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Bhutan General Info

Geography:
Bhutan is a landlocked country situated between India and China. It shares approximately 477 km of its north and northwest borders with China and approx. 659km of its south, southwest and east borders with India. The total area of Bhutan is 38,394 km2 (14,824 sq mi), as it is a landlocked country it controls no territorial waters. The country is divided into 20 districts and 205 village blocks (gewogs) and the gewogs are subdivided into numerous municipalities for administration. Bhutan is a mountainous country dominated by the Himalaya Mountains in the north. The peaks in the Bhutan are in the range of 7,000 meters (22,966 ft). The Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 meters (24,840 ft) serves as the highest point in Bhutan which is also known as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world whereas the lowest point is Drangme Chhu at 97 meter (318 ft) from sea level. The climate of Bhutan varies according to its altitudes and is affected by monsoon. The western Bhutan is particularly affected by monsoon as it receives 60 and 90 percents of regions rainfall. The Glaciers in northern Bhutan serves as an important source of water for Bhutans Rivers as the glaciers provides millions of liters of fresh water to Bhutan.

History:
Due to the presence of early stone implements that was discovered in Bhutan it is believed that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 B.C. The country was known as Druk Yul or The Land of Drukpas only in the 17th century which refers to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism that has benn the dominant religion in the region since that period. Before the country had various names such as Lho Jong The Valleys of the South, Lho Mon Kha Shi The Southern Mon Country of Four Approaches, Lho Jong Men Jong The Southern Valleys of Medicinal Herbs and Lho Mon Tsenden Jong The Southern Mon Valleys where Sandlewood Grows.

The country was first unified in 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. After arriving in Bhutan from Tibet he consolidated his power, defeated three Tibetan invasions and established a comprehensive system of law and governance. His system of rule eroded after his death and the country fell into in-fighting and civil war between the various local rulers. This continued until the Trongsa Poenlop Ugyen Wangchuck was able to gain control and with the support of the people establish himself as Bhutans first hereditary King in 1907. His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck became the first Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) and set up the Wangchuck Dynasty that still rules today.

In the beginning Bonism was the dominant religion in Bhutan, Buddhism was only introduced in 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo and was further flourished by Guru Rimpoche.

In 2008 Bhutan enacted its Constitution and converted to a democracy in order to better safeguard the rights of its citizens. Later in November of the same year, the currently reigning 5th Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was crowned.

Culture:
Bhutan is highly influenced by Buddhism so culture of Bhutan also resembles the Buddhism. The sacred monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, prayer wheels present in the state shows that Buddhism is the main religion of the nation and probably always will be in the kingdom. Bhutan regularly performs all the religious ceremonies and rituals with the reverence for all of life. Pilgrims visits the monasteries and chapel on the auspicious days offering prayers and butter lamps to the gods. Bhutan celebrates national and regional festivals with large number of participants. Teschu, a religious festival is organized every year in Dzongs and celebrated with great joy. Villagers from different places gather in the nearest Dzong to mark the festival that lasts for several days. Different rituals and mask dance are performed during the celebration. People show reverence to the Lamas and monks during the festival. The country also celebrates many different regional festivals throughout the year enjoying the traditional music and dances. As Bhutan is the religious country there are certain codes for eating, talking and living which serve as rule for Bhutanese people.

People:
The people of Bhutan can be divided into three main ethnic groups:

Sharchops: who are believed to be original inhabitant are the people who live in the east of the country.

Ngalongs: known as the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan in (th century lives mostly in the western part of the country.

Lhotshampas: known as the southern Bhutanese who are settled in the south of Bhutan in the late 19th century are the groups of people who speak Nepali and practices Hinduism.

The Bumthaps, Mangdeps and Khengpas: The people who speak Bumtapkha, Mangdepkha and khengkha respectively inhabit the central areas of Bhutan. The Bumthaps cultivate buck wheat, potatoes and vegetables. A section of this population also rear yaks and sheep and produce fabrics of wool and yak hair. The Mangdeps depend on cultivation of rice, wheat, maize, vegetables, etc besides rearing domestic animals. The khengpas are also dependent on agriculture much like the Mangdeps, however, they are also known for the bamboo and cane craft.

Kurtoeps: are the inhabitants of the eastern part of the country. The women are expert weavers and are known for their skill in weaving the grandiose Kushithara.

The Brokpas and the Bramis: are a semi nomadic community who are settled in the two villages of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan and are experts in cane and bamboo crafts.

The Layaps: are settled at extreme north and speak layapkha. Like the Brokpas, they are semi-nomadic and their livelihood is dependent upon yaks and sheep.

The Doyas: are a tribal community that has settled mostly in southern Bhutanand are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of western and central Bhutan, who over the years migrated to and settled in the present areas in Dorokha.

Monpas: are a small community in Rukha under Wangdue Phodrang and they are also considered the original settlers of central Bhutan.

Art:
Bhutanese art is based on Vajrayana Buddhism and is similar to that of Tibet. The arts and crafts of Bhutan that represents the exclusive spirit and identity of the Himalayan Kingdom is defined as the art of Zorig Chusum (zo = the ability to make; rig = science or craft; chusum = thirteen), which means the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan and includes Bronze casting, Wood turning, Stonework, Carving, Painting, Sculpting or clay arts, Woodwork, Blacksmithing, Ornament making or silver/gold smithing, Cane and bamboo work, Paper making, Tailoring, embroidery and appliqu or needlework and weaving. It is believed that the 4th Druk Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye first formally categorized these arts and crafts as Zorig Chusum. Bronze are widely used in Bhutanese arts and crafts and are collectively known as Kham-so as technique of making them was originally derived from the region of Tibet. Wall paintings and sculpture resembles the ideal of Buddhist art forms.

Communication In Bhutan:
The major town and cities in Bhutan offers the basic communication facilities which includes telephone, fax and internet service. Public phone booths and hotel provides free local and international calls. The rated hotels provide email, internet and wifi facilities within hotel premises. Cell phones with a Bhutanese SIM card can also be used on a commonly available pre-paid mobile voucher.

Bhutan Postal Service provides the service of parcel which is commonly found in most of the places in the country. For express services people can use DHL or FedEx which are located in the capital city.

Bhutan is a country where survives the people with different ethnicities, caste and creed. The countrys population is comprised of immigrants, multi-religious and multi-linguistic groups. The people of Bhutan are called Drukpas. The native people of Bhutan are mainly found in central Himalayan region and are of mongoloid origin. The main occupation of people of Bhutan is cattle farming and agriculture.

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