Bhutan, a tiny country in South Asia is nestled in the eastern end of the Himalaya mountains bordered by India in the south, east and west and by China in the north. It’s regarded as one of the most isolated nations in the world mainly because the Bhutanese government has regulated foreign influences and tourism to a great extent in order to protect and preserve the nation’s identity, culture and eco-system.
Here are a few facts you may find interesting about this magical Kingdom in the Himalayas:
1. The United Nations recognized Bhutan as a country in 1974.
2. Bhutanese call their home “Druk Yul,” which means “the Land of the Thunder Dragons,” because of the extremely powerful storms which constantly roar in from the Himalayas.
3. Its capital is Thimpu with a population of about 742,737 (2012). It is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. In fact when traffic lights were installed the people objected and the city reverted back to the use of white-gloved traffic police.
4. Until the 1960’s it had no roads, automobiles, telephone, postal system or electricity. Bhutanese had no access to TV or Internet until limited access was permitted in 1999.
5. One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana. Buddhism is the official religion and Dzongka is the official language.
6. The first foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan in 1974.
7. Bhutan has the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, a mountain so sacred by the Bhutanese that the government has banned mountaineering on any peak above 19,685 feet.
8. Bhutan is the world’s only carbon sink, that is; it absorbs more CO2 than it gives out. It sells hydro-electrical power, making it the only country whose largest export is renewable energy. 72% of the country is forested. In fact, it’s in the country’s constitution to keep 60% of its land forested. Respect for the environment, the eco system and all species is a serious matter in Bhutan. Anyone caught killing an endangered species, faces the harsh sentence of life in prison.
9. Agriculture is its major industry with rice, fruit and dairy industry. They are aim to be the first 100% organic country.
10. Rather than using the GDP as an economic index, Bhutan measures its overall “health” through the four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance, which together form the Gross National Happiness or GNH.
11. Plastic bags have been banned in Bhutan since 1999.
12. Bhutan is the only country to outlaw tobacco (effective 2004).
13. The “takin,” a goat-antelope, is Bhutan’s national animal. There are no zoos in Bhutan, that is something unthinkable for them. Anyone found guilty of killing a highly endangered and culturally sacred black-necked crane could be sentenced to life in prison.
14. The country’s two national sports are archery and darts. But unlike a regulation dartboard, theirs is much smaller and the darts heavy and quite lethal which are thrown over 20 meters toward the target.
15. All citizens officially become one year older on New Year’s Day. This way, no one forgets anyone’s birthday.
Source: Academic Exchange