| Population: 735,553
National Tree: Cypress
National Flower: Blue poppy
National Bird: Raven
National Sport: ArcheryLiteracy Rate: 71.4%
|Official Language: Dzongkha
Life Expectancy: 66 years
Forest Coverage: 72.5%
Country Code: 975
Local Time: Six hours ahead of GMT.
State Religion: The Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism
Currency: Ngultrum, same value as Indian Rupees.
There are many version as to how Bhutan got its name Bhutan. One theory suggests that the name evolved from “Bhotana” (End of Tibet) or from “Bhotana” (End of Tibet) or from “Bhu-Uttan” meaning “Highland”.Some believe that the name is derived from the word “Bhot-stan”,the land of “Bhotias” (In ancient indian language sanskrit, “Bhotia”means people originally from Tibet. Whatever may be the case, bhutanese proudly call their country as drukyu l(The Land of the thunder Dragon) and themselves as Drukpas. Bhutan was also known by some other names as “Lhojong” (The southern region) and Lho Jong Menjong (The southern region of medicinal herbs).
Secluded in the Eastern Himalayas between India and China ( Tibet ), as big as Switzerland, but sparsely inhabited (population barely 700,000), Bhutan certainly exudes charm, a mythical country with magnificent mountains, dense forests, delightful people, imposing architect and pure air, Bhutan is truly Shangri-la.
With 80 percent of the population engaged in agriculture or raising livestock, Bhutan remains a rural country almost devoid of industry, except in the south. The beauty of the pastoral landscape can seem unreal to travelers from the industrialized world: houses with brightly decorated window frames and shingled roofs, patchworks of green paddy fields, plots of tawny buckwheat, oak forests, a covered bridge, fences of intricately woven bamboo, a man leaning on a wooden rail trampling his harvest, a woman weaving in the open air, yaks browsing in a grove of giant rhododendron.
Archaeological evidence suggests Bhutan was inhabited possibly as early as 2000 BC. Buddhism was probably introduced in the 2nd century although traditionally its introduction is credited to the first visit of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century. Guru Rinpoche is one of the most important figures in Bhutan ‘s history, regarded as the second Buddha.
Bhutan has been a monarchy since 1907. The different dzongkhags (districts) were united under the leadership of Trongsa Penlop. The forth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, made some moves toward constitution government, announced in December 2005 that he would abdicate in 2008 in favour of his eldest son. On December 14, 2006, the crown prince took over the throne. Mock election was held in April 2007, and the parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in 2008.
The forth monarch, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, believed in the policy of controlled development with particular focus on the preservation of the environment and Bhutan ‘s unique culture. Among his ideals is economic self-reliance and what has now become widely known as ‘Gross National Happiness’. His coronation on June 2, 1974 was the first time the international media were allowed to enter the Kingdom, and marked Bhutan ‘s debut appearance on the world stage. The first group of paying tourists arrived later that year. In major political reform in June 1998, the king dissolved the Council of Ministers and announced that ministers formerly appointed by him would need to stand for open election. A rotating chairman fronts the resultant cabinet. In 1999 television and Internet were first introduced to Bhutan.
Bhutan quick information:
Bhutan Life Expectancy: 66.3 years.
Bhutan Forest Cover 72.5%
No. of Schools 568(from daycare right upto the secondar School)
Hospital and Clinics 726
Number of Monasteries 2007
Length of roads 5363
Number of Vehicles 45,819
No. of Mobile phone users 327,626
No. of tourist arrival(2011) 65,756
Gross Tourism earning US$ 152m.
The establishment of monarchy in 1907 was the watershed event in the history of modern Bhutan. The country enjoyed peace and progress under successive reformist monarchs. The third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck reformed the old pseudo-feudal system by the abolishing serfdom, redistributing land,and reforming taxation. He also introduced many executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. The fourth kings, His majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, took decentralization t the people, and devolved all executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the people in 1998, besides introducing a system of voting no confidence in the King, which empowered the parliament to remove the monarch. The nayional constitution committee started drafting the constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan in 2001. The draft constitution was distributed to the people in 2005, which was followed by public consultation initiated by the 4th and 5th Kings. Its implementation will establish parliamentary democracy in the country.
The people in different villages of the gewog in turn elect the chimis (people’s repressentatives). The King is now the head pf the state. The goverment or post of prime minister rotating amongst the ministers. At the district level, Dzongda function as the chief executive officer and the gup (gewog head man) elected by the people is the chief executive officer at gewog level. Under the policy greater decentralization and empowerment of the people, the Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu and the gewog Yargye Tshogchung have been given full administrative, policy making and financial powers in thier respective Dzongkhags. Therefore, the success of devolopment programmes will now be determinedby the decisions taken the people and the quality of thier participation in implementing them.
The country is divided into twenty administrative units called dzongkhags. The larger dzongkhags are further divided into sub-district called dungkhag. A group of villages are grouped to form a constituency called gewog and administered by a gup, who is elected by the people.
His Majesty the king the final court of appeal. The Royal High court is the apex of the judiciary system. It is supported by district courts in all 20 dzongkhags. There are sub-district courts called Dungthrim in larger dzongkhags. In villages the gup and chimis settle petty disputes.
FESTIVALS / TSHECHU
Festivals, or Tshechus, are held in Bhutan through the year. They take place outdoors, in the courtyards of the great Dzong, of fortified monasteries, which are the centers of government and religion in each district of the kingdom. The festivals celebrate the faith, legends, myths and history of the Bhutanese in ancient rituals of dance and music. The dancers, monks or highly trained laymen, take on the aspects of wrathful and compassionate deities, heroes, demons and animals. Their dance is performed to bring blessings upon the people, to instruct them, to protect them, and to abolish evil influences. People travel many miles, often on foot, to attend, wearing their most beautiful clothing, creating a festive and joyful atmosphere which mingles with the mystic spirit of the occasion. In Bhutan festivals are not staged for visitors; rather the visitor is a privileged witness to these events, which have remained unchanged for centuries.
BHUTANESE FOOD & Drink
Rice is the staple diet in the lower region while at higher altitude wheat and bucketare the staple food.In bumthang Khulaey(buckwheat pancakes) and puta (buckwhaet noodles)are also eaten along with rice.The diet also includes pork beef yak meat chicken and mutton.Traditional bhutanese food always features spicy red and green chillies,either dried or fresh.Most bhutanese love spicy food,the favourite bhutanese dishes are ema datshis(chillies with cheese),shamu datshi(mushroom with cheese)
Bhutanese food are usually hot and spicy. Most of the restaurants serve Bhutanese, Indian, and Chinese, Continental cuisine. There are specialty restaurants in the capital city which serve Thai, Chinese and Pizza’s too.
Textiles,Bhutans premier art,are the product of centuries of individual creativity in fibre preparation,dyeing,weaving,cutting,stitching and embroidery.Vibrant fabrics and intricate weaves and designs are an inseparable part of bhutans rich culture that has evolved over the centuries.
Bhutan and their designs express also their personal aesthetics.The color combination sophistication of pattern,type of weave,and innovative elements determine the value of textiles.Raw silk,cotton, neetle,wool and yak hair are fibres basic to the country.
The Bhutansd textiles tradition has gone international,in recent years.The distinct technique,color and style of indigenous Bhutanese weaving are being increasingly appreciated by textiles specialists,collectors and users.
Architecture is the significant feature of Bhutanese identity.Traditional shapes,colours and patterns of bhutanese are unique.
In traditional Bhutanese architecture,there is generally no planing and designing done on paper before a structure is built.The master carpenter works with the size,layout and structure of the building in his mind.The best examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture can be seen in Dzongs(fortresses),Lhakhangs,(temples),Goenpas(monasteries),chotens(stupas),houses and bridges.
Arts and Crafts
The most exciting and vital aspects of the Bhutanese tradition and heritage are found in its arts and crafts. Much of bhutan’s spiritual and intellectual life is manifested through its arts. Bhutanese art is not primarily concerned with abstract concepts of ‘beauty’, but with interpretation of values and beliefs that are held by the vast majority and embody the eternal stream of life or consciousness. It is a process, deeply imbued with a strong sense of morality, with many art forms epitomizing the eternal struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Bhutanese art and crafts, particularly those that are religious in their thematic content, follow strict iconographic rules. Merit can be earned only if the prescribed rules are strictly followed.Creative energy is used mostly in secular artistic ventures.
Bhutan is well-known for its Zorig chusum, the thirteen traditional arts and crafts, which include shingzo (woodwork), dozo (stonework), jingzo (clay crafts), lugzo (bronze casting), parzo (wood, slate and stone carving), lhazo (painting), shagzo (leather work), garzo (black smithy), troeko (silver and gold amithy), tsharzo (bamboo and cane crafts), dhezo (papermaking), thagzo (weaving) and tshemzo (tailoring).
The skills of Bhutan’s craftsmen, working with bronze, silver and other fine metals, are seen in the statues of deities, doors and pillars of temples, bells, trumpets, swords, tables, trunks and jewellery. Wooden crafts include a wealth of items from bowls to finely worked bamboo hats,baskets, butter containers and bows and arrows.
POST & COMMUNICATION
The Bhutanese postal system is reliable, you can send mails from hotels and post offices and no special procedures are necessary. If you mail cards or letters from the Thimphu post office, you can buy exotic Bhutan postage stamps from the philatelic bureau and use them on your letters and postcards. Bhutan Post offers outgoing EMS [expedited mail service], which is a reliable and fast international mail delivery facility that is cheaper than courier services. It also has a LUM [local urgent mail] service for delivery within Bhutan. DHL is the only international courier to operate from Bhutan.
Most of the country’s major towns have both domestic and international direct dial facilities. Nearly all hotels and some PCOs have facilities to send and receive faxes. Bhutan has its own Internet and email services.
DISTANCE & DRIVING
All mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle as there is no domestic airline or trains. However, motor roads are well maintained and link all parts of the country. The mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average driving speed of vehicle to less than 35 kilometers per hour.
|From||To||Distance [in Km]||Driving Time [approx]|
|Thimphu||Paro||54||1 Hr 20 Mins.|
|Thimphu||Wangdue Phodrang||70||3 Hrs.|
|Punakha||Wangdue Phodrang||17||40 Mins.|
|Wangdue Phodrang||Trongsa||129||5 Hrs.|
|Trashigang||Chorten Kora||52||2 Hrs.|
|Trashigang||Samdrup Jongkhar||180||7 Hrs.|
|Samdrup Jongkhar||Guwahati (India)||110||3 Hrs.|
|Samdrup Jongkhar||Phuentsholing||380||10 Hrs.|