Although archeological exploration of Bhutan has been limited, evidence of civilization in the region dates back to at least 2000 BC. Aboriginal Bhutanese, known as Monpa, are believed to have migrated from Tibet. The traditional name of the country since the 17th century has been "Druk Yul", Land of the Thunder Dragon.

For centuries, the country was made of feuding regions until it was unified under King Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907, the first king of Bhutan.

Until the 1960's Bhutan was largely isolated from the rest of the world. Its people carried on a tranquil and traditional way of life, farming and trading, which had remained intact for centuries.
After China invaded Tibet, however, Bhutan strengthened its ties and contact with India in an effort to avoid Tibet's fate. New roads and other connections with India began to end its isolation. In the 1960's Bhutan also undertook social modernization, abolishing slavery and the caste system, emancipating women, and enacting land reform.

Bhutan pursues the national policy of Gross National Happiness first expressed by its king Jigme Wangchuck in 1972. This ideology is rooted in the Buddhist notion that the ultimate aim of life is inner happiness.

Since 2006, Bhutan is ruled by its fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A Constitution has then been established making the country a Parliamentary Democracy.

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