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Facts about Bhutan

by Vishal Kumar

What is Bhutan’s relationship to India? After the death of Ngawang Namgyal, the Tibetan Buddhist who unified the region of Bhutan and helped form its culture, British India stepped in…

What is Bhutan’s relationship to India?

After the death of Ngawang Namgyal, the Tibetan Buddhist who unified the region of Bhutan and helped form its culture, British India stepped in to help sort out the nation’s civil war, but eventually went to war with the Bhutanese, which became known as the Duar War of 1864. The war ended with the Treaty of Sinchula, allowing British India to occupy the Duar region along Bhutan’s border for an annual subsidy.

On December 17, 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck rose to power, becoming king of Bhutan.

Great Britain agreed not to interfere with Bhutan’s internal affairs in 1910, but Bhutan allowed Britain to handle its foreign affairs at this time. When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, India took over Britain’s role in Bhutan’s government.

In 1949, the Indo-Bhutan agreement returned the areas Britain had annexed, while India agreed to formalize their annual subsidies of Bhutan, and handle Bhutan’s defense and foreign relations. This treaty was reworked in 2007 with the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, which allows Bhutan more autonomy, especially in regards to its foreign policy, though its foreign affairs are conducted in New Delhi.

Cooperation between India and Bhutan continues, but the treaty affirmed Bhutan’s status as a sovereign nation.

What type of government does Bhutan have?

Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy. The King ratified Bhutan’s first constitution in July 2008.

What is Druk Yul?

Druk Yul is the Bhutanese name for Bhutan, meaning “Land of the Thunder Dragon.”

Where is Bhutan located?
Bhutan is located in southern Asia between India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Bhutan is landlocked, meaning it does not border any significant body of water, and is situated in the eastern Himalayas.

How big is Bhutan?

Bhutan covers about 38,816 square kilometers of land.

What is the population of Bhutan?
Bhutan’s population is estimated at around 700,000.

What is the capital of Bhutan?

Bhutan’s capital is Thimphu, a city in western Bhutan in the Thimphu district. Thimphu has been Bhutan’s capital since 1961, though it was selected as the capital in 1952.

What are the main ethnic groups in Bhutan?
Ngalop, the ethnic group of northern Bhutan, make up about half of the population. Nepalese, including the Lhotshampa people and indigenous or migrant tribes make up the rest.

In what was probably a form of ethnic cleansing, many of the Nepalese people of Bhutan were forced to leave during the 1990s. About one-fifth of the population left the country, whose government claimed cultural preservation as their motivation.

What religions are practiced in Bhutan?

Forms of Buddhism are the most widely practiced religions in Bhutan, practiced by approximately 75% of the population. The other quarter of the population of Bhutan practices Nepalese Hinduism, with a small minority of people who are Christian, nonreligious, or practice solely Bön, an ancient indigenous religion.

What languages are spoken in Bhutan?

Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan, and is spoken by about a quarter of the population, mainly in western Bhutan. Tshangla, is widely spoken in eastern Bhutan. Even though Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan, more people speak Tshangla than Dzongkha. Nepali is spoken by many people in Bhutan, especially along the country’s southern border. Over 19 local languages are spoken around the country.

Who are the political leaders of Bhutan?

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

Prime Minister Lotay Tshering

What are the main features of Bhutan’s economy?

Bhutan has been considered one of the world’s least developed economies, as it relies mainly on agriculture. Tourism is slowly growing in Bhutan, whose government restricts tourist access in an attempt to preserve Bhutan’s culture and environment.

Bhutan’s economy is linked to India’s, as the country depends on India for trade and financial assistance.

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.

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.

What form of currency is used in Bhutan?
Bhutan uses the ngultrum (BTN), which is pegged to the Indian rupee.

Does Bhutan have a national dress code?

Yes. As part of Bhutan’s effort to preserve its culture, citizens of Bhutan are required to follow a dress code in public, called Driglam Namzha. Men wear a robe called a gho, and women wear dresses called kira.

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