Crime in India is very common and happens in many different ways. Along with violent crimes (like homicide, robbery, and assault), and property crimes (like burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), there are major problems with organized crime, the illegal drug trade, arms trafficking, corruption, and many other forms of crime. The most common types of crimes in India are listed below.
Organized crime[change | change source]
Organized crime is planned and done by groups of people. Their goals are to gain power and make money in Illegal ways. Common organized crimes in India include:
Many criminal organizations also commit these crimes:
- Black marketing (trading or selling things on the black market, which is illegal)
- Political violence (for example, trying to hurt or scare political candidates who they do not like)
- Religious violence (hurting, scaring, or bothering other people because they are a different religion)
- Abduction (kidnapping)
Illegal drug trade[change | change source]
India is located between the Golden Crescent (made of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) and the Golden Triangle (made of Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos). The Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle are the two biggest makers of opium in Asia. (Opium can be smoked on its own, or it can be made into heroin.) But their opium-making is illicit - secret and illegal. Because of India's location, a lot of this illegal opium is trafficked (snuck illegally) through India's borders.
India is the world's largest maker of legal opium. But its opium gets diverted (taken away by drug traffickers) to other countries where opium and heroin are illegal.
India is a common starting point for drug traffickers who take heroin on ships from Southwest Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and from Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. The heroin is then smuggled from Pakistan and Myanmar, with some heroin also shipped through Nepal. Most heroin shipped from India goes to Europe. There have been reports of heroin smuggled from Mumbai to Nigeria to get the drugs to more countries.
In Maharashtra, Mumbai is an important centre where people sell heroin. The most commonly used drug in Mumbai is "Indian heroin" (called desi mal by the local population). Both public transportation (road and rail transportation) and private transportation are used for this drug trade.
The Government of India has tried a few ways of fighting drug trafficking in the country. India is a party to (meaning it signed onto and agreed to follow):
Arms trafficking[change | change source]
According to a report published together by Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in 2006, there are around 40 million illegal small arms in India. This would mean that India had over half of the small arms in the entire world (the world had 75 million, according to the report).
Most of the illegal small arms end up in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. In India, an used AK-47 costs $3,800 on the illegal black market. But a large amount of illegal small arms are made in illegal arms factories in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and sold on the black market for as little as $5.08.
Chinesepistols are in demand in the illegal small arms market in India because they are easy to get and cheaper. This creates a major problem for the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These states are affected by Naxalism. Naxalites are groups of Communistguerrilla fighters in India. (Guerrilla fighters are people who attack a regular army.) Many Chinese pistols, AK-47s, and M-16 rifles are smuggled into India through the border between India and Nepal. These weapons are then used by the Naxalites, who have ties to Maoists in Nepal.
Poaching and wildlife trafficking[change | change source]
Illegal wildlife trade in India has increased. There are laws against killing some animals, taking rare plants, and smuggling them into other countries. But a report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in 2004 said that more traders of wildlife skins go to India than any other country. Between 1994 and 2003, there were 784 cases where the skins of tigers, leopards, or otters have been seized (taken away from illegal traders by police). Also between 1994 and 2003, police seized 698 otters who had been poached (illegally taken or killed).
Poaching of elephants is a big problem in Southern India and in the North-Eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram. Most tiger poaching happens in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Once they are poached, leopards, rhinoceros, reptiles, birds, insects, and rare species of plants are smuggled into the countries in Southeast Asia and the People's Republic of China. Often, poachers bring illegal animal skins from India to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, ion the way to Tibet and China. In its report in 2004, the Environmental Investigation Agency said that there was not enough cooperation between India, Nepal, and the People's Republic of China. Because these countries were not cooperating, they could not work together to enforce anti-poaching laws, and were not interested enough in fighting wildlife crime together.
On April 1, 1973, Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi launched Project Tiger, which was first started in 1972. Project Tiger was a wildlife conservation project - a project that tried to protect wildlife from being poached. Project Tiger created 23 tiger reserves (protected areas for tigers), said they had been successful, since the number of tigers in India had increased. But critics like conservationist Billy Arjan Singh said that tigers had only moved to India from Nepal because their habitat in Nepal had been destroyed - not because of wildlife policy in India.
Cyber crime[change | change source]
Cyber crime - crimes done by computer - are very, very common in India. Examples of cyber crime include:
- Computer hacking (where a person breaks into a computer using another computer, and steals information)
- Cyber stalking (following someone all the time, using a computer, to make them feel scared)
- E-mailfraud (for example, emailing people asking to send money in scams)
- Spam (where "spammers" get email addresses for thousands of people and send them all unwanted ads)
India has tried many things to decrease cyber crime. In May of 2000, the Parliament of India passed a law called The Information Technology Act 2000 was passed by the Parliament of India in May 2000. Its goal was to decrease cyber crimes and start setting up laws to allow e-commerce (where many)ey could be exchanged electronically. However, Pavan Duggan, a lawyer with the Supreme Court of India and cyber law expert, complained that the IT act focused too much on promoting e-commerce and not enough on dealing with cyber crimes. Cyber crime cells have been set up in major cities. But Duggal said the problem is that most cases are never reported because people do not know their rights under Indian law.
In 2001, India and United States joined together in an Indian-US cyber security forum as part of a counter-terrorism dialogue. In 2006, India and the US agreed to have their law enforcement agencies work together more in fighting cyber crimes. They saw this as an important as part of counter-terrorism efforts.
In 2006, U.S. PresidentGeorge W. Bush and Indian Prime MinisterManmohan Singh met to discuss cyber security. Afterward, they held a press conference together. They said that because cyber security and cyber forensic research (like finding evidence in computers) are so important, India and the United States were also talking about a draft protocol on cyber security.
Corruption and police misconduct[change | change source]
Corruption is very common in India. It is common in every section and every level of Indian society. Corruption has also become a big part of Indian politics. In India, corruption takes many forms, including:
- Bribes (for example, giving money to a government worker to get them to do something illegal)
- Tax evasion (not paying taxes)
- Not obeying exchange controls (rules made by the government about whether people can buy or sell currencies (money) from other countries)
- embezzlement (stealing or misusing money that belongs to a company or government)
India has state laws that make it illegal for police to torture people. But these laws are not often obeyed. Torture is often used when people are arrested or jailed by the police. This torture is a major cause of deaths in police custody. The police often torture innocent people until they 'confess' (they say they did the crime). This false confession is then used to save important, rich people who have actually committed crimes. One major problem that keeps police violence possible is a lack of accountability (meaning no one gets in trouble if they torture a person), according to G.P. Joshi. Joshi runs the Indian branch of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in New Delhi.
In 2006, the Supreme Court of India decided a case called Prakash Singh vs. Union of India. In its decision, the Court ordered central and state governments to begin police reform. The Court had two goals with its decision. The first was to give tenure to police officers, and to make it simpler for police officers to get hired or transfer to a different area. The second was to increase police accountability.
In 2006, seven policemen were charge-sheeted (officially accused of having done a crime) for police misconduct, and eleven were convicted.
Criminals visit markets and other places that are popular with tourists, with the goal of committing crimes against foreigners (people from other countries). Westerners have become victims of robbery, rape, and other violent attacks.
Because foreigners often have more money than most people in India, they are often criminals' favorite target for robbery and other serious crimes.
In April 1999, a group of Indians made friends with Swaraj Damree, a tourist from Mauritius. The group later kidnapped Damree and held him captive for 25 days. They robbed him of cash worth $1,500 in U.S. dollars, and stole his traveller's cheques, wrist watch, gold chain, bracelet, two bags and suitcase. In 2000, two German tourists were shot in Himachal Pradesh. A few weeks later, two Spanish tourists were killed by robbers in the same state.
Many foreign tourists are victims of violent crime in Kolkata. In September 2006, criminals robbed the wallet of a British woman in Kolkata. The same month, a Japanese tourist was robbed on his way to Sudder Street. In October 2006, a foreigner was robbed during the day on Park Street.
Petty crime[change | change source]
Petty crime, like stealing people's wallets and bags, is common in India. Stealing valuable things from foreigners' luggage on trains and buses is also common. People traveling alone are especially likely to have their things stolen by pickpockets and purse snatchers, who usually work in crowded areas.
Passport theft[change | change source]
In India, stealing tourists' passports from their luggage on trains and buses is very common. Theft of U.S. passports happens often, especially in major tourist areas.
Scam incidents[change | change source]
Criminals run many scams against tourists, especially in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The criminals usually pick younger tourists to try to scam. They tell the tourists that they can make a lot of money if they move gems or gold, or if they take expensive carpets back home in their luggage to avoid customs duties.
If a tourist agrees, the scam continues for a few days. Then a new scam artist offers to show the tourist interesting places in the area. The scammers also offer cheap places to stay and meals to the tourist. They do this so that the tourist ends up being with the scam artist all the time. The scam artist is then threatened and may be hurt, until he gives up his passport to the scammers.
In 2006, an American became victim of a scam at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. She lost $77 U.S. dollars.
Taxi scam[change | change source]
Taxi drivers also run scams in India. These scams are run on tourists who do not know their way around India or Indian airports. Some taxi drivers will drive tourists around the whole airport, so they can charge a lot of money for the ride, when the part of the airport that the tourist wants to go to was actually very close by. In a report, the Overseas Security Advisory Council talked about taxi scams and how to avoid them.
Rape of foreigners[change | change source]
There have been more and more rapes of tourists at popular tourist spots. In March 2006, Biti Mohanty, the son of a senior police official in Orissa, raped a German tourist in Alwar, Rajasthan. The next month, a Japanese woman was raped in Pushkar, Rajasthan. In June 2007, a South Korean tourist was raped near Manali. In September 2007, two Japanese women were gang-raped in Agra, a popular tourist spot in India where the Taj Mahal is located.
The Indian state of Rajasthan is a popular place among foreign tourists. One out of every three tourists that go to India visit this state. Rajasthan has been rattled by rape cases of foreign tourists. The Indian Bureau of Consular Affairs has warned women from the United States not to travel alone in India.
Crime over Time[change | change source]
A report published by the National Crime Records Bureau compared crime rates from 1953 to 2006. The report found that:
- Burglary was less common in 2006 than in 1953. It was 38% less common in 2006 (having dropped from 1,47,379 known cases of burglary in 1953 to 91,666 in 2006).
- Robbery had increased by 120% (from 8,407 in 1953 to 18,456 in 2006).
- Riots had increased by 176% (from 20,529 in 1953 to 56,641 in 2006).
- Murder had seriously increased, by 231% (from 9,803 in 1953 to 32,481 in 2006).
- Kidnapping had increased the most, by 356% (from 5,261 to 23,991)
In 2006, 51,02,460 cognizable crimes were committed. In India, cognizable crimes are serious crimes, where a police officer could make an arrest without needing a warrant first. Examples of cognizable crimes include rape, murder, and theft.
Among the cognizable crimes committed in 2006, there were 18,78,293 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 32,24,167 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes. The IPC crime rate in 2006 was 167.7 compared to 165.3 in 2005, showing an increase of 1.5% in 2006 over 2005. SLL crime rate in 2006 was 287.9 compared to 290.5 in 2005, showing a decrease of 0.9% in 2006 over 2005.
|Year||Total cog. crimes under IPC||Murder||Kidnapping||Robbery||Burglary||Riots|
|% Change in 2006 over 1953||212.0||231.0||356.0||120.0||-38.0||176.0|
SOURCE: National Crime Records Bureau
Crime by area[change | change source]
Different places in India have different amounts and types of crime. For example:
- In 2006, the highest crime rate was reported in the city of Pondicherry (447.7%) for crimes under Indian Penal Code. This is 2.7 times the national crime rate of 167.7%. Among states in India, Kerala reported the highest crime rate at 312.5%.
- Kolkata (71.0%) and Madurai (206.2%) were the only two very large cities which reported less crime rate than the states they belong to West Bengal (79.0%) and Tamil Nadu (227.6%).
- About 34% (one out of three) IPC crimes in India's very large cities happened in only three of those cities: Delhi (16.2%), Mumbai (9.5%), and Bangalore (8.1%).
- Of the 35 very large cities in India, Indore reported the highest overall crime rate (769.1%). The second- and third-highest crime rates were from Bhopal (719.5%) and Jaipur (597.1%).
- Some cities had higher rates of violent crime than the whole country of India. India's national violent crime rate was 18.4%. Jammu and Kashmir's violent crime rate was 33.7%; Manipur's was 33.0%; Assam's was 30.4%; and both Daman and Diu's and Pondicherry's were 29.4%
- Uttar Pradesh reported the highest rate of violent crimes. Violent crimes in Uttar Pradesh made up 12.1% of the total violent crimes in all of India (24,851 out of 2,05,656). Violent crimes in Bihar made up 11.8% of violent crimes in India. (24,271 out of 2,05,6556).
- Among India's 35 very big cities, rapes in Delhi made up 31.2% of total rape cases in the 35 cities (533 out of 1,706).Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of rape cases (2,900), making up 15.0% of the rape cases reported in all of India.
- Uttar Pradesh reported 16.9% (5,480 out of 32,481) of India's murder cases, and 18.4% (4,997 out of 27,230) of the country's attempted murder cases.
Notes[change | change source]
- ↑P. J. Alexander (2002). Policing India in the New Millennium. Allied Publishers. pp. p658. ISBN 8177642073.
- ↑Caterina Gouvis Roman, Heather Ahn-Redding, Rita James Simon (2007). Illicit Drug Policies, Trafficking, and Use the World Over. Lexington Books. pp. p183. ISBN 0739120883.
- ↑ 3.03.1"CIA World Factbook - India". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
- ↑ 4.04.14.24.3India
- ↑ 5.05.15.2"Drug trade dynamics in India".
- ↑Daniel J. Koenig (2001). International Police Cooperation: A World Perspective. Lexington Books. pp. p172. ISBN 0739102265.
- ↑ 7.07.17.27.37.47.5India home to 40 million illegal small-arms
- ↑"Small Arms Trafficking".
- ↑ 9.09.1Illegal wildlife trade grows in India
- ↑ 10.010.110.210.310.4The Tiger Skin Trail
- ↑R. Sukumar (1989). The Asian Elephant: Ecology and Management. Cambridge University Press. pp. p210. ISBN 052143758X.
- ↑Charles Santiapillai, Peter Jackson (1990). The Asian Elephant: An Action Plan for Its Conservation. pp. p30. ISBN 2880329973.
- ↑The situation in India
- ↑ 14.014.114.2At least one tiger is killed by poachers every day
- ↑ 15.015.115.215.3Byte by Byte
- ↑India cyber law comes into force
- ↑ 17.017.117.2India-US to counter cyber crime
- ↑Where will corruption take India?People's Union for Civil Liberties
- ↑Corruption in India
- ↑Torture main reason of death in police custodyThe Tribune
- ↑Custodial deaths in West Bengal and India's refusal to ratify the Convention against TortureAsian Human Rights Commission 26 February, 2004
- ↑Custodial deaths and torture in IndiaAsian Legal Resource Centre
- ↑Police Accountability in India: Policing Contaminated by Politics
- ↑The Supreme Court takes the lead on police reform: Prakash Singh vs. Union of India, CHRI
- ↑ 25.0025.0125.0225.0325.0425.0525.0625.0725.0825.0925.1025.1125.12Snapshots – 2006National Crime Records Bureau
- ↑ 26.026.126.226.326.426.5"India 2007 Crime & Safety Report: New Delhi".
- ↑Foreign tourist drugged, robbed, tortured, released after 25 days
- ↑India's valley of death
- ↑ 29.029.129.229.3"Shudder street". The Telegraph
- ↑ 30.030.130.2"Crime & Safety Report: Chennai".
- ↑"TRAVEL REPORT India".
- ↑ 32.032.1"Consular Information Sheet: India". Bureau of Consular Affairs
- ↑India Scam Targets Female Traveler
- ↑Handle foreign tourists with care, DNA
- ↑Crimes against tourists alarm tour operators, DNA
- ↑ 36.036.136.2"Main accused arrested in Agra tourist rape case".
- ↑Biti Mohanty's father gets showcause notice, DNA
- ↑Another foreign tourist cries rape, The Times of India
- ↑Japanese tourist alleges rape, The Hindu
- ↑West India state troubled by rape case of foreign tourist
- ↑ 41.041.141.2Snapshots (1953—2006)National Crime Records Bureau
Not to be confused with Bataan, Bohtan, or Butuan.
Coordinates: 27°25′01″N90°26′06″E / 27.417°N 90.435°E / 27.417; 90.435
|Kingdom of Bhutan|
Anthem: Druk tsendhen
and largest city
27°28.0′N89°38.5′E / 27.4667°N 89.6417°E / 27.4667; 89.6417
|Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
• Prime Minister
• Upper house
• Lower house
• Unification of Bhutan
• House of Wangchuck
|17 December 1907|
• Indo-Bhutan Treaty
|8 August 1949|
• UN membership
|21 September 1971|
• Constitutional monarchy
|18 July 2008|
|38,394 km2 (14,824 sq mi) (133rd)|
• Water (%)
• 2016 estimate
• 2005a census
|19.3/km2 (50.0/sq mi) (196th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|$2,870  (130)|
|HDI (2015)|| 0.607|
medium · 132nd
|Currency||Ngultrum(BTN) and Indian rupee(INR)|
• Summer (DST)
|not observed (UTC+6)|
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||BT|
Bhutan (; འབྲུག་ཡུལ་Druk Yul), officially the Kingdom of Bhutan (འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north, the Sikkim state of India and the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, the Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and the state of Assam and North Bengal in the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region's second least populous nation after the Maldives. Thimphu is its capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is its financial center.
The independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy. Following a civil war in the 19th century, the House of Wangchuck reunited the country and established relations with the British Empire. Bhutan fostered a strategic partnership with India during the rise of Chinese communism and has a disputed border with the People's Republic of China. In 2008, it transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held the first election to the National Assembly of Bhutan. The National Assembly of Bhutan is part of the bi-cameral parliament of the Bhutanese democracy.
The country's landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The highest mountain in Bhutan is the Gangkhar Puensum, which is also a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. There is also diverse wildlife in Bhutan.
In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business, and peace; second in per capita income; and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country. Hydroelectricity accounts for the major share of its exports.The government is a parliamentary democracy; the head of state is the King of Bhutan, known as the "Dragon King". Bhutan maintains diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the European Union, but does not have formal ties with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It is a member of the United Nations, SAARC, BIMSTEC and the Non Aligned Movement. The Royal Bhutan Army maintains extensive military relations with the Indian Armed Forces.
Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.
The precise etymology of "Bhutan" is unknown, although it is likely to derive from the Tibetanendonym "Bod" used for Tibet. Traditionally, it is taken to be a transcription of the SanskritBhoṭa-anta "end of Tibet", a reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture.
Since the 17th century the official name of Bhutan has been Druk yul (country of the Drukpa Lineage, the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, a reference to the country's dominant Buddhist sect) and Bhutan only appears in English-language official correspondence.
Names similar to Bhutan — including Bohtan, Buhtan, Bottanthis, Bottan and Bottanter — began to appear in Europe around the 1580s. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's 1676 Six Voyages is the first to record the name Boutan. However, in every case, these seem to have been describing not modern Bhutan but the Kingdom of Tibet. The modern distinction between the two did not begin until well into the Scottish explorer George Bogle's 1774 expedition — realizing the differences between the two regions, cultures and states, his final report to the East India Company formally proposed labelling the Druk Desi's kingdom as "Boutan" and the Panchen Lama's as "Tibet". The EIC's surveyor general James Rennell first anglicized the French name as Bootan and then popularized the distinction between it and greater Tibet.
Locally, Bhutan has been known by many names. One of the earliest Western records of Bhutan, the 1627 Relação of the PortugueseJesuitsEstêvão Cacella and João Cabral, records its name variously as Cambirasi (among the Koch Biharis), Potente, and Mon (an endonym for southern Tibet). The first time a separate Kingdom of Bhutan appeared on a western map, it did so under its local name as "Broukpa". Others including Lho Mon ("Dark Southland"), Lho Tsendenjong ("Southland of the Cypress"), Lhomen Khazhi ("Southland of the Four Approaches") and Lho Menjong ("Southland of the Herbs").
Main articles: History of Bhutan and Timeline of Bhutanese history
Stone tools, weapons, elephants, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC, although there are no existing records from that time. Historians have theorized that the state of Lhomon (literally, "southern darkness"), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference to the Monpa, the aboriginal peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and AD 600. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong (Sandalwood Country), and Lhomon Khashi, or Southern Mon (country of four approaches), have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.
Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan in the 7th century AD. Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–649), a convert to Buddhism, who actually had extended the Tibetan Empire into Sikkim and Bhutan, ordered the construction of two Buddhist temples, at Bumthang in central Bhutan and at Kyichu (near Paro) in the Paro Valley. Buddhism was propagated in earnest in 746 under King Sindhu Rāja (also Künjom; Sendha Gyab; Chakhar Gyalpo), an exiled Indian king who had established a government in Bumthang at Chakhar Gutho Palace.:35:13
Much of early Bhutanese history is unclear because most of the records were destroyed when fire ravaged the ancient capital, Punakha, in 1827. By the 10th century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various subsects of Buddhism emerged that were patronized by the various Mongol warlords. After the decline of the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century, these subsects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the Drukpa Lineage by the 16th century.
Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms, when the area was unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, who had fled religious persecution in Tibet. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzongs or fortresses, and promulgated the Tsa Yig, a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralized control. Many such dzong still exist and are active centers of religion and district administration. PortugueseJesuitsEstêvão Cacella and João Cabral were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan in 1627, on their way to Tibet. They met Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the Zhabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months Cacella wrote a long letter from the Chagri Monastery reporting on his travels. This is a rare extant report of the Shabdrung.
When Ngawang Namgyal died in 1651, his passing was kept secret for 54 years. After a period of consolidation, Bhutan lapsed into internal conflict. In the year 1711 Bhutan went to war against the Mughal Empire and its Subedars, who restored Koch Bihar in the south. During the chaos that followed, the Tibetans unsuccessfully attacked Bhutan in 1714.
In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British East India Company which assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the BengalDuars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.
During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro and Tongsa led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the ponlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several civil wars and rebellions during 1882–85.
In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by an assembly of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families. John Claude White, British Political Agent in Bhutan, took photographs of the ceremony. The British government promptly recognized the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha, a subsidiary alliance which gave the British control of Bhutan's foreign affairs and meant that Bhutan was treated as an Indian princely state. This had little real effect, given Bhutan's historical reticence, and also did not appear to affect Bhutan's traditional relations with Tibet. After the new Union of India gained independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, Bhutan became one of the first countries to recognize India's independence. On 8 August 1949, a treaty similar to that of 1910, in which Britain had gained power over Bhutan's foreign relations, was signed with the newly independent India.
In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck established the country's legislature – a 130-member National Assembly – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of sixteen after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.
Political reform and modernization
Further information: Law of Bhutan and Constitution of Bhutan
Bhutan's political system has recently changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transferred most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.
In 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country's gross national happiness, but warned that the "misuse" of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.
A new constitution was presented in early 2005. In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would abdicate the throne in his son's favour in 2008. On 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed by the first national parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.
On 6 November 2008, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, eldest son of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was crowned King.
Main article: Geography of Bhutan
Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas, landlocked between the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the west and south. It lies between latitudes 26°N and 29°N, and longitudes 88°E and 93°E. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. Elevation rises from 200 m (660 ft) in the southern foothills to more than 7,000 m (23,000 ft). This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan's outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m (23,000 ft) above sea level; the highest point in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 metres (24,840 ft), which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The lowest point, at 98 m (322 ft), is in the valley of Drangme Chhu, where the river crosses the border with India. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.
The Black Mountains in the central region of Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Mo Chhu and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 and 4,925 m (4,921 and 16,158 ft) above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. The forests of the central Bhutan mountains consist of Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests in higher elevations and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests in lower elevations. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.
In the south, the Shiwalik Hills are covered with dense Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars Plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10 to 15 km (6.2 to 9.3 mi) wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars.
The northern Duars, which abut the Himalayan foothills, have rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savannah grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra River in India. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the country had a forest cover of 64% as of October 2005.
See also: Thimphu § Geography and climate
The climate in Bhutan varies with elevation, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.
See also: List of mammals of Bhutan
Bhutan signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 25 August 1995. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with two revisions, the most recent of which was received by the convention on 4 February 2010.
Bhutan has a rich primate life, with rare species such as the golden langur. A variant Assamese macaque has also been recorded, which is regarded by some authorities as a new species, Macaca munzala.
The Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, hispid hare and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowland and hardwood forests in the south. In the temperate zone, grey langur, tiger, goral and serow are found in mixed conifer, broadleaf and pine forests. Fruit-bearing trees and bamboo provide habitat for the Himalayan black bear, red panda, squirrel, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard, blue sheep, marmot, Tibetan wolf, antelope, Himalayan musk deer and the takin, Bhutan's national animal. The endangered wild water buffalo occurs in southern Bhutan, although in small numbers.
More than 770 species of bird have been recorded in Bhutan. The globally endangered white-winged duck has been added recently to Bhutan's bird list.
More than 5,400 species of plants are found in Bhutan. Fungi form a key part of Bhutanese ecosystems, with mycorrhizal species providing forest trees with mineral nutrients necessary for growth, and with wood decay and litter decomposing species playing an important role in natural recycling.
Main article: List of protected areas of Bhutan
The Eastern Himalayas have been identified as a global biodiversity hotspot and counted among the 234 globally outstanding ecoregions of the world in a comprehensive analysis of global biodiversity undertaken by WWF between 1995 and 1997.
According to the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature, Bhutan is viewed as a model for proactive conservation initiatives. The Kingdom has received international acclaim for its commitment to the maintenance of its biodiversity. This is reflected in the decision to maintain at least sixty percent of the land area under forest cover, to designate more than 40% of its territory as national parks, reserves and other protected areas, and most recently to identify a further nine percent of land area as biodiversity corridors linking the protected areas. All of Bhutan's protected land is connected to one another through a vast network of biological corridors, allowing animals to migrate freely throughout the country. Environmental conservation has been placed at the core of the nation's development strategy, the middle path. It is not treated as a sector but rather as a set of concerns that must be mainstreamed in Bhutan's overall approach to development planning and to be buttressed by the force of law. The country's constitution mentions environment standards in multiple sections.
Further information: Environmental issues in Bhutan
Although Bhutan's natural heritage is still largely intact, the government has said that it cannot be taken for granted and that conservation of the natural environment must be considered one of the challenges that will need to be addressed in the years ahead. Nearly 56.3% of all Bhutanese are involved with agriculture, forestry or conservation. The government aims to promote conservation as part of its plan to target Gross National Happiness. It currently has net zero greenhouse gas emissions because the small amount of pollution it creates is absorbed by the forests that cover most of the country. While the entire country collectively produces 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, the immense forest covering 72% of the country acts as a carbon sink, absorbing more than four million tons of carbon dioxide every year.
Bhutan has a number of progressive environmental policies that have caused the head of the UNFCCC to call it an "inspiration and role model for the world on how economies and different countries can address climate change while at the same time improving the life of the citizen."  For example, electric cars have been pushed in the country and as of 2014[update] make up a tenth of all cars. Because the country gets most of its energy from hydrolelectric power, it does not emit significant greenhouse gases for energy production.
Pressures on the natural environment are already evident and will be fuelled by a complex array of forces. They include population pressures, agricultural modernisation, poaching, hydro-power development, mineral extraction, industrialisation, urbanisation, sewage and waste disposal, tourism, competition for available land, road construction and the provision of other physical infrastructure associated with social and economic development.
In practice, the overlap of these extensive protected lands with populated areas has led to mutual habitat encroachment. Protected wildlife has entered agricultural areas, trampling crops and killing livestock. In response, Bhutan has implemented an insurance scheme, begun constructing solar powered alarm fences, watch towers, and search lights, and has provided fodder and salt licks outside human settlement areas to encourage animals to stay away.
The huge market value of the Ophiocordyceps sinensis fungus crop collected from the wild has also resulted in unsustainable exploitation which is proving very difficult to regulate.
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Bhutan
Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The reigning monarch is Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The current Prime Minister of Bhutan is Tshering Tobgay, leader of the People's Democratic Party.
The Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) is the head of state. The political system grants universal suffrage. It consists of the National Council, an upper house with 25 elected members; and the National Assembly with 47 elected lawmakers from political parties.
Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers led by the prime minister. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. Judicial power is vested in the courts of Bhutan. The legal system originates from the semi-theocratic Tsa Yig code and has been influenced by English common law during the 20th century. The chief justice is the administrative head of the judiciary.
The first general elections for the National Assembly were held on 24 March 2008. The chief contestants were the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT) led by Jigme Thinley and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) led by Sangay Ngedup. The DPT won the elections by taking 45 out of 47 seats.Jigme Thinley served as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2013.
The People's Democratic Party came to power in the 2013 elections. It won 32 seats with 54.88% of the vote. PDP leader Tshering Tobgay assumed the office of Prime Minister.
Main article: Foreign relations of Bhutan
In the early 20th century, Bhutan's principal foreign relations were with British India and Tibet. The government of British India
Two of Rennell's EIC maps, showing the division of "Thibet or Bootan" into separate regions.