Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, is a tiny landlocked Himalayan kingdom in South Asia with an ancient Buddhist culture that is steeped in myth and mystery.
About the size of Switzerland, Bhutan is about 300 kms wide and 150 kms long as the crow flies and home to some of the highest virgin mountain peaks in the world.
Wedged between China to the north and India to the south, Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, but it has an amazing diversity of flora and fauna that most parts of the world are bereft of.
This is because Bhutan has been able to keep pristine and intact its natural environment. The rugged landscape and pristine environment make Bhutan a natural tourist destination.
More than 70 percent of the country is under forest cover within which reside more than 200 species of mammals, close to 700 species of birds including the rare and endangered such as the royal Bengal tiger and the White bellied heron.
Bhutan is an ancient land and it began the process of modern development such as building roads, schools, and hospitals only in the 1960s.
The first official tourist arrived in the mid 70s.
Bhutan follows a policy of “high value low impact” tourism, which basically means that the industry must be environmentally friendly and socially and culturally acceptable. The policy has helped promote Bhutan as an exclusive destination, which it is in every sense of the word.
Bhutan has around 19 spoken languages but English is widely spoken since it is the medium of instruction in schools. Bhutan is still largely an agrarian society with close to 60 percent of the population engaged in agriculture and rearing of livestock.
Home to a population of around 700,000 friendly people with deeply held spiritual beliefs, Bhutan is still a mystery to most people around the world. It is a land of legends, Yeti folktales, Buddhist spirit, peace and tranquility.
Today, after more than 50 years of planned development to modernize the economy and move away from its geographic isolation, Bhutanese are embracing modernity while fiercely protective of its age-old traditions, values and identity.