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Information about Bhutan

Bhutan at a Glance
  • Land area:                             38,394 square kilometres
  • Forest area:                           70.5 %
  • Altitude:                                 between 240metres and 7541metres above sea level
  • Inhabitants:                          634,982
  • International Boundary:    shares with China and Indiaw
  • Language:                              official language “Dzongkha”, English widely spoken
  • Religion:                                 Vajrayana stream of Mahayana Buddhism (also known as Tantric Buddhism)
  • Currency:                               Ngultrum (equal to Indian Rupee)
  • Capital:                                   Thimphu
  • National Sport:                     Archery
  • National Bird:                       Raven (Corvus Corax Tibetanus)
  • National Animal:                 Takin (Budorcas taxicolor)
  • National Tree:                      Cypress (Cupressus torolusa)
  • National Flower:                  Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis)
  • Local time:                            GMT + 6
Governance System

The governance system of Bhutan is that of Democratic Constitutional Monarchy as enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan which was adopted in 2008. Hereditary Monarchy was in place prior to the adoption parliamentary democracy in Bhutan. Hereditary Monarchy was established when the people of Bhutan unanimously enthroned the Gogsar Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan in 1907. Since then, Bhutan is always blessed by the wise and benevolent Monarchs for more than a century.

His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is Head of the State and the executive power is vested with the Lhengye Zhungtshog (the Couuncil of Ministers) headed by the Prime Minister. Legislative powers in Bhutan are vested with Parliament constituted by the His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, the National Council (Upper House) and the National Assembly (Lower House).

There are 20 Dzongkhags (District) and 205 Gewogs (county) in Bhutan. Each Dzongkhag and Gewogs has their respective Dzongkhag Yargey Tshogdu (District Development Assembly) and Gewog Yargey Tshogchung (County Development Assembly). Whereby, these assemblies discuss certain development activities or policies that are to be carried out or to be enforced in their respective Dzongkhag and Gewogs in accordance with the local government laws.

Three organs of the government are Legislative (National Council, National Assembly), Executive (Lhengye Zhungtshog) and the Judiciary (the Royal Court of Justice/the Judiciary of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Separation powers amongst these three branches of government are enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan has total estimated population of 692,895. Out of which 335,294 are male and 357,601 are female. The working age group (15-64) constitutes of 65.2% of the total estimated population. (Source: National Statistic Bureau, ‘the Bhutan Living Standard Survey, 2017’).
Culture & Traditions

Bhutan has a rich culture and traditions and its richness is one amongst many attributes of the sovereignty of the Kingdom. Interestingly, preservation and promotion of culture is one of the four pillars of the Gross National Happiness (GNH), a development philosophy propounded by His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in early 1970s.

In every respective Dzongkhags (Districts), Drungkhags (sub-districts) and even at the Gewog (county) level Tshechus are conducted and people of the locality and from other districts come to witness the Buddhist Chams (masked dance). Masked dance are performed by the Buddhist monks to illustrate the teachings of Buddhism in the form of dance. Tshechu, along with its sacredness, it is also the time for the people to come together and have a family time, in other words, it also serves as a platform of social life. Where family pack the lunch with variety of Bhutanese cuisine like red rice, ema datshi, sikam paa, shakam paa, jaju, suja etc. Further, every household conducts an Choko (basically recitations of Buddhist texts) once a year to appease their local deity and to be blessed with fortunes and good health of the family members.

Bhutan has a distinct style of national dress. It is known as Gho (‘a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at the waist by a traditional belt known as Kera’) and Kira (a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner layer known as a Wonju). Gho is worn by men and Kira by women. In all government offices, Bhutanese wear Gho and Kira together with Kabney by men and Rachu by women. Bhutanese common men wear white kabney and embodied or patterned Rachu by women. The color of Kabney and Rachu worn by Bhutanese men and women differ in accordance with their official rank. National dress is a unique identity of Bhutanese people and its importance is stressed by our Beloved Monarchs time and again.

Bhutanese spends more on funeral than on marriage and during the birth of new child. In accordance with Buddhist practices, Bhutanese performs elaborate rituals on 7th, 14th, 21st and 49th day after the death of a person mainly to ensure a safe passage and a good rebirth. Following the rituals, prayers flag are erected in the name of deceased person and the recitations of prayers and rituals are also conducted in the death anniversary.

Bhutanese celebrate the birth of a child on the third day after the birth. Extended family members, friends and neighbors come to visit the newborn and congratulate the parents of a child. Typically, those who come to visit the newborn come along with the gifts for a child and other food stuffs. A child is named by the Buddhist Lama and his or her horoscope is written based on the time and date of the birth, this will detail the various rituals to be performed at different times in the life of the child and to an extent predict his or her future by the astrologer known as Tsipa. In Bhutan, parents welcome a birth of child of irrespective of gender.

Climate & Weather

Bhutan’s climate varies from region to region which may be attributed to the varied altitude. In the northern part of the Bhutan, it is cold and mountains are covered with snow, the central part of the country is temperate and it is humid in Southern region and foothills of the Kingdom.


Bhutan experiences all four seasons in a year (spring, summer, autumn and winter). Bhutan's generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. Summer weather commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues through the pre-monsoon rains of late June. Autumn season in Bhutan starts from late September or early October to late November. It is characterized by bright, sunny days and some early snowfalls at higher elevations. From late November until March, winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3,000 metres (9,843 ft).

  (For latest updates in temperatures of places in Bhutan, please click the link http://www.hydromet.gov.bt/ )
Flora & Fauna

Bhutan is generally divided into three zones namely, Alpine Zone ranging from 4000 meters and above with no forest cover, the Temperate Zone ranging from 2000 to 4000 meters with conifer or broadleaf forests, and the Subtropical Zone ranging from 150 to 2000 meters with tropical or subtropical vegetation.

Forest covers in Bhutan are generally categorized into eight types. They are, Fir Forests, Mixed Conifer Forest, Blue Pine Forest, Chirpine Forest, Broadleaf mixed with Conifer, Upland Hardwood Forest, Lowland Hardwood Forest, and Tropical Lowland Forests. It is said that in Bhutan has 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 poppy which is the national flower and tropical trees such as pine and oaks.

Various types of animal species can be found in Bhutan. Species such as snow leopards and the Bengal tigers can be found at altitude ranging 3000 to 4000 meters. Further, the red panda, the gorals and the langur, the Himalayan black bear and sambars, the wild pigs and the barking deer, the blue sheep and the musk deer can also be found in high altitude. In the tropical forests of Southern Bhutan is home to the clouded leopards, the one horned rhinoceros, elephants, golden langur that is unique to Bhutan, the water buffaloes and the swamp deer.

Likewise, Bhutan also has a great variety of bird species. It is recognized as an area of high biological diversity and is known as the East Himalayan ‘hot spot’ situated as it is at the hub of 221 global endemic bird areas. The recorded number of bird species is over 670 and it is counting. Moreover, Bhutan is home to about 16 bird species that are endangered worldwide. These include the White bellied heron, Pallas Fish eagle, Blyth’s King fisher to name a few. Phobjikha valley in Wangduephodrang and Bomdeling in Trashi Yangtse are also two important places in Bhutan that is visited by the vulnerable Black-necked Crane during winter.

Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the development philosophy of Bhutan propounded by the His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in early 1970s. His Majesty believed that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone could not deliver happiness and well-being of the society. It is defined as a, “multi-dimensional development approach seeking to achieve a harmonious balance between material well-being and the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of society.” GNH has 4 pillars and they are:
  1. Good Governance;
  2. Sustainable Socio-economic Development;
  3. Preservation and Promotion of Culture; and
  4. Environmental Conservation
In addition to the four pillars, it has 9 domains as follows:
  1. Living standards
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. Environment
  5. Community Vitality
  6. Time-use
  7. Psychological well-being
  8. Good Governance
  9. Cultural resilience and promotion
These domains demonstrate that from the perspective of GNH, many inter-related factors are important in creating the conditions for happiness. Furthermore, Bhutan has developed 38 sub-indexes, 72 indicators and 151 variables that are used to define and analyze the happiness of the Bhutanese people. All put together, it ‘measures the quality of its development in a more holistic way and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occurs side by side. Bhutan has been considered a living example by many for sparking the debate on what is real human development.’