Landlocked, wedged between China to the north and India to the
south, Bhutan remained closed to the outside world until 1974.
The department of tourism pursues a policy of "Low Volume,
High Quality." Fewer than 8,000 people were granted visas to
enter the country in 2000, and the cost of a tourist visa is
approximately $200 per day.
A hereditary monarchy was established in Bhutan in 1907.
Power is shared between the King, the Tsogdu (National Assembly)
and the Je Khemp (Monastic Head) of the lamas. Bhutan still
has no formal constitution.
Bhutan is roughly the size of Switzerland and about half
the size of Indiana.
Forests make up 72.5% of the total area of Bhutan.
90% of Bhutanese live on subsistence farming.
Bhutan is the only country in the world that practices
the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion.
Tantras are sacred texts from India written between the third
and tenth centuries.
Bhutan has more than 2,000 temples and monasteries spread
across the nation.
English is taught in schools and it is used as the official
working language, but national leaders advocate the use of Dzongkha,
Bhutan's national language.
Police may fine any Bhutanese not wearing official national
dress in public. Men wear the robe-like gho and women
wear the apron-like kira. Although it has always been
customary to wear national dress, it didn't become law until
Archery, Bhutan's national pastime, is the only Olympic
sport the country has ever participated in since it first competed
in 1984. While most bows are factory-made from fiberglass, Bhutanese
bows are hand-carved from bamboo, and their arrows are made
from pheasant and eagle feathers found in the forest.
The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means "Land
of the Thunder Dragon."
Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2001, published by the Planning
Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan)
(2001 est.): 698,050
URBAN POPULATION (2000 est.): 21%
AREA: 46,500 Square Kilometers
LIFE EXPECTANCY (1994 est.): 66 years
LITERACY RATE for total population: 54%
The Bhutanese can be divided into over 14 different distinct
ethnic groups. Three main ethnic groups consist of:
Residing in north, central and western
regions of Bhutan, this group, composed primarily of descendents
of Tibetan immigrants who began arriving in Bhutan in the
9th century C.E., brought Buddhism to the country.
Residing in southern and southwestern
Bhutan, these people of Nepalese origin arrived in Bhutan in the late 19th century C.E.
Residing in eastern Bhutan, these people
are believed to be Bhutan's earliest inhabitants, arriving
from northern Burma and northeast India in the 7th century
C.E. Other eastern ethnic groups include the Bumthaps, Mangdeps,
GNP per capita: $1,100 (2000 est.)