The last frontier on the Top of the World…
Bhutan in brief
Bhutan is a small country on the mountains and bordered by India and China. It ‘called the “Land of the Flying Dragon” and has a very unique history. Closed to the outside world until 1974 is gradually beginning to attract a curious and selected tourism. It ‘a very strange country because of its isolation from the rest of the world for many years. Bhutan is unique in the world: you will arrive in Bhutan with the only airline authorized to operate on the national territory (the Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline) and you will be taken over by the guide that will follow you every days until you leave. And ‘the Bhutan government will choose the places to stay and the daily rate includes room, meals, guided tours and transport. This choice makes the Bhutan unique in world tourism.
The best time to go to Bhutan
In Bhutan the climate is influenced by the altitude, is subtropical in the lowlands, and becomes progressively colder as you go up on the slopes of the Himalayas. In addition it is influenced by the summer monsoon, which brings rain and cloudiness spread for almost six months a year.
The best times to visit the mountainous part of Bhutan is the shoulder season, especially in March and April, and from mid-October to mid-November. In the summer rains can make muddy roads and make travelling difficult, also the clouds can obscure the mountain peaks. In winter the weather is generally good but hard in the mountains, and in any case are not excluded snowfall at high altitudes, which can block some road.
Size: 46,500 km²
Total population: 758,340 inhabitants
Official language: Dzonghka (national language), some 19 dialects
Other languages: English
Religion: Bhutan is the only country to profess as the official religion Buddhism Mahayana .
Ethnic origin: There are three main ethnic groups. The group Sharchop that live mainly in the east and the Ngalop in West. Bhutan is composed of descendants of the Tibetan who immigrated in V century. The people of Nepalese origin, calls Lhotshampa , settled in the south in late XIX century .
Bhutan’s economy is based on agriculture. Much of the cultivated land is irrigated and processed through the system terraces ; major crops are those of the rice, the wheat, corn and potatoes . The cardamom and the fruit ( apples, pears, plums ) are grown for export. The breeding is based on cattle ( yak ) and sheep .
The industry is based on the textile industry, the production of cement, matches and alcoholic beverages. The largest trading partner is represented by ‘ India .
In 2002 the gross domestic product amounted to 591 million dollars USA , representing a per capita GDP of 690 dollars. In 1974 the country opened its borders to tourism; in 2002 about 6,000 tourists visited the country and tourism has been the main voice in trade with foreign countries. Given the lack of railway lines, the communications system is based on a road network (3,690 km in 1999) which links many areas of the country. The national currency unit is the Ngultrum .
The history of Bhutan
Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy. The king called Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King), it is Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck , ascended the throne in 2006 after the abdication of his father King Jigme Singye Wangchuck . It is assisted in the exercise of power by the Royal Advisory Council, whose members are appointed by the King. Until the early twentieth century, Bhutan was governed by a double administrative system introduced by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the spiritual leader of the seventeenth century, who unified the country and developed the Bhutan identity. In 1907, the clergy, the directors of the State and representatives of all districts together with the population elected the Trongsa Penlop (governor), Ugyen Wangchuck , the first hereditary king.
Bhutan is still a kingdom where the current king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck is also the head of state. However, following a Royal Decree adopted by the National Assembly in 1998, the king is no longer the head of government. This position is held by the President of the Council of Ministers.
The distinctive approach of maximizing the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness proposed by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the seventies, it is the guiding principle of development. Form the basis for identifying the direction to be preferred to the other and has governed efforts to improve living standards, including the spiritual well-being and the preservation of cultural values and the physical environment.
The concept proposed by King indicates that development has multiple dimensions than those associated with the Gross Domestic Product, and that development should be considered as a process that seeks to increase happiness rather than economic growth. The Gross National Happiness places the individual at the center of development recognizing that the individual needs of a material nature, spiritual and emotional. There are five themes or objectives that are regarded as powerful tools to manage the process of change: human development, governance, balanced and equitable development, cultural heritage and environmental conservation. The five main objectives not only make the concept of Gross National Happiness more concrete, but also contain the guiding principle that has been given great importance to ensure the future for the country independence, sovereignty and security.
Religion in Bhutan
The Drukpa school (One of the groups within the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and forming part of Mahayana Buddhism ) is the State religion .
Buddhism has played a key role in the history and development of social structures; still it plays an important role both for the great weight of the clergy within the company (up to a few decades ago monopolist of the culture, because only in the monasteries was possible to receive education) and for the importance given to religious values also in political action.
Hinduism it is the dominant faith of the southern territories.
In some limited parts of the country it profess the Bön , the ‘ animism and shamanism.
Visa for Bhutan
A visa is required and is obtainable by booking a travel package but will be released once there (whether you have made air travel both in the case of an overland journey). Once you arrive, you will be issued a visa upon presentation of two passport photos and the payment of 20 US dollars. Since it opened to tourism in 1974, Bhutan has done everything to preserve its traditions. Therefore, the conditions for entry into the country are draconian, but not insurmountable. We only need to comply with certain rules. We must necessarily turn to a travel agency who will submit the visa application to the authority in charge, the Tourism Authority of Bhutan, which deals with the issue of these precious documents. But you must have already chosen your route. And it is only then that the agency will book your tickets at the airline Druk Air, the only one that flies to Bhutan.
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