11/05/2008, 00.00
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Bhutan prepares to crown a new king

Jigme Khesar Namgyel, the youngest monarch in the world, inherits the crown, but also the challenge of ushering the country into the modern world while preserving its culture.

Thimpu - (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Jigme Khesar Namgyel, the new king of Bhutan, will be crowned tomorrow in the capital of Thimpu. During the investure ceremony, the young Jigme, 28, will receive the imperial crown, becoming the youngest monarch in the world. The ceremony will be followed by a three-day national holiday, with masked dances and ancient rituals. The date of the coronation was determined according to astrological calculations. The young king, who graduated from Oxford, should be the sign of national unity in a country that is having difficulty adapting to modernity and democracy. The democratic structure was introduced by Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the father of the new monarch, only in 2006, when he abdicated to become only the regent. He is the architect of the new Bhutan, in which openness to the world is carefully calibrated in order not to wipe out the identity and spiritual values of the country. For example, Bhutan allows restricted access to tourists: no more than 6,000 per year. Another of the problems that the new king must face is the situation of young people, characterized by unemployment, crime, and drugs.

Bhutan, scrunched in between India and China, has a population of 2.3 million. Buddhism is the state religion, and the public expression of any other religion is prohibited. Christians are about 0.5% of the population.

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