Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon

The History of Bhutan

The country came to be known as Druk Yul or The Land of the Drukpas sometime in the 17th century. The name refers to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism that has been the dominant religion in the region since that period.

Druk Yul, in the Dzongkha language also means Land of the Thunder Dragon. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at the highest altitudes through high mountain passes, hence its name.

The country was first unified in the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. After arriving in Bhutan from Tibet, he consolidated his power, defeated three Tibetan invasions and established a comprehensive system of law and governance. His system of rule eroded after his death and the country fell into in-fighting and civil war amongst the various local rulers. This continued until the Trongsa Poenlop Ugyen Wangchuck was able to gain control and with the support of the people, he established himself as Bhutan’s hereditary king in 1907. His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck became the first Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) and set up the Wangchuck Dynasty that still rules today.

  • 1st Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King)
    His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck

  • Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel
    (The Unifier of Bhutan)

Bhutan Today

In 2008, Bhutan enacted its Constitution and converted to a democracy in order to better safeguard the rights of its citizens. Later in November 2008, the current fifth Druk Gyalpo His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was crowned.

Bhutan has a worldwide audience intrigued with its philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) which strives to achieve a balance between the spiritual and the material, rejecting the idea of measuring progress through GDP alone. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in April 2014 with Prime Minister, Mr. Tshering Tobgay,  said his country is open for business but not at the expense of Gross National Happiness principles – so foreign companies looking to invest, need to take GNH very seriously as it is one condition in doing business in Bhutan.

In developing its economy and seeking to modernise, Bhutan has its share of social and economic challenges including creating white collar jobs to cope with the migration to the capital, Thimphu.

5th Druk Gyalpo His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel

  • Drukair - Royal Bhutan Airlines

  • Tashichho Dzong
    Fortress of Glorious Religion