Much of Bhutan’s history is steeped in myth and legend but it generally begins with the advent of Buddhism in the eighth century when the great tantric saint, Guru Padmasambhava, visited the country and meditated in numerous locations.
Over the centuries many great Buddhist masters have sought Bhutan to meditate in its precarious mountain caves and propagate the dharma.
It was the warrior statesman monk, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who arrived in 1616 from Tibet and unified Bhutan as a country. He codified laws, established a monastic body, laid out an administration system and built a chain of fortesses to serve as centres of governance and as military installations against attacks from the north.
Bhutan became a monarchy in 1907 ending two centuries of internal strife and bringing an era of peace and prosperity.
In 2008 Bhutan transited to a parliamentary form of governance, after 100 years of Monarchy, with the country electing a government for the first time. It held its second general in July 2013.
Throughout its history, Bhutan has remained an independent kingdom and was never colonsied by the 19th century European and Asian powers.