Photos of Bhutan

- The Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Taktshang Goemba), Bhutan’s most famous monastery, is built on the side of a cliff 2,950 m (9,678 ft) above the Paro Valley. The Buddhist monastery is built into the rock face and can be accessed from several directions. Guru Rinpoche is credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. According to a legend, the Guru Rinpoche (the second Buddha) founded the monastery after flying from Tibet to Bhutan on the back of a tigress to subdue a demon, Singye Samdrup, who was troubling the valley’s resident. He meditated at the site for three months and anointed it as a monastery. The first monastery was built in 1692, but due to fires and age, the structure was rebuilt numerous times. The most recent reconstruction was completed in 2005, following a fire in 1998.

Introduction

Background

After Britain’s victory in the 1865 Duar War, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding land to British India. Ugyen WANGCHUCK -- who had served as the de facto ruler of an increasingly unified Bhutan and had improved relations with the British toward the end of the 19th century -- was named king in 1907. Three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs, and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs. Bhutan negotiated a similar arrangement with independent India in 1949. The Indo-Bhutanese Treaty of Friendship returned to Bhutan a small piece of the territory annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. Under a succession of modernizing monarchs beginning in the 1950s, Bhutan joined the UN in 1971 and slowly continued its engagement beyond its borders.

In 2005, King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK unveiled the draft of Bhutan's first constitution -- which introduced major democratic reforms -- and held a national referendum for its approval. The King abdicated the throne in 2006 in favor of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK. In 2007, India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty, eliminating the clause that stated that Bhutan would be "guided by" India in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate closely with New Delhi. In 2008, Bhutan held its first parliamentary election in accordance with the constitution. Bhutan experienced a peaceful turnover of power following a parliamentary election in 2013, which resulted in the defeat of the incumbent party. In 2018, the incumbent party again lost the parliamentary election. In 2024, of the more than 100,000 ethnic Nepali -- predominantly Lhotshampa -- refugees who fled or were forced out of Bhutan in the 1990s, about 6,500 remain displaced in Nepal.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates

27 30 N, 90 30 E

Area

total: 38,394 sq km

land: 38,394 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 136

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Maryland; about one-half the size of Indiana

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 1,136 km

border countries (2): China 477 km; India 659 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas

Terrain

mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna

Elevation

highest point: Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m

lowest point: Drangeme Chhu 97 m

mean elevation: 2,220 m

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate

Land use

agricultural land: 13.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 85.5% (2018 est.)

other: 0.9% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

320 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

violent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's Bhutanese name, which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season

Geography - note

landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes

People and Society

Population

total: 884,546

male: 457,665

female: 426,881 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 165; male 163; total 165

Nationality

noun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)

adjective: Bhutanese

Ethnic groups

Ngalop (also known as Bhote) 50%, ethnic Nepali 35% (predominantly Lhotshampas), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%

Languages

Sharchopkha 28%, Dzongkha (official) 24%, Lhotshamkha 22%, other 26% (includes foreign languages) (2005 est.)

Religions

Lamaistic Buddhist 75.3%, Indian- and Nepali-influenced Hinduism 22.1%, other 2.6% (2005 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.1% (male 104,771/female 99,981)

15-64 years: 70.2% (male 322,497/female 298,324)

65 years and over: 6.7% (2024 est.) (male 30,397/female 28,576)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 40.7

youth dependency ratio: 32.1

elderly dependency ratio: 8.6

potential support ratio: 11.1 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 30.7 years (2024 est.)

male: 31.1 years

female: 30.3 years

comparison ranking: total 134

Population growth rate

0.95% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 98

Birth rate

15.3 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 106

Death rate

5.9 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 158

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 92

Urbanization

urban population: 44.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.52% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

203,000 THIMPHU (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female

total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

60 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 92

Infant mortality rate

total: 24.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 24.6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 23.9 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 63

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.7 years (2024 est.)

male: 72.5 years

female: 75 years

comparison ranking: total population 147

Total fertility rate

1.76 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 147

Gross reproduction rate

0.86 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.5% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 99.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.5% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0.2% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

4.4% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.5 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.7 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 90.8% of population

rural: 83.1% of population

total: 86.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 9.2% of population

rural: 16.9% of population

total: 13.6% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

6.4% (2016)

comparison ranking: 168

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.07 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.05 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 179

Education expenditures

7% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 22

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 70.9%

male: 77.9%

female: 62.8% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 13 years (2018)

Environment

Environment - current issues

soil erosion; limited access to potable water; wildlife conservation; industrial pollution; waste disposal

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Climate

varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas

Land use

agricultural land: 13.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 85.5% (2018 est.)

other: 0.9% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 44.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.52% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

1.89% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 37

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 64

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 26.1 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.26 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.11 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 111,314 tons (2007 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 957 tons (2016 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 0.9% (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 3 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

agricultural: 320 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

78 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan

conventional short form: Bhutan

local long form: Druk Gyalkhap

local short form: Druk Yul

etymology: named after the Bhotia, the ethnic Tibetans who migrated from Tibet to Bhutan; "Bod" is the Tibetan name for their land; the Bhutanese name "Druk Yul" means "Land of the Thunder Dragon"

Government type

constitutional monarchy

Capital

name: Thimphu

geographic coordinates: 27 28 N, 89 38 E

time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the origins of the name are unclear; the traditional explanation, dating to the 14th century, is that thim means "dissolve" and phu denotes "high ground" to express the meaning of "dissolving high ground," in reference to a local deity that dissolved before a traveler's eyes, becoming a part of the rock on which the present city stands

Administrative divisions

20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Lhuentse, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatshel, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang, Zhemgang

Independence

17 December 1907 (became a unified kingdom under its first hereditary king); 8 August 1949 (Treaty of Friendship with India maintains Bhutanese independence)

National holiday

National Day (Ugyen WANGCHUCK became first hereditary king), 17 December (1907)

Constitution

history: previous governing documents were various royal decrees; first constitution drafted November 2001 to March 2005, ratified 18 July 2008

amendments: proposed as a motion by simple majority vote in a joint session of Parliament; passage requires at least a three-fourths majority vote in a joint session of the next Parliament and assent by the king

Legal system

civil law based on Buddhist religious law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Bhutan

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK (since 14 December 2006)

head of government: Prime Minister Tshering TOBGAY (since 28 January 2024)

cabinet: Council of Ministers or Lhengye Zhungtshog members nominated by the monarch in consultation with the prime minister and approved by the National Assembly; members serve 5-year terms

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary but can be removed by a two-thirds vote of Parliament; leader of the majority party in Parliament is nominated as the prime minister, appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Chi Tshog consists of:
non-partisan National Council or Gyelyong Tshogde (25 seats; 20 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 5 members appointed by the king; members serve 5-year terms)

National Assembly or Tshogdu (47 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies in a two-round system; in the primary round, contesting political parties are directly selected by simple majority vote; in the main round, the two top parties in the primary round field candidates who are directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)


elections: National Council - last held on 20 April 2023 (next to be held in 2028)
National Assembly - first round held on 30 November 2023 with a runoff on 9 January 2024 (next to be held in 2028)

election results: National Council - seats by party - independent 20 (all candidates ran as independents) and 5 appointed by the king; composition - men 22, women 3, percentage women 12%

National Assembly - percent of vote by party in first round - PDP 42.5%, BTP 19.6%, DPT 14.9%, DNT 13.1% DTT 9.8%; percent of vote in second round - PDP 55%, BTP 45%; seats by party PDP 30, BTP 17; composition - men 45, women 2, percentage women 4.3%; total percentage women in Parliament 6.9%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 4 associate justices); note - the Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction in constitutional matters

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the monarch upon the advice of the National Judicial Commission, a 4-member body to include the Legislative Committee of the National Assembly, the attorney general, the Chief Justice of Bhutan and the senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; other judges (drangpons) appointed by the monarch from among the High Court judges selected by the National Judicial Commission; chief justice serves a 5-year term or until reaching age 65 years, whichever is earlier; the 4 other judges serve 10-year terms or until age 65, whichever is earlier

subordinate courts: High Court (first appellate court); District or Dzongkhag Courts; sub-district or Dungkhag Courts

Political parties and leaders

Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) or DPT [Dorji WANGDI]
Bhutan Tendrel Party or BTP (Pema CHEWANG)
Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa or DTT [Kinga TSHERING]
People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tshering TOBGAY]
United Party of Bhutan (Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa) or DNT [Lotay TSHERING]

International organization participation

ADB, BIMSTEC, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations (vacant); Chargé d'Affaires Phuntsho NORBU (since October 2022); note - also serving as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN

telephone: [1] (212) 682-2371

FAX: [1] (212) 661-0551

email address and website:
consulate.pmbny@mfa.gov.bt

https://www.mfa.gov.bt/pmbny/

consulate(s) general: 343 East, 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

note - although Bhutan and the United States do not have diplomatic relations, the two countries established consular relations on 23 July 1986; the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Bhutan was established in New York with an officer from the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations holding dual accreditation as the Consul General with consular jurisdiction in the US

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none; frequent informal contact is maintained via the US embassy in New Delhi (India) and Bhutan's Permanent Mission to the UN

Flag description

divided diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side; the dragon, called the Druk (Thunder Dragon), is the emblem of the nation; its white color stands for purity and the jewels in its claws symbolize wealth; the background colors represent spiritual and secular powers within Bhutan: the orange is associated with Buddhism, while the yellow denotes the ruling dynasty

National symbol(s)

thunder dragon known as Druk Gyalpo; national colors: orange, yellow

National anthem

name: "Druk tsendhen" (The Thunder Dragon Kingdom)

lyrics/music: Gyaldun Dasho Thinley DORJI/Aku TONGMI

note: adopted 1953

Economy

Economic overview

hydropower investments spurring economic development; Gross National Happiness economy; sharp poverty declines; low inflation; strong monetary and fiscal policies; stable currency; fairly resilient response to COVID-19; key economic and strategic relations with India; climate vulnerabilities

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.015 billion (2021 est.)
$8.634 billion (2020 est.)
$9.616 billion (2019 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 168

Real GDP growth rate

4.42% (2021 est.)
-10.22% (2020 est.)
5.76% (2019 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 95

Real GDP per capita

$11,600 (2021 est.)
$11,200 (2020 est.)
$12,500 (2019 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 132

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.768 billion (2021 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

5.64% (2022 est.)
7.35% (2021 est.)
5.63% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 87

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 16.2% (2017 est.)

industry: 41.8% (2017 est.)

services: 42% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 205; industry 23; agriculture 60

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 58% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 16.8% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 47.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 26% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -48% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, rice, root vegetables, potatoes, maize, oranges, areca nuts, chilies/peppers, pumpkins/squash, bison milk (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

3.94% (2021 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 99

Labor force

426,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 161

Unemployment rate

5.95% (2022 est.)
4.8% (2021 est.)
5.03% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 120

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 18.8% (2021 est.)

male: 15.6%

female: 22%

comparison ranking: total 90

Population below poverty line

12.4% (2022 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

28.5 (2022 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 159

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.6%

highest 10%: 22.7% (2022 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

2.65% of GDP (2021 est.)
3.39% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.07% of GDP (2019 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $710 million (2020 est.)

expenditures: $777 million (2020 est.)

note: the Government of India finances nearly one-quarter of Bhutan's budget expenditures

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 143

Public debt

111.01% of GDP (2020 est.)
90.36% of GDP (2019 est.)
95.85% of GDP (2018 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 16

Taxes and other revenues

12.28% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 170

Current account balance

-$852.583 million (2022 est.)
-$321.535 million (2021 est.)
-$381.153 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 119

Exports

$791.08 million (2022 est.)
$741.602 million (2021 est.)
$786.681 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 188

Exports - partners

India 88%, Italy 5%, Nepal 2%, Colombia 2%, Singapore 1% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

iron alloys, dolomite, gypsum, cement, electricity (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$1.588 billion (2022 est.)
$1.027 billion (2021 est.)
$1.188 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 183

Imports - partners

India 75%, China 12%, Indonesia 5%, Thailand 2%, Singapore 1% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

computers, refined petroleum, electrical machinery, coke, wood charcoal (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$976.26 million (2021 est.)
$1.427 billion (2020 est.)
$1.238 billion (2019 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 142

Debt - external

$2.671 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.355 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 147

Exchange rates

ngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
78.604 (2022 est.)
73.918 (2021 est.)
74.1 (2020 est.)
70.42 (2019 est.)
68.389 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 2.334 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 4.315 billion kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 4.6 billion kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 22.85 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 60 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 116; transmission/distribution losses 44; imports 115; exports 38; consumption 130

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 100% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 174,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 211,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 37,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 4,400 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 185

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 126

Refined petroleum products - imports

3,120 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 183

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

934,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 328,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 606,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 174

Energy consumption per capita

100.135 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 59

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 20,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 173

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 742,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 95 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 169

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the small land-locked Kingdom of Bhutan has only recently emerged from decades of isolation from the modern world; that, and its mountainous terrain, left the country far back in the field in terms of teledensity as well as access to the Internet; over the last decade, the country has undergone a significant transformation due to the opening of its borders, liberalization of its telecom sector, and the active support from the government towards increased competition in the mobile, broadband, and ISP segments; the relatively widespread availability of the mobile platform has caused an explosion in mobile broadband subscriber numbers, growing from zero to over 100% penetration in just ten years (between 2010 and 2019).; the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 caused the subscription rates to drop back a little; growth is projected to return in 2022 (along with the broader mobile market) as the overall economy recovers; the government opens up more to foreign investment, trade, and tourism; and network expansion continues – the recent (December 2021) launch of 5G services by both of the country’s mobile operators being particularly noteworthy (2022)

domestic: approximately 3 to 100 fixed-line and 100 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people (2021)

international: country code - 975; international telephone and telegraph service via landline and microwave relay through India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat

Broadcast media

state-owned TV station established in 1999; cable TV service offers dozens of Indian and other international channels; first radio station, privately launched in 1973, is now state-owned; 5 private radio stations are currently broadcasting (2012)

Internet users

total: 670,800 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 86% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 162

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 3,189 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.4 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 192

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 275,849 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 690,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports

4 (2024)

comparison ranking: 179

Heliports

8 (2024)

Roadways

total: 12,205 km (2017)

urban: 437 km

comparison ranking: total 131

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Royal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and an air wing); National Militia

Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs: Royal Bhutan Police (2023)

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimated 8,000 active personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

India has provided most of the Royal Bhutan Army's equipment (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription; militia training is compulsory for males aged 20-25, over a 3-year period  (2023)

note: in 2021, the Royal Bhutan Army graduated from a year-long training course the first batch of 150 women to be allowed to serve in combat roles; previously, women were allowed to serve in medical and other non-combat roles

Military deployments

190 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2024)

Military - note

the Army is responsible for external threats but also has some internal security functions such as conducting counterinsurgency operations, guarding forests, and providing security for prominent persons; the force is deployed throughout the country in more than a dozen “wings,” each comprised of a few infantry companies; the Army also has units of royal bodyguards and special forces; Bhutan relies on India for military training, arms supplies, and the country’s air defense (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

announced in 2018 that it intends to establish a space agency, but has not yet done so; has a Division of Telecom and Space (DoTS) under the GovTech Agency (2024)

Space program overview

has a small, recently established program focused on acquiring satellites and developing the capabilities to manufacture satellites; cooperates with India and the US (2024)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S