhutan in Nepal

  • Up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees will be able to come to Canada. If you want to come to Canada, you should contact the UNHCR.
  • In October 2008, Canadian officers will begin interviewing refugees who want to come to Canada. The first group of refugees will begin to arrive in Canada in early 2009.
  • Canada expects to bring all 5,000 refugees to Canada over the next four years.
  • After you have told the UNHCR that you are interested in resettlement, the UNHCR will decide whether or not to forward your application to Canada. If Canada receives your application, a Canadian officer will decide if you can come to Canada. It could take several months or more after you and your family have had your Canadian interview before you actually travel to Canada.
  • You decide whether you want to apply to resettle or not. For some people, it is the best choice to make for themselves and their families. For others, the decision may not be so simple. Canada wants to make sure you have all the correct information to make the best decision.

Who will be eligible to come to Canada

If you are interested in resettling to Canada, and are a registered refugee from Bhutan, you should tell the UNHCR. The UNHCR is distributing “Declaration of Interest” forms and will help you decide if resettlement is the best choice for you.
Canada will accept all kinds of refugees, whether you are healthy or sick, young or old. The selection is not based on job skills or education. However, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to come to Canada. You will be interviewed by a Canadian officer who will make the final decision.
The UNHCR can refer you to Canada if:
  • You have been recognized by the Government of Nepal as a refugee;
  • You participated in the 2007 UNHCR-Government of Nepal Census completed on 11 May 2007;
  • You live in one of seven refugee camps in Nepal—Beldangi-I, Beldangi-II, Beldangi-II ext, Sanischare, Goldhap, Timai and Khudunabari—or you live outside these camps but have been recognized as a refugee by the Government of Nepal as a refugee from Bhutan; and
  • The UNHCR has decided that you are someone who would benefit from going to live in another country.

Questions and answers

Q: Who can apply to resettle to Canada?
A: If you wish to be resettled, you can indicate an interest in resettling to Canada on the Declaration of Interest form distributed by the UNHCR. However, the decision as to which resettlement country a refugee will be referred will be taken by the UNHCR. If you have relatives or friends who have already gone to Canada, and if you wish to live near them, you should let the UNHCR know, and identify those family members or friends.
Q: Do education, training, work experience and age matter if I apply to come to Canada?
A: No. However, all refugees must pass medical, security and criminality examinations to come to Canada. Ultimately, it is a Canadian official who will decide if a person may come to Canada.
Q: How long will it take to go to Canada?
A: It can take several months or more from the time you are interviewed by the Canadian officer to the time you actually travel to Canada.
Q: Will we have to live in refugee camps in Canada?
A: No. There are no refugee camps in Canada. You will live in small or large communities throughout Canada. You will have help in finding a place to live and you will be free to move while in Canada. Once in Canada, you will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as other permanent residents.
Q: Can I travel with my family to Canada?
A: You and your husband or wife, and children who are 22 years old or younger can apply on the same application form and come to Canada together. Canada also tries to keep families (brothers and sisters, older children) together when they apply at the same time.
For example, an adult man, his wife, his children and his parents and brothers and sisters will all be able to come to Canada together if they apply at the same time. It is very important to tell the UNHCR officers and the Canadian officials, and to list all your family members (including all the children, brothers and sisters, parents, husband and wife), even those who don’t live in Nepal, on your application form when you apply to come to Canada.
People who are not listed on the application may not be able to come to Canada in the future. If you get married or have a baby after your interview, you must tell a Canadian official so that they can be included in your application.
Q: What help will I get in Canada?
A: You will get financial assistance to help you pay for your food and a place to live for your first year in Canada. Someone will welcome you at the airport and you will receive help to adjust to everyday life in Canada. Children will be able to go to school for free and everyone can get free health care. Depending on your needs, a group of Canadians may help you adapt to life in Canada. You will also receive help to learn English or French, the two main languages spoken in Canada, and help to find a job.
Q: Can I become a Canadian citizen?
A: Yes. You will become a permanent resident when you arrive in Canada. After three years in Canada, you may apply for Canadian citizenship.
Q: Do I need to pay money to travel to Canada?
A: The Canadian government will lend you money to pay for your own transportation to Canada and your medical examination. A loan means you will have to repay the total amount to the Government. You must start repaying the money in installments several months after you have arrived in Canada. You will have the chance to work in Canada to support yourself and your family.
Q: Can I come back to Nepal after I have been resettled? Can I go back to Bhutan someday?
A: The purpose of resettling to Canada is for you and your family to start a new life. Should you wish to travel to Nepal after you arrive in Canada, you can apply for a travel document. However, until you are a Canadian citizen, this document will not be recognized for travel to Bhutan. You may travel to Nepal or any other country if you get a visa from those countries. After three years in Canada, you can apply for Canadian citizenship and a Canadian passport.
Q: Is it cold in Canada?
A: This depends on the time of year. Most of Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperatures and weather in each season can be different from one part of the country to another. Spring (March, April and May) is a rainy season in most parts of Canada, and the weather tends to be cool. In summer (June, July, and August), the weather is very warm in most parts of the country and daytime temperatures are normally above 20°C and can sometimes rise above 30°C. In the autumn (September, October, and November), the weather cools and it can also be very rainy. During the winter months (December, January and February), the temperature in most of the country usually stays below 0°C, day and night.
Temperatures in some parts of the country sometimes drop below -25°C, while along the West Coast, the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In most of Canada, snow will be on the ground from mid-December to the middle of March. The higher in elevation and the farther north you go, the longer and colder winter becomes. During even the coldest months, however, buildings and houses are well heated, allowing people to live comfortably.
Q: Are there other refugees in Canada? Other Bhutanese?
A: Canada has a tradition of welcoming refugees to Canada. Refugees are permanent residents as soon as they arrive in Canada, and often become Canadian citizens, and live alongside other Canadians. There are Nepali speaking persons of Bhutanese, Nepali and Indian origin in many cities of Canada, but the communities are small. That is why Canada will be resettling 5,000 Bhutanese refugees — to make sure there is a Bhutanese community in the future.
Q: Can I practise my religion in Canada?
A: Yes. In Canada, one can practise one’s religion freely. Freedom of religion is one of Canada’s fundamental freedoms and is enshrined in its laws.

Bhutan: Australia

Bhutan country brief

Political overview

System of government

The Kingdom of Bhutan's first democratic elections were held in December 2007 for the National Council, Bhutan's upper house. This was followed by elections for the National Assembly, Bhutan's lower house, on 24 March 2008.
The move toward democracy began in 2000, when the Fourth King decreed that day-to-day affairs would be handled by a council of ministers. In December 2006, the King abdicated power to his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (who was crowned Fifth King on 6 November 2008), ahead of the implementation of major political reforms. A 39- member Constitution Drafting Committee was appointed by the Fourth King to draft the country's first written Constitution. The Constitution was intended to transform the absolute monarchy into a democratic system.

The 24 March 2008 Elections

Mock elections were held in April-May 2007 to educate the public on democratic processes. Following eections for the National Council on 31 December 2007, elections for the National Assembly, the lower house which determines the government, were held on 24 March 2008. Two political parties, the People's Democratic Party and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (Bhutan Harmony Party-DPT), contested the elections. Voters delivered a landslide victory to the DPT, which took 45 out of the 47 seats in the National Assembly.

Economic overview

The guiding principle of Bhutan's economic development is Gross National Happiness rather than increased Gross Domestic Product. The four pillars underlying GNH are good governance, inclusive development, conservation and preservation of Bhutan's unique culture.
Bhutan has a history of fiscal prudence and good governance, very little debt and is assisted by the nominal anchor provided by the currency peg to the Indian rupee. Bhutanese products enjoy free access to the large Indian market and India is Bhutan's main trade and development assistance partner.
Bhutan is likely to see significant revenue as new hydropower projects become operational. Steep mountains and swift flowing rivers make hydropower production a natural fit in Bhutan. Close ties between Bhutan and India have provided the necessary political will to bring such projects to fruition and also a market for Bhutan's power as India has a large energy deficit.
Bhutan's Tenth Five Year Plan (2008-2013), launched in February 2008, has a central focus of poverty reduction. The strategic priorities under this plan are:
  1. Encouraging industrial development;
  2. Promotion of balanced regional development;
  3. Integrated rural and urban development for poverty alleviation;
  4. Expanding strategic infrastructure;
  5. Investing in human capital; and
  6. Fostering good governance.
Bhutan's transition to democracy and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which Bhutan is on track to meet, underpin the Tenth Five Year Plan. The Plan aims for an economic growth rate of eight to nine per cent per year throughout the plan. In order to achieve this, it targets an agricultural growth rate of over four per cent and a non-agricultural growth rate of over ten per cent. This growth should allow Bhutan to reduce the overall poverty rate to below 15 per cent, including a rural poverty rate of less than 20 per cent. Other important social targets include:
  1. achieving an 80 per cent national literacy rate;
  2. lowering the infant mortality rate of 20 per 1000;
  3. increasing the average life expectancy to over 70;
  4. providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 95 and 96 per cent of the population respectively;
  5. providing electricity to 84 per cent of the rural population; and
  6. achieving a 15 per cent penetration rate for telecommunications across all districts.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report (2009) ranks Bhutan 132 out of 182 countries in terms of the human development index (HDI) (which measures countries' relative standing in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income Bhutan faces the challenge of matching gains from strong economic growth (6-8 per cent per annum since the mid 1980s) to rising expectations of expanding employment opportunities and welfare improvements, while preserving its environment and culture. Changed community expectations as a result of the introduction of television and the internet add to the challenge. Providing employment opportunities for an expanding and increasingly urban and educated labour force will not be easy.

Bilateral relationship

Australia and Bhutan have traditionally enjoyed warm and friendly relations, going back many years before the two countries established formal diplomatic relations on 14 September 2002. Mr Peter Varghese AO is currently Ambassador to Bhutan (accredited from New Delhi).
Australia's then Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Mr Bob McMullan visited Bhutan in April 2010 to meet representatives of Bhutan's Government and represent Australia as an observer at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. Mr McMullan met King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and members of Bhutan's Government including Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Y. Thinley during his visit. Mr McMullan reiterated Australia's commitment to continue to support Bhutan as it consolidates democracy and works to achieve the MDGs. Mr McMullan also launched Australia's $1 million assistance program for earthquake recovery to be delivered through UNICEF (further details below).
A Bhutanese Parliamentary delegation visited Australia in 2009 and met Australian parliamentarians and members of the Australian Bhutanese community. Representatives of the Australian Parliament visited Bhutan in 2010.
The then Foreign Minister of Bhutan, and now Prime Minister, Lyonpo Jigme Y. Thinley, visited Australia from 1 to 6 June 2003, accompanied by then Foreign Secretary and now Foreign Minister Ms Catherine Harris AO PSM, who is based in Sydney, is the Honorary Consul for Bhutan in Australia. Bhutan's Ambassador in Bangkok is accredited to Australia.
In September 2008, Mr Tim Fischer was appointed as Australia's Special Envoy to Bhutan. Mr Fischer has a long-standing personal association with Bhutan and has visited on several occasions. He co-authored a book about Bhutan entitled “Bold Bhutan Beckons” which was published in 2009.
An Australia-Bhutan Friendship Association (ABFA) was launched on 3 March 2003 in Thimphu to promote information exchanges and networking between the people of the two countries.

Bilateral Aid Program

Australia has a long standing bilateral aid program in Bhutan, which was first established under the Colombo Plan. A large number of Bhutanese officials have received education or training in Australia. Over the past few years new areas of bilateral cooperation have developed including agricultural research, training for police officers, electoral assistance, assistance to Bhutan's vocational education sector and forestry planning.
Australia will provide an estimated $5.3 million in total aid flows to Bhutan in 2010-11. Most of this assistance will be in the form of Australian Development Scholarships. For further information refer to the website of AusAID.
Australia has supported the World Food Program School Feeding Program in Bhutan since 2001. This program has been successful in improving school attendance and providing children with valuable nutrients.
In 2010 Australia provided Bhutan with $1 million to assist with reconstruction efforts following a major earthquake in September 2009. The money has been distributed through UNICEF and used to rebuild and improve water and sanitation facilities in schools in the affected district.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has been working with Bhutan to improve mandarin production (Bhutan's largest horticultural export). The project is being implemented in collaboration with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and focuses on the production of disease-free planting material, pest and disease control and best-practice production techniques.
Updated October 2010

BHUTAN: In US Records

February 2, 2010Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs

Background Note: Bhutan

Official Name: Kingdom of Bhutan


Area: 46,500 sq. km.
Cities: Capital--Thimphu (pop. approx. 55,000) Other significant cities--Paro, Phoentsholing, Punakha, Bumthong.
Terrain: Mountainous, from the Himalayas to lower-lying foothills and some savannah.
Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical with monsoon season from June to September.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Bhutanese.
Population: Approximately 672,425 (according to the 2005 census). Domestic and international estimates of the population vary greatly.
Annual population growth rate (2007 est.): 2.082%. Density--45 per sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Drukpa 50% (which is also inclusive of Sharchops), as well as ethnic Nepalese (Lhotsampas) 35%, and indigenous or migrant tribes 15%.
Religions: Lamaistic Buddhist 75% (state religion), Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%.
Languages: Dzongkha (official language), Bumthang-kha, English (medium of instruction), Sharchop-kha, Nepali.
Education: Years compulsory--11. Literacy--59.5% (Ministry of Education General Statistics 2007). Primary school net enrollment rate 82.1% (UNDP). Women's literacy--59.5% (2007).
Health: Infant mortality rate (2007 est.)--total: 96.37 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 94.09 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 98.77 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy --total population 67 years; male 69.1 years; female 59.5 years (Ministry of Education General Statistics 2007).
Work force (2005): Agriculture--94%; industry--1%; services--5%. The unemployment rate is 3.1% (2005 est.).

Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: The Royal Government, prompted by the King, initiated a draft constitution in 2003, which was published in 2005. On July 18, 2008, the parliament formally adopted the constitution, marking the final step in Bhutan's historic transition from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy.
Branches: Executive--prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--parliament (National Council and National Assembly). The king appoints five members of the National Council and the remaining members are elected. Elections for the National Council (upper house) took place in December 2007. The 47-member National Assembly (lower house) was elected in March 2008. Judicial--High Court (Thrimkhang Gogma), District Courts, and local area arbitration.
National Day: December 17 (1907).
Administrative subdivisions (dzongkhags): 20.
Political parties: Two. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Suffrage: Registered resident with legitimate citizenship, age 18 and above.

GDP (purchasing power parity 2007 est.): U.S. $3.359 billion.
Real growth rate (2007): 8.5%.
Per capita GDP PPP (2007 est.): U.S. $5,200.
Natural resources: hydroelectricity, timber, limestone, clay, and slate.
Sectors as percent of GDP (all figures, 2006-2007): Agriculture--22.3%; industry--37.9%; services--39.8%.
Trade: Principal exports (2006-2007)--electricity 26.5%, recorded media 16.8%, palm oil 7.4%, copper wire 6.2%. Principal imports (2006-2007)--diesel fuel 7.9%, copper wires 7.3%, crude palm oil 5.5%, petrol 3.1%. Major trade partners--India, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Singapore, and Thailand.

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three broad ethnic categories--Ngalops, Sharchops, and Lhotsampas. The Ngalops make up the majority of the population, living mostly in the western and central areas. The Ngalops are thought to be of Tibetan origin, arriving in Bhutan during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. and bringing Buddhism with them. Most Ngalops follow the Drukpa Kagyupa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. In a country that is deeply rooted within the Buddhist religion, many people's sect of religion, as opposed to their ethnic group, characterizes them. The Ngalops predominate in the government, and the civil service and their cultural norms have been declared by the monarchy to be the standard for all citizens.

The Sharchops, who live in the eastern section of Bhutan, are considered to be descendants of the earliest major group to inhabit Bhutan. Most follow the Ningmapa discipline of Mahayana Buddhism. Sharchop is translated as "people of the east." The Ngalops, Sharchops, and the indigenous tribal people are collectively known as Drukpas and account for about 65% of the population. The national language is Dzongkha, but English is the language of instruction in schools and an official working language for the government.

The Lhotsampas are people of Nepali descent, currently making up 35% of the population. They came to Bhutan in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly settling in the southern foothills to work as farmers. They speak a variety of Nepali dialects and are predominantly Hindu.

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country's political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.

In 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended the throne at age 16. He emphasized modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments. He was perhaps best known internationally for his overarching development philosophy of "Gross National Happiness." It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient. Satisfied with Bhutan's transitioning democratization process, he abdicated in December 2006 rather than wait until the promulgation of the new constitution in 2008. His son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, became King upon his abdication.

Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan completed its successful transition to a constitutional monarchy in 2008. Bhutanese officials began preparations for the first-ever elections in 2006, shortly before King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in December 2006. The National Council of the new bicameral parliament was elected in December 2007, and National Assembly elections followed in March 2008. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) won 44 out of 47 seats in the latter election in which 80% of the 320,000 registered voters cast a ballot.

Migration by Nepalis into southern Bhutan began in the early 19th century. Currently these and other ethnic Nepalis, referred to as Lhotsampas, comprise 35% of Bhutan's population. In 1988, the government census led to the branding of many ethnic Nepalis as illegal immigrants. Local Lhotshampa leaders responded with anti-government rallies demanding citizenship and attacks against government institutions. Between 1988-1993, thousands of ethnic Nepalis fled to refugee camps in Nepal alleging ethnic and political repression. As of January 20, 2010, 85,544 refugees resided in seven camps. Bhutan and Nepal have been working for over seven years to resolve the refugee problem and repatriate certain refugees living in Nepal. The resettlement of Bhutanese refugees from the camps in Nepal to the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand is proceeding, with over 26,000 refugees repatriated to third countries (over 23,000 are now settled in the U.S.). The transition to democracy may improve the situation: of its 47 candidates, the DPT fielded nine Nepali speakers. Officials from both the DPT and PDP have said that resolving the grievances of ethnic Nepalis is a priority.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo--the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions--is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.

Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. Larger dzongkhags are further divided into subdistricts called dungkhags. A group of villages are grouped to form a constituency called gewog, administered by a locally elected leader entitled a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Prime Minister--Jigme Y. Thinley
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ugyen Tshering
Minister for Economic Affairs--Khandu Wangchuk
Minister for Trade and Industry--Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba
Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs--Minjur Dorji
Minister for Finance--Wangdi Norbu
Minister for Education--Thakur Singh Powdyel
Minister for Health--Zangley Dukpa
Minister for Labor and Human Resources--Dorji Wangdi
Minister for Works and Human Settlements--Yeshey Zimba
Minister for Information and Communications--Nandalal Rai
Minister for Agriculture--Pema Gyamtsho
Ambassador to the United Nations Headquarters--Lyonpo Daw Penjo

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have warm informal relations.

Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.

The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on hydroelectricity, tourism, agriculture, and forestry. Rugged terrain makes it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. Despite this constraint, hydroelectricity and construction continue to be the two major industries of growth for the country. As these two economic sectors contribute to increased productivity, Bhutan's development prospects are positive. The Tala hydroelectric project, completed March 2007, has bolstered government revenue and exports, and will continue to do so for the next several years. In late 2009, Bhutan signed four memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with India to prepare four additional hydroelectric projects in Bhutan.

The Bhutanese Government expects the tourism sector to expand as well; however, restrictions on visitor numbers and minimum per-day spending requirements will impede rapid growth.

Bhutan's tenth five-year plan (2008-2013) focuses on ways to manage the country's new-found wealth with special emphasis on three development areas: rural, regional, and private-sector. India has pledged to support the plan and promised to double the amount of aid given to Bhutan in the previous five-year plan. The parliament had not yet finalized the tenth five-year plan as of October 2008; it intended to do so during the next session later in 2008.

Bhutan's economy has been on an upturn due to recent subregional economic cooperation efforts. Already this plan has strengthened the current trade relations with India, as well as opened an avenue of trade with Bangladesh. In May 2003, the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan was re-signed. Bangladesh is Bhutan's second largest trade partner, after India. In January 2004, as a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bhutan also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA); Bhutan will host the SAARC summit in Thimphu in April 2010. In February 2004 Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of developing clear legal and regulatory systems designed to promote business development


India is Bhutan's largest trade and development partner, providing significant amounts of foreign aid and investment. Traditionally, the 1949 Treaty of Peace and Friendship governed relations between the countries. In February 2007, India and Bhutan signed a new treaty removing the clause that India will "guide" Bhutan's foreign policy and allowing Bhutan to purchase military equipment from other countries. However, bilateral ties remain close, demonstrated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's May 2008 visit to Thimpu during which he addressed the newly elected parliament. Prime Minister Jigme Thinley returned the gesture when he made his first official trip abroad as prime minister to New Delhi in July 2008; King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck also visited India in December 2009.

In recent years, insurgents on the Indian side of the border from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodos have used Bhutan as a safe haven. In December 2003, Bhutan military troops expelled Indian insurgents from Assam. Through this joint effort with India, Bhutan strengthened border security and continued cooperation with the Indian military.

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations, although they have engaged in 19 rounds of high-level talks regarding a border dispute over three Chinese-built roads which the Bhutanese Government alleges encroach on its territory. Although the current official trade between the countries is minimal, the Chinese Government announced that trade had increased by 3,000% from 2006 to 2007.

Bhutan and Nepal established diplomatic relations in 1983 and are still negotiating a solution to a protracted refugee situation, in which over 85,000 refugees reside in seven UNHCR camps in Nepal. Most of the refugees claim Bhutanese citizenship, while Bhutan alleges that they are non-nationals or "voluntary emigrants," who forfeited their citizenship rights. In 2003, a joint Bhutan-Nepal verification team categorized refugees from one camp into four groups, but progress remains stalled. Out of these refugee camps have arisen several insurgent groups, such as the Bhutan Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), the Bhutan Tiger Force, and the United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan. Bhutanese security forces blamed these groups for a series of bombings targeting the country in the lead-up to the 2008 parliamentary elections.

United Nations
Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Bhutan was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and served until 2006.

Other Countries
Bhutan enjoys diplomatic relations with seven European nations, which form The "Friends of Bhutan" group, together with Japan. These countries are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. Also known as donor nations, they contribute generously to Bhutanese development and social programs. Bhutan also has diplomatic relations with South Korea, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

Bhutan has 8,000 members in five military branches: the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard, National Militia, Royal Bhutan Police, and Forest Guards. In FY 2002, the Bhutanese Government spent 1.9% of its GDP on the military or U.S. $9.3 million. India maintains a permanent military training presence in Bhutan through IMTRAT, the Indian Military Training Team.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibilities for Bhutan, but U.S. citizens also may request assistance from U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, or Dhaka, Bangladesh. The United States and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States does not give foreign assistance to Bhutan. Informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy and the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. Bhutan does participate in a regional program for South Asia sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries develop their power infrastructure (SARI-E). A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to United States through its International Visitors and Fulbright Programs.

Principal U.S. Officials (U.S. Embassy, India)
Ambassador--Timothy J. Roemer
Deputy Chief of Mission--Steven White
Public Affairs--Michael Pelletier
Political Affairs--Uzra Zeya
Economic and Scientific Affairs--Blair Hall
Commercial Affairs--Carmine D'Aloisio
Agricultural Affairs--Holly Higgins
Management Affairs--Gerri O'Brien
Consular Affairs--James Herman
USAID Mission, Director--Erin Soto

Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, Trip Registration
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at, where current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. The website also includes information about passports, tips for planning a safe trip abroad and more. More travel-related information also is available at
Date: 07/01/2011 Description: QR code for Smart Traveler IPhone App. - State Dept ImageThe Department's Smart Traveler app for U.S. travelers going abroad provides easy access to the frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more that appear on the site. Travelers can also set up e-tineraries to keep track of arrival and departure dates and make notes about upcoming trips. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.0 or later).
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). A link to the registration page is also available through the Department's Smart Traveler app. U.S. citizens without internet access can enroll directly at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By enrolling, you make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and so you can receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Health Information
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health Information for International Travel" can be found at
More Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including more Background Notes, the Department's daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
Mobile Sources. Background Notes are available on mobile devices at, or use the QR code below.
Date: 07/01/2011 Description: QR code for Background Notes - State Dept Image

In addition, a mobile version of the Department's website is available at, or use the QR code below. Included on this site are Top Stories, remarks and speeches by Secretary Clinton, Daily Press Briefings, Country Information, and more.
Date: 02/09/2011 Description: QR Code for - State Dept Image