Where is Bhutan?
Hidden in the mighty Himalayas is an untouched country that many did not know existed until recently and that many still do not know exists. This is Druk Yul, the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
This tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is located between India and China. Although, this hidden paradise is voted one of the world's top travel destinations, very few people make it. Bhutan is home to exotic wildlife and is a last refuge for many endangered species like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Golden Langur, Blue Sheep and the Black-Necked Cranes. Bhutan ranks amongst the top ten percent of highest species density in the world.
The country has three very distinct climate zones; the sub-tropical, temperate, and alpine arctic zones and four distinct seasons. These climate variations coupled with huge changes in altitude varying from 1,000 feet in the south to 17,000 feet in the north account for the rich diversity of flora and fauna, some of them found only in Bhutan. To preserve the eco-diversity, Bhutan has been declared as one of the ten hot spots for environmental conservation by the U.N. Like the country itself, the national animal and flower of Bhutan, Takin and Blue Poppy are both very unique.
The People of Bhutan
With a population of a little over 672,000, Bhutan is inarguably one of the least populated countries in the world. The Bhutanese people are natural, confident, and gentle. As Bhutan was never colonized, the traditional Bhutanese society was characterized by small communities that were scattered around the country with little or no contact with each other thereby resulting in the formation of 19 registered languages and dialects. Dzongkha however, is the national language and English is widely spoken.
The Bhutanese people are very gracious hosts and treat all visitors as guests. The hospitality of the Bhutanese people are even more evident in the rural villages where the locals genuinely welcome visitors as honored guests. The Bhutanese people are also very spiritual. Buddhism and Hinduism are both practiced in the country although Buddhism is more dominant. There are over 10,000 stupas or chortens and over 2,000 monasteries in the kingdom. Many of these were built centuries ago to honor the teachings of Buddhism.
Bhutan...Then and Now
Bhutan was unified in 1907 by the first king, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck and since then, has been ruled by the Wangchuck dynasty. In June, 1998 the fourth Dragon King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced significant political reforms giving most of his administrative power to the Cabinet of Ministers and allowing for the impeachment of the king by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.
In December of 2005, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, announced his decision to step down from the throne and pass it to his son, the crown prince, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The coronation celebration for the fifth Druk Gyalpo was held on Nov. 6th, 2008, making him the youngest reigning monarch and the head of the new democracy.
Bhutan celebrated 100 years of monarchy in the kingdom and the beginning of constitutional monarchy in the year 2008 in conjunction with the enthronement of the fifth King of Bhutan.