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Bhutan  Facts

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The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, bordering the Tibetan Autonomous region of China in the North and North-West and the Indian states of Sikkim in the West and South-West, Assam in the south, Arunachal Pradesh in the East and South-East and West Bengal in South and South-West. The country within these borders forms a giant staircase, from a narrow strip of land in the south to some of the highest unclimbed Himalayan peaks on earth. With an area of 46,500 square kilometers, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography, being largely mountainous.

It was the mighty Himalayas which protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left the Kingdom blissfully untouched. The Drukpa Kagyupa sect of  Mahayana  Buddhism provided  the  essence  of  a  rich  culture and fascinating history.  The Bhutanese people protected this sacred heritage and  unique  identity  for  centuries  by  choosing  to  remain shrouded deeply in a jealously guarded isolation.

With a relatively small population of 700,000 people in Bhutan enjoy a sustainable lifestyle which they inherited from their  forefathers. About  85%  population  of  country still live in small villages sparsely scattered over rugged mountain land. Buddhism, prevalent in the country since the 7th century and continues to play important role in their peaceful lives.

For centuries, Bhutanese have treasured the natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This traditional reverence for nature has delivered Bhutan into the 21st century with an environment still richly intact. More than 72% of the land area is still under forest cover. The country has been identified as one of the ten bio-diversity hot spots in he world and as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas. Its Eco-system harbors some of the most exotic species of the eastern Himalayas with an estimated 770 species of birds and 50 species of rhododendrons, besides an astonishing variety of medicinal plants and orchids. Many parts of the country which have been declared as wildlife reserves, are the natural habitat of rare species of both flora and fauna .During the second half of the 20th century , Bhutan has seen its isolation steadily eroded by the inexorable forces of progress and development. Until then it was a country shrouded in mystery, untainted by any foreign influence. Although its seclusion prevented the Kingdom from fully benefiting from many developments of the modern world but it also shielded the country from many of the detrimental side affects of unplanned or haphazard development. As a result, while most of the Himalayan region has seen its natural resource base severely compromised through deforestation, soil degradation, erosion and pollution, while Bhutan’s natural patrimony of extensive and varied forests, limited yet fertile and productive farmland, and pristine water and air remains largely intact.

Druk Yul or the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon’, the country as called by Bhutanese is a land replete with myths and legends. This country of rolling hills and towering crags certainly exudes charm. The mountains are magnificent, the forest are dense, the people are delightful, the air is pure, the architecture inspiring, the religion exciting and the art superb. Like timeless images from the past, the traveler encounters the full glory of this ancient land through its strategic fortresses known as Dzongs, numerous ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags which flutter along the high ridges, wild animals which abound in dense forests, foamy white waterfalls which are the ethereal showers, and the warm smile of its friendly people. Each moment is special as one discovers a country which the people have chose to preserve in its magical purity.
With its beautiful and largely unspoiled Himalayan setting, its rich flora and fauna and its vibrant Buddhist culture, Bhutan has become an increasingly popular destination for international tourists. In addition to generating hard-currency revenue, tourism is also providing impetus for the development of services sector and hence balanced and holistic development of entire region. It is to safeguard its rich natural and cultural environment, the country has consciously adopted a controlled tourism and development policy. Being opened for tourism in 1974 upon coronation of present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in year 2000 only about 7,500 tourists entered the country and the numbers in the coming years are not expected to increase greatly.

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