Bhutan
Kingdom of Bhutan — Druk Yul
March 4
Asia


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 47,000 sq.km. A small kingdom in the eastern Himalaya mountains.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 2,123,970 +2.83% 45 per sq. km.
2010 2,753,954 +2.58% 59 per sq. km.
2025 3,903,897 +2.21% 83 per sq. km.

The government claims a much lower figure.

Capital Thimpu 17,156. Urbanites 7%.

PEOPLES

Drukpa 63%. 12+ groups, related to Tibetans. The largest: Kebumtamp 310,000; Sharchagpakha 243,000; Dzongkha (Ngalops) 260,000; Sangla 131,000; Dzalakha 60,000.

Nepali 30%. Pahari 300,000; Gurung 230,000; Limbu 25,000.

Other 7%. Assamese 40,000; Lepcha 35,000; Hindi speakers 25,000 (Santali, Loba, Kirabi).

Literacy 18%. Official language Dzongkha. Nepali is also widely used. All languages 15. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi 2NT 2por 1w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Undeveloped subsistence economy but with development potential should the government desire it. Tourist numbers are strictly controlled. HDI 0.459; 145th/174. Public debt 28% of GNP. Income/person $390 (1.4% of USA).

POLITICS

Autocratic Buddhist monarchy with a docile Dzongkha-dominated parliament and a slow democratization taking place. India plays a major role in its foreign affairs. The government fiercely protects its own sovereignty. Large-scale Nepali immigration over the past century and agitation for more democracy have provoked severe measures against non-Drukpa peoples since 1985.

RELIGION

Lamaistic Buddhism with a strong element of Bon, the pre-Buddhist demon-worship, is the state religion. All other religions are barely-tolerated foreign intrusions. All proselytization of Buddhists and Hindus is banned.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Buddhist 72.04 1,530,108 +3.1%
Hindu 23.00 488,513 +2.4%
Muslim 4.00 84,959 +0.0%
Traditional ethnic 0.50 10,620 +1.6%
Christian 0.46 9,770 +7.4%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 2 0.15 3 +58.4%
Independent 3 0.28 6 +7.2%
Catholic 1 0.03 1 +1.8%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Indigenous house chs I   2,045 3,200
Believers Church (GFA) P 80 2,000 3,000
Other Indigenous I 21 1,062 1,700
Catholic C 1 451 600
Other denominations [2]   9 633 1,200
Total Christians [6]   111 6,191 9,700

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.4 9 +25%
Pentecostal & Charismatic 0.3 6 +22%

Missionaries from Bhutan
P,I,A 16, most in Bhutan.

Expatriates committed to Bhutan
P,I,A 63 in 14 agencies; majority Indian.



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Challenges to prayer

1 Bhutan is one of the world's least evangelized nations. The strongly isolationist policies of the government further reinforce the hold of Tantric Buddhism with much that is demonic and occultic. Pray for true spiritual liberation for this land of the Dragon (Druk Yul). Pray for King Wangchuk and his salvation.

2 Bhutan was closed to all Christian witness until 1965. There followed 25 years of slight relaxation during which Indian and other expatriates were able to witness through NGOs. Over the 1990s restrictions increased because of the success of that witness — especially among the Nepali. There are now a few legally permitted congregations with their own buildings. Pray for the growth of the Church in this land.

3 The Drukpa majority is strongly Buddhist, and Christians among them number only a few hundred. Most of these believers are isolated and scattered with little opportunity for fellowship, and some have suffered for their faith. Pray for the emergence of a vital witnessing fellowship in every ethnic group of the Bhutanese.

4 The 'ethnic cleansing' of the Nepali population has been vigorously promoted since 1990. Suppression of Nepali culture and language, beatings, destruction of homes, rape and many expulsions have created anger, fear and a large refugee problem with over 100,000 in UN refugee camps in SE Nepal. Pray for a wise, enlightened government that gives peace and freedom to all the land's peoples.

5 Bhutanese Nepalis have responded to the gospel and since 1970 there has been steady growth. There are little churches and house fellowships all along the southern half of the country that have been planted through several Indian agencies. Many groups have suffered harassment and persecution. Pray for them.

6 Mission agencies have been welcomed to operate leprosy hospitals and be involved in health, agricultural and educational programmes, but only on the condition that they do not proselytize. Since leprosy is almost eradicated, such ministries are being phased out. A few small aid projects continue. Pray for the silent witness of Christians in various aid missions (TLM, Interserve, Norwegian Santal Mission, etc.) and for a relaxation of restrictions on entry and witness for missionaries. Visas are difficult to obtain. Pray that more aid workers may be called by God and granted visas. GFA has a small training base in India near Bhutan's border.

7 Indian believers in India's border region are active in evangelism and literature distribution among visitors from Bhutan. Many of the Christians in Bhutan have come to the Lord by these means. Pray for conversions among the Bhutanese. Pray also that Bhutanese students in India and lands around the world may hear the gospel.

8 Literature distribution is possible in Bhutan in a limited way, through personal contacts and the mail. Pray for fruit from the Christian literature now spreading through the land (EHC and GFA).

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