About Bhutan

Bhutan, officially referred to as the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a captivating and landlocked nation situated in the eastern Himalayas, nestled between the prominent countries of China and India.

Often associated with being of the happiest country in the world (Bhutan’s tourism tagline was – Happiness is A Place), the Kingdom of Bhutan was once isolated from the rest of the world for centuries.

Where is Bhutan on the map?

Bhutan Map

Bhutan shares its borders with two influential neighboring nations:

To the north, Bhutan's border with China (Tibet Autonomous Region) extends along the formidable Himalayan range, holding historical and geopolitical significance, occasionally leading to discussions and negotiations between the two countries.

To the south, west, and east, Bhutan is encircled by India, with borders connecting to Indian states such as Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. These boundaries have played pivotal roles in Bhutan's trade, cultural interactions, and strategic partnerships throughout its history.

Bhutan is a sovereign nation covering a total land area of 38,394 square kilometers, with a relatively small population of approximately 771,608 people, making it one of the least densely populated countries. The country features the eastern Himalayan mountain range, home to several peaks exceeding 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) in elevation, with Gangkhar Puensum standing as the highest at an impressive 7,570 meters (24,840 feet). This mountainous terrain has earned Bhutan its renowned moniker, the "Land of the Thunder Dragon."

Bhutan and Neighbouring Countries

Bhutan is located in the continent of Asia, specifically in South Asia. Bhutan's geographical location in South Asia places it in close proximity to neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, each of which contributes to the cultural and geographical diversity of the region. Bhutan's position in South Asia not only influences its cultural exchange and diplomatic ties with its neighbors but also plays a significant role in shaping its history, trade, and geopolitical relationships in the subcontinent.

Bhutan Map Nepal

Bhutan Map Asia

Despite being landlocked between two giant nations, throughout its history, Bhutan has never been conquered or colonized by any foreign power. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its rugged terrain, the fierce determination of its people, and its strategic location. Bhutan stands as a testament to both its resilience and its unique status as one of the most isolated nations in the world.

Bhutan's historical isolation, combined with its unique culture and traditions, has shaped it into a nation like no other. It remained largely closed to the outside world until the mid-20th century when it cautiously began opening its doors to limited tourism and international engagement. Even today, Bhutan maintains a strict ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism policy to preserve its environment and culture. This isolation has contributed to Bhutan's enduring identity as a kingdom that has not only safeguarded its sovereignty but also its cherished traditions and way of life, making it a truly remarkable and enigmatic nation.

Bhutan on the World Map

Bhutan's geographic coordinates are approximately 27.5142 degrees North latitude and 90.4336 degrees East longitude.

Bhutan Map World

Bhutan Political Map

Bhutan is divided into 20 administrative districts, known as Dzongkhags, each of which is governed by a body called Dzongkhag Tshogdu. This system of district-level governance plays a crucial role in the country's administration and decision-making.

Population density is a key metric that quantifies the concentration of people within a specific area. It is calculated by dividing the total population of an area by its land area in square kilometers (km2). In Bhutan, this metric varies across the country. The capital city, Thimphu, boasts the highest population density at 67.1 persons per square kilometer, making it the most densely populated area. Following closely is Samtse Dzongkhag, which has the second highest population density, with 48 persons per square kilometer. These variations in population density reflect the distribution of Bhutan's population and have implications for urban development, infrastructure planning, and resource management in different regions of the country. Bhutan is divided into three regions – West, Central, East and 20 districts. Each district possesses its own distinct characteristics and offers travelers fresh and diverse experiences.

What are the 20 districts in Bhutan?

Chhukha: Chukha (variant)
Chirang: Tsirang (variant)
Daga: Dagana, Tagana (variant)
Geylegphug: Gaylegphug, Gelephu, Sarbhang, Sarpang (variant)
Ha: Haa (variant)
Lhuntshi: Lhuentse, Lhuntsi (variant)
Mongar: Monggar, Mongor (variant)
Paro: Rinpung (variant)
Pemagatsel: Pemagatshel, Pema Gatshel (variant)
Punakha: Punaka (variant)
Samchi: Samtse (variant)
Samdrup Jongkhar: Samdrup, Samdrup Jongkha (variant)
Shemgang: Zhemgang (variant)
Tashigang: Trashigang (variant)
Tashi Yangtse: Trashi Yangtse, Trashiyangtsi (variant)
Thimphu: Tashi Chho Dzong, Thimbu (variant); Timbu (Spanish)
Tongsa: Trongsa (variant)
Wangdi Phodrang: Andguphodang, Wangdue, Wangdue Phodrang, Wangdupotrang, Wangü-Phodrang (variant)

Facts about Bhutan

1. Capital and Largest City: Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. Thimphu replaced Paro as the capital in 1955, and was made official by the King of Bhutan in 1961.

2. Gross National Happiness: Bhutan is renowned for its unique approach to measuring progress and well-being through Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GNH focuses on the holistic well-being of its citizens, encompassing aspects like mental and physical health, education, culture, and environmental sustainability.

3. Stunning Landscapes: Bhutan is characterized by its breathtaking natural landscapes, including the towering Himalayan peaks, deep valleys, lush forests, and pristine rivers. The country's varied topography ranges from subtropical plains in the south to alpine regions in the north.

4. Diverse Climate Zones: Due to its varying elevations, Bhutan experiences diverse climate zones, from subtropical in the south to alpine and subalpine in the north. This diversity supports a wide range of flora and fauna.

5. Buddhism: Buddhism is the predominant religion in Bhutan, with Vajrayana Buddhism being the most widely practiced. Monasteries, temples, and stupas are integral to Bhutanese culture and landscape.

Temple Offering

6. Unique Architecture: Bhutan is known for its distinctive traditional architecture characterized by colorful and intricately designed buildings, including dzongs (fortresses), monasteries, and traditional houses.

Unique Architecture

7. Official Language: Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan, but English is also widely spoken and used in education.

8. Constitutional Monarchy: Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The King of Bhutan holds a central and respected role in the country's governance.

9. Limited Tourism: Bhutan has a policy of controlled and sustainable tourism to preserve its environment and culture. Visitors are required to pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to support Bhutan’s development and to avoid the effects of mass tourism.

10. Environmental Conservation: Bhutan places a strong emphasis on environmental conservation, with a significant portion of its land designated as protected areas and national parks to safeguard its rich biodiversity. Bhutan is the world’s only carbon negative country thanks to its 72% of forest coverage.

11. Peaceful History: Bhutan is unique in that it has never been colonized or conquered by an external power. It has a history of diplomacy and peaceful relations with neighboring countries.

These facts highlight Bhutan's distinctive culture, stunning natural beauty, commitment to happiness and well-being, and its special place in the world.

Other Interesting Facts About Bhutan

1. No traffic lights in Bhutan

There are no traffic lights in Bhutan. Thimphu (the capital city of Bhutan) is the only capital city in the world without a traffic light. The only ‘traffic light’ you’ll witness are traffic police directing the flow of movement at the heart of the town. So, you never have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam in Bhutan.

Bhutan Policeman

2. Black-necked cranes are sacred in Bhutan

The highly endangered and culturally revered black-necked crane is protected by law. The black-necked cranes hold a special and sacred significance in the culture and traditions of Bhutan. These graceful birds are revered for their role in Bhutanese folklore and religious beliefs, particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, which is the predominant religion in the country.

A Black-necked Crane Festival is held in Phobjikha on the 11 November annually to spread awareness about these sacred cranes.

3. The national animal of Bhutan is takin

The takin, Bhutan's national animal, is a distinctive creature with a moose-like face, shaggy coat, and a unique blend of animal features. Beyond its appearance, the takin holds cultural and mythological significance in Bhutan, with legends connecting it to the eccentric Tibetan saint Drukpa Kunley. Bhutan has undertaken conservation efforts to protect the takin and its Himalayan habitat, emphasizing its role as a symbol of the nation's commitment to preserving its rich natural heritage and cultural traditions.

Takin Bhutan

4. The Divine Madman is an unconventional Buddhist teacher

Drukpa Kunley, known as the "Divine Madman," was a charismatic and unorthodox Tibetan saint who lived in the 15th century. He is famous for his eccentric behavior, unconventional teaching methods, and liberal attitudes towards sexuality. Drukpa Kunley used humor and a phallus-shaped walking stick as teaching tools to spread Buddhist teachings, making him a beloved figure in Bhutanese culture. He is revered for his playful approach to spirituality and is believed to have performed miracles during his lifetime. His legacy continues to influence Bhutanese society, where phallic symbols are considered protective and a source of fertility

Find out more about the legend of Drukpa Kunlay at www.chimilhakhang.com.

5. One of the last countries to introduce television

The government of Bhutan, concerned about the potential negative impact of television on the nation's culture and values, held off on introducing television until 1999. When television was finally introduced, it came with strict regulations to ensure that programming aligned with Bhutan's cultural values and traditions, reflecting the country's commitment to balancing modernization with the preservation of its unique heritage.

6. Home to the highest unclimbed mountain in the world

Bhutan is home to Gangkhar Puensum, considered the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Standing at an elevation of 7,570 meters (24,840 feet), Gangkhar Puensum is shrouded in cultural and spiritual significance for the Bhutanese people. The government of Bhutan, respecting the beliefs of its citizens and in line with its commitment to environmental conservation, has banned mountaineering on peaks higher than 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) to protect the sanctity of the mountains and preserve the fragile ecosystems.

7. Bhutan is also known as Drukyul

Bhutan uses two standard names to identify itself – Bhutan and Druk or Drukyul. The people are called Bhutanese or Drukpas and are ones in the world who take such pride in their identity. The country flag also features a white dragon in its center symbolizing purity and the loyalty of various ethnic groups within the country.

Bhutan Flag

8. Bhutan is a champion in conservation efforts

Bhutan has demonstrated a strong commitment to conservation by becoming the first country in the world to enshrine environmental protection as a constitutional mandate. Their constitution requires that at least 60% of the country's land area must remain as forest cover, emphasizing the nation's dedication to preserving its pristine natural environment. This unique and proactive approach to environmental sustainability underscores Bhutan's role as a global leader in conservation and sustainability efforts.

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