In the 17th century Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal shaped the unique Bhutanese way of life which is strongly guided by Buddhist values and beliefs. Shabdrung shaped a distinctive Bhutanese cultural identity which distinguished the country from neighboring countries and established a common cultural legacy and tradition that the people of Bhutan gradually embodied in the later generations.
Shabdrung united the various groups and factions who were fighting for dominance and control of the land. During his reign he introduced the dual system of government which shared power between an administrative leader as the head of secular affairs and a religious leader (the Je Khenpo) who presided over the religious institutions in the kingdom. His Dual System was replicated in the later years with revisions which gradually transformed the Royal Government into a Democracy. After his demise, his successors couldn’t maintain the harmony that presided Zhabdrung’s reign, and the regional governors reverted to their power struggles and further divided the country.
The situation continued until the hereditary monarchy was established in 1907, His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck was the first king of Bhutan. Since his reign Bhutan has been blessed with enlightened leaders who have maintained peace and stability in the kingdom.