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Bhutan

Bhutan, what of its gross national happiness today?

Bhutan is a small country of approximately 800,000 inhabitants. Landlocked, it is wedged between China and India. It caused a stir when, in 1972, the reigning monarch of the time decided to create the Gross National Happiness index, to be used in place of GNP as an indicator of the development of a country, 

A country in transition

Bhutan only opened its doors to foreigners in 1974, and even then in a very restrictive manner. Today, visitors are asked to pay $250 per day, which clearly limits the number of visitors. The country therefore remains very authentic. 

Bhutan is one of the last countries to have had access to television. This was in 1999, on the decision of the president who thought that it would help raise the index of happiness.

In 2005, the reigning monarch issued an edict to ensure democratic transition. In 2008, the first legislative elections were held and the first democratic Constitution of Bhutan was created in the capital, Thimphou.

Little girl in Bhutan

Opening onto the world and its consequences

Globalisation has caused many changes in the country, which is the size of Switzerland. Entirely closed upon itself until then, an economic crisis struck the country in 2012 when India decided to suspend the subsidies it granted for the import of gas and petrol. The reason? Bhutan was trying to establish economic agreements with China. But Bhutan is very dependent on India, particularly in terms of imports and investment.

In 2012, government figures indicated that 51% of Bhutanese did not consider themselves to be happy. In addition, the authorities reported an increase in crime and the consumption of alcohol. These hardly existed ten years ago. Due to these setbacks, government opposition increased and Tshering Tobgay, one of its representatives, was elected prime minister in the recent legislative elections of 2013.

It remains to be seen how the country will develop, and whether it will be able to preserve its uniqueness and its Gross National Happiness Index... We couldn't wish anything better for the country!

Marie Foucaut
30 contributions
Updated 30 October 2015
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