Nestled between India and China, Bhutan is one of the most exclusive countries in the world and a real treat for tourists who can get in. From quaint farming villages to magical forests to mountains where yetis supposedly live, Bhutan is a place which has escaped the civilized touch of the rest of the world.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small landlocked country (38,394 sq. km) situated in the Himalayas. The entire country is mountainous except for a small strip of subtropical plains in the extreme south. The elevation gain from the subtropical plains to the glacier-covered Himalayan heights exceeds 7,000 m (23,000 feet) and this makes the country an ecological ‘hot spot’. 72% of Bhutan is covered by forests.
Bhutan was one of the most isolated nations in the world. Tourism started in 1974 and is regulated by the government who emphasizes on the preservation of culture and environment. Bhutan is often described as the last surviving refuge of traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture. Most of the Bhutanese follow either the Drukpa Kagyu or the Nyingmapa school of Tantric Buddhism which is flourishing. Hinduism is also practiced by a certain number of Bhutanese, especially in the south.
The country traditional economy was based on forestry, animal husbandry and subsistence agriculture. However these account for less than 50% of the GDP now that Bhutan has become an exporter of hydroelectricity. Cash crops such as potatoes and oranges, tourism, and development aid are also significant contributors to the nation economy. The population figure is 671,083 inhabitants (2008). Thimphu is the capital and largest city with around 90,000 people. The only airport of the country is in the Paro valley, one hour drive from the capital.
The national language is Dzongkha. English is widely spoken.