Exploring Bhutan: The Hidden Kingdom in the Himalayas

Geographical Marvels and Natural Splendour

Nestled in Southern Asia, between the towering giants of China and India, Bhutan is a serene kingdom spread over an area of 38,394 square kilometers, all land, with no water bodies within its boundaries. This country shares a substantial land boundary of 1,136 km, divided between China (477 km) and India (659 km), yet it has no coastline. Bhutan’s terrain is mostly mountainous, peppered with some fertile valleys and savanna, a true testament to nature’s diverse beauty. With climate zones ranging from tropical in the southern plains to severe winters and cool summers in the Himalayas, Bhutan offers a wide array of climates across its landscape.

Natural Resources and Environmental Preservation

One of Bhutan’s most significant treasures is its abundant natural resources, including timber, hydropower, gypsum, and calcium carbonate. Remarkably, the kingdom boasts an impressive 85.5% forest land, underscoring its commitment to environmental conservation. Bhutan’s utilization of hydropower as a clean energy source exemplifies its dedication to sustainable development. Furthermore, with 13.6% agricultural land, Bhutan maintains a balance between agriculture and preserving its lush forests.

Elevating Landscapes

The terrain of Bhutan is a dramatic spectacle of nature’s artistry, soaring from the lowest elevation point at Drangeme Chhu, at 97 meters, to the majestic heights of Gangkar Puensum, which stands as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world at 7,570 meters. This range of elevation not only contributes to Bhutan’s geographical diversity but also to its rich biodiversity.

Society and Economy

As of July 2020, Bhutan’s estimated population was 782,318, with a nationality known both singularly and plurally as Bhutanese. Dzongkha, the official language, unites the population, while urbanization stands at 42.3%. The capital city, Thimphu, is not only the political and economic center but also the heart of Bhutanese culture, home to approximately 203,000 residents as of 2018.

Economic Structures and Partnerships

Bhutan’s economy, with a GDP per capita of $9,000 as of 2017, is supported by several key industries, including cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, and notably, tourism which introduces the world to Bhutan’s unique philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Agriculture remains a staple of the Bhutanese economy, producing rice, corn, root crops, citrus, dairy products, and eggs. A significant portion of Bhutan’s trade is with India, accounting for 95.3% of exports and 89.5% of imports in 2017, emphasizing the deep economic ties between the two countries.

Bhutan’s export profile is diverse, featuring electricity (mainly to India), ferrosilicon, cement, cardamom, calcium carbide, steel rods/bars, dolomite, and gypsum. Imports include fuel and lubricants, airplanes, machinery and parts, rice, and motor vehicles, indicating a balanced trade that supports both industrial and consumer needs.

Infrastructure and Modernization

In an impressive feat of modernization, Bhutan achieved total population electrification by 2016, ensuring that all its citizens have access to electricity. This achievement highlights Bhutan’s commitment to improving the quality of life for its people while balancing modern needs with environmental sustainability.

Cultural Tapestry and Global Positioning

Bhutan stands as a beacon of tradition in an ever-modernizing world, carefully navigating the path of development while preserving its cultural identity. The concept of Gross National Happiness over Gross Domestic Product as a measure of progress reflects Bhutan’s holistic approach to development, prioritizing the well-being of its citizens and natural environment.

Despite its geographic isolation, Bhutan has successfully maintained its sovereignty and cultural richness by fostering strong bilateral relations, especially with neighboring countries. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, Bhutan’s example of sustainable development and cultural preservation remains a guiding light for nations worldwide.

In conclusion, Bhutan, with its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and forward-thinking policies, is a unique country that provides a model for peace, happiness, and sustainability. Its efforts to maintain economic growth while preserving the environment and promoting happiness are commendable, making it a truly extraordinary country on the global stage.

Country data

Country Code BT
Region South Asia
Surface 38394 sq km
Land Surface 38394 sq km
Water Surface 0 sq km
Agricultural Surface 13.60%
Forest Surface 85.50%
Lowest Elevation Point Drangeme Chhu 97 m
Highest Elevation Point Gangkar Puensum 7,570 m
GDP / capita $9,000 (2017 est.)