The ancient period of Bhutan that dates from the beginning till the 8th century AD, was marked by rural settlement, domestication of animals, agriculture, the first advent of Buddhism and subsequent buildings of Buddhist temples.
The visit of Guru Padmasambhava and other Buddhists saints and scholars from India and Tibet marked the medieval Bhutan. Emergence of ruling clans and development of arts and architecture were also seen during this period.
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a leader of the Drukpa sect, came to Bhutan in 17th century. He introduced the dual system of Government and for the first time some degree of stability was maintained, which was unseen before. This did not last long. After Ngawang Namgyal’s death, successors became victims of intrigues and rivalries. The instability continued till the early 20th century.
The country’s modern period began with the establishment of monarchy in Bhutan. The powerful Bhutanese Chief, Ugyen Wangchuk crowned as the first hereditary ruler of Bhutan in 1907. The country’s self-imposed policy of isolation continued till the reign of the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. He decided to shed this age-old policy and introduced the country to the outside world, bringing the country into the international mainstream.
Though the country is known as Bhutan to the outside world, to Bhutanese it has been known as Druk Yul ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. The people call themselves Drukpas.
Bhutan is a landlocked country wedged between the autonomous region of Tibet, China, in the north and India in the south along the lofty mountains of the eastern Himalayas. It is located between 88°45’and 92°10′ longitude east and between 26°40′ and 28°15′ latitude north. It covers 46,500 square kilometers and has population of 650,000 with seventy five percent of the population living on cultivation and livestock rearing.
The country can be divided into three major geographic zones: the southern foothills and plains with hot and humid climate, the hills and valleys in the center with moderate rainfall and the highland of the north with high mountains covered with snow almost throughout the year.
Bhutan is the land of complex gorges and valleys, soaring snow-peaked mountains and steep slopes, humid jungles and foothills, magnificent lakes and waterfalls, fast flowing rivers and streams and the richest biodiversity of flora and fauna.