འབྲུག་ཡུལ་ – drug yul
Capital city Thimphu
Surface 38.816 km²
Population 798.000
Road network length 4.990 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Links
License plate code BHT

Bhutan (འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul) is a small country in Asia. The country is about the same size as the Netherlands and has almost 800,000 inhabitants. The capital is Thimpu.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Bhutan is a small inner state in the eastern Himalayas, sandwiched between China to the north and Indiain the south. The country measures 330 kilometers from west to east and 140 kilometers from north to south. The Himalayan mountains dominate Bhutan, the south is lower and the north is higher, but the country has no large flat areas or wide valleys. Large parts of the country consist of difficult-to-access terrain. The highest point in Bhutan is the 7,570 meter high Gangkhar Puensum. The border with China is formed by mountain ranges with numerous peaks between 6,000 and 7,000 meters or more. The southern edge of Bhutan is formed by the valley of the Brahmaputra and is partly less than 300 meters above sea level, but does not include larger land areas on the Bhutan side. The land drains completely to the Brahmaputra.

The climate of Bhutan varies according to altitude. The lower south has a tropical climate, the middle has a more moderate climate and the north an alpine climate. The average maximum temperature in the capital Thimphu, located at 2,320 meters above sea level, ranges from 12°C in January to 25°C in July. The south has higher temperatures, the north is glaciated. The tree line is in the north at approximately 4,000 meters.


Bhutan has a rapidly growing population in percentage, but in absolute numbers it is a sparsely populated country. The population grew from approximately 200,000 around 1950 to more than 500,000 in the 1990s and almost 800,000 in 2016. See Bhutan population density. The capital Thimpu has 115,000 inhabitants, this is the only larger city in Bhutan, there are only two places with more than 10,000 inhabitants and only 10 towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants. The culture of Bhutan is closely intertwined with that of Tibet. The national language is Bhutanese, a Tibetan language, which has a different script, Chhokey. Nepali is also spoken as a foreign language in Bhutan.


Bhutan is a low-developed country that still largely depends on agriculture. Agriculture is small-scale and mainly to provide for one’s own food. Several dams provide electricity, with Bhutan exporting electricity to India. This comprises almost 50% of the country’s exports. The country has potential raw materials but these are hardly exploited. Tourism plays a limited role, the government levies a high tax on hotel stays to prevent mass tourism. The limited infrastructure and very time-consuming connections between the few larger towns are a barrier to the development of a modern economy.


Bhutan has never been colonized in history and has therefore developed its own Buddhist culture. Because of the terrain, the country was always outside the important trade routes. The isolated location and inaccessible terrain created a unique Bhutanese culture that had little exchange with other cultures for a long time. Bhutan has focused more on India from the 20th century to counterbalance China, with whom it has border disputes. Bhutan was originally an absolute monarchy, but changed to a ceremonial monarchy in 2008 and held elections for the first time.

Road Network

The road network of Bhutan.

Bhutan has a fragmented road network of approximately 5,000 kilometers in length. East-west traffic is difficult because of the mountain ridges, which are located north-south. In 1962 an east-west route was started that is only 2.5 meters wide for traffic in both directions. Overland travel can be a time consuming affair and is not considered safe due to the steep cliffs and lack of road security. Most paved roads in Bhutan are very narrow, although a start has been made on building the road from Thimpu to India over a wider track, with one lane in each direction. There are no highways in Bhutan. There is a 2×2 road in Thimpu. There are some border crossings with India, but none with China. The Chinese provincial road S204 does run through a disputed border region, but there is no connection to the rest of Bhutan. Less than 10 kilometers west of Bhutan is a 4,310 meter high paved mountain pass between India and China.

Snowfall in winter often makes for difficult driving conditions. In the rainy season, landslides are not an unknown phenomenon, roads are sometimes interrupted for a longer period of time with few or no alternatives. Bhutan’s road network is not suitable for large, heavy trucks. The roads are extremely winding, narrow and steep. Most freight is therefore transported on small trucks of up to 8 to 10 tons.

Road management in the west and east of Bhutan is the responsibility of the Indian Border Roads Organisation, part of the Indian Ministry of Defense. The roads in the central part of Bhutan are managed by the Department of Roads.


Until the mid-20th century, Bhutan had no real roads. People traveled on donkeys or on foot. Road construction began in the 1960s as part of the first development plan. The first asphalt road opened in 1962. The first road was a connection from the border with India to Thimpu, with this road the travel time could be reduced from 6 days by donkey to 6 hours by car. This was still an enormous travel time by Western standards because the distance between Thimpu and the border with India is only 70 kilometers as the crow flies. The road was built with Indian support. Road construction was largely done by hand at that time. Bhutan itself had no manpower to build roads, so Indians and Nepalese were hired to build roads. By the mid-1970s, some 1,500 kilometers of road had been built.national highway was classified.

In the period 2003-2004, a 6-kilometer-long double-lane road with 2×2 lanes was built in the built-up area of ​​Thimpu. This was Bhutan’s first four-lane road. It is sometimes referred to as an expressway, but the road has no grade separated intersections. Between 2014 and 2017, significant parts of the east-west route were widened to make it easier for oncoming traffic to pass without coming to a near stop.

Road numbering

It is unclear whether there is a road numbering. Mileage posts indicate a prefix SL, but there is hardly any signage.

Bhutan Location Map