Bhutan (/buːˈtɑːn/; Dzongkha: འབྲུག་ཡུལ་ druk yul), officially the Kingdom of Bhutan (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་ druk gyal khap), is a sovereign state landlocked in the Eastern Himalayas in South Asia. Bhutan borders China to the north and India to the south, east and west. To the west, it is separated from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim; and further south it is separated from Bangladesh by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is Bhutan’s financial centre.
The King of Bhutan is known as the Druk Gyalpo, meaning the “Thunder Dragon King”. 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.
Bhutan enjoyed strong cultural links with Tibet and was located on the Silk Road between China and the Indian subcontinent. Its territory was composed of minor warring fiefs until the early 17th century. At the time the lama and military leader Ngawang Namgyal, the first Zhabdrung Rinpoche, unified the area and cultivated a distinct Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan established relations with the British Empire. During the rise of Chinese communism and its spread to Tibet, Bhutan signed a friendship treaty with newly independent India in 1949. The country departed from its historic isolation under the fourth Druk Gyalpo. In 2008, Bhutan transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held its first general election. During the same year, the throne passed to the fifth Druk Gyalpo. Bhutanese democracy has evolved as a two-party system.