Bhutan Country Report
Bhutan is in the process of opening its economy to foreign influence, but continues to limit access to foreigners, in keeping with the priorities of Gross National Happiness – an index of well-being that prioritises good governance, sustainable socio economic development, and environmental protection. Bhutan is likely to remain closely allied with and dependent upon India for diplomatic and military assistance; about 90% of Bhutan's exports go to India, including hydroelectric power. Armed conflict is unlikely, although animosity with China is a trigger for border disputes, most recently in the Doklam territory in 2017. Militant groups have been inactive since 2008.
Foreign investment is increasingly permitted, notably in the tourism and hydropower sectors, although investors must strictly observe the country's regulations aimed at preserving its culture, environment and architecture. Bhutan's infrastructure is poor, having remained relatively isolated from the outside world for most of the 20th century. However, more recently, communications, the road network, flight access, and labour skills have improved substantially. Although corruption levels are the lowest in the region, it is a growing concern domestically. A domestic transparency survey in December 2016 found that the misuse of public funds and nepotism were becoming more prevalent.
Terrorism is a moderate threat. The primary risk is posed by ethnic-Nepali Maoist insurgents connected to a similar movement in Nepal. In the run-up to Bhutan's first general election in 2008, these groups conducted a series of low-level improvised explosive device attacks in four different locations, injuring one person. However, Nepalese Maoists have since joined mainstream politics, and it is therefore unlikely that they will seek to instigate unrest in Bhutan. Indian militants based in Bhutan pose an additional threat, because they could seek to target security forces and state assets in retaliation for the government's co-operation with India.
Armed conflict is generally unlikely. However, the growing rivalry between Bhutan's larger neighbours, India and China, drives the risk of largely non-violent incidents on the Chinese border. While India guarantees military protection for Bhutan, China claims 10% of Bhutan's land-mass. Most recently, in June 2017, China and India rapidly increased military deployment in the Doklam territory after Indian soldiers stopped a road construction project in the territory disputed by China and Bhutan. Any violence is likely to be limited to scuffles between Chinese and Indian soldiers, but both sides are likely to seek to de-escalate border incidents diplomatically.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Many roads are in poor condition. There are no railways within the country and no airlines operating domestic flights. Visitors can arrive in Bhutan by road (passing through the southwestern town of Phuentsholing on the Indian border) or by air (from New Delhi, Katmandu, Dhaka, or Bangkok with the Bhutanese airline Druk Air). The border with China is closed to the public.
Bhutan is a mountainous country and its climate varies considerably by elevation. The climate is subtropical along the Duars Plain, in the south, with high levels of humidity and rainfall. The valleys in the center of the country are drier, with distinct seasons: summers are hot and winters cold.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz