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World > Asia > Bhutan > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Bhutan - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Traditionally a decentralized theocracy and, since 1907, a monarchy, Bhutan is evolving into a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. In 2002, the election laws were changed so that each citizen over the age of 21 could vote by secret ballot for a representative to the National Assembly (Tshongdu); previously, only one vote per family was allowed. The Tshongdu is composed of about 150 members, including some appointed from the Monk Body as well as some senior government representatives. They in turn elect the Council of Ministers. Prior to 2003, the Council had six members and rotated the responsibility as prime minister and head of government between each one for a period of one year, but in 2003, the National Assembly elected four additional ministers and also selected the prime minister.

The spiritual head of Bhutan, the Je Khempo--the only person besides the king who wears the saffron scarf, an honor denoting his authority over all religious institutions--is nominated by monastic leaders and appointed by the king. The Monk Body is involved in advising the government on many levels.

Bhutan is divided into 20 districts or dzongkhags, each headed by a district officer (dzongda) who must be elected. In addition, each district also is broken into smaller areas known as geog (village), led by a locally elected leader called a gup. There are 201 elected gups. In 2002, the National Assembly created a new structure for local governance at the geog level. Each local area is responsible for creating and implementing its own development plan, in coordination with the district.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Prime Minister (Head of Government and Minister of Foreign Affairs)--Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk
Minister for Trade and Industry--Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba
Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs--Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley
Minister for Finance--Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu
Minister for Education--Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho
Minister for Health--Lyonpo (Dr.) Jigme Singay
Minister for Labor and Human Resources--Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering
Minister for Works and Human Settlements--Lyonpo (Dr.) Kizang Dorji
Minister for Information and Communications--Lyonpo Leki Dorji
Minister for Agriculture--Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
Ambassador to the United Nations Headquarters--Lyonpo Daw Penjo

The United States and the Kingdom of Bhutan have not established formal diplomatic relations; however, the two governments have informal and cordial relations.

Bhutan maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The address is 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-682-2268, fax: 212-661-0551.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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