BHUTANESE Facts & Figures
Size: 14,824 square miles
Weather / Climate:
Bhutan's climate is as varied as its altitudes and, like most of Asia, is affected by monsoons. Western Bhutan is particularly affected by monsoons that bring between 60 and 90 percent of the region's rainfall. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits.
Temperatures vary according to elevation. Temperatures in Thimphu, located at 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) above sea level in west-central Bhutan, range from approximately 15 to 26 °C (59 to 78.8 °F) during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to between about -4 and 16 °C (24.8 and 60.8 °F) in January. Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F) year-round, although temperatures sometimes reach 40 °C (104 °F) in the valleys during the summer.
Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the severe climate of the north, there is only about 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of annual precipitation—primarily snow. In the temperate central regions, a yearly average of around 1,000 millimetres (39.4 in) is more common, and 7,800 millimetres (307.1 in) per year has been registered at some locations in the humid, subtropical south, ensuring the thick tropical forest, or savanna. Thimphu experiences dry winter months (December through February) and almost no precipitation until March, when rainfall averages 20 millimetres (0.79 in) a month and increases steadily thereafter to a high of 220 millimetres (8.7 in) in August for a total annual rainfall of nearly 650 millimetres (25.6 in).
Bhutan's generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. Summer weather commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues through the premonsoon rains of late June. The summer monsoon lasts from late June through late September with heavy rains from the southwest. The monsoon weather, blocked from its northward progress by the Himalayas, brings heavy rains, high humidity, flash floods and landslides, and numerous misty, overcast days. Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is characterised by bright, sunny days and some early snowfalls at higher elevations. From late November until March, winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3,000 metres (9,843 ft). The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds down through high mountain passes, giving Bhutan its name—Drukyul, which in the Dzongkha language mean Land of the Thunder Dragon.
Bhutanese, or Dzongkha, is the language of the Ngalop. It is a Southern Tibetan language that is partially intelligible with Sikkimese and spoken natively by 25% of the population. Tshangla, the language of the Sharchop and the principal pre-Tibetan language of Bhutan, is spoken by a greater number of people. It is not easily classified and may constitute an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. Nepali speakers constituted some 40% of the population as of 2006. The larger minority languages are Dzala (11%), Limbu (10%, immigrant), and Kheng (8%). There are no reliable sources for the ethnic or linguistic composition of Bhutan, so these numbers do not add up to 100%.
Culture of Bhutan is among the oldest, most carefully guarded and well preserved cultures in the world. People of Bhutan have always been careful about conserving their centuries-old culture. Even in today's time, Bhutan has been able to retain its old world charm. This is one of the reasons Bhutan is loved by the tourists who want to pass their holidays in ethnic pockets.
Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan is one of the large towns in Bhutan. The major profession of the people of Bhutan is farming, who live in small rural villages. These villages are secluded and is accessible only by foot. But now, as the people are getting educated, they are migrating to towns in search of other occupations.
Bhutan has three main ethnic groups: the Sharchop in the east, which originated from the tribes of northern Burma and northeast India; the Ngalops in the west, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan after migrating from Tibet; and the Lhotsampas in the south, originally belonging to Nepal. Bhutan has a population of around 700,000.
The national dress of Bhutan originated from the time of the first Shabdrung. The men in Bhutan wear a "gho," a long knee-length robe that is tied around the waist by a belt and the women wear a "kira," which is an ankle-length dress worn with a short jacket. To preserve the ancient customs from being influenced by the West, the Bhutanese government has made it compulsory for all Bhutanese to wear only their national dress in public.
Bhutan's national sport is Archery, which is played here with unique Bhutanese rules and equipment. The equipments like the traditional bows and arrows are made out of bamboo and the teams of archers shoot at targets only 30 centimeters in diameter from a distance of 120 meters. Each team has a noisy crowd of supporters who, as well as encouraging their own side and try to out off the opposition.
The Bhutanese architecture is characterized by structural designs and exterior paintwork (shapes, colors, and patterns), representing national identity and traditional meanings. Dzongs (fortresses), Gompas (monasteries), Chortens (shrines/stupas), Lakhangs (temples) and houses are some of the impressive and important structures in Bhutan.
Most of the monasteries and temples throughout Bhutan are built on steep hillsides and in other remote places. This ensures that the monks get a solitude and serenity. All the monasteries in Bhutan have some common features though they also have their own design. Monasteries here have a central chapel with statues and separate sleeping quarters for the monks. There are prayer wheels around the outside and a round gold-colored ornament on the roof. Temples are not very different from monasteries in design and look, the only difference between them is that they do not house a monk body.
The traditional Bhutanese houses are made out of mud, bamboo, and wood. The doors and windows of Bhutanese houses are decorated with animal, religious, or floral designs. The houses here are usually of three stories, in the ground floor cattle and other animals of the house reside, the second floor is for storage, and the third floor is the living quarters which often has a shrine. Hay, dry vegetables and meat are stored in the open-air area between the third floor and the roof. And the most important feature of Bhutanese houses is a prayer flag placed in the center of the roof.
Taken from bhutan.saarctourism.org
Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops, the dominant group, who originate from the eastern part of Bhutan (but who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism). In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups. In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and mainstream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government.
The Taktshang Monastery, also known as the "Tiger's Nest". Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country.
The national language is Dzongkha, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script, here called Chhokey ("Dharma Language"), is identical to classical Tibetan. In the schools English is the medium of instruction and Dzongkha is taught as the national language. Ethnologue lists 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language. Until the 1980s, the government sponsored the teaching of Nepali in schools in Southern Bhutan. However, after the armed uprising in the south, Nepali was dropped from the curriculum. The languages of Bhutan are still not well-characterized, and several have yet to be recorded in an in-depth academic grammar. Before the 1980s, the Lhotshampa (Nepali-speaking community), mainly based in southern Bhutan, constituted approximately 30% of the population. However, during the 1980s, after the Bhutanese government instituted a policy of one language and one culture, these Lhotshampas were forced to wear the national costume of Bhutan, which is not well-suited to the high temperatures of the southern region.This cultural discrimination led to protests which eventually resulted in the eviction of more than 100,000 Lhotshampas throughout the 1990s.These Lhotshampas took refuge in Nepal via India. Because the bilateral talks between Nepal and Bhutan to repatriate Bhutanese refugees (Lhotshampas) have been proven futile, the UNHCR is now helping the refugees to settle in various developed countries such as Norway, USA, Canada and many others.The literacy rate is 59.5 percent.The country has a median age of 22.3 years.Bhutan has a life expectancy of 62.2 years (61 for males and 64.5 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females in the country.
Bhutanese food is generally good. Set meals for travelers tend to be on the bland side, because local food is heavily seasoned with red chilies and can be quite hot. Most hotels provide meals buffet-style. There are usually continental, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese dishes. The food in hotels is often the best in town, but in main towns now there are few restaurants increasingly becoming popular. All tourist hotels have good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.
Food provided during tour is quite elaborate and generally consists of followings :
On Cultural Tour
BREAKFAST; Canned juice with choice of orange, mango, pineapple, apple etc, Porridge/cornflakes/cereals, Fresh fruits, Sausages/bacon, Toast, butter and Jam, Eggs, Tea/coffee
LUNCH; Salad, Rice, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Roti/Nan, Desert, Tea/Coffee
DINNER; Soup, Salad, Rice, Noodles, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Desert, Tea/Coffee
EVENING TEA; Tea/Coffee, Cookies/sandwich, Biscuits/pasteries
BREAKFAST; Canned juice with choice of orange, mango, pineapple, apple etc., Porridge/cornflakes/cereals, Fresh fruits, Sausages/bacon, Eggs, Tea/Coffee
LUNCH; Vegetable cutlet/sandwich/boiled potato, Chicken roast/roast beef, Boiled eggs, Roti/Naan, Fresh fruits, Canned juice, Boiled drinking water
DINNER; Soup, Salad, Rice, Noodles, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Desert, Tea/Coffee
EVENING TEA: Tea/Coffee, Cookies/sandwich, Biscuits
Even though the locals drink water straight from the tap, we suggest visitors to drink only bottled water. On treks, we provide boiled and filtered water. A reasonable variety of both hard and soft drinks are available in hotels, restaurants and shops in most towns. Many Bhutanese enjoy drinking traditional homemade alcoholic brews made from wheat, millet or rice.
Bhutan is the only country in the world to totally ban the import and sale of all tobacco products. You can bring in a reasonable amount of cigarettes for personal consumption, but you will be charged an import duty of 100%. Smoking is banned in all public places including restaurants and bars.
From trip to Bhutan.com
Places to go in BHUTAN
People who have visited Bhutan earlier recall with fond memory the refreshing green valleys, awesome snow-capped peaks, the scintillating exotic landscapes, variety of the floral species, rare and exotic faunas, streams of copper-blue waters and gorgeous waterfalls and several fascinating natural and man- made tourist spots. This splendid paradise on earth, lap of the mighty Himalayas, is flanked by the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the East, Nepal in the West, and Tibet in the north.
Notable Features of Bhutan
Bhutanis widely acclaimed as a Botanists’ Paradise. It has a rich variety of the floral species that include some rare specimens like Rhododendrons, junipers, magnolias, carnivorous plants, rare orchids, blue poppy (the national flower), edelweiss, gentian, medicinal plants, daphne, giant rhubarb, high-altitude plants, tropical trees, pine and oak. Some exotic faunas are also found in Bhutan are the notable ones are langur, red pandas, black-necked crane, snow leopard, takin, musk deer, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan marten, tiger, hornbills, pheasants, mountain goats and timid blue sheep.
Paro, the second largest town in Bhutan, is the most enchanting and thus one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Bhutan. You will be spellbound seeing the city's wondrous landscape. Paro is home to some of Bhutan's oldest palaces, temples and monasteries. The museum in Paro preserves artifacts and other items that reflect the ancient Bhutanese way of life. Make it a point to visit Taktshang Monastery, Kichu Lhakang, National Museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong. The serenity of the Valley, naturally protected from external pollution is a splendid place to spend a few quality hours with your loved ones.
Located at an elevation of 2,300 meters, ThimpuValley, the modern capital of Bhutan, features Taschichho Dzong that houses the main secretariat building. The chief attractions are the majestic throne rooms used by royalty and ThimpuValley is also the summer retreat of the Buddhist monks who visit the place in large numbers. Go to the View Point in Thimpu Valley to obtain a commanding view of the city of Thimpu.
At Thimpu, there are numerous museums, fortresses, temple complexes and monastries - among other sites. Norzin Lam (textile museum), the NationalFolk Heritage Museum, VAST (Voluntary Artist's Studio, Thimpu) and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine are some of the key attractions of Thimpu Valley. Visit the School for Dzongkha where you will notice the rich slate carvings and frescos.
Phuentsholingis a small town in Bhutan with clean environs and a secluded place to those tourists who are nature lovers and prefer to spend some lonely hours in quiet and solitude. Phuentsholing is the home of the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan and Headquarters of the Bank of Bhutan, both of which lie on a hilltop, very close to Kharbandi. The chief tourist attractions of Phuentsholing are Amo Chuu, the CrocodileBreeding Center, Chukha Hydrothermal Project, the gate at the border (called Bhutan Gate) and Karbandi Monastery. The natural beauty of Phuentsholing will captivate you no end.
The notable places to visit in the mystical BumthangValley are the KurjeyTemple and the many monasteries dotting the place. Bumthang valley is at an elevation of 2,600 meters and is the religious hub of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples. Bumthang is rightly called the spiritual heartland of Bhutan as bulk of the most ancient and precious Buddhist sites are seen here.
Jakar is the main town in BumthangValley and its undulating terrain, which is filled with apple trees and numerous temples, is a tourist's delight. Visiting Jakar in the month of September has special significance as you will not only be visiting the many tourist attractions in Jakar, but you can also participate in its two major festivals - Thangbi Mani and Tamshing Phala.
Other main attractions of Bhutan
Wangdi dzonglocated at the altitude of 1,350 meters and at the convergence of Punakhachu and the Tang-chuRiver is a scintillating locale of tourist interest in Bhutan and the highest reaches of the valley confer rich pastureland for cattle.
Tongsais another adorable place and the vast expanse of the spectacular landscape around Tongsa would invite you with open arms and the only difficulty is you will not have the heart to leave the place.
Mongaris a relatively modern man-made wonderland that features Bhutan's newest Dzongs built in the 1930s. When you visit these Dzong, you gain the impression that traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to retain its charm through the centuries.
ChalelaPassis a two-hour uphill drive from Paro, wherefrom you will be able to view frozen rivers, waterfalls, alpine flowers and snow on the way to the pass. This pleasant pass offers astounding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Tourism in Bhutanhas increased tremendously in recent times owing to an assortment of tourist attractions– consisting of green lush meadows, scintillating valleys, picturesque snow-capped mountain ranges, flowing waterfalls, fertile valleys, wildlife reserves, dense forests numerous temples, monasteries and museums. Bhutan has something to every tourist whatever his/her preferences. Apart from sightseeing, you can also engage in various other activities like hiking, trekking and bird watching and similar recreational activities.
Doing business in BHUTAN
Of late, we have few FDIs investing in hospitality & entertainment industry, hydropower, banking, agri-business and medicinal plants and are doing well in their respective field with safe business environment. The government welcomes FDI investment with favorable policies in place.
Due to its immense potential in hydropower coupled with two big market - India (in the south) & china (in the north); Bhutan would provide a competitive edge over others in terms of reliable power supply, stable political environment, international standard ICT infrastructure, low working wage and the proximity to the markets are all the elements that Bhutan in future shall be a potential market for investment.
Education, ICT software business, hydropower, tourism, mineral, medicinal plants and agro-business would be the preferred investment in an immediate future.