About BhutanBhutan is a tranquil country where you can explore the ancient cultures, beautiful landscapes and magnificent architecture. Bhutan, called Druk Yul by its people, is known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. It is one of the world’s most beautiful, yet mysterious places. It is located on the eastern edge of the Himalayan Mountain region. A large part of the area is forested welcoming a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna. The country stretches from subtropical valleys and plains to snowcapped mountain ranges. This landscape makes it the perfect place to trek through the majestic valleys or steep mountains to visit ancient architecture and Buddhist temples.
Gross National Happiness
While agreeing that the ultimate purpose of life is the pursuit of Happiness, for a very long time, economists the world over have argued that the key to happiness is obtaining and enjoying material development. However, Bhutan adheres to a very different belief and advocates that amassing material wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. There are abstract, non material aspects of life, which are equally if not more important to make people happy. This was first underlined by Bhutan’s Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who proclaimed that “Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important that Gross National Product (GNP).”
This concept has now become an international anthem and it was elevated further on 19 July 2011, when the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution A/RES/65/309 entitled ‘Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development’. It was the first resolution initiated by Bhutan and was passed without a vote after Bhutan was able to secure the support of 68 co-sponsors.
GNH revolves around four main pillars; equitable and equal socio-economic development’ preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage, conservation of environment and good governance. These are interwoven and complement one another.
Due to Bhutan’s location and unique geographical and climatic variations, it is one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots.
Bhutan’s pristine environment, with high rugged mountains and deep valleys, offers ecosystems that are both rich and diverse. Recognizing the importance of the environment, conservation of its rich biodiversity is one of the government’s development paradigms.
An astonishing array of plants grow in Bhutan: over 5,400 species, including 300 species of medicinal plants, some hardy species thriving even at 3,700m above.
Many rare and endangered species such as the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, wild buffalo, wild dog, common leopard, black panther, marveled cat, golden cat, clouded Leopard and Chinese pangolin, Musk derr, Blue Sheep, Takin are seen in Bhutan.Species endemic to the Eastern Himalayan foothills, such as golden langur, capped langur, pygmy hog and hispid hare are found in Bhutan’s oldest park, the Royal Manas Park.
This park alone has a total of 530 species of birds recorded, highest among all protected areas. Apart from the globally endangered species, such as, the Rufous-necked hornbill and Pallas fish eagle, there are 14 other species recorded from the park, which are considered to have globally significant breeding populations in Bhutan.
Area and Population
During 2016 Bhutan population is projected to increase by 11 413 people and reach 792 581 in the beginning of 2017. The natural increase is expected to be positive, as the number of births will exceed the number of deaths by 9 319. If external migration will remain on the previous year level, the population will be increased by 2 094 due to the migration reasons. It means that the number of people who move into Bhutan (to which they are not native) in order to settle there as permanent residents (immigrants) will prevail over the number of people who leave the country to settle permanently in another country (emigrants).
Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography. The Altitude ranges from 160meters in the southern foothills to 7541 meters high in the northern high mountains. With a population of about 700,000. Bhutan is one of the sparsely populated counties in the world.
Bhutan’s ancient cultural traditions have continued to grow despite the current technological restructuring and It has become the ultimate tourist destination for adventurers, spiritual awakenings, and serene visages.
People & Culture
For a country of Bhutan’s size, there are a huge number of people from different ethnic groups. However, Bhutanese people can be broadly divided in three ethnics group – Sharchops, Ngalops and Lhotshampas – based on the regions inhabitated.
Predominantly Buddhist, the Bhutanese people practice Drukpa Kargyud sect of Mahayana Buddhism. Monks and nuns play an important role in the daily lives of Bhutanese people.
Bhutanese wear distinctive national dress made from wool, cotton and silk. The men’s attire is called ‘Gho’ and ladies dress is called ‘Kira’. People in Bhutan wear the national dress while going to school, offices and on formal occasions.
Bhutanese food mainly consists of meat, rice and vegetables. People in Bhutan love chilies. The most popular dish in Bhutan is called ‘Ema Datse’ which is made from cheese and chilies.
Chang, a local beer made from rice is a common drink especially in the villages.
The folk dances, ancient music and the mask dances performed during the religious festivals called Tshechu are some of the unique and distinct cultural identity Bhutan has preserved over the years.