A small mountainous Kingdom sandwiched between India and China, Bhutan (Dzongkha:
འབྲུག་ཡུལ་), officially known as Kingdom of Bhutan (Dzongkha:
འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་), was a land of minor warring fiefdoms until Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal united them in the 1630s. He sought to carve a separate identity from the Tibeten culture from which many practices derived. The country fell to civil war with his passing, but the country was able to thwart two invasion attempts. They invaded Cooch Behar kingdom, which appealed to the British West India Company, which helped ousted the Bhutanese and both parties signed a peace treaty that lead to a tenuous peace. Actual peace followed during the Duar Wars, where Bhutan was defeated.
The 1870s were a period where the Paro and Tongsa factions held a power struggle that lead to civil war. Ugyen Wangchuck of the the Tongsa faction came to power and suppressed further civil war and rebellion. His ascendancy as a hereditary king was recognized by the British Empire, who were allowed to "guide" Bhutan's foreign affairs.
Bhutan was the first country to recognize the independence of India from Britain.
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck set up the legislature, to promote the increasing democratic governance that would follow.
Bhutan was admitted to the UN after three years of observer status.
Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne. He was later responsible for the many modern reforms of Bhutan, including parliamentary democracy, and created the concept of Gross National Happiness. He abdicated to his eldest son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who received international attention for being Mr. Fanservice
The country is gradually opening up to the world, albeit slowly, so as to preserve its Bhuddist culture. Their flag is also famous for having a dragon
One of the only five countries not to have diplomatic relations with the United States. Three of the others are sworn enemies (North Korea, Cuba, and Iran), and the other one is a complex diplomatic issue (Taiwan), so this one just seems really out of place.
One of the odder aspects (at least, odd to a foreigner) is that they have a Happiness Index
, and according to magazine Business Week
, is the happiest country in Asia.
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Examples of Bhutan in Fiction:
The Bhutanese flag
The flag's yellow and orange halves symbolize the Druk Gyalpo
, the Dragon King
, and Buddhism, respectively. At the center is the "Druk", the Thunder Dragon, placed on the dividing diagonal line between the two colors to signify the equal importance of civil and monastic duties, and is colored white to symbolize purity; the orbs it holds in its claws symbolize the nation's wealth, and its snarl signifies the deities' readiness to defend Bhutan.