Facts for the Visitor
Area: 47,000 square kilometers
Location: Situated between China (in the north) and India (in the south)
Population: 2 million
Language: Dzongkha is the official language, and English is widely
understood in the travel and hospitality industry
Currency: Ngultrem, which is at par with the Indian Rupee
Climate Range: for subtropical to arctic ~ varies according to altitude
Terrain: Mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna.
Although its early history is vague, Bhutan seems to have existed as a political entity for many centuries. At the beginning of the 16th cent. it was ruled by a dual monarchy consisting of a Dharma Raja, or spiritual ruler, and a Deb Raja, or temporal ruler. For much of its early history the Deb Raja held little real power, as the provincial governors (ponlops) became quite strong. In 1720 the Chinese invaded Tibet and established suzerainty over Bhutan. Friction between Bhutan and Indian Bengal culminated in a Bhutanese invasion of Cooch Behar in 1772, followed by a British incursion into Bhutan, but the Tibetan lama’s intercession with the governor-general of British India improved relations
The Bhutanese people, who call themselves Drukpas (dragon people), are ethnically related to the Tibetans and practice a form of Buddhism closely related to the Lamaism of Tibet; many Bhutanese live in monasteries. Dzongka, the official language, is also basically Tibetan. In southern Bhutan there is a sizable minority of Nepalese (about a third of the population), who practice Hinduism and speak various Nepalese dialects. Large numbers of ethnic Nepalese have been expelled to Nepal since the late 1980s, and the government has pressured the Nepalese to adopt Bhutanese dress, customs, religion, and language. In addition, some 15% of Bhutan’s people are from indigenous or migrant tribal groups.
Nature & Wildlife
This is another Himalayan kingdom with a diverse and rich biodiversity because of the variety of climatic conditions created by variations of altitude. Some of the rare fauna include the takin, snow leopard and the blue sheep up in the high mountains, and tigers and elephants in the lowlands. Bhutan has more than 50 species of rhododendron, and 770 species of birds