Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum. The Ngultrum is pegged with the Indian Rupees at par.
Bhutan has a primarily agriculture and forestry based economy. Agriculture still remains the livelihood for more than half the population of Bhutan. Agriculture produce includes rice, maize, chilies, dairy products, apples, oranges and cardamom among others.
Electricity is Bhutan’s biggest export. Commissioning of major hydro power projects has boosted the country’s economy over the last two decades. Bhutan supplies electricity to power starved industrial areas of northern states of India and plans are discussed to export to Bangladesh also. Tala hydroelectric power station is the largest power plant in the country with a capacity to generate 1020MW. Investments are also being made to explore and harness other source of energy such the wind and solar energy.
Tourism in Bhutan
International tourism began in 1974. The Government however regulates the tourism industry to promote high value low impact tourism. Bhutan has always been cautious about the potential threat foreign influence posed on the preservation of its unique culture and its environment. Therefore to avoid being run over by mass tourism and attract the right profile of tourists into the country, Bhutan is marketed as an exclusive high end destination for discerning travellers with appreciation for unique culture and pristine environment. Interested tourists are required to follow a series of regulated procedures and pay a premium to visit the country. The Government also regulates the minimum daily spending for all tourists while in the country. Traveler cannot travel to Bhutan independently and must book their travel through a certified local tour operator.
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The industrial estate in Phuntsholing town in south western Bhutan houses major factories in Bhutan. The industries produce cement, iron and steel products, wood products, processed fruits and alcoholic and carbonated beverages. The industrial sector accounts for 22% of Bhutan’s economy.
Bhutan has numerous mineral deposits. However the commercialization of mineral extraction is approached conservatively with strict regulations owing to the importance of conserving the environment. Commercial production includes coal and limestone among others.
Air: The oldest airport and the only international airport is the Paro International Airport. It remains the point of entry and exit for all tourists visiting Bhutan by air. The Government has invested in regional airport in Bumthang and Gelephu district in the central region and Tashigang district in the east and commenced domestic flight operation.
Road: The 178 KM road from Thimphu to Phuentsholing is Bhutan’s first national highway built during the 60’s. Since then, it has expanded its road network connecting all 20 districts in Bhutan. Today Bhutan has a total of 12000 KM of road network. Bhutan currently is executing a major road widening project between its east west national highway. Upon completion, the commute time will drop significantly and the roads will become safer to travel. It is also expected to boom local economy with increased trade with the improved road connectivity.