Bhutan: Background & Geography

Introduction Bhutan
In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs. This role was assumed by independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned the areas of Bhutan annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India's responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. A refugee issue of some 100,000 Bhutanese in Nepal remains unresolved; 90% of the refugees are housed in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps.
Geography Bhutan
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates:
27 30 N, 90 30 E
Map references:
total: 47,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 47,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
about half the size of Indiana
Land boundaries:
total: 1,075 km
border countries: China 470 km, India 605 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
none (landlocked)
varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Drangme Chhu 97 m
highest point: Kula Kangri 7,553 m
Natural resources:
timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide
Land use:
arable land: 2.98%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.59% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
400 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
violent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country's name which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season
Environment - current issues:
soil erosion; limited access to potable water
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes

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