The Unique Cultures of Bhutan

The Unique Cultures of Bhutan

Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small landlocked nation (39,872 km2) situated in the Himalayas between India and China. The entire country is mountainous except for a small strip of subtropical plains in the extreme south. The elevation gain from the subtropical plains to the glacier-covered Himalayan heights exceeds 7,000 m (23,000 feet) and this makes the country an ecological ‘hot spot’. 70% of Bhutan is covered by forests.

Bhutan was one of the most isolated nations in the world. Tourism started in 1974 and is regulated by the government who emphasizes on the preservation of culture and environment. Bhutan is often described as the last surviving refuge of traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture. Most of the Bhutanese follow either the Drukpa Kagyu or the Nyingmapa school of Tantric Buddhism which is flourishing. Hinduism is also practiced by a certain number of Bhutanese, especially in the south.

The country traditional economy was based on forestry, animal husbandry and subsistence agriculture. However these account for less than 50% of the GDP now that Bhutan has become an exporter of hydroelectricity. Cash crops such as potatoes and oranges, tourism, and development aid are also significant contributors to the nation economy. The population figure is 672,425 inhabitants (Census 2005). Thimphu is the capital and largest city with around 70,000 people. The only airport of the country is in the Paro valley, one hour drive from the capital.

The national language is Dzongkha (lit. “the language of the fortress”), and English is the official language.



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