Bhutan is a small Himalayan kingdom located between China and India. Ancient stone implements and other archaeological findings indicate that there were settlements in the country dating back to 2000 B.C. The recorded history of the kingdom, however, begins with the advent of Buddhism in the 8th Century.
In 747 A.D. the Buddhist sage, Padmasambhava, revered in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche or the Precious Master, visited the country and introduced Buddhism. Since then, Buddhism has occupied a predominant role in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural evolution of the country.
In the 17th Century, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a great Buddhist leader and statesman united the country and established the dual system of governance, with the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) as the head of religious order and Deb Raja as the administrative head. By the end of the 17th century, the country emerged with a distinct national and cultural identity as well as an unprecedented degree of political stability.
By the second half of the 18th century, the dual system of government began to weaken. Local chieftains and rulers started asserting themselves and the unity of the country was affected by internal discord. External threats in the latter half of the 19th century added a new dimension to the political dilemma and the need for strong national leadership emerged. Peace and stability was restored with the enthronement of His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck who was unanimously elected as the first hereditary monarch of the kingdom in 1907. The establishment of the monarchy ushered in a new era of peace and stability and most significantly unified the country under a central authority. It also set in motion a steady process of engagement with the outside world and laid the foundations for the country as a modern nation state.
Since then, successive Kings of Bhutan have brought unprecedented peace and stability to the country. They have brought rapid socio-economic progress while promoting Bhutan’s rich culture and tradition and established the important institutions of governance and prepared for far reaching political changes. In 2008, exactly after the 100 Years of Monarchy, the first parliamentary elections were conducted and Bhutan had its first democratically elected government. The second parliamentary election was successfully held in 2013 further consolidating the new democratic system.
The formal Coronation of His Majesty The King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Fifth King of Bhutan, was held in 2008. Ever since He became the King, His Majesty has continuously worked towards strengthening Bhutan’s national identity and sovereignty. For the people of Bhutan, His Majesty The King has provided inspiration and guidance as the symbol of hope, unity, peace and happiness. Both in Bhutan and abroad, His Majesty The King is well- known as the “People’s King”.