Ngawang Namgyel fled a religious persecution from Tibet in 1616. His ancestors (also great Buddhist saints) had already established good relationship with the people of Bhutan during their visits preaching Buddhism in Bhutan. Zhabdrung was therefore well received, and greatly respected by the people of Bhutan. His popularity and influence gradually grew subsequently integrating all the isolated pocket of settlements, and thus, unifying the country. His dominance led to the institutionalization of Drukpa Kagyu (sect of Buddhism) as the state religion and the land came to be known as the “Land of Drukpas”. The consolidation was marked with construction of Dzongs (fortresses) in every region/dzongkhag that symbolized the solidarity. The Dzongs were used as military barracks while defending the sovereignty of Bhutan against numerous external invasions from the north. Ngawang Namgyel led the battle, and successfully defended, and emerged victorious on all accounts. Ngawang Namgyel is also known for introducing the dual system. The dual system was a governance structure where the political and religious affairs were segregated each headed by a leader that was appointed by Ngawang Namgyel. Ngawang Namgyel put himself at the apex of this hierarchical system.
Following his death in 1651, the efficiency of the dual system gradually declined catapulting the country in numerous civil wars deteriorating the country. In order to reinstate political stability in the country, in 1907, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was appointed as the First King of Bhutan institutionalizing of the hereditary monarchy system. Until about a century ago, the reforms initiated by the leaders largely remained confined within the domain of religious affairs but since 1950, Bhutan undertook many modern reforms including the introduction of modern education, public health, and infrastructure building. The biggest reform yet was initiated in 2008 when Bhutan transitioned to Constitutional Democracy to drive reforms bottom up, and promote a broader sense of inclusion by electing representative of people in the legislation process in the country.