Bhutan is a Mahayana Buddhist Kingdom. Buddhism was brought to the country from northern India in the 8th Century by Guru Padma Sambhava. Hinduism is the second largest religion. The country’s administration, legal system and defence were unified in the mid-17th Century by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a prominent monk from Tibet. The Shabdrung set up a dual-system of government with temporal and religious leaders. In 1865, following a military conflict known as the Duar Wars, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchula, under
which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land in the South.
Three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan undertook to seek the advice of Britain in the conduct of its foreign affairs. This Treaty was assumed by India at Independence in 1947 but has now been replaced. The hereditary monarchy came into being through election in 1907. In 2007 the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in favour of his son, the present King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. In 2008 the King signed Bhutan’s first Constitution by which Bhutan became a fully constitutional monarchy with a multi-party democratically elected Government. The first elections were held in March 2008.