Interesting facts about Bhutan

Home  »  Blogs   »   Interesting facts about Bhutan

1. The king of Bhutan abdicated in favor of Democracy

Gyalsey and fourth king of Bhutan – Photo Courtesy Yellow Bhutan

Bhutan is the youngest democracy in the world, whichis transformed from monarchy to democratic government. People were shocked, when their King JigmeSingyeWangchuk declared in December 2005 that he would abdicate the throne and adopt a parliamentary system of government by 2008. People of Bhutan cried knowing they would no longer be ruled by the benevolent leader. It was a surprise forpeople because in other countries people fight for power while in Bhutan the king was abdicating in favor of Democracy. The first ever democratic election was held on March 2008 after passing of the draft constitutionin a national referendum. The first two parties who contested for the election were DrukPhuensumTshogpa (DPT) led by JigmeThinley and People’s Democractic Party (PDP) led by SangayNgedup. DPT won the election and became the first ruling partyBhutan.

2. Bhutanprefer Happiness over wealth

While the rest of the world move towards obtaining happiness through wealth, Bhutanadheres to a very different belief. Bhutan is now trying to measure progress by Gross National Happiness. His majesty is the founding father of GNH. He viewed that rich people are not always happy while the happy people generally considered themselves rich. The concept of Gross National happiness is based on true premises of material and spiritual development occuring side by side. The philosophy of GNH has recently received international recognition from UN. The philosophy of GNH is based on four pillars and nine domains. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all facts of life which is essentials for our happiness. It is a holistic and sustainable approach to development, which balance material and non material values with conviction to multiply happiness.

3. It is mandatory to wear Bhutanese dress in Bhutan

Bhutan is very rich with culture and tradition and Bhutanese traditional dress is one of the most distinctive and visible aspect of country. It is compulsory to wear the national dress in schools, government offices and on formal occasions. It was designed during the time of ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyel to unify Bhutan. Men wear gho, along rope similar to Tibetan chuba and women wear a long floor length dress called kira. When visiting dzongs, women wear a cloth sash called rachu over their shoulders and men wear a kabney. Most of the Bhutanese dresses are hand woven textile goods found in handicrafts shops. If anyone is found without a proper dresswhile visitingdzongs and offices then it’s considered indiscipline. Bhutanese should not stand near the National flag without dressingproperly inthe National dress.

4. The country was isolated from the world until the 70s

Bhutan remained in isolation until the 1960s without currency, telephone, roads, schools, hospitals and no public services. People in Bhutan didn’t know about the outside world as well as were unaware of the people living behind the mountains. The policy of isolation came to an end after the launchon the path of Modernization by The Third King. India became the supporting friend who helped Bhutan to have its first highwayfrom Thimphu to Phuntsholing.Whenthe road came, people were able to travel from one place to another and exchange information. With the introduction of television People came to know about the outside world. Following the footsteps of his father, the Fourth King, His Majesty JigmeSingyeWangchuk pledged to continue Modernization. Now you will see Bhutan as a developing nation like any other nations.

5. Bhutan is a mountainous country but it does not welcome Mountaineers

Bhutan is a mountainous country but it doesn’t welcome Mountaineers may sound absurd for many. However, it is true fact about Bhutan as Bhutan follows the policy of Sustainable Development and ‘High Value Low Impact’ tourism policy. Bhutan has a total of 18 peaks among which only one is open for tourists to climb. Several attempts were made by climbers to climb Bhutan’s second highest peak ‘GangkharPhensum’ in the past. However, they failed because Bhutan chose to remain closed for mountaineers. Bhutan clearly understands that if climbing in Bhutan was entertained then in future, Bhutan will experience so many natural hazards. Bhutan’s Hydro electricity is a source ofincome earning for Bhutan. If mountain climbing is allowed in Bhutan, the fast following river from lake and glacier will be deteriorate. However, in future if Bhutan decides to open mountain climbing then Bhutan will become one of the tourists’ highest destinations.

6. Tourism in Bhutan is chaperoned at $250 a day

All tourist visiting Bhutan are charged with US 250 dollars per person per night. Though, it may seem expensive to travel to Bhutan with highest tariff rates, its worth traveling to Bhutan. Bhutan strictly follows its tourism policy of ‘High Value Low Impact’. To maintain the tourism policy $ 250 Is charged. However, tourist should know that $250 includes food, accommodation, transport, and a guide and entry fee. The $250 dollars is mandatory only during peak season. During lean season tourist are charged with $200 per person per night. If you are solo traveler you have to pay extra of $40 dollars along with $250. Indian tourists are not charged with tariff rate however, they have to manage their own travel expenses of five to minimum three stars accommodation. Students who are traveling to Bhutan for studies can request for discount to Tourism council. Children below the age of five are not charged with the tariff rate. 

7. There are no traffic lights in Bhutan

Bhutan is the only country in the world which doesn’t have traffic lights even in its capital. Roads in Bhutan are maintained manually without traffic lights. Policemen in Thimphu stand at a major intersections and control traffic. Apparently the government introduced a set of traffic lights in some areas but removed after public outcry. People from other countries may see it funny for Bhutan has no traffic light even in its capital.  Development has touched only in few corners. People in Bhutan still wake up in sounds of rooster unlike other countries where wake looked up in sound of vehicles. There are no noise and air pollution in cities of Bhutan. Bhutan city will be the only city in the world with both rural and urban taste.

8. Internet and TV only arrived in 1999

Television and internet were launched only in 1999 before that Bhutan had no forms of mass communication. People used to walk day and night to communicate before transport and communication took control over Bhutan.  There are so many dialectic in Bhutan, because people were isolated because of lack of mass communication in past. After the introduction of internet in Bhutan number of subscribers has increased to 926 dial up throughout Bhutan. Access to information has greatly improved after the introduction of television and internet. People got faster information and connectivity through mass information. It has also helped government to pass the new policies and media acts as a watch dog. Furthermore, mass media helps in advertising products and to give announcements to the people in most efficient and easy way. It also helps to know what is happening in and around the world without having to move a single step.

9. Bhutan is carbon negative

While other nations are struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, The Kingdom of Bhutan is already carbon negative. It is surprising how Bhutan a small country absorbs green house gases emitted by other nations. Bhutan ability to be carbon negative is due to natural forests and the fact that it is developing country. Most of the people in Bhutan work in agriculture and forestry. Another reason for Bhutan being carbon negative is because of its policy of GNH, which empathies more on conservation of environment. Furthermore, Bhutan strongly adheres to its policy of sustainable development as well as ‘high value low impact ‘tourism policy. It is mentioned in constitution that Bhutan must maintain 60% of forest coverage tall times to come. Such policy has help Bhutan to remain carbon neutral and in fact carbon negative.

10. Bhutan’s national animal looks like a mixed goat and cow

Bhutan’s national animal Takin which is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal with thick neck and short muscular legs and in a way looks like a mixed goat and cow. It is mostly found in 4000 meters above sea level on the north-western and far north-eastern parts of the country. They mostly feed on bamboo. It can weight over 200kgs at most. According to the history in 1905, a British political officer photographed baby Takin in Bhutan for the first time. Before people considered takin as a mythological animal and believed that it exist during 8th century. This animal was given to Mr. J.C. White by Trongsa Poenlop. It died the next day after taking photograph. Because it was first spotted by Mr. White, it has been named in his honor.