The land of the (peaceful) thunder Dragon
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is fast emerging from centuries of self imposed isolated. First opened to tourists in 1974 in very regulated manner upon the coronation of present Bhutanese king, this mountain kingdom is still perhaps the world's most exclusive tourists destination. Due to the Royal Government's far-sighted policy to preserve the countries pristine environment and its culture, the harmful effects to industrialization and mass tourism on the environment and the traditional lifestyle of Bhutanese have been carefully avoided. This makes Bhutan a truly unique destination. An unspoiled country with majestic mountains, a unique cultural heritage preserved for many centuries, an architectural style like no other, and a landfill of warm hearted and friendly people, reveals a true paradise in the lost era of the present century.
Roughly the size of Switzerland (38,394 sq) and populated by less than 800,000 people, can be called a small and under-populated country when compared to its giant neighbors. The little kingdom has an extraordinary ecological diversity. It is about 300km west to East, 150km from north to south.
A conscious policy of isolation complemented by formidable geographical barriers has enabled the Kingdom to maintain its independence through out its history. Ancient stone implements and other archaeological finding indicate that there was settlement in Bhutan dating back to 2000 BC. The chronicled history of the Kingdom however begins with the advent of Buddhism in the 8th century.
Besides the Great Himalayan Range which runs East to West, the entire country is mountainous, and ranges in elevation from 100m to the 754m Gangkhar puensum peak on the Tibetan border. Between each valley, passes are as high as 4000m, which has led to difficult communication between the different valleys.
From south to north, Bhutan is roughly divided in to three zones, namely the southern foot Hills, the Inner Himalayas and the Northern Beat
Bhutan: Druk Yul
Population: 7, 00,000
Location: Bhutan lies between 890 and 920E and 270 and 280N.
Time: 30minutes ahead of Indian Standard time. 6 hours ahead of GMT.
Language: Drukpa (67%) of Tibetan and Monpa Bhutan Travel Information.
Bhutan is a land locked country, approximately 300km long and 150 km wide, with an overall size of 38,394 sq kilometers. It is situated along the southern slopes of the Himalayan range between the parallels 26, 30’ of north latitude and 88 45' and 92 25' of east longitude. It is bounded by Tibet in the north, the Indian Sikkim and Darjeeling districts of West Bengal in the west, on the south by Assam and West Bengal and on the east by the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The southern foothills:
A plain only a few kilometers wide from the border with India (West Bengal & Assam). The plain rises swiftly to 2000m and this zone is covered with dense tropical jungles. The climate is hot, getting cooler from November to February. The monsoon is very heavy from mid June to the end of September. As it lies in the border area with neighboring India. Business opportunity bounds. Favorable climate for growing rice, oranges and cardamom on large scale has contributed to the economic growth of the region. They are excellent agriculturist.
The inner Himalayas:
This zone is the historical and cultural heartland of the country. It is situated between 2000m-3500m with some valleys lying lower. The climate is alpine with monsoon, but in the lower valleys it is semitropical. In winter the night temperature falls below zero degree. From June to September, in monsoon, the valleys become lush and green. Spring witness the bloom of thousands of Rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and others. This zone is divided in to three district regions, each of them having its own characteristics.
The Northern Belt:
From west to east, this region is bordered to the north by the great Himalayas ranging from 6800m to 7400m & forms the border with Tibet. The Northern belt starts around 3400m and inhabited by yak herders until 5000m. The climate is difficult with cold snowy winter and short summers. It is a conservation area of rare Flora &Fauna
Flora and Fauna:
Bhutan has a rich and varied biological diversity. Very few countries in the world match Bhutan's biological diversity and fewer still have taken such strong steps to conserve their biodiversity. Bhutan, for example, has its own biodiversity Action Plan. The country ranks amongst the top ten percent of highest species density (species richness per unit area) in the world, and it has largest proportion of land under protected areas.
Some 26.23% of the country's area is protected through National Parks. In addition, a further 9%has been declared as Biological corridor, connecting protected areas, and there are a series of Conservation Areas intended to protect important conservation sites outside the formal protected Areas system. As a result, more than 35% of the country's area is under the protection of some from of conservation management. This system serves as a globally unique for in situ conservation of biodiversity.
Regarding diversity at the species level, inventories have indicated that there are more than 5,500 species of vascular plants, more than 770 species of avifauna and than 165 species of mammals, with many species being endemic to Bhutan.
Agriculture is still the main source of livelihood for 80%of people living in the areas of Bhutan. The agricultural sector includes livestock rearing and horticulture, which contributes 32.7% of GDP. Above 62%of women are involved in agriculture and their contribution is substantial Medical plants).
There are comfortable hotel and lodges at all tourist destinations, western Bhutan has better hotels while in central and eastern part of the country, and accommodation establishments are simple and offer minimum facilities.