Gross National Happiness & roaring dragons
A landlocked nation on the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalaya, the Kingdom of Bhutan is surrounded by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north, and the Indian states of Sikkim, Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to the west, south and east.
Bhutan’s considerable variation in altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and year-round snow in the north, forms 5 distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring.
Bhutan’s great geographical diversity, combined with equally diverse climate conditions, contribute to the country’s outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.
More than 120 species of butterflies, 28 of which are endemic to the Eastern Himalayas (they occur only in this region) , and as many as 750 plant species endemic to the Eastern Himalayas are found in the country. Providing a home for this diversity are sub-tropical forests, warm and cool broad-leaved forests, evergreen oak forests, chir pine forests, and alpine meadows among others.
Tigers, one horned rhinos, golden langurs, clouded leopards, the sloth bear, the Himalayan black bear and the red panda are some of the species that have found a relatively safe refuge in Bhutan.
Ngalops, Sharchops and Lhotsampas are some of the ethnic groups living in Bhutan. At least 24 languages are reportedly spoken in the country, many of which have yet to be recorded.
About three fourths of the population is Lamaistic Buddhist, followed by Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism.
Agriculture, forestry, and the export of hydroelectric power to India are the foundations of Bhutan’s economy. More than 80% of the population is involved in agriculture, mostly subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Crops include rice, chili, dairy products (from yak), barley, apples, and citrus and maize at lower elevations.
Adult literacy rates for people aged 15 and older were 47% in 2004, with life expectancy at birth at 64 years.