Frontline World

Bhutan - The Last Place



INDEX

THE STORY
Synopsis of "The Last Place"

JOURNEY TO THE HIDDEN KINGDOM
Letter from Co-Producer Alexis Bloom

PERSPECTIVES FROM BHUTAN
The Impact of Television

WHAT'S ON IN BHUTAN?
Most Watched Cable Channels

GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
Article by Orville Schell

BHUTAN'S BUSIEST CABLE GUY
Interview with Rinzy Dorji, Co-owner Sigma Cable

A PARENT'S VIEW
Letter to the Editor

DID YOU KNOW?
Facts and Stats about Bhutan

LINKS & RESOURCES
Media, New Technology, Human Rights and History

MAP

   


Images of Bhutanese people and culture

 

 


• 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 1990.

• 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."



(Source: Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2001, published by the Planning Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan)

POPULATION (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%

ETHNIC GROUPS: The Bhutanese can be divided into over 14 different distinct ethnic groups. Three main ethnic groups consist of:

Ngalops: 60%
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.

Lhotshampas: 30%
Residing in southern and southwestern Bhutan, these people of Nepalese origin arrived in Bhutan in the late 19th century C.E.

Sharchops: 10%
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, Kurtoeps, Khengpas.

RELIGION:

Buddhism: 75%
Hinduism: 25%

ECONOMY:

GDP: $447.38 million
GNP per capita: $1,100 (2000 est.)