Bhutan is a small landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas bordered by China in the North and India on the other 3 sides. Bhutan has a total land area of 38,394 square kilometers and measures approximately 150 kilometers North to South and 300 kilometers East to West. The landscape is characterized by rugged terrain and steep mountain valleys ranging from 150 meters in the sub-tropical valleys in the southern foothills, through temperate zone to heights exceeding 7000 meters in the alpine regions of the mountains.
Bhutan has over 72% of its land under forest cover, including 26% of its area designated as protected areas thereby maintaining its rich biodiversity. The national parks and the wildlife sanctuaries are home to some of the rarest and most significant animals in the world. Bhutan has one of the richest biodiversity in the world with about 3,281 plant species per 10,000 square kilometers and has been declared as one of the 10 global biodiversity ‘hot spots’. It has been identified as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas. The country’s forests of temperate and sub-tropical species are home to many rare species of flora and fauna. An estimated 770 species of birds and over 50 species of rhododendron, along with an astonishing variety of medicinal plants (over 300 species) and orchids are endemic to this region. Rare animals like the golden langur, takin and snow leopard are found distributed widely in Bhutan. Bhutan is also one of the wintering grounds for the rare and endangered black-necked cranes. Bhutan is also endowed with a river system that has an estimated potential to generate 30,000 MW of hydroelectricity.
The steep and unstable terrain and the relatively young mountain system, however, render the country to be ecologically very fragile. Agricultural production is also severely constrained, as only around 16% of the land area is cultivable.
Bhutan has 3 distinct climatic zones corresponding broadly to the 3 geographical divisions – hot and humid Southern belt, cool temperate central zone, and alpine Northern region.
- Location: Southern Slopes of the Eastern Himalayas
- North Longitude: 88°45’ – 92°10’ East
- Latitude: 26°45’ – 28°15’ North
- Capital: Thimphu
- Population: 671,083 (2008)