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This is a timeline of Bhutanese history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Bhutan and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Bhutan. See also the list of rulers of Bhutan.
6th century 
|600||During the reign of Kumar Bhaskara Varman of the Kamarupa kingdom, parts of Bhutan come under Indian control. (to 650)|
7th century 
|627||Tibetan ruler Songtsän Gampo (reigned 627–49) ordered the construction of many Buddhist temples, including two in Bhutan: Jambay Lhakhang at Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Kyichu Lhakhang at Kyichu in the Paro Valley. The construction of these temples marked the arrival of Buddhism in Bhutan. (to 649)|
8th century 
|747||Buddhist saint Padma Sambhava, known in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche, comes to Bhutan from India at the invitation of the King Sendha Gyab (Sindhu Raja) of Bumthang, one of the numerous kingdoms predating modern Bhutan. Guru Rimpoche converts the king to Buddhism and then continues to Tibet. When he returns to Bhutan at the invitation of Trisong Detsen, he oversees the construction of new monasteries in the Paro Valley and sets up his headquarters in Bumthang. According to tradition, Guru Rimpoche thus founds the Nyingma, or "Red Hat," sect of Mahayana Buddhism. Guru Rimpoche plays a great historical and religious role as the national patron saint who revealed the tantras to Bhutan. He returned for a third visit during the reign of Murthi Tsenpo (764–817), son of Trisong Detsen.|
9th century 
|807||Guru Padma Sambhava is invited to Bhutan by Sindhu Raja (Naguchhi), second son of King Singhala of Serkhya, and founder of the Sindhu Kingdom. Naguchhi's sons spread the realm into parts of modern Sikkim and Tibet.|
|809||Guru Padma Sambhava comes again to Bhutan. Around the same time, independent monarchies develop.|
|824||Tibetan King Tritsug Detsen (reigned 816–836), also called Ralpachen and grandson of Trisong Detsen, goes to war with an Indian ruler in Bhutan, driving him out. Tibetan troops who remained in Bhutan were called Milog, meaning "those that will not return." The region they settle is referred to as Tshochhen Gyed. Its eight parts or divisions are Wang, Be, Med, Kawang, Chang, Thi, Thim, and Lar.|
|836||Tibetan King Tritsug Detsen is murdered by agents of his brother Langdarma. Tibetans seek refuge in Bhutan from ensuing political and religious upheaval during the reign of Langdarma (836–842). After Langdarma's assassination in 842, Tibetans continue to flee to western Bhutan, the Ngalop homeland. The centuries that follow, known in Tibet as the Era of Fragmentation, are characterized by their lack of political cohesion. During much of this period, the dominant Bhutanese polity was the Kingdom of Bumthang.|
|900||In the late 9th century, ethnic Tibetan forces expel Indian princes from parts of modern Bhutan. Tibetans in this period and location develop the roots of Ngalop culture.|
10th century 
|1000||By the 11th century, Tibetan-Mongol forces occupy the whole of Bhutan. More waves of Tibetans seek refuge in Bhutan from religious persecution. Charismatic lamas become the de facto leaders of regions in western Bhutan.|
11th century 
|This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (January 2012)|
12th century 
|1180||Tibetan lama Gyarey Yeshe Dorji (1161–1211) founds Ralung Monastery of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, named after the thunder dragons (druk) he witnessed on his quest for an appropriate foundation site. With the proliferation of the Drukpa Kagyu sect, the druk becomes synonymous with Bhutan and later its central national symbol.|
13th century 
|This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (January 2012)|
14th century 
|1360||Tibetan Gelugpa monks flee to Bhutan.|
15th century 
|1475||Pema Lingpa, a Bhutanese religious figure from Bumthang, discovered his first terma from Lake Membar Tsho near Bumthang.|
16th century 
|This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (January 2012)|
17th century 
|1616||Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, facing arrest and following visions in which it is said that the chief guardian deities of Bhutan offered him a home, leaves Tibet to establish a new base in western Bhutan, founding Cheri Monastery at the head of Thimphu valley.|
|1627||Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal builds Simtokha Dzong at the entrance to Thimphu valley. From this dzong he exerts control over traffic between the powerful Paro valley to the west and Trongsa valley to the east.|
|Circa 1627, during the first war with Tibet, Portuguese Jesuits Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral were the first recorded Europeans to visit Bhutan on their way to Tibet. They met with Ngawang Namgyal, presented him with firearms, gunpowder and a telescope, and offered him their services in the war against Tibet, but the shabdrung declined the offer. After a stay of nearly eight months, Cacella wrote a long letter from the Chagri Monastery reporting the travel. This is a rare report of the Shabdrung remaining.|
|1629||Attempted Tibetan invasion fails.|
|1631||Attempted Tibetan invasion fails.|
|1634||Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal prevails in the Battle of Five Lamas over the Tibetan and Bhutanese forces allied against him. The Shabdrung is thus the first to unite Bhutan into a single country. The Shabdrung establishes the Drukpa Lineage as the state religion under the dual system of government, and codifies the system of laws known as the Tsa Yig, based on Buddhist religious law (dharma).|
|1639||Attempted Tibetan invasion fails.|
|1643||A joint Mongol-Tibetan force sought to destroy Nyingmapa refugees who had fled to Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. The Mongols had seized control of religious and civil power in Tibet in the 1630s and established Gelugpa as the state religion. Bhutanese rivals of Ngawang Namgyal encouraged the Mongol intrusion, but the Mongol force was easily defeated in the humid lowlands of southern Bhutan.|
|1647||Attempted Tibetan invasion fails.|
|1651||Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal dies, however his death is kept a secret for fifty-four years in order to keep Bhutan from disintegrating. While the Shabdrung was supposedly away on an extended religious retreat, his son reigned in fact.|
|1680||Bhutan invades Sikkim. The same year, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's son is succeeded by the Shabdrung's stepbrother.|
|1700||Bhutan invades Sikkim.|
18th century 
|1714||Tibetan forces, aided by the Mongols, invade Bhutan but fail to gain control.|
|1730||Cooch Behar first requests Bhutanese assistance in repelling Mughal Empire encroachments, establishing a dependent relationship with Bhutan.|
|1770||Bhutan invades Sikkim, supported by troops from Cooch Behar.|
|1772||In a succession dispute in Cooch Behar, the Druk Desi's nominee for the throne was opposed by a rival who invited British troops; in effect, Cooch Behar became a dependency of the British East India Company.|
|British expeditionary forces drive Bhutanese garrisons out of Cooch Behar, until that time a Bhutanese dependency. The Druk Desi petitions Lhasa unsuccessfully for assistance. (to 1773)|
|1774||25 April||The Druk Desi signs a Treaty of Peace with the British East India Company. Under the treaty, Bhutan returns to its pre-1730 boundaries and allows the British to harvest timber in Bhutan.|
|1784||British government turns over to Bhutan the Bengal Duars territory, where boundaries had been poorly defined. As in its other foreign territories, Bhutan left administration of the Bengal Duars territory to local officials and collected its revenues.|
19th century 
|1815||British mission to Thimphu fails to reach a conclusion amid increasing border tensions.|
|1838||British mission to Thimphu offers Bhutan a treaty providing for the extradition of Bhutanese officials responsible for incursions into Assam, free and unrestricted commerce between India and Bhutan, and settlement of Bhutan's debt to the British. In an attempt to protect its independence, Bhutan rejected the British offer.|
|1841||British annex Bhutanese controlled Assam Duars, paying a compensation of 10,000 rupees a year to Bhutan.|
|1842||Bhutan cedes control of the troublesome Bengal Duars to Britain.|
|1862||Bhutanese forces raid Sikkim and Cooch Behar; the British respond by withholding all compensation payments and demanding release of all captives and return of stolen property. These demands went unheeded by the Druk Desi, as he was alleged to be unaware of frontier officials' raids.|
|1864||Britain sends a peace mission to Bhutan in the wake of a recent civil war, during a period when two rival claimants to the office of Druk Desi competed for power. Though the British attempt to deal with both Druk Desis, the peace mission is rejected by Bhutan.|
|November||Britain declares war on Bhutan. The Duar War lasts five months, resulting in Bhutan's defeat and cession of significant territory under the Treaty of Sinchula.|
|1865||11 November||Bhutan signs the Treaty of Sinchula, ceding territories in the Assam Duars and Bengal Duars, as well as the eighty-three-square-kilometer territory of Dewangiri in southeastern Bhutan, in return for an annual subsidy of 50,000 rupees.|
|1870||In the 1870s and 1880s, renewed competition among regional rivals — primarily the pro-British penlop of Trongsa and the anti-British, pro-Tibetan penlop of Paro — resulted in the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the penlop of Trongsa. (to 1880)|
|1885||Ugyen Wangchuck, penlop (governor) of Trongsa, puts down civil unrest across Bhutan, consolidates power, and cultivates closer ties with British India.|
20th century 
|1903||The last reigning Shabdrung dies, and a successor is not found until 1906. In the meantime, the civil administration comes under the power of the Ugyen Wangchuck as Desi.|
|Ugyen Wangchuck volunteers to accompany a British mission to Lhasa as a mediator in the British expedition to Tibet and resulting Anglo-Tibetan Convention. In return, Ugyen is knighted and thereafter continues to accrue greater power in Bhutan. (to 1904)|
|1907||17 December||Ugyen Wangchuck is elected Bhutan's first hereditary ruler (Druk Gyalpo) after having politically unified the country.|
|1910||8 January||The Treaty of Punakha amends two articles of the 1865 Treaty of Sinchula: the British agree to double the annual stipend to 100,000 rupees and "to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan." In turn, Bhutan agrees "to be guided by the advice of the British Government in regard to its external relations."|
|1926||21 August||King Ugyen Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Wangchuck begins to reign.|
|1927||16 March||Coronation of Jigme Wangchuck.|
|1931||The 7th Shabdrung Jigme Dorji dies at Talo monastery. Jigme Dorji is the last Shabdrung recognized by the government of Bhutan, though subsequent claimants to the incarnation continue today.|
|1947||The British Empire leaves India, and direct political by the British ends. Bhutan remains relatively isolated from international affairs.|
|1949||8 August||India and Bhutan sign the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but that Bhutan would be guided by India in its foreign policy. This is the first international agreement that unambiguously recognizes Bhutan's independence and sovereignty. The same year, India cedes to Bhutan some territories lost to the British in the 1865 Treaty of Sinchula.|
|1952||24 March||King Jigme Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck begins to reign. Bhutan begins a program of planned development and democratization. The same year, the National Assembly is established, and the post of Chief Minister (Gongzim) is abolished.|
|1957||Major GLOF from glacial lakes.|
|1958||Slavery is abolished.|
|The first Nationality Act is enacted, defining Bhutanese citizenship and introducing a compulsory registration process.|
|1959||Bhutanese enclaves in western Tibet are seized by the Chinese.|
|1960||Major GLOF from glacial lakes.|
|1961||First Five-Year Plan is introduced.|
|1964||5 April||Prime Minister Jigme Palden Dorji is assassinated in a dispute among competing political factions. The King's own uncle, a military cadre, was among those executed for their role in the attempted coup. After a brief tenure by acting Prime Minister Lhendup Dorji, the post of Prime Minister is abolished until 1998.|
|1965||Unsuccessful attempt to assassinate King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.|
|1966||The capital is moved from Punakha to Thimphu through a transition period when Punakha was the winter capital and Thimphu the summer capital.|
|1968||King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck establishes the first Council of Ministers, or executive cabinet. At the same time, the king renounces his power of veto, which had never been used. The king also creates the High Court (the Thimkhang Gongma) and empowers it to review the king's decisions. The Bank of Bhutan is also founded as a central bank, charged with supervising the transition from a barter economy to a monetary economy.|
|Major GLOF from glacial lakes.|
|1969||Jigme Dorji Wangchuck called for a triennial vote of confidence by the National Assembly to renew the Druk Gyalpo's mandate to rule. This vote was later abolished by his successor.|
|1970||Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 300,000.|
|1971||Bhutan joins the United Nations.|
|1972||21 July||King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck dies; his son Jigme Singye Wangchuck begins to reign.|
|1974||March||Strains between the Wangchucks and Dorjis were relieved with the return that year of the exiled members of the latter family. The reconciliation, however, was preceded by reports of a plot to assassinate the new Druk Gyalpo before his coronation could take place and to set fire to the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of government in Thimphu. Yangki, the Druk Gyalpo's Tibetan mistress, was the alleged force behind the plot. Thirty persons were arrested, including high government and police officials. (to April)|
|2 June||Coronation of Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The same year, the first foreign tourists are allowed to enter Bhutan.|
|1978||Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 400,000.|
|1982||The Royal Government establishes the Royal Monetary Authority, the central bank of Bhutan.|
|1985||10 June||The Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1985 is enacted.|
|1986||Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 500,000.|
|One thousand illegal Lhotshampa laborers are expelled.|
|1987||Gasa District is split up among Punakha and Thimphu Districts; Chhukha District is carved out from parts of Samtse, Paro, and Thimphu Districts.|
|1988||Bhutan conducts its first census. As a result, many Lhotshampa (ethnic Nepalis) are branded as illegal immigrants.|
|After a census, the government begins evicting those it identifies as illegal immigrants among the Nepali-speaking population in southern Bhutan. Over two decades, the population of Bhutanese refugees in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal climbed to 107,000 by 2008 according to UNHCR.|
|1989||The driglam namzha, the official behaviour and dress code, is elevated from recommended to mandatory in public and educational settings. Nepali ceases to be a language of instruction in schools, escalating tensions between Ngalops and Lhotshampas.|
|Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the Bhutan Peoples' Party, is arrested and imprisoned.|
|1990||Violent ethnic unrest and anti-government protests in southern Bhutan pressing for greater democracy and respect for minority rights. The Bhutan Peoples' Party, whose members are mostly Lhotshampa, begin a campaign of violence against the government. Pro-government citizen militias form in response to rising crime and violence including clashes between Lhotshampa demonstrators and the Royal Bhutan Army. The Bhutan Peoples' Party is subsequently banned.|
|1991||Jigme Singye Wangchuck threatens to abdicate in face of hardline opposition in the National Assembly to his efforts to resolve ethnic unrest, leaving an international summit to attend to unrest.|
|1992||Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the illegal Bhutan Peoples' Party, is sentenced to life imprisonment.|
|Gasa District is carved out from Punakha District; Tashi Yangtse District is split from Trashigang District. Other district boundaries are also changed|
|2 November||The National Security Act is enacted. The Act defines treason and speech crimes, as well as unlawful assembly, rioting, and states of emergency, providing for lengthy prison sentences, capital punishment, and the use of deadly force by the government to stop unlawful demonstrations.|
|1994||Major GLOF from glacial lakes, devastating Punakha.|
|1998||The Council of Ministers (Lhengye Zhungtshog) replaces the cabinet, and King Jigme Singye Wangchuck withdraws from his role in the decision-making of the cabinet. The post of Prime Minister (Lonchen) is restored. (to 1999)|
|1999||Television is introduced.|
|18 December||Tek Nath Rizal, leader of the illegal Bhutan Peoples' Party, is pardoned and released from prison along with some 40 other political prisoners. He goes into exile in Nepal, a common condition of release among Lhotshampa political dissidents.|
|2000||Bhutan and Nepal reach an agreement regarding the repatriation of certain classes of Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Nepal, subject to joint government verification. Points of contention included that some camp inhabitants were never citizens – or some even residents – of Bhutan before attaining refugee status. Also, the Bhutanese government regarded many political groups among the Nepalese Lhotshampa community, such as the Bhutan Peoples' Party (BPP) and Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP), as terrorist or anti-national groups.|
21st century 
|2001||March||First verification of Bhutanese refugees eligible for repatriation commences in Nepalese refugee camps. Actual repatriation is estimated to occur one year out. As of 2011 over 200 refugees in the Khudunabari refugee camp alone had been certified, however no Bhutanese refugees had been repatriated.|
|2002||Bhutan's population reaches an estimated 600,000.|
|2003||Several guerrilla groups seeking to establish an independent Assamese state in northeast India had set up guerrilla bases in the forests of southern Bhutan from which they launch cross-border attacks on targets in Assam. The largest guerrilla group was the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). Negotiations aimed at removing them peacefully from these bases failed in the spring of 2003.|
|15 December||The Royal Bhutan Army began military operations against guerrilla camps in southern Bhutan, in coordination with Indian armed forces who lined the border to the south to prevent the guerrillas from dispersing back into Assam. News sources indicated that of the 30 camps that were targeted, 13 were controlled by ULFA, 12 camps by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), and 5 camps controlled by the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO). By January 2004, government news reports indicated the guerrillas had been routed from their bases.|
|2004||20 March||Capital punishment in Bhutan is abolished.|
|2005||26 March||Proposed constitution is unveiled under which Bhutan would transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.|
|December||King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announces he will abdicate in 2008, when democratic parliamentary elections are held, and names Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to succeed him.|
|2006||January||Authorities arrest two civil servants in the village of Nago in Paro District, accusing them of engaging in acts of proselytism under the false pretext of holding an official meeting, maligning the Spiritual Head of Bhutan (Je Khenpo), posing as officials on official business, and giving false information. In accordance with provisions in the Penal Code and the National Security Act, both men are found guilty in a district court. Christian groups maintain the men were arrested due to their religious beliefs since, according to these groups, the men were arrested while showing a Christian film in a Buddhist home. They are sentenced in early June 2006 in an open trial with a public hearing to three and a half years and three years in prison. They did not appeal the court judgment, although the right to appeal was provided for by law. On July 28, 2006, both men were released after payment of a fine.|
|June||Bhutanese refugees in Nepalese refugee camps protest, pressing for third-country resettlement. (to August)|
|14 December||Abdication of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, ahead of the date previously announced; his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck begins to reign.|
|2007||5 January||The Royal Government enacts the Immigration Act of 2007, amending the Bhutanese Citizenship Act 1985 and establishing the Department of Immigration under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to implement and administer immigration laws through immigration offices. The Act endowed officers of the Department of Immigration with broad police and prosecution powers: they may enter any private or official premises in order to search, arrest, seize, detain, interrogate or to demand forfeiture of any vehicles, trains, vessels, aircraft, or goods.|
|February||Bhutan signs an agreement with India giving the kingdom more say in its foreign and defense policies.|
|3 February||Reports allege the current Shabdrung, Pema Namgyel (b. November 20, 2003 – then a small child) had been held under house arrest in Bhutan along with his parents since October 2005, when the family traveled to meet the Reincarnation Committee. The Committee later denied his reincarnation status.|
|April||Mock elections are staged to familiarise voters with parliamentary democracy ahead of planned polls in 2008.|
|31 December||First National Council election for the 20 elected non-partisan seats in National Council, Bhutan's upper house. Only 15 out of 20 dzongkhags (districts), however, were set to begin voting. In Thimphu, Trashiyangtse, Gasa, Haa and Lhuntse Districts, there were either no candidates or a single candidate, and elections were delayed until January 29, 2008.|
|2008||January||A series of bombs blast the kingdom ahead of elections slated for March 24. The attacks are blamed on armed Lhotshampa groups. (to February)|
|24 March||In Bhutan's first parliamentary elections, the pro-monarchy Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party wins 45 out of 47 seats in the National Assembly, Bhutan's lower house. Another pro-monarchy party, the People's Democratic Party, wins the remaining two seats in Gasa and Haa Districts.|
|18 July||The Constitution of Bhutan is enacted. The first ever Constitution of Bhutan, it sets forth a bicameral parliamentary democratic framework to safeguard human rights, while enshrining the institution of the monarchy, Drukpa Lineage Buddhism, and traditional Ngalop Bhutanese culture.|
|November||The government of India alleges links between Assamese separatists and the illegal Bhutanese Druk National Congress.|
|6 November||Coronation of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.|
|2009||April||Huanglongbing virus decimates Bhutan's orange crop, an important export for the kingdom.|
|11 September||Parliament enacts the Local Government Act of Bhutan 2009, the sixth legislative reform of Bhutanese local governments since 1999. The Act devolves various administrative powers to Dzongkhags (districts), Dungkhags (subdistricts), Gewogs (village blocks), Chiwogs (constituencies), and Thromdes (municipalities) while retaining legislative authority as the sole purview of the central government.|
|21 September||The 6.1-magnitude 2009 Bhutan earthquake strikes Mongar District, causing at least 12 deaths, extensive destruction, and severe aftershocks in Bhutan.|
|2010||March||A district court interprets the constitutional clause regarding religious "coercion or inducement" to prohibit not only forced conversion but also proselytism in the case of a Christian missionary pastor who used a generator and a projector in a private home on May 21, 2009. The pastor received a sentence of three years imprisonment for infringing the Constitution.|
|16 June||Parliament enacts the Tobacco Control Act, restricting import and possession, and banning the sale of tobacco in Bhutan.|
|2011||24 January||Sonam Tshering, a 23-year old ordained monk from Langpa in Haa, was caught with 480 grams of chewing tobacco (purchased for Nu.120) en route from Phuntsholing to Thimphu. This presented the first prosecution under the Tobacco Control Act, and was the result of a private individual informing the police that Tshering possessed tobacco. Although Tshering revealed the source of his tobacco to mitigate and qualify his offense as a misdemeanor, he failed to identify the location and supplier of the tobacco, apparently somewhere in the border town of Jaigaon. He was thus convicted of a felony, and sentenced to the minimum imprisonment of three years. The conviction and especially the sentence have made the Tobacco Control Act controversial in urban Bhutan due to their severity. Although the Constitution of Bhutan guarantees all persons the right to be represented by a jabmi (attorney), the Thimphu District Court closed the case before any jabmi offered his services. Tshering has since appealed the District Court ruling to the High Court of Bhutan, for which has retained a private attorney.|
|23 January||Local government elections, originally slated for 2008, begin on a staggered scale in 3 of Bhutan's 20 Dzongkhags: Thimphu, Phuntsholing, and Samdrup Jongkhar.|
|24 February||The Supreme Court of Bhutan declares unconstitutional the government's raising of personal vehicle import taxes in June 2010 without bicameral presentment and debate, affirming the judgment of the High Court Constitutional Bench against the Attorney General and for the Opposition in Parliament.|
|28 June||The Election Commission announces the results of the first local government elections under the Constitution of Bhutan. Originally slated for 2008, elections faced multiple delays related to voter registration and constituency demarcation. Furthermore, voter turnout crept to 56% of eligible voters amid public sentiments of distrust and futility. In several instances, voters were unable to cast votes; in a few cases, legally unqualified candidates ran and won seats. Disqualified candidates, uncontested seats, and inconclusive results in some constituencies required the Election Commission to rerun elections at a later date.|
|13 October||King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck marries Jetsun Pema. Jetsun Pema, childhood friend of the Fifth King, becomes his Queen in a traditional Buddhist ceremony followed by three days of public holiday and celebrations. The much anticipated wedding, announced May 20, was the largest media event in Bhutanese history.|
|2012||December||Bhutanese National Council election is due|
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