Bhutan Recent History

The country, a region of Asia, was never fully explored in ancient times. The first Europeans who arrived there in 1627 were the Portuguese Jesuits Cacella and Cabras. They arrived in the valley where the city of Paro stood and stayed there eight months before resuming their journey to Tibet. During this time, they studied the local language, customs and customs a little and also had the opportunity to lead monastic life. Letters and observations about the town and the population passed on this presence. And these were later confirmed by subsequent explorers.

For about a century and a half nothing happened and it came, therefore, to 1772 when the king of Bhutan, Deb Judhur, had yearnings for expansion, thus drawing the attention of India. Warren Hastings, a British statesman and governor general of India, immediately dispatched expeditions. The first of them was entrusted to George Bogle and dr. Hamilton, in 1774. The latter returned to Bhutan later in 1776 and 1777. The fourth expedition was entrusted in 1782 to Captain Samuel Turner who made the journey in the footsteps of Bogle and arrived in Shigatse, of which he made an extensive report.

In 1811 another Englishman, Thomas Manning, crossed western Bhutan to travel to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
Bhutan did not renounce its raids, however, so much so that other British expeditions were needed in 1838, 1864, 1888 and 1904.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Bhutan, the following year, Claude White, passing through the Chumbi Valley, crossed the eastern part of the country, from Assam to Tibet, and geologist Guy Pilgrim, his travel companion, documented the entire mission by sending us detailed observations on this pre-earth Himalayan.

In 1921 Lord Ronaldshay, governor of Bengal, crossed western Bhutan from north to south, he reached Punaka, Tongsa and Bumtang, and from there he passed to Tibet. He also sent us useful information about the area.

Bhutan Recent History

In the meantime, in 1907, a hereditary dynasty had established itself in the region, the maraj√† of which governed without the interference of Great Britain in internal affairs, while controlling foreign affairs. And at the same time he paid the country an annual subsidy. Bhutan remained under the British protectorate until 1947. Two years later a treaty was signed with the Indian Union to which the maraja transferred all the privileges that had previously been British. The treaty established, inter alia, the non-interference of the Union in the country’s internal affairs but only control over foreign affairs. In addition, the Indian Union had to surrender the Dewangiri area to Bhutan. Then from 1958 to 1959 there was a strong increase in the population; so the government of West Bengal undertook to build a hydroelectric power station which, exploiting the waters of the Jaldhaka River, the border between Bengal and Bhutan, it would have provided electricity to the latter free of charge. Thus began the first steps towards a wider colonization.

In 1952 the first Parliament was established and 4 years later agrarian and social reforms were introduced, first of all the abolition of serf slavery. Construction of large roads to promote communications also began. Economic development was aided by India and in 1958 Bhutan received the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Nehru.

With the progress came also the negative events. In 1964 the Bhutanese Prime Minister was assassinated and a coup d’√©tat and an attack on the sovereign occurred. This did not distract the government from the established economic program and hospitals, schools and power plants were built.

In 1968 Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy and in 1972, the sovereign died, his progressive policy was pursued by his son, his successor, Jigs-med-sen-ge-dban-p’yug.

In 1971 Bhutan joined the United Nations; he had no relations with China but in 1984 there were annual meetings in Thimpu and Beijing to settle some border disputes.

A question then arose with the Tibetan nomads about a transhumance problem. In its government policy, Bhutan always privileged its relations with Tibet, to which it was also linked by the Buddhist religion itself, to the detriment of the Nepalese ones.


In 1990 there were massive emigrations to Nepal of Bhutanese political refugees, followers of the Bhutanese People’s Party, not recognized by the government. Nepal set up many reception camps waiting to settle the issue of their repatriation. But Bhutan did not reopen the borders. Only in 1993 were things able to settle. In order to prevent Nepalese refugees from entering the country, Bhutan instituted iron checks and brought back only those who could demonstrate their Bhutanese citizenship. The Red Cross and Amnesty International also intervened to close the matter. In 1994, however, Bhutan denounced terrorist attacks by well-trained refugees in Nepalese camps.

In 1998 King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, by inserting some important reforms in the government, limited the powers of the monarchy by renouncing his right to appoint the Council of Ministers.

You may also like...