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Bhutan

Bhutan

Summary

Bhutan is a small nation of 758,288 people.1 In the Bhutan Vision 2020 plan, one of the government’s stated focuses is promoting Gross National Happiness and an understanding of its principles.2 The GDP per capita is low, $8,700. The economy is primarily based on agriculture, forestry and hydropower — Bhutan’s main export, accounting for 40 percent of its national exports.3 49.6 percent of the population lacks access to proper sanitation facilities, and the risk of contracting major infectious diseases is high — particularly bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.4 26 percent of girls are married before the legal age of 18, and 6 percent are married before 15.5 Domestic abuse and violence against women are also issues in Bhutan, particularly because there is widespread cultural acceptance of these practices. One survey indicated that around 70 percent of women in Bhutan thought they deserved to be beaten if they neglected their children, denied their partner sex, or ruined a meal.6 Bhutan’s infant mortality rate is 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, putting Bhutan in the upper 70th percentile for worst infant mortality rates internationally.7 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html 2 https://www.globalpartnership.org/country/bhutan 3 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html 4 Ibid 5 https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/bhutan/ 6 http://www.bhutannewsservice.com/main-news/violence-against-women-still-on-rise-in-bhutan/ 7 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Demographics

Nationality
Bhutanese
Population
725,296 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Bhutan Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Bhutan faces issues with soil erosion, industrial pollution, wildlife conservation and waste disposal, among other environmental concerns.1 Bhutan is particularly vulnerable to flash floods in the rainy season. The Himalayas account for a large portion of the nation’s landscape, creating cool winters and hot summers in the valleys.2 The nation is party to international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, desertification and hazardous waste.3

Family

Child marriage is a concern in Bhutan, and approximately 26 percent of girls are married before the legal age of 18, and 6 percent are married before 15.1 Domestic abuse and violence against women are also issues in Bhutan, particularly because there is widespread cultural acceptance of these practices. One survey indicated that around 70 percent of women in Bhutan thought they deserved to be beaten if they neglected their children, denied their partner sex, or ruined a meal.2

Human Rights

Bhutanese security authorities are reported to be relatively free of corruption and human rights abuses.1 However, there have been recent reports of political prisoners being abused while under the care of the state, and human trafficking remained a serious and pervasive issue.2 There have also been several complaints that the Bhutanese government mishandled issues related to refugees and discrimination against LGBT citizens.3 Additionally, there are thousands of Nepali Bhutanese refugees currently living in UN refugee camps in Nepal who were forced out of Bhutan during the 1980s and 90s. They have been unable to return, despite having legitimate claims to citizenship.4 Child marriage is a concern in Bhutan, and approximately 26 percent of girls are married before the legal age of Read More 18, and 6 percent are married before 15.5 Domestic abuse and violence against women are also issues in Bhutan, particularly because there is widespread cultural acceptance of these practices. One survey indicated that around 70 percent of women in Bhutan thought they deserved to be beaten if they neglected their children, denied their partner sex, or ruined a meal.6 Show Less

Education

35 percent of Bhutan is illiterate. There are significant gender disparities in literacy, with 73 percent of males able to read and write, while just 55 percent of women can read or write.1 The primary school gross enrollment is 96 percent.2 The key elements of the Bhutan Vision 2020 pertaining to education include reducing gender disparity within the system, increasing participation in early childhood education and raising investment in special needs programming.3

Poverty

Approximately 12 percent of Bhutan’s population lives below the poverty line, and unemployment is 3.2 percent.1 Bhutan’s eastern region is particularly vulnerable to poverty, as any rural, remote region has limited access to infrastructure like roads and centers of trade.2 49.6 percent of the population lacks access to proper sanitation facilities, and the risk of major infectious diseases are high — particularly bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.3

Religion

Approximately 75 percent of the Bhutanese population are Buddhist, and 22 are Nepali Hindu. The other nearly 3 percent identify with another religion.1 The constitution of Bhutan protects religious freedom and this is generally well respected.2 However, religious figures in the country are denied voting rights in an attempt to separate religion and politics.3 Additionally, reports of societal discrimination against religious minorities, particularly Christians, have prompted the government to make a statement regarding religious tolerance and respect.4

Clean Water

Though virtually the entire population has access to clean water, 49.6 percent of the population lacks access to proper sanitation facilities. The risk of bacterial and protozoal diarrhea is high, as well as hepatitis A.1 The rural populations are particularly unreached when it comes to sanitary resources, as 66 percent of the population that lacks access to modern sanitation facilities are in rural areas.2

Economy

Bhutan’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, hydropower and forestry, and does the majority of its trade with India.1 The nation’s main export is hydropower, which accounts for 40 percent of all the nation’s exports.2 The GDP per capita is just $8,700.3 Unemployment is at just 3.2 percent, but the labor force is estimated to be only 397,900, and the nation has a significant shortage of skilled laborers.4 12 percent of the population is below the poverty line.5

Government

Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy; the first hereditary king came into power in 1907. In 2008, the government transitioned from a total monarchy to a democratic, constitutional government, electing its first parliament and ratifying the constitution that was drafted in 2001.1 Bhutanese anti-corruption policies are enforced, and violators are criminally punished.2

Health

Bhutan’s infant mortality rate is 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is 148 deaths per 100,000 births. 12.8 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight. 49.6 percent of the population lacks access to proper sanitation facilities, and the risk of major infectious diseases are high — particularly bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.1 However, Bhutan is one of the first nations in southeast Asia to have reached the regional objective to eradicate measles by 2020.2

Children

Bhutan’s infant mortality rate is 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, putting Bhutan in the upper 70th percentile for worst infant mortality rates internationally.1 Research on child labor in the nation is scarce. However, the United States Department of Labor reports evidence that many children are subject to child labor. The Bhutanese government does not have policies implemented that directly prohibit child labor, even the worst forms.2 42 percent of children under the age of 15 cannot read, and only 48 percent of women over the age of 15 are literate.3 16 percent of school-aged children do not attend school.4 Nearly 13 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight, and the risk of infectious diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A and diarrhea is Read More high.5 Show Less

Animals

Bhutan faces issues with wildlife conservation and biodiversity.1 There are a small number of animal shelters and care centers in the nation that take in and treat injured or sick animals, including Barnyard Bhutan Animal Rescue, an entity of the Maya Foundation.2

Bhutan

News

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