Bhutan. UN refugee agency UNHCR submitted a proposal in May to resolve the problems of the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, but this was later rejected by Bhutan. The regime refuses to allow more than a few thousand refugees (of Nepalese origin) to return to Bhutan, where many of them have lived for many years.
Severe floods in August demanded hundreds of lives. The worst hit was the village of Pashakha in the southern part of the country, where over 200 people perished in a landslide triggered by the rain.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Bhutan. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
Bhutan admitted in July that separatists from Assam in northeastern India have had bases in the country since the mid-1990s. Bhutan National Assembly at the same time mandated the country’s army to use force to force the rebels out of the country, but it was unclear if and when such an offensive would be carried out. A few months later, separatists reportedly attacked their bases by Assam police forces.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Bhutan in 2000 was 590,910, ranking number 165 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.030% yearly, and the population density was 15.5054 people per km2.
The population of the Himalayan state is 1,400,000 residents according to official estimates (1988), with an average density of 30 residents per km 2 on the 47,000 km 2 of the territory. The economy, very backward, is still mainly based on agriculture, which, despite the progress made, has not exceeded the dimension of subsistence. Currently the agricultural sector employs about 95% of the total workforce, although it extends over a very small portion of the territory (9% of the territory). Rice (800,000 q in 1988), wheat (160,000 q), corn (810,000 q), potatoes (500,000 q) are grown. The increased zootechnical activity concerns yaks, sheep and goats.
According to data from the World Bank, Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income less than US $ 200 (1989). In order to initiate even minimal economic progress, the government – starting from 1961 – has drawn the lines of some development plans, mostly financed by India and, to a lesser but increasing extent, by the United States. Other contributions come from the countries of the Colombo Plan, to which Bhutan has joined. However, the results have been below expectations: modest achievements have been made in the fields of health (endemic diseases such as smallpox and malaria have been eliminated), education and communications (a total of 2200 km of roads have been built so far). The sixth development plan (1987-93) has as its primary objective an impulse of industrial activity and the energy sector.
The industry, with the exception of small artisan companies aimed at satisfying local needs and producing artistic objects for tourism, is almost non-existent. Foreign trade is weak and takes place almost exclusively with India.
Tourism, which only began in 1974, contributes in a very modest part to the formation of the gross national product.