1. The Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan Officially the ‘Kingdom of Bhutan’ is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is tucked between two giant countries of India in the south and China in the north. The form of government is Democratic Constitutional Monarchy; the chief of the state is the king, and the head of the government is the prime minister. Bhutan established her absolute hereditary monarchy in the year 1907 and it continued until 2008, when the current form of government was gifted to people by the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck (rgn. 1972-2006). Bhutan so far has witnessed five successive monarchs with current reigning monarch, His Majesty the Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Ever since his enthronement as the fifth king of Bhutan, the form of government witnessed a sudden twist to electoral government with people given the power to choose their government. The year 2008 marked a major historical event in the history of Bhutan with the inception of electoral process.
2. Geography of Bhutan
Bhutan is a small country with a total land area of 38,394 square kilometres. It lies between latitudes 26°Nand 29°N, and longitudes 88°Eand 93°E. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountainscrisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. About 72% of the land area is covered by forests of temperate and sub-tropical species that are a natural habitat for diverse of flora and fauna. 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 part of one of the ten global biodiversity hotspots. Elevation rises from 200 m (660 ft) in the southern foothills to more than 7,000 m (23,000 ft). This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan’s outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadowsreaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m (23,000 ft) above sea level; the highest mountain peak in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 metres (24,840 ft), which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountainin the world.
The giant and majestic Black Mountains falls in the central region of Bhutan. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 and 4,925 m (4,921 and 16,158 ft) above sea level. The forests of the central Bhutan consist of subalpine conifer and broadleaf forests. The Torsa,Raidak,Sankosh, and Manasare the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.
The southern foothills have dense vegetation and abundant wildlife with mountains up to around 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level.
The weather in Bhutan is exceptionally variable because of two factors that influence the climate which is the huge differences in altitude prevailing throughout the country and the impact of North Indian Monsoons which makes the climate unpredictable. In the northern parts of the country where mountains rise up to 7,000m, weather conditions are similar to the Arctic. Southwards, closer to India, the weather is hot and humid in the summer and cool in winter. The monsoon rains are usually heavy. Winters can be a good time to visit the lower parts, but then the highest areas are freezing. The best times to visit Bhutan are spring (March-May) and autumn (late September – November) when the weather is warm, dry and sunny but always throw in a couple of warm clothes into your traveling gear when you travel to Bhutan regardless of the season
Bhutan has four seasons:
- Spring (March, April and May),
- Summer (June, July and August),
- Autumn (September, October and November) and
- Winter (December, January and February)
Animals and Birds
A wide range of rare and endangered animals can also be found patronizing the dense jungles and high mountains of Bhutan. Due to the countries conservation efforts and its unspoiled natural environment Bhutan supports thriving populations of some of the rarest animals on earth and has thus been classified as one of the last biodiversity hotspots in the world.
The Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, hispid hare and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowland and hardwood forests in the south. In the temperate zone, grey langur, tiger, goral and serow are found in mixed conifer, broadleaf and pine forests. Fruit-bearing trees and bamboo provide habitat for the Himalayan black bear, red panda, squirrel, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard, blue sheep, marmot, Tibetan wolf, antelope, Himalayan musk deer and the takin- Bhutan’s national animal (sight in zoo at Thimphu). The endangered wild water buffalo occurs in southern Bhutan, although in small numbers.
In addition, Bhutan has been the resident for about 770bird species those were globally endangered. The birds are altitudinal refugees, moving up and down the mountains depending upon the seasons and weather conditions. Of about 50 species of birds that migrate during the winters are the buntings, waders, ducks, thrushes and the birds of prey. Some 40 species are partial migrants and they include species such as swifts, cuckoos, bee-eaters, fly catchers and warblers.
Bhutan is also home to about 16 bird species that are endangered worldwide. These include the White bellied heron, Pallas Fish eagle and Blyth’s King fisher. Phobjikha valley in Wangdue Phodrang and Bomdeling in Trashi Yangtse are also two especially important locations of the endangered Black Necked Cranes.
Bhutan boasts of about 300 species of medicinal plants and about 46 species of rhododendrons. Some common sights for the visitors are the magnolias, junipers, orchids of varied hues, gentian, medicinal plants, Daphne, giant rhubarb, the blue and trees such as fir, pine and oaks.
Some of the proactive organizations working in Bhutan are:
- National Environmental Commission
- Royal society for protection of nature clubs throughout the country.
- Department of Forestry Services.
- Nature Conservation Department
- Bhutan Trust Fund.
- Donor Organization.
- Association of Bhutan Tour Operators.
Bhutan had a population of 797,765 people in 2016.Bhutan has a median age of 24.8 years. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females. The literacy rate in Bhutan is 59.5 percent. Bhutanese people can be generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Tshanglas, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas.
Tshanglas: The Tshanglas or the Sharchops as they are commonly known as, are commonly inhabitants of the eastern part of the country. Weaving is a popular occupation among their women and they produce beautiful fabrics mainly of silk and raw silk.
Ngalops: The Ngalops who have settled mostly in the six regions of western Bhutan are of Tibetan origin. They speak Ngalopkha, a polished version of Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. Agriculture is their main livelihood. They cultivate cereals such as rice, wheat, barley and maize along with a variety of other crops.
Lhotshampas: The Lhotshampa, meaning “southerner Bhutanese”, are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepalese ancestry and they speak Nepali. Their society can be broken into various lineages such as the Bhawans, Chhetris, Rai’s, Limbus, Tamangs, Gurungs, and the Lepchas. Nowadays they are mainly employed in agriculture and cultivate cash crops like ginger, cardamom and oranges.
The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and finally the Monpas of Rukha villages in WangduePhodrang.
The Bhutanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion (proselytism) and citizens and visitors are free to practice any form of worship so long as it does not impinge the rights of others. It is estimated that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Bhutanese population follow Vajrayana Buddhism (Drukpa Kagyu)- the state religion of Bhutan. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are also practiced in the country.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country and people often refer to it as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. Prior to Buddhism, the average people of ancient Bhutan practiced Bonism, a religion involved animal killing to please the deities those were believed to reside in nature; cliffs, rocks, caves, lakes, trees, etc. The remnants of Bonism are still evident in the villages in the country. Buddhism was then introduced to Bhutan by various saints of Tibet and Indian-sub continent. But its popularity instituted with visit of the Indian Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century, who brought Nyingmapa (the ancient or the older) school of Buddhism.
After Guru Padmasambhava, the next instrumental figure to spread Buddhism in Bhutan was Phajo Drugom Zhigp who came in 1222 AD from Ralung, Tibet. He established the Drukpa Kagyu sect of Buddhism, which today is the state religion. His sons and descendants were also instrumental in spreading it to many other regions of western Bhutan.
By far the greatest contributor was Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. His arrival in 1616 from Tibet was another landmark event in the history of the nation. It was he who made Drukpa Kagyu the state religion of Bhutan by fighting wars with other sects of Buddhism to integrate them into Drukpa Kagyu. He succeeded and as a result, he unified the country as one whole nation-state giving it a distinct national identity.
Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken in the country. The richness of the linguistic diversity can be attributed to the geographical location of the country with its high mountain passes and deep valleys. These geographical features forced the inhabitants of the country to live in isolation and develop their own dialect.
The national language is Dzongkha, the native language of the ‘Ngalops’(western people). Dzongkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs– massive fortresses that serve as the administrative centers and monasteries. Two other major languages are the Tshanglakhaand the Lhotshamkha.Tshanglakhais the native language of the Tshanglas (eastern people) while Lhotshamkhais spoken by the southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin.
Other dialects spoken are Khengkhaand Bumthapkhaby the Khengpasand Bumthappeople of Central Bhutan. Mangdepkah, which is spoken by the inhabitants of Trongsa and the Cho Cha Nga Chang Khawhich is spoken by the Kurtoeps. The Sherpas, Lepchasand the Tamangsin southern Bhutan also have their own dialects. Unfortunately two dialects that are on the verge of becoming extinct are the Monkhaand the Gongduepkha.
6. Culture and Society
One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress, unique garments that have evolved over thousands of Years. Their dress underwent a phase of alteration and the current national dress is all a legacy of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a bathrobe that is tied at the waist by a traditional cloth belt known as Kera. The pouch which forms at the front traditionally was used for carrying food bowls and a small dagger. Today however it is more accustomed to carrying .small objects such as wallets, mobile phones and Doma(beetle nut).
Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress, which is clipped at the shoulders with two identical brooches called the komaand tied at the waist with kera. An accompaniment to kirais a light outer jacket known as a Tegowith an inner layer known as a Wonju.
However, tribal and semi-nomadic people like the Bramisand Brokpasof eastern Bhutan generally wear clothing that differs from the rest of the Bhutanese population. The Brokpasand the Bramisboth wear dresses woven either out of Yak or Sheep hair.
Bhutanese wear long scarves when visiting Dzongs and other administrative centers. The scarves worn vary in color, signifying the wearer’s status or rank. The scarf worn by men is known as Kabneywhile those worn by women are known as Rachus.
The Rachus hung over a woman’s shoulder and like the scarves worn by men, they too have specific rank associated with their color. Rachusare usually woven out of raw silk and embroidered with beautiful rich pattern.
Arts and Architecture
Zorig Chusum: The Thirteen Traditional Crafts of Bhutan.
An essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage are the thirteen traditional arts and crafts that have been practiced from time immemorial. These arts were formally categorized during the reign of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth temporal ruler of Bhutan. The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as follows
i. THAG-ZO – (An art of weaving)
The textile industry is an integral part of Bhutanese life and culture. As such the art of weaving is widely practiced across the women of eastern Bhutan.
In the past, textiles were paid .as a form of tax to the government in place of cash and did barter business for other needy goods. Bhutanese textiles are woven from cotton, raw cotton and silk with intricate motifs woven into the cloth.
Khomavillage in Lhuentseis famous for Kushithara, while Radhiand Bidungare known for buratextiles. One type of cotton fabric woven in Pemagatshelis the Dungsam Kamtham. Adang village in Wangdue Phodrangis known for textiles such as Adang Mathra, Adang Rachu andAdang Khamarwhile the Bumthapsin central Bhutan are known for Bumthap Mathraand Yathra, both textiles woven out of Yak hair and sheep wool.
It’s interesting to note that the people of Nabjiand Korphuin Trongsaare known for textiles woven out of nettle fibers. Weaving is also a vocation amongst the Brokpasof Merakand Sakteng.
Men contribute in spinning yak hair and sheep wool into thread. There are four types of looms that are used by Bhutanese weavers: blackstrap loom, the horizontal fixed loom, the horizontal-framed loom and the card loom. The predominant type is the indigenous back-strap loom. It is used mostly by weavers from eastern Bhutan and is set up on porches or in thatched sheds to protect weavers and the cloth from the sun and rain. The horizontal frame loom and the card loom were brought into Bhutan from Tibet and are still used today.
ii. TSHA-ZO – (An art of bamboo work)
Most of the forests in Bhutan are richly stocked with bamboos and canes of various species. Taking advantage of these abundant natural resources, the .Bhutanese people have mastered the skill of weaving cane and bamboo products. Locally known .as Tshar Zo, this art is spread throughout the country and products such.as baskets, winnowers, .mats, containers known as Palangsand bangchungsare all made of bamboo and canes. The people of Kangparain eastern Bhutan and the nomadic of Central Bhutan are the pioneer’s and masters of this craft. Their products are now sold to tourists earning them additional income and keeping this craft alive.
iii. SHAG-ZO – (An art of turning wood)
The art of wood turning is locally known as Shag-Zoand is traditionally .practiced by the people of Trashiyangtse in eastern Bhutan. They are famed for the wooden cups and bowls traditionally known as dapas (rice bowl) and phobs (cup). These wooden bowls are made of special wooden knots known as Zaaand are highly valued. Until the advent of steel and brass, these bowls were widely used by the Bhutanese. Today they are typically sold at craft markets and offered as gifts. Khengkhar is a small village in eastern Bhutan where the villagers are well known for producing traditional wooden wine containers known as Jandup (flask).
iv. LHA-ZO – (An art of painting)
Bhutanese paintings are quintessential arts known as Lha-zo. Paintings captures the imagery of the Bhutanese landscape, apparently picturesque in every architectural piece from the massive Dzongs.to glorious temples and spiritual monasteries and even in modest Bhutanese homes.
The use of varied colors and hues in paintings epitomize the Bhutanese art and craft. A perfect example of this art form are the massive thongdrolsor thangkas, huge scrolls depicting religious figures that are displayed during annual religious festivals. The mere sight of these enormous scrolls is believed to cleanse the viewer of his sins and bring him closer to attaining nirvana. Thus, it brings merit not only to the believers but for the painters as well.
The materials used in Bhutanese paint are the natural pigmented soils that are found throughout the country. These natural soil pigments are of different colours and are named accordingly. The black lumps of soil is known as ‘sa na’, and red lumps as ‘Tsag sa’, for instance.
v. SHING-ZO – (carpentry)
Shing-zoor carpentry plays a major part in the construction of Bhutan’s majestic fortresses or dzongs, temples, houses, palaces and bridges.Traditional architecture uses no nails or iron bars in construction.
vi. DO-ZO – (masonry)
Do zo is the ancient craft of masonry, a profession which is still practiced today. In Bhutan, temples, Dzongs, Chortens (stupas) and farm-houses are all constructed using stone. Classic examples of stone work are those of Chorten Korain Tashiyangtsein eastern Bhutan and Chendebji chorten, Trongsain central Bhutan.
vii. PAR-ZO- (An art of carving)
Par zo is the art of carving carried out on stone, wood and slate. The traditional designs crafted on these materials create beautiful and distinctive art works unique to the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
As Bhutan has been blessed with an exceptionally abundant variety of trees, woodcarving is seen in a variety of forms. The wooden masks featured during the annual religious festivals as well as the many traditional motifs that are engraved on the Bhutanese houses and on Dzongsare all carved out of wood.
A unique wood carving that draws attention from visitors are the phalluses of various sizes and shapes that are hung on the four corners of traditional Bhutanese houses and placed over the main entrance door. These carved wooden phalluses are also wielded by the Acharyas– the clowns during religious festivals as a sign to bless spectators and drive away their evils and misfortunes.
The art of slate carving is not that common as stone and wood works due to difficulty in gathering slate. Yet the slate carve is found in religious places such as Dzongs, temples and Chortensengraved of religious scriptures, mantras and pious figures of divine ones.
viii. JIM-ZO- (sculpture)
Jim zo clay work is an ancient craft that has been practiced and passed down over the centuries. This art preceded the other forms of sculpture works such as bronze and other metal works. Every monastery, temple and Dzongin the country has intricately molded clay statues from where pilgrims and devout Buddhists draw their inspiration. Statues of deities, gods and goddesses and other prominent religious figures exemplify clay work in Bhutan. In addition to sculpting clay statues, the tradition of crafting clay pottery is still alive.
While the art of modeling statues is confined to men, the art of pottery is normally reserved for women.
ix. LUG-ZO – (bronze casting)
In the history of human evolution, an era of the Bronze Age had happened around 3500 BC between the Stone Age and the Iron Age.
Bronze casting in Bhutan was introduced only in the 17th century and was mainly spread through the visiting Newari artisans that came from Nepal. The Newars were first invited by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal to cast bronze statues and religious items such as bells and water offering bowls.
Today the bronze was commonly used to cast containers such as cups, urns, and vases. People had also shaped bronze into weapons and armor such as battle- axes, helmets, knives, swords and shields during the olden days.
x. GAR-ZO – (blacksmith)
The art of iron work is known as Gar-zoor blacksmithing. It is believed that it was introduced in the late 14th century by a Tibetan saint Dupthob Thangtong Gyalpo. He is revered by the Bhutanese as a master engineer for his skill in casting iron chains and erecting them as bridges over gorges. He is supposed to have built eight suspension bridges in Bhutan. You can still see one of the bridges crossing over the Paro Chu, on the road from Paro to Thimphu, and linking the highway to the famous Tachog lhakhang. The remains of another bridge can be viewed at the National Museum in Paro. While blacksmithing is almost a dying art, you can still find the original Tibetan settlers in Trashigang practicing this skill.
xi. TROE-KO- (an art of silver smiting)
The vibrant craft of traditional ornament making is still designed today and is known as Troe ko. Its products are widely used by Bhutanese women. Using precious stones and metals such as corals, turquoise, silver and gold, these master craftsmen create all manner of ornaments and implements including necklaces, bangles, earrings, rings, brooches, amulets to contain ritual objects, traditional containers to carry the much chewed beetle nut, ritual objects and much more.
xii. DE-ZO- (an art of paper making)
Traditional paper-making is another art that has deep roots in Bhutan. This traditional paper is made from the bark of the Daphne tree and was widely used in the past. Most religious scriptures and texts were written on Dezhousing traditional Bhutanese ink or occasionally in gold. While the presence of readily available modern paper has overtaken the market, people still produce and use Deshoas carry bags, wrapping for gifts and envelopes. The art still continues in Trashiyangtse where the raw material is readily available.
xiii. TSHEM-ZO- (an art of embroidery)
Tshem zoor the art of tailoring is a popular art amongst the Bhutanese. This art can be broadly classified as Tshem drup– the art of embroidery, lhem drup-the art of appliqué and Tsho lham– the art of traditional Bhutanese boot making. The art of embroidery and appliqué are normally practiced by monks. Using this art they produce large religious scrolls known as Thangkas that depicts Gods and Goddesses, deities and saints.
Traditional boot making is normally the work of Bhutanese lay men. These boots, worn by officials during special functions and gatherings are made of leather and cloth. Special craftsmen in the villages also make simple boots from uncured leather. However, this is a vanishing practice but with the government’s support it has seem a recent revival in the kingdom’s urban centers.
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.
Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. Vegetables commonly eaten include Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, river weed, onions and green beans. Grains such as rice, buckwheat and barley are also cultivated in various regions of the country depending on the local climate. Popular beverages include butter tea, black tea, locally brewed ara(rice wine), and beer.
Bhutan is rich in cultural diversity and this richness is further enhanced by the wide variety of elaborate and colorful religious festivals that are celebrated throughout the country. Every village is known for their unique festival though the most widely known is the annual Tshechu, an annual religious festival.
As the Tshechubegins, the villagers and the general populace dress in their finest clothes and congregate at their local temples and monasteries where the festival take place. Tshechusare usually occasions to mark important events in the life of the second Buddha, the Indian/Pakistani Tantric master known as Guru Rinpoche– the Precious Master. Various mask dances are performed together with songs and dances for three days on average.
These religious celebrations are lively, high-spirited affairs during which people share meals of red rice, spicy pork, Ema Datshiand Momos(pork/beef dumplings) whilst drinking the heady traditional rice wine known as Ara. These occasions provide the villagers with a respite from the hard labor of their day to day lives and gives the community an opportunity to catch up with family and friends.
9. National symbols
Bhutan has a set of its unique national symbols.
The National flag is divided diagonally into two equal halves.
The upper yellow half signifies the secular power andauthority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the practice of religion and the power of Buddhism, manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name and the purity of the country while the jewels in its jeweled claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.
The national sport is the Archery (Dha). The bow and arrow play a significant role in many Bhutanese myths and legends; images of the gods holding a bow and arrows are considered especially favorable.
Archery was declared the national sport in 1971 when Bhutan became a member of.the United Nations. Bhutan also maintains an Olympic archery team. Archery tournaments and competitions are held throughout the country. Archery is played during religious and secular public holidays in Bhutan, local festivals (tsechu), between.public ministries and departments, and between the dzongkhag and the regional teams.
The National Emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placedabove the lotus. There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on the vertical sides. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the two dragons (male and female) represent the name of the country Druk Yul or the Land of the Dragon.
The national bird is the raven. It adorns the royal crown. The raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen (raven headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.
The national animal is the Takin (Burdorcas.taxicolor) that is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal with a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives in groups and is found above 4000 meters on.the north-western and far north eastern parts of the country. They feed on bamboo. The adult Takin can weigh over 200.kgs.
The national flower is the Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis). It is a delicate blue or purple tinged blossom with a white filament. It grows to a height of 1 meter, and is found above ….the tree line (3500-4500 meters) on rocky mountain terrain. It was discovered in 1933 by a British Botanist, George Sherriff in a remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
The national tree is the cypress (Cupressus torolusa). Cypresses are found in abundance and one may notice large ….cypresses near temples and monasteries. This tree is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 m. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicit.
Despite Bhutan’ small population there has been much economic development in recent years and the economy is growing rapidly.
While a large part of the Bhutanese population is still illiterate and reside in rural areas with approximately 1in 5 still living under the poverty line, the majority of all Bhutanese have shelter and are self-sufficient. Rapid modernization has brought about vast improvements in the living standard of the Bhutanese people. All villages now have access to basic amenities such as education, running water, basic healthcare and are connected by roads and electricity. Even the most remote villages have connection to the telecommunication network including mobile phone service.
The Bhutanese economy is predominantly agricultural. Farmers supplement their income through the sale of animal products such as cheese, butter and milk. Farmers’ markets are common throughout the country, supplying the people with fresh, organic, local produce.
The main staple crops are rice, maize, wheat and buckwheat while cash crops are predominantly potatoes, apples, oranges, cardamom, ginger, and chilies. A fruit based industry has been established in the capital allowing farmers from the nearby areas to sell their produce and thereby earn additional revenue.
Bhutan’s rich biodiversity provide the country with ample forest resources and ….this has brought about the development of a thriving cane and bamboo handicraft industry. Craftsmen weave a number of beautiful and intricate items out of bamboo and cane including hats, backpacks, floor mats and traditional bowls.These items are then sold to tourists or Bhutanese, supplying a secondary income source.
The Bhutanese Tourism Industry was first opened in 1974. Since then it has grown to become, a major contributing factor to the Bhutanese economy creating countless employment opportunities and generating additional revenue for the government.
The government is committed to building a sustainable tourism industry that is not only financially viable but also limits the negative cultural and environmental impacts commonly associated with the culture of mass tourism. By establishing a policy of “High Value, Low Impact’ tourism, the kingdom of Bhutan seeks to ensure that it attracts only ….the most discerning visitors with a deep respect for cultural values, traditions and the natural environment.
To this end efforts have been made to ensure that even remote areas are publicized and able to reap the benefits of tourism while still respecting their traditions, culture and natural environment.
Due to its fast flowing, glacier-fed rivers, Bhutan has enormous potential to produce….hydroelectricity. With the construction of several major dams, the power sector has….undeniably been the biggest contributor to the Bhutanese exchequer. The Chukha….Hydro.Power Corporation, the Tala Hydro Power Corporation, the Baso Chu HydroPower Corporation and the Kurichu Hydro Power Corporation, under the umbrella.of.Druk Green Power Corporation, are some of the existing mega projects in the country.The 1500 MW of power they generate, most of which is exported to our neighboring….country India, barely scratches the surface of Bhutan’s untapped hydroelectricpotential.With its abundant water resources, Bhutan still has the capacity to generate.another 30,000 MW of electricity. However, the government is proceeding cautiously.with new construction projects in order to minimize the impact upon the surroundingareas.
The Manufacturing sector is another major contributor to national revenue. With the industrial sector established in Pasakha, small scale industries such as cement plants, calcium and carbide, steel and Ferro silicon, Coca Cola and also wood based industries have started developing.
As a result of the recent economic development, Bhutan has one of the highest per capita incomes in South Asia at US$1,321. However despite this high level of growth and development, efforts stringent regaliations have been enacted in order to protect Bhutan’s natural environment.