Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a constitutional monarchy that has Mahayana Buddhism as its state religion. It is located in the Eastern Himalayas, with China to the north and India to the south. Because it is landlocked and surrounded by mountains, the country was historically isolated until improvements in transportation in the early 21st century opened its trade and loosened its borders.
Bhutan uses its local currency, the ngultrum. The ngultrum derives its name from the Dzongkha word for silver, ngul. The first ngultrum banknotes were issued by the Royal Government of Bhutan on June 2, 1974—when the fourth Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) Jigme Singye Wangchuck was crowned. The 5- and 100-ngulstrum banknotes featured Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s portraits and the 10-ngulstrum banknote featured the portrait of the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. In 1978, the Royal Government of Bhutan issued redesigned banknotes and introduced the 2, 20, and 50 ngultrum banknotes. All of the banknotes featured the royal emblem of Bhutan. The 1, 2, and 5 ngultrum banknotes had similar designs—the royal emblem on the obverse side and the Paro Rinpung Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress, on the reverse side—with differing color schemes. The larger denominations (10, 20, 50, and 100) featured different monarchs and important buildings.
On August 4, 1982, the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan started taking over central banking responsibilities, like issuing banknotes, from the Royal Government of Bhutan. The 500 ngultrum banknote was issued on the 1994 National Day, which celebrates the coronation of the first King of Bhutan in 1907. In 2003, the Royal Monetary Authority used new portraits of the kings of Bhutan in the front and new vignettes at the back. In 2008, the golden 1,000 ngultrum banknote was introduced. In 2011, the Royal Monetary Authority issued commemorative 100 ngultrum banknotes to celebrate the royal wedding of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema. These 100 ngultrum banknotes featured the royal couple on the obverse side and the Punakha Dzong (the palace of great happiness) on the reverse side. The 1 and 10 ngultrum banknotes were printed on a paper-polymer hybrid substrate instead of paper. In 2016, the Royal Monetary Authority issued a commemorative 100 ngultrum banknote to celebrate the first birthday of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey Jibme Namgyel Wangchuck.