With the Buddhist faith largely influencing the course of Bhutan's history, Bhutan was governed as a theocracy in the 1600s by a temporal and spiritual ruler, Shabbdrung Ngawang Namgyel who, for a time, unified the country under a central authority. Then, following centuries of civil
wars, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected hereditary monarch in 1907. Since then Bhutan has
progressed at its own careful pace under the wisdom and guidance of five generations of the
Wangchuck family. In 2008 Bhutan will celebrate the coronation of the fifth hereditary King, His
Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and as declared under the new draft Constitution,
will hold parliamentary elections for the first time in its history.