Stone tools, weapons, elephants and remains of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC. BC, although there is no existing record of this time. Historians have hypothesized that the state of Lomon (literally, "Southern darkness"), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference for Monba, indigenous peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 and 600 AD. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong (sandalwood country) and Lhomon Khashiou My South (country of the four approaches), were found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.

Buddhism was introduced in Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan King Songtsän Gampo (who ruled from 627-649), converted to Buddhism, which in fact had extended the Tibetan Empire into Sikkim and Bhutan, ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, in Bumthang in central Bhutan and Kyichu ( near Paro) in the Paro Valley. Buddhism was seriously propagated in 746 under King Sindhu Rāja (also Künjom, Sendha Gyab, Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled Indian king who had established a government in Bumthang Chakhar Gutho Palace.

Much of Bhutanese protohistory does not know because most records were destroyed during the fire ravaged the ancient capital, Punakha, in 1827. 10th century, Bhutan's political development was influenced by its religious history . Various al of Buddhism emerged who attended by various Mongol warlords. After the decline of the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century, these al were arguing among themselves to dominate the political and religious landscape, culminating in the ascendancy of the Drukpa lineage by the 16th century.

Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefs, when the region was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, who had fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan incursions, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzongs or fortresses and promulgated the Tsa Yig, a code of law that helped eliminate local lords under centralized control. Many of these dzong still exist and are active centers of neighborhood administration and religion. PortugueseJesuits Estêvão Cacella and João Cabralwere the first European record to visit Bhutan, on their way to Tibet. They met Ngawang Namgyal, gave him firearms, gunpowder and a telescope and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Zhabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months, Cacella wrote a long letter to the monastery of Chagri reports on his travels. This is a rare existing report of Shabdrung.

After the death of Ngawang Namgyal in 1651, his death was kept secret for 54 years; after a period of consolidation, Bhutan has lapsed into internal conflict. In the year 1711 Bhutan went to war against the Mughal Empire and its Subedars, who restored Bihar Koch in the south. During the ensuing chaos, Tibetans unsuccessfully attacked Bhutan in 1714.

In the 18th century, Bhutanese invaded and occupied the Cooch Behar Kingdom in the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British East India Companywhich helped to oust Bhutanese and later attacked Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan decided to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, peace was tenuous and border skirmishes with the Britishwere to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864-65), a clash for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Sinchula Treaty was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in return for a rent of 50,000 rupees. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

During the 1870s, power struggle between the rival valleys of Paro and Tongsa led to the civil war in Bhutan, culminating in the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the ponlop (governor) of Trongsa. From his base in central Bhutan power, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country after several civil wars and revolts in 1882 - 85.

In 1907, a landmark year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the land by an assembly of Buddhist monks leader, officials, and heads of important families. John Claude White, British Political Officer in Bhutan, took pictures of the ceremony. The British government quickly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910, Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha, a subsidiary alliance that gave British control of Bhutan's foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as a princely state in India. This has little real effect, given the historical reluctance of Bhutan and also does not seem to affect Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. After news of the Indian Union gained independence from the United Kingdom on August 15, 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. On August 8, 1949, a treaty similar to that of 1910, in which Great Britain had seized power over Bhutan's foreign policy, was signed with newly independent India.

In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck created the country's legislature - a 130-member National Assembly - to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of sixteen after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.

Political reform and modernization

The political system of Bhutan has recently changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transferred most of his administrative powers to the Council of Ministers and allowing the king's accusation by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the king said that television was a decisive step for the modernization of Bhutan, as well as an important contribution to the country's gross national happiness (Bhutan is the only country to measure happiness), but warned that "evil use "of television could erode the traditional values ​​of Bhutan.

A new constitution was introduced in early 2005. In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate the throne in favor of his son in 2008. On December 14, 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed by the first national parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.

On November 6, 2008, 28 year old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, eldest son of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was crowned king.

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Bhutan - Travel guide