Bhutan : The country
The kingdom of Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas, landlocked between the two Asian giants China and India. Often referred to as “The Last Shangri-La” or “The Land of Thunder Dragon’ it opened its door to the western world only in the 1960’s ,after centuries of self-imposed isolation.
It is great source of pride for all Bhutanese that the kingdom-with an area of just over 38,000 square kilometers and a population of just over 0.6 million –has never been colonized in its long history, thanks in part to the rugged terrain as well as farsighted policies of our kings. This has played a key role in the emergence of Bhutan as a leader in the field of environment conservation and in the preservation of its unique cultural heritage with more than 70% of forest coverage.
While Bhutan may be small country by size and population, it is blessed with the most diverse and spectacular physical beauty. North to South in a span of just about fifty kilometers, the country boasts of the mighty Himalayan mountains in the north, the temperate valleys in the centre, and the lush subtropics in the south. This has not only allowed for a wide range of flora and fauna to flourish, but also enriched the country with many local dialects and customs.
In this well insulated and protected land, Vajrayana Buddhism took roots in the 8th century and continuous to inspire the Bhutanese to live their lives based on the principles of compassion, tolerance and moderation.
In the early 1980’s His Majesty the Fourth king of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck, recognizing the importance of balancing material and spiritual development came up with the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH).Today GNH is the official development philosophy of Bhutan. It rests on Four Pillars, all given equal importance: Economic development, good governance, environment conservation, and the preservation and promotion of culture.