Bhutan is a tiny kingdom in the Himalayas between powerful neighbours, India and China. Almost isolated for centuries, it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions. Druk Yul, or “Land of the Thunder Dragon” only opened up to outsiders in the 1970s. Bhutan became a parliamentary democracy in March 2008.
The Royal Family
The Wangchuck Dynasty
HM Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the current reigning Druk Gyalpo or “Dragon King” of the Kingdom of Bhutan. After his father HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in his favour, he became King on 9 December 2006. The King announced his engagement to Queen Jetsun Pema, and they were married on 13 October 2011.
Royal Government of Bhutan
Bhutan today is the world’s youngest democracy. Following a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy system after the historic parliamentary elections in 2008, Bhutan now has a written Constitution, an elected government and Parliament in power. The philosophy of Gross National Happiness is Bhutan’s guiding development strategy.
The Spiritual Leader
The Je Khenpo, is the spiritual head and Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan. He is responsible for overseeing monastic education, religious institutions, advice to the leader, and conducting rituals for the protection of Bhutan. Since the First Je Khenpo, 70 Je Khenpos have served Bhutan. The current Je Khenpo, Jigme Chodra, has held this post since 1996.