The political system of Bhutan has evolved over time from a fragmented and a disoriented rule of the different regions by local chieftains, lords and clans into the parliamentary democracy in place today. The first move towards a systematic scheme of governance came in 1616 with the arrival of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal from Tibet. He introduced the dual system of governance with the Je Khenpo as the spiritual head of the nation and the Desis, as the head of the temporal aspects. An important step was made in 1907 when the people unanimously enthroned Ugyen Wangchuck as the fist hereditary King of Bhutan.

In 2008, Bhutan’s political system changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in his son’s favor, followed by the first national parliamentary elections. The reigning monarch is Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the current Prime Minister of Bhutan is Tshering Tobgay, the leader of the People’s Democratic Party.

In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television Bhutan has been a member of the United Nations since 1971. It is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The country is a member of 150 international organizations, including the World Bank, the IMF, the Group of 77 and the Bay of Bengal Initiative.

Bhutan maintains strong economic, strategic and military relations with neighboring India. The relationship began when the Himalayan kingdom became one of the first countries to recognize India’s independence in 1947.


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