Bhutan is a sanctuary of harmonious evolution in the heart of the eastern Himalayas. The country’s history stretches back to the origins of Buddhism and delightfully humorous. They live in harmony with nature and have evolved a unique identity, derived largely from a religious and cultural heritage and the guiding development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
The National Emblem, contained in a circle, is composed of double diamond thunderbolts placed above a lotus surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double Diamond thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power. The lotus symbolizes purity, the Jewel – Sovereign power and the two dragons – The Land of Thunder Dragon (Druk Yul).
The National Flag is rectangular and divided diagonally into two parts with a white dragon in the middle. The upper yellow half signifies the country’s secular authority of the King. The lower saffron orange half signifies the religious practice and spiritual power of Buddhism. The dragon symbolizes the name of the country, and the white, purity and loyalty.
A majority of the Bhutanese are homogeneous groups divided linguistically into Sharchops, Ngalong and Lhotshampa. The Sharchops live on the east side of the country and are considered as the original inhabitants of Bhutan. The Ngalongs live in the western and central regions and are descendants of Tibetan immigrants. The Lhotshampas are the ethnic Nepalese who live in the south.
Bhutanese men wear Gho, a longish robe tied around the waist by Kera (cloth belt). The women wear an ankle length dress known as Kira, which is made of bright colored fine woven fabric with traditional patterns.
Bhutan’s national currency is called Ngultrum (1 Ngultrum= 100 Cheltrum) and was introduced in 1974. The Ngultrum is pegged with the Indian Rupee.
The national sport of Bhutan is Archery. Other traditional sport includes Degkor – like quots, darts and wrestling. International sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, martial arts, crickets, tennis and table tennis are also popular.
The castle – like Dzongs, with their gently tapering walls, classic lines, large courtyards and beautiful galleries are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Religion has an overwhelming influence in Bhutanese architecture, be it in homes or the countless temples and Chortens all over the nation.
Agriculture and livestock rearing has traditionally been the mainstay of the Kingdom economy. They contribute to about 45% of the GNP. 70% of Bhutan’s population lives on subsistence farming, growing rice, barley, millet, buckwheat, potatoes, mustered, chilies and vegetables. Forestry adds another 15% to the GNP. Today, the export of hydro-power to India, and tourism are the two main highest revenue earners.
Arts and Craft
Zorig Chusum refers to the 13 traditional visual arts and crafts that have been practiced for generations and passed down the ages. These arts are expressed through: painting, craving, sculpture, calligraphy, carpentry, gold, sliver and black smith, bamboo work, weaving and embroidery, pottery, masonry, paper and incense production.
Media was privatized in 2006. Presently there are six news papers, two dailies and four weeklies. In board-cast, there is only one sate-owned television channel, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) and four private radio stations.