Bhutan Overview

Bhutan is well-known for its rugged, beautiful landscape and for its drive to achieve Gross National Happiness for its citizenry. The country is  landlocked, nestled in the Himalayan highlands, with India to the South and China to the North.  Bhutan’s population is about 700,000 (National Housing and Population Census, 2005).  The country has enjoyed healthy economic growth and low inflation over the last twenty years due to “sound economic management, good governance, and judicious protection of its natural resources” according to the World Bank (2004). Recent statistics show that economic growth averaged over 6.5% a year during Bhutan’s Eighth Five-Year economic development plan (1996 – 2001) and the first two years of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (2002 – 2007).

During the same period, social indicators also registered appreciable improvement and Bhutan appears to be on track to meet several of the Millennium Development Goals.  Politically, Bhutan is a monarchy. Until December 2006, it was ruled by a King whose commitment to democracy led him to devise and implement strategies that have not only yielded a highly democratic polity but his own premature and voluntary abdication at the age of 50. Under a new Constitution, Bhutan will begin its new political era with multi-party politics within a full -fledged parliamentary democracy. What is certain is that the philosophy of GNH is so well entrenched that all political parties will want to adhere to it in good faith. As such, Bhutan is expected to continue to inspire a growing section of the global society with its unique development paradigm based on equitable and sustainable growth including; Socio-economic development, Environmental Protection, Cultural Preservation and Good Governance.