Facts and Figures
Land area: 38,394 square kilometers.
Forest area: 72.5 %.
Altitude: between 240 meters and 7541 metres above sea level.
Language: Official language - Dzongkha, English widely spoken by the citizen of the country.
Religion: Tantric of Mahayana Buddhism.
Currency: Ngultrum (equal to Indian Rupee).
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small sovereign country hidden in the Eastern Himalayan Mountains between the China to the north and the India in the south. The area of 38,394sq km with the longitude of 88, 45 and 92 10 east and latitude of 26 40 and 28 15; in the north. The Kingdom of Bhutan is Mountainous country from the little above the sea level to High Himalayan Mountains of 7, 600m in the north with varying climatic conditions ranging form hot humid to alpine
The population of the country is 752,700. Comprising of four main ethic groups namely Sharchop in the eastern region, Kheng in the central and partly in southern region, Lhotshampa in the southern region, Ngalong in the north western regions of the country. These four groups of people become a Drukpa.
In Bhutan you would experience the different types of climatic conditions, depending upon different altitudes and seasons. To the south it is hot and humid, while the up hills and Mountains towards the north are under perpetual snow. Rainfall can differ within relative short distance due to rain shadow effects. We do have four seasons which are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The month of July and August is the heavy rainfall and Bhutanese believe that in September there will be a festival called Thrue (blessed rainy day), the rainy season ends. Spring and autumn is great seasons to travel tourist in the kingdom of Bhutan. In winter the temperature drops down to minus because of snowfalls. Days are normally hot and night are cold.
The ancient history of Bhutan is in mystery. Most documents were either lost or distroyed in devastating earthquakes and fire. Whatever documented evidence that has survived in some of its Dzongs confirms the establishment of a Dual System of Government by the Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel who unified the country under the Drukpa School of Mahayana Buddhism. Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel passed away in the 17th century. Although his death was kept secret for many years, Bhutan entered into a period of conflict and turmoil for the next couple of centuries. The œPenlops that were self styled governors of different regions were constantly engaged in incessant fighting against one another in a bid to exert their political influence over the territories of their rivals to expand their sphere of control. Prominent among them were the Trongsa and the Paro Penlops, the two most powerful clans who exercised equal control over each half of the territory of Bhutan. Other regional powerful families tended to side with one or the other.
Finally at the end of the 19th century AD, the Trongsa Penlop who controlled central and eastern Bhutan defeated the Paro Penlop who controlled the western province in a historic battle fought in the plains of Changlimithang below Thimphu. The victorious Trongsa Penlop ' Sir Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously elected the first hereditary King of unified Bhutan on 17 December 1907 by the representatives of the powerful clergy, civil servants and prominent members of society. Sir Ugyen Wangchuk was accorded the title of Knight Commander of the British Empire for his tacit powers of negotiation and tactful diplomatic skills. This visionary leader of the Bhutanese people further strengthened the country by laying the foundations of a strong central authority that has governed the country ever since. His successors continue to provide a stable and progressive system of governance to the country. Today Bhutan is one of the fastest and most rapidly developing nations prospering under the dynamic leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the fourth hereditary monarch of Bhutan, who ruled since 1972 who is well loved and respected not only by the Bhutanese people, but people all over the globe.
People and their beliefs
The Bhutanese are a peace loving and god-fearing people who consistently imbibe the values of Buddhism into their everyday lives. Adherence to the fundamental principals of Buddhist philosophy like non-violence and compassion towards all sentient beings is firmly instilled in Bhutanese. Prayer flags fluttering in the wind, chortens (stupas), monasteries and twirling prayer wheels are a very common sight, sending the prayers through prayer flags and keeping up an unvarying communication with heaven.
Bhutanese has cultivated a unique culture in to their life, and it is famous for its rich and vibrant forms of dances, costumes, architectures, arts and crafts eminent by their expressions in bold flamboyant colours and intricate designs. Their belief in the doctrine of ˜Karma is a motivation to accumulate as many virtues as possible in their present lives to lessen the degree of suffering in their next birth. All their actions are defined by the teachings of Buddha who advocates virtuous living as the path to the attainment of œ Nirvana, a state of non suffering and eternal bliss. So Bhutanese people are very hospitable and helpful. Love and respect for nature is inherent in every Bhutanese. The generations accept the endowment of nature manifested in notable guardianship. All living things are considered by Bhutanese as precious incarnation of life while nature is adored as the source of all life.
Way of Life
Over 70 % of the population lead an agrarian life style. The people know of real peace, unhampered by the fast life that marks modernity.
The Bhutanese society is egalitarian in its disposition. Every inhabitant of the country wear the distinctive national dress that is finely woven from multi colored, vibrant hued wool, cotton or silk. The men’s attire is called 'Gho' and ladies dress is called 'Kira'. The form of dress is common to all strata of society. Jewellery is mostly of pearls, corals turquoise, and agate set in well-crafted gold and silver.
The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat, cereals particularly rice, vegetables and herbs.
Meat dishes, mainly pork and beef, are lavishly spiced with chillies, and it is common to see these bright red peppers drying on roofs in the sun. Salted butter tea is served on all occasions. Chang, a local beer, and Arra, a spirit distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley, are also favorite beverages. 'Doma' or betel nut is offered as a customary greeting.
Archery is the popular national sport played all year round with the traditional bows and arrows. An integral part of most festivities, archery matches are gala affairs with much music, dancing drinking and gaiety.
In Bhutan, the ancient music and dances of the different region have been faithfully preserved. The quite, grace of the folk dances and the drama of the energetic, colorful mask dances will remain one of the visitors most vivid memories.
Bhutan is the only country in the world that practices the religion of Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism today. It was in the 8th century AD that Guru Padma Sambhava introduced Buddhism to the country.
Religious festivals known as 'Tsechus' and 'Dromchoes' symbolizing amity, peace and compassion, are held annually at various parts of the kingdom at different times of the year. These vibrant festivals are a time for the people from various walks of life to come together decent in all their ceremonial dress. The most popular festivals are Paro Tsechu (March/April), Thimphu Tsechu (September/October) and in Bumthang (October). During the festival, rare and sacred masked dances, sword dances and many rituals are performed.
Flora and Fauna
Bhutan has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Blessed with unparalleled scenic beauty of majestic snow capped peaks, lush valleys and large zone of virgin forest, Bhutan is home to numerous rare and endangered species of wildlife such as the blue sheep, musk deer, red panda, snow leopard, black bear, golden langur and the unique Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The endangered Black Necked Cranes also migrate to Bhutan from Central Asia during the winter.
The country has been identified as one of the 10 bio-diversity hot spots in the world and as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas. Its eco-system has some of the most exotic species of the Eastern Himalayas with an estimated 770 species of birds and over 50 species of rhododendron, along with an amazing variety of medicinal plants and orchids.