History of Bhutan

History Of Bhutan

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 BC, but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century, when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century, 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.

Bhutan is the only country which has been independent throughout its history, never conquered, occupied, or governed by an outside power. Although there has been speculation that it was under the Kamarupa Kingdom or the Tibetan Empire in the 7th to 9th centuries, firm evidence is lacking. From the time historical records are clear, Bhutan has continuously and successfully defended its sovereignty.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawanag Namgyal, a lama from western Tibet known as the Shabdrung Rinpoche, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified the Tsa Yig, an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler 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 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 20. 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.

Read more about History Of Bhutan:  Origins and Early Settlement, AD 600–1600, Establishment of The Hereditary Monarchy, 1907, Development of Centralized Government, 1926–52, Modernization Under Jigme Dorji, 1952–72, International Relations, 1972–present

Famous quotes containing the words history of and/or history:

    We are told that men protect us; that they are generous, even chivalric in their protection. Gentlemen, if your protectors were women, and they took all your property and your children, and paid you half as much for your work, though as well or better done than your own, would you think much of the chivalry which permitted you to sit in street-cars and picked up your pocket- handkerchief?
    Mary B. Clay, U.S. suffragist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4, ch. 3, by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper (1902)

    It gives me the greatest pleasure to say, as I do from the bottom of my heart, that never in the history of the country, in any crisis and under any conditions, have our Jewish fellow citizens failed to live up to the highest standards of citizenship and patriotism.
    William Howard Taft (1857–1930)