Theme Week Bhutan

Monday, 26 July 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Rice terraces - Eli Shany/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rice terraces – Eli Shany/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bhutan, officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Tibet to the north and India to the south. Nepal and Bangladesh are located in proximity to Bhutan but do not share a land border. The country has a population of over 754,000 and a territory of 38,394 square kilometers (14,824 sq mi) which ranks 133rd in terms of land area, and 160th in population. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with Vajrayana Buddhism as the state religion.

The subalpine Himalayan mountains in the north rise from the country’s lush subtropical plains in the south. In the Bhutanese Himalayas, there are peaks higher than 7,000 meters (23,000 ft) above sea level. Gangkhar Puensum is Bhutan’s highest peak and may also be the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The wildlife of Bhutan is notable for its diversity, including the Himalayan takin. The largest city in Bhutan is the capital Thimphu.

Bhutan and neighboring Tibet experienced the spread of Buddhism which originated in the Indian subcontinent during the lifetime of Gautama Buddha. In the first millennium, the Vajrayana school of Buddhism spread to Bhutan from the southern Pala Empire of Bengal. Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and parts of Nepal became the vestiges of the Mahayana schools amid the decline of Buddhism in India. Bhutan also came under the influence of the Tibetan Empire. During the 16th-century, Ngawang Namgyal unified the valleys of Bhutan into a single state. Namgyal defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified the Tsa Yig legal system, and established a government of theocratic and civil administrators. Namgyal became the first Zhabdrung Rinpoche and his successors acted as the spiritual leaders of Bhutan like the Dalai Lama in Tibet. During the 17th century, Bhutan controlled large parts of northeast India, Sikkim and Nepal; it also wielded significant influence in Cooch Behar State. Bhutan ceded the Bengal Duars to British India during the Bhutan War in the 19th century. The House of Wangchuck emerged as the monarchy and pursued closer ties with the British in the subcontinent. In 1910, a treaty guaranteed British advice in foreign policy in exchange for internal autonomy in Bhutan. The arrangement continued under a new treaty with India in 1949 in which both countries recognized each other’s sovereignty. Bhutan joined the United Nations in 1971. It has since expanded relations with 55 countries. While dependent on the Indian military, Bhutan maintains its own military units.

Taktshang Monastery © Douglas J. McLaughlin/cc-by-2.5 Tashichoedzong in Thimphu © Christopher J. Fynn/cc-by-2.5 Traschigang Dzong © Christopher J. Fynn/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bhutan Power Corporation headquarters in Thimphu © Christopher J. Fynn/cc-by-sa-3.0 Le Méridien Thimphu © Christopher J. Fynn/cc-by-sa-4.0 Paro valley © flickr.com - Jean-Marie Hullot/cc-by-sa-2.0 Rice terraces - Eli Shany/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Bhutan Power Corporation headquarters in Thimphu © Christopher J. Fynn/cc-by-sa-3.0
Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the mid-20th century. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country’s culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism is the second most dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-La. While Bhutanese citizens are free to travel abroad, Bhutan is viewed as inaccessible by many foreigners. Another reason for it being an unpopular destination is the cost, which is high for tourists on tighter budgets. Entry is free for citizens of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, but all other foreigners are required to sign up with a Bhutanese tour operator and pay around US$250 per day that they stay in the country, though this fee covers most travel, lodging and meal expenses. Bhutan received 37,482 visitor arrivals in 2011, of which 25% were for meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions. Bhutan is the first nation in the world to ban tobacco. It has been illegal to smoke in public or sell tobacco, according to Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010. Violators are fined the equivalent of $232—a month’s salary in Bhutan.

In 2014, Bhutan welcomed 133,480 foreign visitors. Seeking to become a high-value destination, it imposes a daily fee of anywhere between US$180 to US$290 per day (or more) on tourists that covers touring and hotel accommodation. The industry employs 21,000 people and accounts for 1.8% of GDP. However the Bhutanese goal of attracting high value tourists can be criticized for actually only attracting wealthy tourists and poses the question on whether by definition “high quality” actually means “rich”. In fact, mass or cheap tourism is prevented in this way and thus primarily follows the constitutional idea of nature conservation. The country currently has no UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but it has eight declared tentative sites for UNESCO inclusion since 2012. These sites include: Ancient Ruin of Drukgyel Dzong, Bumdelling Wildlife Sanctuary, Dzongs: the centre of temporal and religious authorities (Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trongsa Dzong and Dagana Dzong), Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), Royal Manas National Park (RMNP), Sacred Sites associated with Phajo Drugom Zhigpo and his descendants, Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), and Tamzhing Monastery. Bhutan also has numerous tourist sites that are not included in its UNESCO tentative list. Bhutan has one element, the Mask dance of the drums from Drametse, registered in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Bhutan is also well known for mountain adventure trekking and hiking. Jhomolhari Base Camp Trek, Snowman Trek, and Masagang trek are some of the popular treks in Bhutan.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Bhutan Tourism, LonelyPlanet.com – Bhutan, History, Culture, Tourism, Bhutanese cuisine, Architecture, Economy, Politics, Foreign relations, Bhutan–India relations, Human rights, Wikivoyage Bhutan and Wikipedia Bhutan. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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