Bhutan- The Last Shangri-La
“Bhutan, The Land of Thunder Dragon” is situated between China and India. A small Himalayan kingdom with a land area of 38,394 sq. kms. The country is land locked and has one of the most formidable mountainous terrains in the world, ranging from 180 to 7550 meters in altitude. The climatic conditions vary due to the mountainous nature of the country. About 72% of land area is covered by forest of Temperate and subtropical species that are natural habitat of all diversity of flora and fauna. With a richest biodiversity in the world, it has about 3281 plant species per 10,000 sq. kms and has been declared as part of the global diversity â€œHotspotsâ€. Population of Bhutan is estimated 6, 58,000 out of which 79% depends on agriculture.
Isolated by formidable geographical barriers, Bhutan maintains its independence throughout its history. An indication of settlements dates back to 2000 B.C by archaeological findings and ancient stone implements. However, history of the Kingdom begins with the advent of Buddhism in the eighth century.
Buddhism was introduced in 747 A.D by Guru Rimpoche. Popularly revered in Bhutan his teachings and religion has occupied a predominant role in shaping the social, political, economic and Buddhist teachers and local nobilities established their own separate domains throughout the country.
In the 17th century, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, leader of the Drukpa Kargyu School of Buddhism consolidated the country under a unified power and established a dual system of the Royal Government by spreading temporal and religious authority. By the end of 17th century, the country emerged with a distinct national and cultural identity as well as an unprecedented degree of political stability. The country however, witnessed a resurgence of political instability by the second half of the 18th century and the need for strong national leadership emerged. Peace and stability was restored with the enthronement of His Majesty the King Ugyen Wangchuck as the first Hereditary Monarch of the Kingdom in 17th December, 1907, thus carefully guiding the country and its people into the world of modernization.
In the process of developments, Bhutan have strongly preserved its culture, history, arts and crafts, and architecture and laid the foundations as a model Nation for the outside world.