Wednesday, 12 December 2007

About Bhutan

A small mountainous kingdom located in the eastern Himalayas between the giants of China (Tibet) to the north and India to the east, south and west stretches from 150 km from north to south and 300 km from west to east, covering about 47,000 sq. km. With an estimated population of 658,000 in 2000, according to the Central Statistical Organization, the population density of Bhutan is among the lowest in Asia, and there still remain large tracts of unoccupied land.

Bhutan has many different ethnic groups, the Ngalops, the Sharchops and the Lhotsams. The Ngalops and the Sharchops are mainly Buddhists and are concentrated to the western and eastern Bhutan. The Lhotsams who are the Nepali-speakers and are comprised primarily of Hindus and animists are concentrated to the south of Bhutan. Bhutanese are friendly and hospitable people. About 85% of the population live in scattered rural villages, homesteads and farms. Settlements have generally occurred in relatively flat areas, where climatic conditions are moderate. Migration from rural to urban centers, and the subsequent emergence of urban characteristics such as multi-storied buildings, restaurants, streets, shops, hotels and hospitals only began in the early 1960s. Today about 15% of the population dwells in urban townships like Thimphu, the capital, and Phuentsholing, a border town with India that is Bhutan's commercial hub

The state religion is the tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism that originates from Tibet. The Bhutanese are very religious, and Buddhism significantly influences their values, shaping the vast majority of the country's institutions, arts, architecture and literature.Bhutan is still a monarchy, now with King Jigme Singye Wangchuk who is the fourth hereditary King. Bhutan has its own unique political and administrative system. Its approach to development efforts is guided by the concept of maximizing Gross National Happiness, propounded by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. It forms the basis for identifying directions that are preferred above all others and has directed efforts to improve living standards, including spiritual well-being and preservation of cultural values and the physical environment. Gross National Happiness places the individual at the center of all development efforts and recognizes that individuals have material, spiritual and emotional needs.

Dzongkha and English (official languages) In addition Bumthangkha is spoken in the centre, Sharchopkha in the east, Nepali in the south; a total of 18 different languages are spoken.

The national sport of Bhutan is archery. Other traditional sports include degor - a kind of shot put, darts and wrestling. Today most international sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis and table tennis are becoming popular.

Kuensel, published in Dzongkha, English and Nepalese is the only newspaper in the country. The editions are published on a weekly basis. The Bhutan Broadcasting Service is the government owned radio and television station which broadcasts news in English, Dzongkha and Nepalese.

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