Brief Overview and Background
Tucked away gracefully in the Himalayas, Bhutan is the only Mahayana Buddhist Kingdom in the world.
Bhutan, also known as “Druk Yul”, which means the land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon, is a landlocked kingdom and shares borders with China in the North and India in the East, West, and South. Despite being sandwiched between two culturally dynamic countries, Bhutan remains untouched by their cultural influences and has its own unique culture, heritage, and traditions. Bhutan is, on its own, an undiscovered treasure of experiences ranging from inimitable cultural exposure to unmatched excursions into its pristine natural environment.
Bhutan is rated the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world according to business week and is the only country in the world that has and practices Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Bhutan at a Glance
|Total Area:||38,394 square kilometers|
|Location:||Landlocked between China (Tibet) and India|
|Altitude:||100m above sea level in the South to over 7,500 m. above sea level in the North.|
|Population:||672,425 (2007) : 364,482 male and 307,943 female.|
|Language:||Dzongkha is the national language but there are as many as 19 local dialects in Bhutan|
|Political System:||Democratic Constitutional Monarchy|
|State Religion:||Drukpa Kargyu|
|Time:||6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+6)|
|Local Time:||6 hrs ahead of GMT and half an hour ahead of Indian Standard Time|
|Longitude:||26 45’ – 28 15’ North|
|Terrain:||It can be divided into three major geographic regions from North to South; the high Himalayas of North, the hills and valleys of the central and the foothills and plains of the South.|
|Currency:||Ngultrum is equivalent to Indian currency.|
|National dress||Gho for men: which is a knee length robe, tied at the waist by kera (a traditional belt).Kera for woman: which is a long ankle length dress complemented by a elegant outer jacked known as tego and a inner layer known as wonju.|
|National emblem of Bhutan||The emblem of Bhutan is used in official government publications such as legislation and websites|
|National flower||The Himalayan blue poppy is the national flower of Bhutan. In Bhutan, it grows to a height of 1 meter on the rocky mountain terrain, above the tree line at altitudes of 3500m to 4500m.|
|National animal||Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and is found in the eastern Himalayas.|
|National flag||The yellow color on the flag signifies civil tradition and temporal authority as embodied in the Dragon King of Bhutan, whose royal garb traditionally includes a yellow kabney (scarf).The orange half signifies Buddhist spiritual tradition.The Thunder Dragon, extents evenly over the line between the colors signifying the equal importance of both civic and monastic traditions in Bhutan and conjures the strength of the sacred bond between sovereign and people.The white color of the dragon signifies the pureness of inner thoughts and deeds that connect all the ethnically and linguistically diverse citizens of Bhutan.The jewels held in the dragon’s claws signify Bhutan’s wealth and the safety and protection of its people, while the dragon’s roaring mouth signifies Bhutanese deities’ pledge to the defense of Bhutan.
|National sport||Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and was stated as the national sport in 1971, when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Bhutan also maintains an Olympic archery team and this sport is popularly played in the country.|
Culture and religion
Although Bhutan is a very small country, the culture of Bhutan is very rich and unique which is deeply steeped to the Buddhist heritage and is the main attraction for tourist.
The unique culture of Bhutan is given vital importance by the government of Bhutan in order to keep the cultural heritage integral and intact. Therefore, the government of Bhutan is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. For its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as the last Shangri-la.
Majority population of Bhutan practices Buddhism, less than one percent of the population practices islam and a small percent of the population practices Bon and Christianity.
Bhutan has never been captured, governed or conquered by an external power and continued being independent throughout its history because Bhutan has continuously and successfully defended its sovereignty.
Zhabdrug Nawang Namgyal from western Tibet defeated three Tibetan invasions and established himself as the ruler. He first unified Bhutan in the 17th century by establishing comprehensive system of law and governance.
After his death Ugyen Wangchuck established power and promoted closer ties with the British in India in the year 1885 and was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan in 1907. When the first king of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck deceased in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck was crowned the second ruler of Bhutan when India gained independence in 1949. Recognized Bhutan as an independent country the treat of peace and friendship was signed between India and Bhutan.
Our third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck helped Bhutan emerge from its isolations and began a program planned development thus; Bhutan became a member of United Nations, national assembly and established royal Bhutanese army and high court.
Our fourth king Jigme singye Wangchuck was crowned at the age of twenty and is internationally well known for his overarching development of gross national happiness. Our fourth kind Jigme singye Wangchuck abdicated in December 2006 and his son Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck was crowned as the fifth king of Bhutan.
Map of Bhutan
Arts and crafts
Bhutanese art is mostly representational and Bhutan’s artistic tradition has its origins in Buddhism with almost all representation in the arts running along the dominant theme of good and evil. The arts and crafts of Bhutan that represents the exclusive “spirit and identity of the Himalayan kingdom” are defined as the art of Zorig Chosum, which means the “thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan”. Each region has its specialties: raw silk comes from eastern Bhutan, brocade from Lhuntshi (Kurtoe), woolen goods from Bumthang bamboo wares from Kheng, woodwork from Tashi Yangtse, gold and silver work from Thimphu, and yak-hair products from the north or the Black mountains.
The thirteen arts of Zorig Chusum are the following
|2. Shingzo (carpentry|
|3. Parzo (carvings)|
|4. JInzo (sculpture)|
|5. Lungzo (casting)|
|6. Garzo (blacksmith)|
|7. Tsharzo (bamboo works).|
|8. Serzo ngulzo ( goldsmithing and silver smithing):|
|9. Thagzo (weaving)|
|10. Tshemzo (embroidery)|
|11. Dozo (masonry)|
|12. Kozo (leather works)|
|13. Dezo (paper works)|
Bhutan is considered to be the world’s last remaining hotspots because of its location and unique geographical and climatic variations.
High mountains and deep valleys in Bhutan offer eco systems that are both rich and diverse. The government of Bhutan protects the pristine environment and has enacted a law to protect the bio diversity. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and approximately 60% of the land area falls under protected areas comprising of 10 national parks and sanctuaries.
Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming as well as animal husbandry and forestry provide the main livelihood for more than 60% of the population in Bhutan. The economy of Bhutan is closely affiliated with India through strong trade and monetary links.
Maximum production in the industrial sector is of the cottage industry type.
Bhutan’s rich bio diversity offers the country with abundant forest resources and this has brought about the development of thriving cane and bamboo handicraft industry.
The Bhutanese tourism industry was first established in 1974 and due to Bhutan’s unique landscape, culture and tradition, tourism is grown to become a major contributing factor to the Bhutanese economy. Employment opportunities and revenue produced by the tourism industry has positively influenced the economy of Bhutan. However, the government balances tourism with preservation of culture and tradition.
Due to its fast flowing glacier –fed rivers, Bhutan has immense potential to produce hydro electricity. Hydropower exports to India have increased Bhutan’s development and growth, unquestionably being the largest contributor to the economy of Bhutan. With its ample water resources Bhutan still has the capacity to generate another 30,000 MW of electricity. Although Bhutan has a small population there has been a lot of economic development in recent years and the economy is growing rapidly.
The manufacturing sector is another major revenue contributor. Small-scale industries such as cement plants, calcium and carbide, steel and Ferro silicon, Coco Cola and also wood based industries has developed and influenced the economy of Bhutan.
As a result of the recent economic development, Bhutan has one of the highest per capita incomes in South Asia at US$1,321. However despite this high level of growth and development, efforts stringent regulations have been enacted in order to protect Bhutan’s natural environment.
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