Bhutan

Bhutan is regarded as one of the most isolated nations in the world and is a Constitutional Monarchy. The reason for this is that the Bhutanese government has regulated foreign influences and tourism to a great extent, with the aim of preserving its traditional culture, identity and the environment. The largest city of Bhutan is Thimphu which is also the national capital and is situated at an elevation of 7,656 ft. (2,320 m). Bhutan stands nestled amidst the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains, bordered by India in the south, east and west and by China in the north. The landscape of the country offers a wide variety, ranging from subtropical plains in the south to Himalayas in the north.

Capital: Thimphu
Population: 742,737 (2012)
Currency: Ngultrum
Official Language: Dzongkha
Type of Government: Unitary Parliamentary, Constitutional Monarchy

  • Majority of the people in Bhutan follow Lamaistic Buddhism, it was introduced in the mid-7th century. followed by Hinduism.
  • One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana.
  • In 2006, Business Week rated Bhutan as the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world.
  • The first democratic elections were held in Bhutan in March 2008.
  • Bhutan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • The word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It earned the nickname because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas.
  • Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among its requirements: At least 60 percent of the nation must remain covered by forest at all times.
  • Thimphu is one of just two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. (The other is Pyongyang, North Korea.) There was such public outcry when local officials installed a single signal that it was quickly removed, and a traffic officer was re-assigned to the intersection.
  • Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned.
  • At 24,840 feet (7571.23m), Gangkhar Puensum is the highest point in Bhutan—and the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
  • Bhutan is one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people. The government lifted a ban on TV—and on the Internet—only 11 years ago.
  • Bhutanese Monarchy was founded in 1907. The first King of Bhutan was Gongsar Ugen Wangchuck, who reigned until 1926.
  • A treaty was signed between Bhutan and the United Kingdom in 1910, which gave the UK control over Bhutan's foreign affairs.
  • After attaining independence in 1947, India took over the UK's role in Bhutan.
  • Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third King of Bhutan, was known as the ‘Father of Modern Bhutan’.
  • Bhutan was recognized as a country by the United Nations in 1971.
  • The foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan, for the first time, in the year 1974.
  • Cement, wood products, processed fruits and alcoholic beverages are the main industries of Bhutan.
  • In Bhutan, healthcare is free for both residents as well as visitors.
  • The national sport of Bhutan is Archery and the national animal is a Takin.

Textiles
Bhutanese textiles are a unique art form inspired by nature made in the form of clothing, crafts and different types of pots in eye-catching blend of colour, texture, pattern and composition. This art form is witnessed all over Bhutan. It is also a significant cultural exchange garment that is gifted to mark occasions of birth and death, auspicious functions such as weddings and professional achievements and in greeting dignitaries. Each region has its own special designs of textiles, either made of vegetable dyed wool known as yathra or pure silk called Kishuthara. It is the women, belonging to a small community, who weave these textiles as a household handicrafts heritage

Paintings
Most Bhutanese art, known as lhazo, is customarily religion centric. These are made by artists without inscribing their names on them. The paintings encompass various types including the traditional Thangkas, which are scroll paintings made in “highly stylised and strict geometric proportions” of Buddhist iconography that are made with mineral paints. Most houses in Bhutan have religious and other symbolic motifs painted inside their houses and also on the external walls

Sculptures
The art of making religious sculptures is unique in Bhutan and hence very popular in the Himalayan region. The basic material used for making the sculptures is clay, which is known as jinzob. The clay statues of Buddhist religious icons, made by well known artists of Bhutan, embellish various monasteries in Bhutan. This art form of sculpture is taught to students by professional artists at the Institute of Zorig Chosum in Thimphu

Paper making
Handmade paper known as deysho is in popular usage in Bhutan and it is durable and insect resistant. The basic material used is the bark of the Daphne plant. This paper is used for printing religious texts; traditional books are printed on this paper. It is also used for packaging gifts. Apart from handmade paper, paper factories in Bhutan also produce ornamental art paper with designs of flower petals, and leaves, and other materials.

Wood carving
Wood carving known as Parzo is a specialised and ancient art form, which is significantly blended with modern buildings in the resurgent Bhutan. Carved wood blocks are used for printing religious prayer flags that are seen all over Bhutan in front of monasteries, on hill ridges and other religious places. Carving is also done on slate and stone. The wood that is used for carving is seasoned for at least one year prior to carving