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Bhutan-Industry, Mining, Energy, and Commerce

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Bhutan Index


Only 1 percent or less of the work force was involved in industry and construction in the late 1980s, and industrial production and construction represented only 14.2 percent of GDP projected for 1991. Handicrafts, cement, food processing, wood milling, and distilling were the major industries. In the late 1980s, there about 400 small-scale cottage and industrial units. There also were two cement plants under the Penden Cement Authority; a joint venture (the government-sponsored Tashi Commercial Corporation in conjunction with the World Bank, Norway, and Kuwait), a Bhutan Carbide and Chemicals calcium carbide plant (near Phuntsholing), and factories for processing fruit, for manufacturing paper pulp, wood veneers, and particle board (Gedu Wood Manufacturing Corporation and Bhutan Board Products), and for producing resin and turpentine. Additionally, there were three distilleries and a salt iodization plant. Other small industrial enterprises manufactured such consumer goods as soap, confectionaries, and furniture. Most of the larger industries, established since Bhutan's economic modernization began in the 1960s, were themselves modern and used a considerable amount of labor-saving technology. The largest industries employed no more than sixty or seventy workers. Many of the newly developing industries began making public stock offerings in the late 1980s.

Data as of September 1991

BackgroundIn 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land to British India. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs. This role was assumed by independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned the areas of Bhutan annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. A refugee issue of over 100,000 Bhutanese in Nepal remains unresolved; 90% of the refugees are housed in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. In March 2005, King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK unveiled the government's draft constitution - which would introduce major democratic reforms - and pledged to hold a national referendum for its approval. In December 2006, the King abdicated the throne to his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK, in order to give him experience as head of state before the democratic transition. In early 2007, India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty to allow Bhutan greater autonomy in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate policy decisions in this area with New Delhi. In July 2007, seven ministers of Bhutan's ten-member cabinet resigned to join the political process, and the cabinet acted as a caretaker regime until democratic elections for seats to the country's first parliament were completed in March 2008. The king ratified the country's first constitution in July 2008.
LocationSouthern Asia, between China and India
Area(sq km)total: 38,394 sq km
land: 38,394 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Geographic coordinates27 30 N, 90 30 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 1,075 km
border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km

Coastline(km)0 km (landlocked)

Climatevaries; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Drangme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Kula Kangri 7,553 m
Natural resourcestimber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbonate
Land use(%)arable land: 2.3%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 97.27% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)400 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)95 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.43 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 199 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsviolent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's name, which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season
Environment - current issuessoil erosion; limited access to potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - notelandlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes
note: the Factbook population estimate is consistent with the first modern census of Bhutan, conducted in 2005; previous Factbook population estimates for this country, which were on the order of three times the total population reported here, were based on Bhutanese government publications that did not include the census (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 30.2% (male 106,410/female 102,164)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 235,988/female 208,484)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 20,169/female 17,926) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 23.9 years
male: 24.5 years
female: 23.3 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.267% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)20.07 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)7.39 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)NA
Urbanization(%)urban population: 35% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 4.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.12 male(s)/female
total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 49.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 50.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 66.13 years
male: 65.33 years
female: 66.97 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.38 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Bhutanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Bhutanese
Ethnic groups(%)Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%

Religions(%)Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Languages(%)Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects

Country nameconventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
conventional short form: Bhutan
local long form: Druk Gyalkhap
local short form: Druk Yul
Government typeconstitutional monarchy
Capitalname: Thimphu
geographic coordinates: 27 29 N, 89 36 E
time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chhukha, Chirang, Daga, Gasa, Geylegphug, Ha, Lhuntshi, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatsel, Punakha, Samchi, Samdrup Jongkhar, Shemgang, Tashigang, Tashi Yangtse, Thimphu, Tongsa, Wangdi Phodrang
Constitutionratified 18 July 2008

Legal systembased on Indian law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK (since 14 December 2006); note - King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK abdicated the throne on 14 December 2006 and his son immediately succeeded him; the nearly two-year delay between the former King's abdication and his son's coronation on 6 November 2008 was to ensure an astrologically auspicious coronation date and to give the new King-who had limited experience-deeper administrative expertise under the guidance of this father
head of government: Prime Minister Jigme THINLEY (since 9 April 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers (Lhengye Shungtsog) nominated by the monarch, approved by the National Assembly; members serve fixed, five-year terms; note - there is also a Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde), members nominated by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary, but democratic reforms in July 1998 grant the National Assembly authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote; election of a new National Assembly occurred in March 2008; the leader of the majority party is nominated as the prime minister

Legislative branchbicameral Parliament consists of the non-partisan National Council (25 seats; 20 members elected by each of the 20 electoral districts (dzongkhags) for four-year terms and 5 members nominated by the King); and the National Assembly (47 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote for five-year terms)
elections: National Council elections last held on 31 December 2007 and 29 January 2008 (next to be held by December 2012); National Assembly elections last held on 24 March 2008 (next to be held by March 2013)
election results: National Council - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - DPT 67%, PDP 33%; seats by party - DPT 45, PDP 2

Judicial branchSupreme Court of Appeal (the monarch); High Court (judges appointed by the monarch); note - the draft constitution establishes a Supreme Court that will serve as chief court of appeal

Political pressure groups and leadersUnited Front for Democracy (exiled); Druk National Congress (exiled)
other: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant antigovernment campaign; Indian merchant community
International organization participationADB, BIMSTEC, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag descriptiondivided diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side

Economy - overviewThe economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than 60% of the population. Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and dependence on India's financial assistance. The industrial sector is technologically backward, with most production of the cottage industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian migrant labor. Model education, social, and environment programs are underway with support from multilateral development organizations. Each economic program takes into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment. Hydropower exports to India have boosted Bhutan's overall growth, even though GDP fell in 2008 as a result of a slowdown in India, its predominant export market. New hydropower projects will be the driving force behind Bhutan's ability to create employment and sustain growth in the coming years.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$3.533 billion (2008 est.)
$2.91 billion (2007 est.)
$2.738 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$1.389 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)21.4% (2008 est.)
6.3% (2007 est.)
6.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$5,200 (2008 est.)
$4,300 (2007 est.)
$4,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 22.3%
industry: 37.9%
services: 39.8% (2006)
Labor forceNA
note: major shortage of skilled labor

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 63%
industry: 6%
services: 31% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)2.5% (2004)
Population below poverty line(%)31.7% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $272 million
expenditures: $350 million
note: the government of India finances nearly three-fifths of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)4.9% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$381.1 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$220.3 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$169.9 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$941.2 million; note - substantial aid from India (2006)

Public debt(% of GDP)81.4% of GDP (2004)
81.4% of GDP (2004)
Agriculture - productsrice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
Industriescement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism

Industrial production growth rate(%)NA

Current account balance$116 million (2007 est.)
Exports$350 million (2006)

Exports - commodities(%)electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, spices
Exports - partners(%)India 89%, Bangladesh 6.5%, Italy 1.2% (2008)
Imports$320 million (2006)

Imports - commodities(%)fuel and lubricants, grain, aircraft, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
Imports - partners(%)India 59.5%, Japan 13.4%, China 5.6% (2008)

Debt - external$713.3 million (2006)

Exchange ratesngultrum (BTN) per US dollar - 41.487 (2007), 45.279 (2006), 44.101 (2005), 45.317 (2004), 46.583 (2003)
note: the ngultrum is pegged to the Indian rupee

Currency (code)ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR)

Telephones - main lines in use27,500 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular251,000 (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: urban towns and district headquarters have telecommunications services
domestic: low teledensity; domestic service is very poor especially in rural areas; wireless service available since 2003
international: country code - 975; international telephone and telegraph service via landline and microwave relay through India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (2008)
Internet country code.bt
Internet users40,000 (2008)
Airports2 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 8,050 km
paved: 4,991 km
unpaved: 3,059 km (2003)

Military branchesRoyal Bhutan Army (includes Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 190,104
females age 16-49: 167,289 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 150,210
females age 16-49: 135,991 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 7,668
female: 7,379 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalBhutan cooperates with India to expel Indian Nagaland separatists; lacking any treaty describing the boundary, Bhutan and China continue negotiations to establish a common boundary alignment to resolve territorial disputes arising from substantial cartographic discrepancies, the largest of which lie in Bhutan's northwest and along the Chumbi salient

Electricity - production(kWh)4.475 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 0.1%
hydro: 99.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)528.8 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)3.644 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)11 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)1,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)1,168 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSfewer than 100 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 47%
male: 60%
female: 34% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)7% of GDP (2005)

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