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Atlas Bhutan

K.A Former Pupils Worldwide

If you are a former pupil of Kilmarnock Academy
and you currently live or work in this country (or have lived in it for a period of time), then e-mail us at kaworldwide@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with your details. The essential details are: your name; the years you attended Kilmarnock Academy; where in the country you live or work (if you no longer live or work in this country, please state the years you were in residence there).

If you want to - and it does make things a lot more interesting - you can also provide us with a brief account of a favourite place or fond memory or favourite anecdote or local customs or local cuisine (or anything else about this country that you'd like to share with us). You can, if you wish, also include one or two photographs of places you lived in or visited during your stay in this country.

K.A. International - Worldwide Learning Network
If you know of a school in this country (possibly one that your own children have attended) that would be interested in developing links and engaging in joint projects with pupils at K.A., then please e-mail kaworldwide@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with contact details. You can get more information on this initiative by clicking here.

N. McIlvanney 2005

K.A Former Pupils in Bhutan

Name                                                   Years attended K.A.                                   Area, City or Town of Residence

K.A. Pupils' Postcards
If you are a pupil or former pupil of Kilmarnock Academy
and you have visited this country, then e-mail us at postcard@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with your details. The essential details are: your name; the years you attended Kilmarnock Academy; where in the country you visited.

If you want to - and it does make this page a lot more worthwhile - you can also provide us with a brief account of a favourite place or fond memory or unusual experience or local customs or local cuisine or first impressions or lasting impressions. (You can, if you wish, also include one or two photographs of a place you visited in this country).

N. McIlvanney 2005

K.A Pupils' Postcards from Bhutan

Name                                                   Years attended K.A.                                    Area, City or Town Visited

Country (long form)

Kingdom of Bhutan
Total Area
18,146.80 sq mi
47,000.00 sq km
2,005,222 (July 2000 est.)
Estimated Population in 2050
Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects
42.2% total, 56.2% male, 28.1% female (1995 est.)
Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Life Expectancy
52.79 male, 51.99 female (2000 est.)
Government Type
monarchy; special treaty relationship with India
1 ngultrum (Nu) = 100 chetrum
GDP (per capita)
$1,060 (1999 est.)
Labor Force (by occupation)
massive lack of skilled labor
cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide
rice, corn, root crops, citrus, foodgrains; dairy products, eggs
Arable Land
cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, electricity (to India), precious stones, spices
fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics, rice
Natural Resources
timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide
Current Environmental Issues
soil erosion; limited access to potable water
Telephones (main lines in use)
5,000 (1995)
Telephones (mobile cellular)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Archaeological evidence suggests Bhutan was inhabited possibly as early as 2000 BC. Buddhism was probably introduced in the 2nd century although traditionally its introduction is credited to the first visit of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century.

Guru Rinpoche is the most important figure in Bhutan's history, regarded as the second Buddha. His miraculous powers included the ability to subdue demons and evil spirits, and he preserved his teachings and wisdom by concealing them in the form of terma (hidden treasures) to be found later by enlightened treasure discoverers known as tertons. One of the best known of these tertons was Pema Lingpa; the texts and artefacts he found, the religious dances he composed, and the art he produced, are vital parts of Bhutan's living heritage.

Before the 16th century, numerous clans and noble families ruled in different valleys throughout Bhutan, quarelling among themselves and with Tibet. This changed in 1616 with the arrival of Ngawang Namgyal, a monk of the Drukpa Kagyu school of Buddhism from Tibet. He taught throughout the region and soon established himself as the religious ruler of Bhutan with the title Shabdrung Rinpoche. He repelled attacks from rival lamas and Tibetan forces and transformed the southern valleys into a unified country called Druk Yul (Land of the Dragon). While the political system he established lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, the announcement of the Shabdrung's death in 1705 was followed by 200 years of internal conflict and political infighting.

Instability lasted until 1907 when Ugyen Wangchuck was elected, by a unanimous vote of Bhutan's chiefs and principal lamas, as hereditary ruler of Bhutan. Thus the first king was crowned and the Wangchuck dynasty began. Over the following four decades, he and his heir, King Jigme Wangchuck, brought the entire country under the monarchy's direct control. Upon independence in 1947, India recognised Bhutan as a sovereign country.

The third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan because of the development plans he initiated. When China took control of Tibet, Bhutan's policy of total isolation lost its appeal and the country was formally admitted to the United Nations in 1971. The present monarch, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has continued the policy of controlled development with particular focus on the preservation of the environment and Bhutan's unique culture. Among his ideals is economic self-reliance and what he nicknamed 'Gross National Happiness'.

His coronation on 2 June 1974 was the first time the international media were allowed to enter the kingdom, and marked Bhutan's debut appearance on the world stage. The first group of paying tourists arrived later that year.

Traditionally, lyonpos (members of the Council of Ministers) were appointed by the king for five-year terms. Lyonpos were usually reappointed and an unrivalled political stability in the last two decades has enabled Bhutan to progress steadily with its policy of controlled modernisation. Lyonpo Dawa Tshering holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest serving foreign minister (1972-98).

In major political reform in June 1998, the king dissolved the Council of Ministers and announced that ministers formerly appointed by him would need to stand for open election. A rotating chairman fronts the resultant cabinet. But that was just the beginning of the reforms. What has really shaken Bhutanese society in recent times is the advent of television. Although the government tries valiantly to produce as much local content as possilb,e the majority of programming is foreign, and is exposing the curious Bhutanese to the pleasures and perils of modernity. In recent years, it's said that crime and domestic violence rates have increased, though who are we to suggest that the two may be related?