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Historical Information

No archaeological research has yet been carried out in Bhutan, but stone implements found indicated that the country was inhabited fairly early around 2000 – 1500BC.

Recorded history of Bhutan started in 7th century when the Tibetan King Songtshen Ggambo constructed the first two Buddhist temples : Kyichu in Paro and Jumpa in Bumthang. In the 8th century, a Tantrist from Swat (in present day in Pakistan) arrived in Bhutan. Named Padmasambava at birth, he is today revered as Guru Rimpoche – meaning Precious Master – in both Tibet and Bhutan.

 

Guru Rimpoche introduced Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and is considered by the Ningmapa religious school to be Bhutan’s founder as well as the second Buddha.

In the 17th century, when the Drukpa unified Bhutan, they named the country “Drukyul” to mean “Land of Thunder Dragon” while the people are called ‘Drukpa’ meaning “People of Dragon Land”.

Bhutan’s political and religious unity was achieved in mid 17th Century by outstanding leader and religious master, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel of the Drukpa Kagyudpa school. He organized the administrative and defensive system of Dzongs (Bhutanese term for fortresses) all over the country, wrote a code of laws and created the Duel system of government. This system survived till the beginning of the monarchy in 1907.

The first Druk (king) of Bhutan, Sir Ugyen Wangchu, was the governor of Trongsa Dzong and a brilliant political leader. He ascended the throne on December 17th 1907, at the Punakha Dzong and founded the dynasty of the Wangchuk. The Fifth King took the throne in 2008 when his father the Fourth King, who founded Bhutan’s constitution, voluntarily abdicated it. Today Bhutan is the world’s youngest and smallest democratic country.