Bhutan - General Information
The land of the Thunder Dragon, or Bhutan as the world knows it, is in many ways still the magical kingdom from the past. Snuggled and protected in the deep folds of the great Himalayas , the kingdom seems to lose itself in the clouds. Today, it is an exotic destination, revealed to the outside world by the impenetrable veil of the Himalayan mist.
Bhutan is the earthly paradise, known as Drukyul to its people, is replete with impeccable strokes of nature's brush making this unconquered country a truly crystallized manifestation of the sublime nature. It is one of the last relics of this wonderful earth.
It's a spiritual land where every dzong (fortress), monastery, rock, valley, gorge, tree and mountain exists with the spirits of their own. And each has its own story to tell. Every hill tops is adorned with a monastery or a chorten (Stu-pa), and every cave has provided the sacred sanctuary for saints.
It's a land where prayers are given wings by ubiquitous prayer flags, and at the same time, Yeti, the abominable Snowman, is believed to roam.
Bhutan is cradled between China (Tibet) in the north and India in the south, this magical kingdom of about 46,500 square kilometers still listens to the voices of the nature (about 72% of the total land is covered with forest) and to its ancient culture and tradition.
Bhutan , with its population of about 600,000, is rich in Culture, Buddhist festival and nature. Today it is an exotic destination for all age of tourist to enjoy a natural paradise under the glimpse of beautiful Himalayan peaks
Bhutan is a land locked country, approximately 300km long and 150km wide, with an overall size of 38,394 square kilometers. It is situated along the southern slopes of the Himalayan range between the parallels 26 30' of north latitude and 88 45' and 92 25' of east longitude. It is bounded by Tibet in the north, the Indian Sikkim and Darjeeling districts of West Bengal in the west, on the south by Assam and West Bengal and on the east by the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Archaeological evidence suggests Bhutan was inhabited possibly as early as 2000 BC. Buddhism was probably introduced in the 2nd century at Bhutan 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.
Before the 16th century, in Bhutan numerous clans and noble families ruled in different valleys throughout Bhutan , quarrelling among them and with Tibet . This changed in 1616 with the arrival of Ngawang Namgyal, a monk of the Drukpa Kagyu school of Buddhism from Tibet . He taught throughout the region and soon established himself as the religious ruler of Bhutan with the title Shabdrung Rinpoche. He repelled attacks from rival lamas and Tibetan forces and transformed the southern valleys into a unified country called Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon). While the political system he established lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, the announcement of the Shabdrung's death in 1705 was followed by 200 years of internal conflict and political infighting.
Instability lasted until 1907 when Ugyen Wangchuck was elected, by a unanimous vote of Bhutan 's chiefs and principal lamas, as hereditary ruler of Bhutan . Thus the first king was crowned and the Wangchuck dynasty began. Over the following four decades, he and his heir, King Jigme Wangchuck, brought the entire country under the monarchy's direct control. Upon independence in 1947, India recognized Bhutan as a sovereign country.
The present monarch, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has continued 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 2 June 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 .
People, Culture and Religion
The people of Bhutan can be divided into three main ethnic groups: The "Sharchops", who live in the east of the country and are believed to be the original inhabitants. The "Ngalongs", who live mostly in western Bhutan and are the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan from the 9th century,. The "Lhotshampa", who are of Nepalese origin and settled in the south of Bhutan in the late 19th century. The Lhotshampa (meaning Southern Bhutanese) represent Nepali- speaking groups.
Bhutan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with 79 percent of the people living in rural areas.
Bhutan is the only country to maintain Mahayana Buddhism in its Tantric Vajrayana form as the official religion. The main practicing schools are the state sponsored Drukpa Kagyupa and the Nyingmapa. Whereas Buddhism is the main religion in the northern and eastern Bhutan , Southern Bhutanese are mainly Hindus.
Bhutanese art reflects major Tibetan influences, though it has developed many of its own derivations. It has three main characteristics: it is anonymous, religious, and performs no independent aesthetic function. Intricate wall paintings and thankas (wall hangings), most historical writing and fine sculpted images all have a religious theme.
Although both Buddhism and the monarchy are critical elements, it is the general extensive perpetuation of tradition that is possibly the most striking aspect of Bhutan 's culture. This is most overtly reflected in the style of dress and architecture. All Bhutanese continue to wear the traditional dress: the gho for men and the kira for women. Generally colorful apparel, the fabrics used range from simple cotton checks and stripes to the most intricate designs in woven silk.
The Bhutanese architectural landscape is made up of chortens, stonewalls, temples, monasteries, fortresses, mansions and houses. Associated with a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, there is a strong association between state, religious and secular forms. What makes it quite unique is the degree of uniformity, with all structures corresponding to traditional designs. Thus ancient monasteries and fortresses appear to merge with more modern popular dwellings to create a setting that is fully internally consistent.
Flora and Fauna
Bhutan has a rich and varied biological diversity. Very few countries in the world match Bhutan 's biological diversity and fewer still have taken such strong steps to conserve their biodiversity. Bhutan , for example, has its own Biodiversity Action Plan. The country ranks amongst the top ten percent of highest species density (species richness per unit area) in the world, and it has the largest proportion of land under protected areas.
Some 26.23% of the country's area is protected through National Parks. In addition, a further 9% has been declared as Biological Corridor, connecting protected areas, and there are a series of Conservation Areas intended to protect important conservation sites outside the formal Protected Areas system. As a result, more than 35% of the country's area is under the protection of some form of conservation management. This system serves as a globally unique system for in situ conservation of biodiversity.
Regarding diversity at the species level, inventories have indicated that there are more than 5,500 species of vascular plants, more than 770 species of avifauna and more than 165 species of mammals, with many species being endemic to Bhutan .
Agriculture is still the main source of livelihood for 80% of people living in the rural areas of Bhutan . The agricultural sector includes livestock rearing and horticulture, which contributes 32.7% of GDP. About 62% of women are involved in agriculture and their contribution is substantial. medical plants).