Bhutan is a land locked South Asian country located in the eastern side of the Himalayas between coordinates 27°30’ N, 90°30’ E. To its north lies the People’s Republic of China and it is bordered on the east, west and south by India. Bhutan is a small country about half the size of Indiana and with an area of 14,824 sq miles is ranked 137th in the world in terms of area.
The city of Thimphu located on the western side of central Bhutan at an elevation of 7,656 ft (2,320 m) has been the Bhutanese capital since 1961. It is also its largest city and has a population of 79,185 (2005 estimates). Thimphu, unlike other national capitals, does not have an airport and is dependent on the airport at Paro which is located at a distance of 34 miles. Thimphu is the economic hub of Bhutan and contributes about 45% to the country’s GDP. It is also an important cultural center and exhibits the finest aspects of Bhutanese culture be it literature, religion, attire, music, dance and festivals.
Which are the best months to visit Bhutan?
Bhutan can be divided into three different climatic zones. The southern part of the country experiences tropical climate while central Bhutan has a temperate climate. The climate in northern Bhutan can be best described as alpine. South Bhutan is comparatively warmer than other parts of the country. Bhutan has four distinctive seasons. The winters are severe; particularly in the north. But tourists brave this cold to enjoy the beauty of the snowcapped Himalayas. Spring is the most beautiful season and the whole country look resplendent, thanks to the beautiful flowers which are in full bloom during this season. Summer is hot in central Bhutan, but northern part has a cool summer. June to September is the rainy season and the country comes under the influence of the monsoon winds blowing from the Bay of Bengal. Tourists prefer to visit Bhutan between March and May and again between September and November.
Which are the important cities in Bhutan?
The most important city of Bhutan is its capital and largest city Thimphu. Other important cities of the Himalayan kingdom are Punakha, the old capital, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Trongsa, Bhutan’s most impressive dzong or fortress. Bhutanese cities are centers of trade and commerce like Mongar and Phuentsholing. Some of them are religious centers. The city of Jakar, through which Buddha entered Bhutan, is one of these. Another significant Bhutanese city is Paro which is home to Bhutan’s only international airport.
The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. It has been in circulation since 1974 and its subunit is cherrtum.
100 Cherrtum = 1 Ngultrum
The value of the Ngulturm is equivalent to the Indian rupee. It is pegged to the Indian currency and is interchangeable only with it.
Which are the languages spoken in Bhutan?
According to Etnologue, 24 languages are spoken in Bhutan and they belong to the Tibeto-Burman language family. The only exception is Nepali, which is an Indo-Aryan language. The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. This language is quite similar to Sikkimese and is spoken by 25% of the population. The Sharchops and Monpa speak Tsangla while Nepali is spoken by about 40% people (2006 estimates). Other languages spoken in Bhutan are Dzala, Limbu and Kheng.
Which are the ethnic groups of Bhutan?
The dominant ethnic group in Bhutan is the Sarchops who inhabit the eastern part of the country. They mostly speak Tsangla language and are followers of Tibetan Buddhism. The second largest ethnic group is the Ngalops who live in western Bhutan. Their culture is quite close to that of the Tibetans. There are also heterogeneous groups of people of Nepali origin who are collectively called Lhotshampas and they live in the southern part of the country.
What are the prominent festivals of Bhutan?
Bhutanese festivals are steeped in the Buddhist religion and culture. Guru Riponche or Padmasambhava introduced Buddhism to Bhutan and every district of this country, on the tenth day of a month, celebrate Tsechu festival to honor him. The Paro Tsechu and the Thimphu Tsechu are the most famous. Cham dance, a form of masked dance is an integral part of any Tsechu and is usually based on the events of the life of Padmasambhava. The Bhutanese also celebrate with much fanfare the birthday of the King, his coronation and many other festivals of Buddhist and Hindu calendars.
Which are the major sectors of economy?
Bhutan is an underdeveloped country with a GDP (PPP) of $ 4.284 billion (2011 estimate). It is predominantly agricultural with 85% of its population dependent on agriculture and allied sectors. Due to its late foray into modernization and a cautious governmental approach, industrialization is at a nascent stage. Some industries like steel, ferroalloy, and cement have been established. The infrastructure is under-developed and the mountainous terrain makes it difficult to construct roads and other infrastructural facilities. Bhutan is heavily dependent on its neighbor, India, for development projects and financial assistance. The country has great hydropower potential and many hydropower projects have been set with Indian aid to harness it. Bhutan exports electricity, timber, handicrafts, and gypsum while the principal items of import include fuel, rice, grain, lubricants, and machinery.
What type of government does Bhutan have?
Bhutan’s constitution subscribes to the theory of separation of power and the government is divided into three main branches - the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. There is also a commission to look into the monastic affairs called Dratshang Lhentshog. Bhutan has made a peaceful transition from an absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. It was the fourth monarch King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who initiated the move. He abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk and the first general elections were held in 2008. Bhutan has a multiparty system. The Parliament consists of two houses - the upper house called National Council and the lower house called the National Assembly. The King is the head of the state and the Prime minister is the head of the government.
The legal system of Bhutan is based on the codes established in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Anglo-Indian common law has also influenced the legal system.
Who are the important leaders of Bhutan?
The first major leader of Bhutan is Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan in the 17th century and established the Tsa Yig, a system of law. He is venerated in Bhutan and the day of his death which falls on the 10th day of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar is observed as a national holiday. In 1907, the Wangchuk dynasty came to power and the Kings of this dynasty have enjoyed the support and love of their subjects. The most outstanding king of this dynasty is Jigme Singye Wangchuck , the fourth ruler and father of the present king who paved the way for democracy in this Himalayan kingdom. He is also known as the originator of the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH).The current King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk is also very popular and is supervising the process of gradual democratization of Bhutan.