Bootan, Or Bhutan, an independent territory of India, between lat. 26° 30' and 28° 30' N., and Ion. 88° 30' and 92° E., on the N. E. frontier of Bengal, among the Himalaya mountains, which separate it from Thibet on the N., and branch out over a great part of its surface. It is bounded E. by a region inhabited by savage mountain tribes, S. by the British districts of Assam and Goalpara, and the native state of Cooch-Bahar, and W. by the native state of Sikkim; length from E. to W., 215 m.; breadth, 115 m.; area, 19,130 sq. m. Some of the highest summits of the Himalaya chain lie on its N. border, from which the surface sinks by broken and abrupt descents to the Brahmapootra. The rivers are numerous, and have violent cataracts. The most important of them traverse the country from N. to S., and fall into the Brahmapootra. There are many bridges over the torrents, some of which are of very ingenious construction. In the lower part of the country the vegetation presents the usual features of the tropics; higher up are forests of pine, birch, maple, and yew, while the hills are covered with fruits common to Europe, such as apples, apricots, and berries. The soil in many places is well tilled. Rice, wheat, barley, turnips, gourds, and melons are raised in large quantities.
The trade is chiefly with Bengal and Thibet; the exports comprise rice, wheat, flour, horses, linen, musk, and fruits; and the imports, cattle, hogs, dried fish, tobacco, cotton, wooHens, indigo, tea, gold, silver, and embroideries. Iron and copper are found, but not in large quantities. The inhabitants are tall, with smooth, dark skins, high cheek bones, and the broad faces common to the Chinese and Tartars. Though courageous when attacked, they are by no means a warlike people, and have little knowledge of military art. They are industrious and devoted almost altogether to agriculture. The climate in the valleys at the foot of the Himalaya is very unhealthy. The religion is Buddhism, and there are many priests and monasteries, but morality is at a very low ebb. Polyandry and polygamy are both general, and no religious ceremony is observed in marriage. There are two sovereigns, one spiritual, called the dhurma rajah, and the other secular, known as the deb rajah. The chief towns are Tassisudon, Wandipoor, Poonakha, Ghassa, Paro, and Muri-chom; but for the most part the people live in small villages. - In ancient Brahmanical legends Bootan is called Madra. Up to the last century little is known with regard to its political condition.
In 1772 the Booteahs ravaged the territory of Cooch-Bahar, whereupon the latter state applied to the British for assistance, which being granted, the rajah of Bootan was attacked within his own dominions, defeated, and forced to solicit aid from Thibet. By the mediation of the latter state, a treaty of peace was concluded in 1774. The British suffered severely for many years from the incursions of the Booteahs into the Dooars, a strip of fertile frontier country at the foot of the mountain passes leading from Bootan into Assam and Bengal. The Assam Dooars were occupied by the British in 1841, a rent being paid for them to the Bootan government. As the depredations continued on the Bengal frontier, the Hon. Ashley Eden was sent as an ambassador to the two rajahs in 1863. He was violently maltreated on the route, and at the capital, Poonakha, and only allowed to return after signing on compulsion a treaty ceding the Assam Dooars. This treaty was at once repudiated by the British government, war was proclaimed (1864), and in a short campaign (1864-'5) the forts commanding the passes were reduced, and the Dooars, 150 m. long and 30 to 40 m. wide, were annexed by treaty to the British possessions.