In its early history is unclear because its most of records were destroyed in a fire in its ancient capital Punakha, in 1827. Britain entered into an agreement with Bhutan to grant an annual subsidy in exchange for surrendering some border land in 1865. Britain also prompted an assembly of eminent Buddhist monks, government officials and heads of important families to unanimously select Ugyen Wangchuck as the hereditary king of Bhutan, in 1907. Subsequently Bhutan agreed to allow Britain to guide its foreign relations with an exception to its traditional relations with Tibet.
Following independence of India from the United Kingdom on August 15' 1947, India not only assumed the role of Britain in Bhutan but also signed a formal indo – Bhutanese treaty in 1949 wherein India returned the land of Bhutan amassed by Britain. At the same time India agreed to grant annual subsidies the country received from Britain and formalized its own responsibilities in defence and foreign relations of Bhutan.
The third king of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo(the title of Bhutan King) Jigme Dorji Wangchuk constituted a 130 member National Assembly to introduced a mock democratic form of government in 1953 he also discarded the policy of self-imposed isolation in international affairs. Subsequently Bhutan became members of regional and international organization. His successor King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transformed an absolute monarchy into a constitutional democracy empowering the National Assembly to impeach the King by a two-third majority. Following the first parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008, he crowned his eldest son, Jigme Kesar Namgyal Wangchuk as the fifth King of Bhutan with the title of Druk Gyalpo in November 2008. The fifth king has been educated in Boston, Oxford and the premier military academy of India.
Bhutan is a small independent sovereign country in the eastern Himalayas. It is a landlocked country bordering to the east, west and south to India and to the north by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Its official name is DrukYul – Land of Thunder dragon. Bhutan is the last stronghold of Vajreyana Buddhism, the most scholarly teaching in the Buddhist world. It is the most peaceful and almost crime free society. Beggars and homeless hardly exist in Bhutan. It may be interesting to note that the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck took an unique initiative to introduce the objective of national development was not primarily increasing the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) but Gross National Happiness(GNH)in 1970s. He sincerely believed that the economic development alone not necessarily brought about happiness.
The climate in Bhutan varies with elevation, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.
Culture and Society
Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the mid-20th century. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country's culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism is the second most dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-la. Bhutan is the first nation in the world to ban smoking. It has been illegal to smoke in public or sell tobacco.
Paro Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang is a small domestic airport that underwent upgrades through 2010. Yongphulla Airport was scheduled for completion in January 2010 but as of January 2015, the airport remains closed due to ongoing runway repair. National carrier Druk Air operates flights between Paro Airport and airports in Jakar (Bumthang Dzongkhag) and Gelephu (Sarpang Dzongkhag) on a weekly basis.
Bhutan does not have any railways, though it has entered into an agreement with India to link southern Bhutan to India's vast network by constructing an 11-mile (18 km)-long 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge rail link between Hashimara in West Bengal and Toribari in Bhutan. The construction of the railway via through Satali, Bharna Bari and Dalsingpara by Indian railways is being funded by India.
The Lateral Road is Bhutan's primary east–west corridor, connecting Phuentsholing in the southwest to Trashigang in the east. In between, the Lateral Road runs directly throughWangdue Phodrang, Trongsa and other population centres. The Lateral Road also has spurs connecting to the capital Thimphu and other major population centres such as Paroand Punakha. As with other roads in Bhutan, the Lateral Road presents serious safety concerns due to pavement conditions, sheer drops, hairpin turns, weather and landslides.