A small, mountainous South Asian country sandwiched between India and China, Bhutan (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་ཡུལ་), officially known as Kingdom of Bhutan (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་), is a monarchy that has enjoyed enduring independence for centuries, having never been colonized in its history. A land of minor warring fiefdoms until Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal united them in the 1630s, he sought to carve a separate identity from the Tibetan 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 (now part of West Bengal), which appealed to the British East 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. His consort, Jetsun Pema, is also a stunning beauty and not for nothing are the couple dubbed "the William and Kate of the Himalayas".
The kingdom is (in)famous for its non-aggressive isolation from the outside world television did not come until 1999, for instance. Although it is opening itself up more nowadays, the government is doing so gradually, in order to better preserve its traditional Buddhist culture.
One of only four countries to not have diplomatic relations with the United States. Two of the others are sworn enemies (North Korea and Iran), and the other one is a complex diplomatic issue (Taiwan), so this one just seems really out of place. In Bhutan's defense, the kingdom doesn't have much in the way of diplomatic relations with anyone so far, they have only exchanged ambassadors with India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Bhutan has an army, which consists of the Royal Bhutan Army, the Royal Bodyguard and militia. Any air force support is relayed to India and to a lesser extent, Nepal. As such, they're mostly trained and equipped by India.
The RBA is known for being involved in peacekeeping operations, but were involved circa 2003 in taking on Indian-based communist militants in the southwest, as well as a pro-communist rebel group making up on disenfranchised Bhutanese of Nepali origin.
Bhutan has a Nepali and Lhotsampa minority groups, but they were being marginalized when Jingye Singye Wangchuck called for one identity, limiting immigration and halted education specifically for minorities. As of 2016, the policies taken are slowly being reversed.
Their flag is also famous for having a dragon on it.
One of the odder aspects (at least, odd to a foreigner) is that they have a Happiness Index, and according to magazine Business Week, it is the happiest country in Asia. Some economists has critizied the GNH since it's too subjective that it would suit Bhutanese interest.
Bhutan is one of the two countries to have no previous governing power by another country, the other is Nepal, according to The Other Wiki.
Examples of Bhutan in fiction:
- An episode of The Wild Thornberrys takes place in Bhutan.
- The country is visited (though involuntarily) in Pink Panther's Passport to Peril. One of the campers also hails from Bhutan.
- Bhutan is a selectable stage in the game Override: Mech City Brawl.
- The first episode of the second season of Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger reveals that Nabuo's love interest, Sayaka, moved to Bhutan; one of the many "rewrites" the Akibaranger world experienced.
- Several scenes of Little Buddha were shot, and take place in Bhutan, with some real life Bhutanese lamas
- The film Travellers and Magicians.
- The entirety of Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System: Case 3 - Beyond Love and Hate takes place in Bhutan in a fictional city called Lezim Chuzom. The Deuteragonist of the movie, Tenzing, also has a very common Bhutanese last name of Wangchuk. The director, Naoyoshi Shiotani, even visited Bhutan to do location scouting work in the country.
The Bhutanese flag