The history of the kingdom dates back to the 8th century, with Guru Padmasambhava’s legendary flight from Tibet to Bhutan in 747 AD on the back of a tigress. The Guru began propagation of the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism. The country was unified under the Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism in the early 17th century, by the religious figure, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Shabdrung codified a comprehensive system of laws and built dzongs which guarded each valley. At the end of the 19th century, the Trongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wangchuck, who then controlled the central and eastern regions, overcame all his rivals and united the nation once more. In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously accepted as King, and a hereditary monarchy system was unanimously agreed for Bhutan.
Over the last decade, there have been significant political reforms in Bhutan. In 1998, the fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck stepped down as head of state and handed over this function to a prime minister assisted by a cabinet of ministers. In 2006, the fourth King handed over his responsibilities to his son King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and the formal coronation was held in November 2008. Bhutan is now a constitutional monarchy and had its first parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.