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Kingdom of Bhutan

The Land of Thunder Dragon.
About Bhutan

The Land of Happiness

Hidden away high amongst the mighty Himalayan range, the hidden kingdom of Bhutan is a destination that even the most seasoned traveller considers a privilege to visit. Sacred monasteries sit precariously on sheer cliffs, fluttering prayer flags line high mountain ridges, red robed monks chant in distant temples, and colourful masked dancers perform ancient rituals on sacred Dzong (fortress) grounds during Buddhist festivals. The people of Bhutan have drawn a rich culture from this heritage and made it the essence of their timeless identity.

Facts

Bhutan Highlights

Area: 47,000 sq km.
Location: Nestled in the Eastern Himalaya between India and China.
Population: 0.7 million (approximately).
Capital: Thimphu.
Time: Bhutan is plus 6 hours GMT.
Politics: Constitutional Monarchy.
Official Religion: Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism in Drukpa Kagyupa sect.
Language: The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, however English is widely spoken across the country.
Currency: Ngultrum (on par with Indian rupee).
National Bird: Raven (Corvus Corax Tibetanus).
National Flower: Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandsis).
National Tree: Cypress (Cupressess Corneyana).
National Animal: Takin (Budorcas Taxicolor).
National Day: December 17 (1st King Sir Ugyen Wangchuck enthroned 1907).
National Dress: Gho for Men and Kira for women.

People, Culture & Society

What's unique about Bhutan

Bhutan is unique in measuring its economic prosperity not by how wealthy its people are, but by how happy they are. Their official equivalent of our ‘Gross Domestic Product’ or ‘GDP’ is ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’. This measure incorporates numerous metrics that each contribute to well-being, such as infant mortality rates, pollution, consumer debt and so on.

No Traffic Lights!! It seems inconceivable that a busy capital city could function without traffic lights, but Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, manages it – and is the world’s only traffic light-free capital. In place of these ubiquitous traffic controls are men wearing white gloves, who direct the traffic in person using hand signals. Apparently a set of traffic lights were trialled in Thimphu, but they were quickly abandoned after locals complained they they were too impersonal.

Smoking, skateboarding and plastic bags are all banned!! Quite a few things in Bhutan are banned. It’s officially the only non-smoking country in the world, although plenty of people defy the law when at home or in nightclubs. Plastic bags are, understandably, banned for environmental reasons, but the country’s motives for banning skateboarding are a little harder to discern. Apparently the government decided that they were too dangerous, after a few too many accidents involving skateboarders and cars.

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