Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world which has never been conquered, governed or occupied by an outside power it has always been independent throughout history. Bhutan’s early history is filled with Buddhist folklore and mythology as also tales of supernatural powers and powerful deeds. Guru Rinpoche, a saint who could appear in eight different forms, visited Bhutan on a flying tiger and left the imprint of his body and his hat on rocks. Tales of demons who threatened people and destroyed villages until captured magically and converted to Buddhism.
Structures hint to existence of Bhutan since as early as 2000 B.C. According to legend, it was reigned by Sangaldip, a CoochBihar king, a around 7th century B.C. There isn’t much information available about the time before 9th century, when Tibetan monks were forced to flee to Bhutan due to turmoil, which led to the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the country. Thereafter, in the 12th century, the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established, which remains the dominant Buddhism form in Bhutan till date.
Tibet has had a strong influence on Bhutan, from the 7th century to 17th century, when the unified polity of Bhutan emerged. After the 18th century, the power shifted towards India. Bhutan was reshaped through British India’s geopolitical and commercial affairs. In the 19th century, the British made Bhutan a buffer state to India during the threat of the Chinese reconquest of Tibet.
In 1947, the year India got independence, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949 India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which stated that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs, but would guide its foreign policy. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck succeeded Ugyen Wangchuck, the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, the Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). During this time, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and underwent planned development.
Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended the throne at age 20 in 1972. During his reign, modern education, decentralization of governance, the development of hydroelectricity and tourism and improvements in rural developments were emphasized. He was perhaps best known internationally for his overarching development philosophy of "gross national happiness." Satisfied with Bhutan's transitioning process of democratization, he abdicated in December 2006 rather than wait until the promulgation of the new constitution in 2008. His son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, became King upon his abdication.