Bhutanese - Sociopolitical Organization

Bhutan is divided into fifteen districts, each with its own dialect, that grew out of history and tradition and formerly were isolated by the mountain ranges. This geographic pattern of fertile valleys surrounded by mountains gives the background to the whole administrative and political concept of the country. One-quarter of Bhutan's people are Nepalese Immigrants, and there are strict restrictions against their settling north of a specified middle line running from east to west across the entire country. The Bhutanese have seen how in neighboring Sikkim the original inhabitants have been Gradually outnumbered by Nepalese immigrants, and they are determined to stop the process in their own country before it assumes unmanageable proportions. The Nepalese are a polygamous people and a household of three or four wives and a dozen to fifteen children is not an uncommon phenomenon. The Bhutanese worry that, unless restrictions are set on further settlement, the Nepalese will in time emerge as the majority community, as in Sikkim, and seek to exert political and cultural dominance. Twenty-five percent of the 130 members of the Tsongdu (the national assembly) are government officers appointed to the assembly by the king. Included in the membership are influential lamas and the abbot of the chief monastery at Pimakha, who is a member of the ruler's council of eight ministers. The rest of the body consists of Village headmen elected for five-year terms from all over the kingdom. Each family in the villages has one vote.

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