Bhutan is a Himalayan mountainous country located between two powerful nations; China in the north and India in the south. It is a sovereign nation, with a total land area of 38,394 km² and a total population of 735553 (2017) Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last strong hold of Mahayana Buddhism.
Bhutan is known as the “Land of Gross National Happiness” to the outside world today. Bhutanese people refer to themselves as the Drukpas and refer to their country as DrukYul “The Land of Thunder Dragon” as its original name “Drugyul” implies, was never colonized and has maintained its sovereignty and in depending through the centuries, repelling invasions from the strongholds of its fortified monasteries called Dzongs (Fortress)
Bhutan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with 80% of the 735553 people living in the rural areas taking agricultural farming as the main occupation. 20% includes the people working in the public, private and corporate sectors.
The people of Bhutanese devout
followers of Buddhism. Bhutan is a sacred land, with a very rich spiritual
history. Spiritual seekers will find numerous sacred monasteries, pilgrimage
sites and countless number of prayer flags that dot all the valleys. Bhutan has
more than 10,000 stupas and more than 2000 monasteries; many built centuries
ago in honor of the teachings of Buddhism. Local festivals, Tsechus, and the
sacred monasteries are a constant reminder, that in Bhutan, spirituality is
still a way of life despite a fast changing world. Religious masked and sword
dances are performed during the religious festivals held annually in the
fortresses and monasteries of Bhutan throughout the country in various times of
the year. Fortresses come to life with music, dance and colors. Annual
festivals are special spiritual occasion in each district. Archery is Bhutan’s
national sport. In addition to the modern bows and arrows, Bhutanese archers
also use traditional bows and arrows made of bamboo. Archery matches in Bhutan
involves singing, dancing and cheering.
Gross National Happiness is the development philosophy of Bhutan, based on the idea that for people to be happy and for a nation to attain development in its true sense there should be a balance between spiritual and material development. The land of Gross National Happiness stresses the preservation of traditional cultural over development.
Bhutanese eat rich food with spicy chilies and cheese along with rice, meat and vegetables. Rice is the main staple food of Bhutan. The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, and a large number of Bhutanese speak English, as it is the language of educational instruction in schools and colleges. Telecommunication is well developed in Bhutan. Bhutan is connected to the outside world via the Internet, telephones, and television. The mode of transport in Bhutan is by road, and there are two airlines that connect Bhutan to the outside world. These two airlines also charter domestic flights within the country.
Bhutan has four distinct seasons, with spring being the most beautiful time of the year. The summer is warm and wet while autumn is notable with clear blue skies and gentle wind through November. Winter months are cold with frequent snowfalls on the higher altitudes and on the northern and western mountain ranges. The winter temperature averages from freezing point to 16 degree Celsius; and to 20-25 degree Celsius during the summer. The southern parts of Bhutan are warm in the winter and hotter during the summers. Bhutan, is today, one of the world’s top ten global hotspots, and is home to an astonishing variety of exotic flora and fauna. Bhutan’s environment is as diverse as its culture, and harbors some of the most exotic species of eastern Himalayas including the endangered Black-Necked Crane that migrate to Bhutan, from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. With more than 675 species of birds, Bhutan enjoys a reputation as a bird-watchers paradise.
Not much is known about Bhutan’s past, until the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century by the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche.Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established a notion of nationhood in the 17thcentury.Bhutan was a fragmented with many local chieftains controlling various small areas until the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in Bhutan. After his arrival in Bhutan from Tibet in 1616, he successfully overcame both the external as well as internal challenges and obstacles, and gradually united Bhutan by 1651.He ruled as the religious leader, while he appointed a Desi to take care of the secular matters. Zhabdrung introduced the present day dual system of religious and secular government. Zhabdrung also built a series of fortresses in Bhutan, starting with the SimtokhaDzong, to defend various regions of Bhutan in each district. Various Desis ruled Bhutan for the next 200 years when Zhabdrung passed away. Desis were not very powerful and there were constant wars, intrigues, and treacheries between the Desis, Penlops and Dzongpens which led to the lack of peace and order in Bhutan. After the last civil war, representatives of both the religious and secular bodies elected Ugyen Wangchuck, a powerful warrior as the First King of Bhutan on 17 December 1907.The establishment of hereditary monarchy in 1907 marked the end of disorder and the beginning of peace in Bhutan. Bhutan now stands on a threshold of historic change as the traditional monarchy has made a dramatic transition into a democratic constructional monarchy.
Location of Bhutan