The Kingdom of Bhutan is divided into 20 districts (dzongkhags). Bhutan is sandwiched between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and India on the eastern slopes of the Himalayas in South Asia.
Dzongkhags are the primary subdivisions of Bhutan. They hold a number of powers and rights under the Constitution of Bhutan, such as regulating commerce, running elections, and creating local governments. The Local Government Act of 2009 established local governments in each of the 20 dzongkhags supervised by the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Each dzongkhag also has a dzongkhag court presided over by a dzongkhag drangpon (judge), who is appointed by the Chief Justice of Bhutan on the advice of Royal Judicial Service Council. The dzongkhags, and their residents, are represented in the Parliament of Bhutan, a bilateral legislature consisting of the National Council and the National Assembly. Each dzongkhag has one National Council representative. National Assembly councils are spread among the dzongkhags in proportion to their listed voter population as recommended by the Delimitation Commission, provided that "no dzongkhag shall have less than two and more than seven National Assembly constituencies."
A map of Bhutan showing the four dzongdeys.
Dzongdeys of Bhutan
Medieval Bhutan was organized into provinces or regions headquartered in dzongs (castles/fortresses) which aided as administrative centres for areas round them. The dzongs of Paro, Dagana and Trongsa were ruled by penlops (provincial lords/governors) while other dzongs were headed by dzongpons (fortress lords). Penlops and dzongpons gained power as the progressively dysfunctional dual system of government eventually collapsed during civil war. At the direction of the fourth DrukGyalpo (Bhutan head of state), Jigme SingyeWangchuk, and the process of decentralisation of local administration started in with the formation of a dzongkhag yargyetshogchung in each of the anew created dzongkhags.
Four dzongdeyswere established in 1988 and 1989: Zone I, including four western districts, seated at Chhukha; Zone II, including four west-central districts, seated at Damphu; Zone III, comprising four east-central districts, seated at Geylegphug; and Zone IV, counting five eastern districts, seated at Yonphula; to "provide a more effective distribution of personnel and administrative and technical skills." Dzongdeys acted as the intermediate administrative divisions between the dzongkhag administration and the central government. Although Thimphu dzongkhag and Thimphu thromde (municipality) were in the boundaries of Zone I, they stayed outside the zonal system. By 1991, however, only Eastern dzongdey (Zone IV) was completely functional. Zone I, Zone II and Zone III were "indefinitely" disabled in early 1991. Zone IV also ceased to function in mid-1992.13 Dzongdeys slowly lost relevance and went defunct as they were not included in the Constitution of Bhutan3 and the Local Government Act of 2009, which repealed the previous local governments and administrative divisions.