Over view of Bhutan

The Country: Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world. Nonetheless, survey data from the country suggest it is also one of the happiest. Nestled in the foreboding Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan is a landlocked Kingdom situated in South Central Asia, bordering Tibet and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, visiting Bhutan offers a truly authentic experience with a culture that has been relatively untouched by outside influence.  With towering mountains, intricate architecture, welcoming people and a philosophy steeped in the Buddhism, visitors are guaranteed the experience of a lifetime.

Landscape: Bhutan has been identified as one of the 10 bio-diversity hot spots in the world. Its various exotic ecosystems are home to an estimated 770 species of birds and 55 species of rhododendron, along with over 300 varieties of medicinal plants. Nine national parks and wildlife sanctuaries hold some of the rarest animals in the world including the snow leopard, red panda, black-necked crane and golden langur.

People: Visitors will find that the local people have a wonderful sense of humor and are eager to share their culture and their country. Opened for tourism in 1974, the Bhutanese have maintained strong ties to their religion and customs, allowing visitors to experience the country as is has been for hundreds of years.  The people of Bhutan treasure their natural environment and have lived in harmony with its elements, respecting the sanctity of life and revering the mountains, forests and rivers as abodes of gods and spirits.  Bhutan is also one of the happiest nations in the world, with a strong philosophy regulated by the King, that Bhutan will measure success in terms of Gross National Happiness.

Natural Heritage: For centuries, Bhutan has been known as the valley of Medicinal Herbs, a name that still applies to this day. The country’s rich flora and fauna is the result of its unique location in the Eastern Himalayas. The annual rainfall, which is significantly higher than in the Central and Western Himalayas, and its dramatic climate changes create a region that is ideal for the cultivation of a variety of vegetation.Because of deep traditional reverence for nature, Bhutan is a leading country in environmental preservation. More than 70% of the region is blanketed by thick forests. Many parts of the country have been declared wildlife reserves and as a result are the natural habitats for rare species of both flora and fauna.  Many of its towering peaks are off limits to climbers, leaving a vastswath of countryside that is pristine.

Tourism Policy: The Tourism Policy of the Royal Government of Bhutan is one of “high value and low volume”. The tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable. For this reason the number for tourists visiting Bhutan are kept to an environmentally manageable level through government regulated tourist tariffs.  This, in part, helps to maintain the Bhutanese culture and economy.

Climate: Bhutan has four distinct seasons. Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of the year in the Kingdom. In March, at the height of spring, the whole Kingdom comes to life with a stunning display of pink and white Rhododendron blossoms.The annual rain from the Bay of Bengal affects the South and Central regions during the summer months of June, July and August. The end of the rainy season, also a popular time to visit, marks the closing months of summer. The days are filled with pristine skies and warm weather.The autumn months of September to November bring shorter days and cooler evenings. The days remain very comfortable with clear skies. Views over the high Himalayas are usually only possible from September to March. Towards the end of November the weather turns colder.Winter brings fierce cold that tends to subside towards the end of February around the Bhutanese New Year. The Southern low lying areas have a more temperate climate and considerably warmer winters. Clear skies in the winter months bring colder weather but it’s also the best time of the year to view the snow-capped peaks of the high Himalayan Mountains.

Festivals or Tshechus: One of the main attractions in the Kingdom are its annual festivals, also known as Tshechus, celebrated to honor Guru Pama Sambhava also known as Guru Rimpoche. For local people, Tshechus are an occasion for blessing, feasting and socializing. Two of the most popular Tshechus are held in Paro in the spring and Thimphu in the autumn, but there are various others all year long at temples, Dzong and monasteries throughout Bhutan. The highlight of any festival is the costumed dancers, who act out stories with colorful masks and thundering instruments. Townspeople dress in their best clothes and join together to rejoice.Architecture: The characteristic style and colors of every building is one of the most striking physical features of Bhutan. The Dzong, which house the monastic and government bodies are built on a grand scale without the help of any drawing and are outstanding examples of the best in Bhutanese architecture. Carved patterns in a kaleidoscope of colors blanket every inch of these magnificent buildings.

Arts and Crafts:Like its architecture, the arts are important parts of Bhutanese culture and they depict the spiritual depth of Bhutanese life. Painters use vegetables dyes to give their work a unique appearance seen nowhere else in the world. Each painting is intricate in design and stunning with its variety and intensity of color. Bhutan also boasts an unparalleled wealth in its cottage industry for a country its size. Fine handicrafts of wood and bamboo, ornaments of gold and silver, and highly developed weaving skills represent an advanced art form.

General Facts:
Area 38,000sq km
Location South Central Asia
Population 0.7 million approximately
Capital Thimphu
Politics Democracy/Constitutional Monarchy
Official Religion Tantric Mahayana Buddhism in Drukpa Kagyupa sect
Language Dzongkha, Lhoshamkha and English
Currency Ngultrum or Nu (at par with Indian rupee)
Exchange Rate US $1 = Nu. 44.50 (subject to change)
Electricity 220 volts
Time Change +6 hours GMT
Highest Elevation +24,000 ft
National Bird Raven (Corvus Corax Tibetanus)
National Flower Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandsis)
National Tree Cypress (Cupressess Corneyana)
National Animal Takin (Budorcas Taxicolor)
National Day December 17th (1st King enthroned 1907)
National Dress Gho for men and Kira for women.
National Game Archery.

National Flag: The National Flag of Kingdom of Bhutan is divided diagonally into equal yellow and orange halves. The division starts from the lower corner of the flag where it is hoisted and runs along the diagonally opposite corner. The yellow portion lies on the upper part of the diagonal division and it represents the yellow scarf worn by His Majesty, which in turn represents the being of His Majesty, the King. The orange portion lies on the lower part of the flag and it represents the orange scarf worn by the Je Khenpo, the religious head of the country. The National Flag has a white dragon which spreads equally along the diagonal division towards the upper end. The dragon holds Norbu (jewels) by its claws.

National Emblem: The national emblem, contained in a circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular and religious power; which results from the Bhuddist religion on its Vajrayana form. The lotus symbolizes purity; the jewel sovereign power; and the two dragons, male and female, stand for the name of the country – the thunder dragon.

Life Expectancy: Male (years): 66.0 : Female (years): 66.2 : Total Fertility Rate: 4.7

Land: Area (sq.km): 38,394
Dzongkhags (districts): 20
Geogs(blocks): 201

Agriculture: Forest: 72.5%
Pasture: 3.9%
Agriculture: 7.8%
Horticulture: 0.1%
Settlement: 0.1%
Others: 15.6%

Health: Doctors: 140
Hospitals: 29
BHUs: 172
Indigenous Hospitals: 1
Safe Drinking Water: 78%
Health Coverage: 90%

Education :Day Care Centre: 25
Community Primary School: 267 (Public/Government 266 & Private: 1)
Pry School: 95 (Government: 95 & Private 10)
Lower Secondary School: 100 (Government: 88 & Private 10)
Middle Secondary School: 56 (Government: 55 & Private: 1)
Higher Secondary School: 43 (Government. 30 & Private 13)
Extended Classroom: 56
Special Institutes: 8
Tertiary Institutes under RUB: 11 (10 Government  & 1 Private College)
Vocational Institutes: 8

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