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INTRODUCING BHUTAN
Local Name: འབྲུག་ཡུལ་
Other Name(s): Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan is a tiny, remote and impoverished kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between its powerful neighbours, India and China. Almost completely cut off for centuries, it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions.

The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means "Land of the Thunder Dragon" and it only began to open up to outsiders in the 1970s. The Wangchuck hereditary monarchy has wielded power since 1907. But Bhutan became a two-party parliamentary democracy after elections in March 2008. This gave a landslide victory to the pro-monarchy Bhutan Harmony Party of former prime minister Jigme Thinley. The opposition People's Democratic Party also supports the monarchy. Bhutan's ancient Buddhist culture and breathtaking scenery make it a natural tourist attraction.

Tourism is restricted; visitors must travel as part of a pre-arranged package or guided tour. Backpackers and independent travellers are discouraged.