The kingdom of Bhutan is a small landlocked country located in the Eastern Himalayas. The country shares its border with China in the north and India to the south and eastern region. Bhutan has a population of over 800,000 and over 2 billion dollars in annual GDP. Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan. The city is home to over 100,000 local residents including the royal family. The Office of His Majesty the King and the House of the Parliament is also in Thimphu city.
Ngawang Namgyel, a Tibetan Buddhist lama had to leave Tibet due to a hostile domestic feud and it forced him to seek refuge in the land of the south in the 17th century. Ngawang Namgyel’s capability has a leader eventually led him to also carry political duties aside from spiritual responsibilities. Some of the highlights of his contributions are the unification of modern day Bhutan, introduction of dual system of Government segregating religion and secular domains, construction of Fortresses across the country symbolizing solidarity and recognition of a single authority and instilling a distinct culture and traditions for Bhutan. The impenetrable mountains in the north and inhospitable environment to the south have guarded this nation from invasion and colonization in the prehistoric era and globalization in the modern day history until recently.
The system put in place by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel endured for centuries until the country felt the need for major overhaul to strengthen its sovereignty and stability to promote peace and happiness. Therefore in 1907, the country crowned its First Monarch. A century later, this was further reinforced by transitioning to constitutional monarchy where the elected officials by the people ran the public office.
Bhutan has a range of climatic conditions with significant rise in altitude within its territory despite being a small country. It ranges from sub-tropical plains in the south to sub alpine region to the north. The highest mountain in Bhutan is the Mount Gangkhar Puensum (7570 meters) which comfortably sits in the list of one of highest unclimbed mountains in the world. Environmental conservation began early and today, Bhutan has 72% forest coverage of its total land area and the constitution mandates a minimum of 60% forest cover at all times. Bhutan is recognized globally as environment conservation champions. Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world because it absorbs more carbon than it emits.
Bhutan welcomes its imminent graduation from LDC. Hydropower generation accounts for its major revenue generation followed by tourism. Tourism in Bhutan began in 1974 and has grown significantly over the years despite its restrictions and promoting as a high end exclusive destination.
Bhutan is also popularly known for its Gross National Happiness concept. The concept was coined by the Fourth Dragon King of Bhutan in the 70’s. GNH is a development philosophy that takes collective happiness of its people as an indicator of the country’s development. Contrary to most nations, GDP is relegated to simply being one of the factors for a nation’s development.