Bhutan - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Bhutan's infrastructure is limited although the government is actively attempting to open the more isolated areas of the country by improving the road network. Around 14,000 passenger vehicles were in use on Bhutan's 3,285 kilometers (2,041 miles) of roads in 1999. In 1997 the Road Surface Transport Authority was established to improve the efficiency and quality of the road infrastructure and to enforce the observation of transport regulations. There are no railways in Bhutan. In accordance with the government policy of allowing a restricted opening-up of Bhutan for both citizens and foreigners, total passengers on scheduled flights rose from 8,000 in

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Bhutan 6,000 N/A AM 0; FM 1; shortwave 1 37,000 0 11,000 N/A 500
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
China 135 M (2000) 65 M (2001) AM 369; FM 259; shortwave 45 417 M 3,240 400 M 3 22 M (2001)
Nepal 236,816 (2000) N/A AM 6; FM 5; shortwave 1 (2000) 840,000 1 (1998) 130,000 6 35,000
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

1990 to 36,000 in 1997. The national airline, Druk Air, owns 2 planes which fly to and from Paro International Airport which opened a new terminal building in the late 1990s. Bhutan is landlocked; the nearest seaport is 435 miles away in Calcutta.

Electricity, gas, and water provided 11.8 percent of value-added activity to the economy in 1997. In 2000, Bhutan's electricity-generating capacity was 3530 megawatts, 97 percent of which is hydro power and the rest thermal. The central role of electricity production to Bhutan's economy is likely to expand in the early 21st century. New large-scale hydro power stations were under construction by 2001 which are expected to provide considerable government revenue. However, over 95 percent of domestic energy consumption in Bhutan consists of biological mass, predominantly firewood.

Bhutan was cut off from the outside world for centuries. Television only began to be provided by the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) Corporation in 1999 and was limited to a small number of hours a day of programming (consisting solely of national news and documentaries about Bhutan). Nonetheless, (based upon a population of 1.03 million) there were already 5.5 televisions per 1,000 population in 1997, which by 2000 received 25 channels from 2 cable television companies. By 1997, there were 19 radios per 1,000 inhabitants. According to UN estimates there is only 1 telephone per 100 inhabitants. In 1999, a Japanese-funded project to provide domestic digital telecommunications was completed. The Internet became operational in Bhutan in 1999.

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