Timeline Bhutan

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  The capital is Thimphu (former capital was Punakha) and the total population is 700,000 [650,000]. 85% of the people are Buddhist Drukpas of Mongoland Tibetan origin and the national language is Dzongkha. The country is barely 100 miles wide and 200 miles long.
 (SFEC, 2/23/96, p.T5,6)(WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A1)(SFC, 3/15/01, p.A24)

627-649    The introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan occurred during the reign of Tibetan king Srongtsen Gampo. He converted to Buddhism and ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang in central Bhutan and at Kyichu in the Paro Valley.

659        Bhutan’s Kyichu Lhakhang monastery was built.
    (SFC, 3/15/01, p.A24)

700-800    Bhutan’s Taktsang monastery was founded by tantric master Padmasambhava, often described as “another Buddha."
    (SFEC, 2/23/96, p.T5)

800-900    Ninth century monks called Bhutan “the hidden world."
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)

1616        The Shabdrung (Zhabdrung) escaped Tibet to establish a new base in western Bhutan, founding Cheri Monastery at the head of Thimphu valley.

1627        In Bhutan Ngawang Namgyal built Simtokha Dzong at the entrance to Thimphu valley. From this dzong he could exert control over traffic between the powerful Paro valley to the west and Trongsa valley to the east.
1627        Two Portuguese Jesuits, Estevao Cacella and Joao Cabral, arrived in Bhutan, the first westerners to do so.

1634        Ngawang Namgyal, in the Battle of Five Lamas, prevailed over the Tibetan and Bhutanese forces allied against him and was the first to unite Bhutan into a single country.

1644        Trongsa Dzong was built. Trongsa was the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family.

1783        Captain Samuel Turner, a British army officer, traveled through Bhutan and Tibet.
    (Econ, 1/31/09, p.91)

1907        Dec 17, A Bhutan royal dynasty was founded. Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck became the first hereditary king of Bhutan.
    (SFEC, 2/23/96, p.T6)(SSFC, 12/14/14, p.N3)

1949        Bhutan decided that its policies would be guided by relations with India.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.55)

1952        Bhutan enthroned the third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

1955        Nov 11, Jigme Singye Wangchuk was born. He became king of Bhutan in 1972.
    (SSFC, 3/17/02, p.C10)(www.worldwhoswho.com)

1956        Bhutan abolished serfdom.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.55)

1958        Bhutan’s position of gongzim, held since 1907 by the Dorji family, was upgraded in 1958 to lonchen (prime minister) and was still in the hands of the Dorji.

1958        Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India, trekked for a month to make a treaty with Bhutan. He demanded to be met at the border by someone of equal rank. King Wangchuk balked at making the trip and quickly appointed his aide, Jigme Palden Dorji, as prime minister to meet Nehru 127 miles away by mule and foot.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)(Econ, 5/14/05, p.46)

1958        The cut-off year for granting Nepalese citizenship. Families living in Bhutan after this year would be considered as illegals.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)

1960        During the 1960s many Nepalese migrated to Bhutan for economic reasons.
    (Econ, 10/25/03, p.39)

1961        Bhutan constructed its 1st paved road.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.55)

1967        A national library was established.
    (SFC, 3/15/01, p.A24)

1968        In Bhutan Michael Aris (1946-1999), a graduate from Durham Univ., was invited about this time to become the private tutor of the children of the royal family of Bhutan. Aris spent 6 years in Bhutan. In 1972 he married Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.
    (SFC, 3/30/99, p.F4)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Aris)

1971        Bhutan joined the United Nations.
    (WSJ, 1/25/00, p.A1)

1972        Jul 24, Bhutan’s King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck died while on safari in Kenya. His son Jigme Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck (b.1955), the 4th of his dynasty, became king.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A1)(SFEC, 2/23/96, p.T5)(SSFC, 3/17/02, p.C10)

1972        Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck formally launched his Gross National Happiness (GNH) plan.
    (SFC, 12/4/08, p.A1)

1974        Jun 2, Jigme Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck (18) was crowned king of Bhutan.

1974        Bhutan opened up to limited tourism.
    (WSJ, 1/25/00, p.A1)

1981        Bhutan’s King Jigme Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced 20 district committees elected by households in an effort to decentralize authority. In 1991 this was extended to 201 committees.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.57)

1983        The Paro Airport, 40 miles from the capital, was constructed.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)

c1985    The government invoked codes that mandated the use of dress, language and architectural style that reflected the majority Drukpas.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A1)

1985        The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with the aim of promoting economic cooperation and alleviating poverty in South Asia. Members included Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
    (AP, 11/13/05)

1986        Bhutan’s first newspaper, the government weekly Kuensel, began publishing. It recorded its first crime in 1989, the same year that the first satellite dish arrived.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)

1988        A census found that southern Bhutan had a lot of illegal Nepalese settlers. Protestors of the census were jailed, some expulsion orders were issued and others were harassed out.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A1)(Econ, 10/25/03, p.39)

1988        Jamie Zeppa of Canada began a teaching assignment in Bhutan. In 1999 "Stranger in the Strange Land of Bhutan," a memoir of her experiences was published.
    (SFEC, 8/8/99, p.T10)(WSJ, 9/10/99, p.W7)

1988-1993    Thousands of Nepali speakers left Bhutan after they failed to produce documents to prove their citizenship.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.56)

1989        A conservation trust fund was created for the country.
    (WSJ, 3/6/97, p.A8)

1989        Telephones were introduced to Bhutan.
    (WSJ, 1/25/00, p.A1)

1995        Bhutan’s national assembly declared that 60 percent of the country must be forested, including 26 percent that is set aside as protected.
    (AP, 12/18/05)

1998        Apr 19, In Bhutan a fire destroyed the Taktsang Monastery, that dated back in some form to the 9th century.
    (SFC, 4/22/98, p.A9)

1998        Jul 7, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck gave the legislature power to fire him and to choose a Cabinet.
    (SFC, 7/8/98, p.A12)

1998        Bhutan’s King Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck formalized a plan dubbed the Four Pillars of Happiness: sustainable economic development, conservation of the environment, the promotion of national culture and good governance. This was based on his belief in Gross National Happiness (GNH) as opposed to Gross National Product (GNP).
    (WSJ, 10/13/04, p.A14)(Econ, 12/18/04, p.56)
1998        Bhutan and China signed an agreement to maintain peace along their 470 km (290 miles) of shared border.
    (AFP, 6/22/12)

1999        Bhutan introduced television and access to the Internet.
    (Econ, 12/18/04, p.55)

2000        Aug 8, In Bhutan flash floods and mudslides left at least 50 people dead.
    (SFC, 8/9/00, p.A14)

2001        Sep 9, In Damak, Nepal, a Bhutanese leader, R.K. Budhathoki, was attacked and killed with khukris, the traditional Nepalese curved knives.
    (SFC, 9/10/01, p.B2)

2001        Bhutan and Nepalese authorities agreed on a joint screening system to determine on which refugees would be allowed to go back to Bhutan. Over 100,000 people were in refugee camps in Nepal.
    (Econ, 10/25/03, p.39)

2002        Jul, The National Assembly passed a resolution saying the military will expel Bodo guerrillas if they do not leave peacefully.
    (SFC, 10/28/02, p.A7)

2002        Oct 27, In India separatist guerrillas in Assam state killed 22 villagers. Members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland operated out of bases in Bhutan. The 10-year insurgency has left over 10,000 dead.
    (SFC, 10/28/02, p.A7)

2003        Jan 5, In Bhutan Indian separatists said 50 Indian soldiers attacked their camps. 15 soldiers and 7 rebels were reported killed.
    (SFC, 1/8/03, p.A16)

2003        Dec 15, The royal army of Bhutan seized a camp near its border with India that they believe housed the headquarters of a major Indian separatist group.
    (AP, 12/16/03)

2003        Dec 18, Bhutan's royal army killed at least 90 Indian separatist guerrillas in three days of fighting to shut down their bases in the tiny Himalayan nation. the Bhutanese army reported six to seven fatal casualties.
    (AP, 12/18/03)

2004        Dec 17, Bhutan began to enforce a total ban on tobacco sales and smoking in public. The royal National Assembly passed the resolution in July.
    (SFC, 11/30/04, p.A2)

2005        Mar, Bhutan’s King Wangchuck published a draft constitution. It included freedom of thought and speech, a 2-party electoral system, and a mandatory retirement age of 65 for the king, to be endorsed by two0thirds of the National Assembly.
    (Econ, 5/14/05, p.46)

2005        Nov 12, In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a 2-day summit aimed to alleviate poverty and boost trade and cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Leaders called for greater cooperation within the region to deal with the aftermath of disasters like the Kashmir earthquake and last year's devastating tsunami.
    (AFP, 11/12/05)

2005        Dec 18, Bhutan state media reported that the king has said he will step down as ruler in 2008 and hold the country's first national elections for a parliamentary democracy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said he will be succeeded by his son (25), the crown prince.
    (AP, 12/18/05)

2006        Dec 2, A bomb exploded in southwest Bhutan near the border with India, seriously injuring four people and shattering the calm of the isolated Himalayan kingdom.
    (AP, 12/3/06)

2006        Dec 14, The king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck (51), signed a royal decree giving charge of the kingdom to Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (26) at a special session of the Bhutanese Cabinet in the capital, Thimphu. This was more than a year ahead of schedule.
    (AP, 12/16/06)

2006        Bhutan’s economy grew this year by 12% and GDP per person was reckoned to be about $1,400. Hydroelectric power sent to India accounted for 87.5% of Bhutan’s exports.
    (Econ, 4/28/07, p.50)

2007        Apr 28, It was reported life expectancy for the Bhutan’s 700,000 people had increased to 64 years.
    (Econ, 4/28/07, p.50)

2007        May 22, The UN's top refugee official arrived in Nepal for a visit aimed at resolving the fate of around 100,000 refugees from Bhutan stuck in Nepal for 16 years.
    (AP, 5/22/07)

2007        May 30, In Nepal some 10,000 Bhutanese refugees demonstrated at the India-Nepal border, where a day earlier Indian troops had opened fire, killing one refugee.
    (AP, 5/30/07)

2007        Jun 19, Indian police said they have discovered a stash of hundreds of human skulls and thigh bones and arrested a gang for allegedly smuggling them to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan for use in Buddhist monasteries.
    (Reuters, 6/19/07)

2007        Jul 26, Bhutan's prime minister and six members of his Cabinet resigned to pave the way for the 1st parliamentary elections in the Buddhist kingdom and its transition to democracy.
    (AP, 7/27/07)

2008        Jan 1, Bhutan election officials announced that the Himalayan nation will begin its transformation from an absolute monarchy to a democracy with several leaders fresh out of college at the helm. The size of the country's population is unknown. Estimates put it between 700,000 and 2.2 million.
    (AP, 1/2/08)

2008        Mar 24, Bhutan held its first democratic elections. A new parliament and new constitution diluted the powers of its popular monarch. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) or Bhutan United Party, led by ex-premier Jigmi Thinley (55), won 44 of 47 seats. Thinley has pledged to boost development and happiness in the Himalayan nation.
    (AP, 3/25/08)(Econ, 3/29/08, p.58)

2008        Jul 18, Bhutan adopted a new constitution following three years of work.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Bhutan)(Econ, 11/9/13, p.65)

2008        Aug 2, In Sri Lanka a two-day summit of leaders of the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), opened amid extraordinary security. Leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the summit. Government troops captured rebel-held Vellankulam village in Mannar, the last rebel stronghold in the area. Fresh fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger separatists killed 14 rebels and two soldiers across the embattled northern region.
    (AP, 8/2/08)(AP, 8/3/08)

2008        Nov 6, The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan crowned a new king, placing a charismatic Oxford-educated bachelor as head of state of the world's newest democracy. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (28) became the world's youngest reigning monarch.
    (AFP, 11/6/08)

2008        Nov 24, Bhutan opened its 4th annual Gross National Happiness (GNH) conference.
    (SFC, 12/4/08, p.A1)

2008        The population of Bhutan numbered about 642,000.
    (SFC, 12/4/08, p.A1)

2009        Sep 21, A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, killing at least 12 people and damaging monasteries and other buildings.
    (AP, 9/21/09)(AP, 9/22/09)

2010        Nov 21, A global tiger summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, approved a wide-ranging program with the goal of doubling the world's tiger population in the wild by 2022 backed by governments of the 13 countries that still have tiger populations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia. Experts wild tigers could become extinct in 12 years if countries where they still roam fail to take quick action to protect their habitats and step up the fight against poaching.
    (AP, 11/21/10)

2010        Dec 13, A UN official said a campaign to resettle ethnic Nepalese forced out of Bhutan two decades ago has found homes for 40,000 refugees in Western countries, although tens of thousands continue to wait.
    (AP, 12/13/10)

2011        Feb 6, In Bhutan the top diplomats of India and Pakistan held talks in Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital, in the first high-level meeting between the two rival countries since July.
    (AFP, 2/6/11)

2011        Oct 13, Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck (31), the fifth Dragon King, married his commoner bride, Jetsun Pema (21).
    (AP, 10/13/11)

2011        Nov 19, In Bhutan a Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas was held in Bhutan's capital Thimphu. India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan agreed to cooperate on energy, water, food and biodiversity issues.
    (AP, 11/20/11)

2011        Dec 4, The Kathmandu-based Int’l. Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) published reports showing that Nepal's glaciers have shrunk by 21 percent and Bhutan's by 22 percent over the last 30 years.
    (AFP, 12/5/11)

2012        Feb 23, In Bhutan "The Bhutanese," an English-language paper, hit the market for the first time and will initially appear as a bi-weekly. A media revolution has seen more than 10 titles sprout up in the tiny Himalayan nation since the start of democracy in 2008.
    (AFP, 2/23/12)

2012        Jun 21, Chinese PM Wen Jiabao held talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Y. Thinley on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio De Janeiro. They agreed to establish diplomatic relations and resolve a long-standing border dispute.
    (AFP, 6/22/12)

2013        Apr 23, The people of Bhutan voted in the nation's second parliamentary election. The People’s Democratic Party, led by Tshering Tobgay, won 32 of 47 seats in the National Assembly as opposed to 15 seats for the ruling Peace and Prosperity Party.
    (AP, 4/23/13)(SSFC, 7/14/13, p.A2)

2014        Jun 15, Indian PM Narendra Modi began his first visit abroad since taking office, arriving in Bhutan to launch a drive to reassert Indian influence in the region.
    (Reuters, 6/15/14)

2014        Jun 16, Bhutan promised it will not allow its territory to be used against India, an early success for Indian PM Narendra Modi's region-wide drive to shore up diplomatic relations with neighbors in return for stronger economic ties.
    (Reuters, 6/16/14)

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