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Asia, Bhutan

Bhutan, monarchy in South Asia, in the eastern Himalayas, on the Indian subcontinent. It is bounded on the north by the Tibet region of China, and to the south, east, and west by India. During most of its early history, Bhutan was divided into a number of independent principalities located in the major valleys. A unified Bhutan emerged with a dual system of civil and spiritual rule in the 16th century. Since 1907 it has been ruled by a hereditary monarch of the Wangchuck family. Bhutan remained a secluded country until the 1950s. In 1960 the government began to transform the country into a modern nation with economic aid from India. While the development process has gained considerable momentum in recent years, Bhutan is still grouped by the United Nations (UN) among the least developed countries of the world. The name Bhutan means “Land of the Thunder Dragon” in Dzongkha, the country's official language. The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu.

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