Population: 742,737 (est.)
- Bhutan uses the Indian rupee and the Bhutanese ngultrum as forms of currency.
- It’s estimated between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Bhutanese population follow Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the state religion. About one-quarter to one-third follow Hinduism and other religions account for less than 1% of the population.
- The word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It earned the nickname because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas.
- Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment.
- One-third of Bhutan’s population is under the age of 14; its median age is 22.3 years.
- Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned.
- Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world.
- Foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan, for the first time, in the year 1974.
- The national sport of Bhutan is Archery.
- Homosexuality in Bhutan is not permissible and is punishable by law.
Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by the Republic of India. Further west, it is separated from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim, while further south it is separated from Bangladesh by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Bhutan’s capital and largest city is Thimphu.
Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms until the early 17th century, when the lama and military leader Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, fleeing religious persecution in Tibet, unified the area and cultivated a distinct Bhutanese identity. Later, in the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire and retained strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, based on a global survey, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world.
Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, where some peaks exceed 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Its total area was reported as approximately 46,500 km2 (18,000 sq mi) in 1997 and 38,394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi) in 2002. Bhutan’s state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism and the population, now (as of 2012/2013) estimated to be nearly three-quarters of a million, is predominantly Buddhist. Hinduism is the second-largest religion.
In 2008, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy and held its first general election. As well as being a member of the United Nations, Bhutan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and hosted SAARC’s sixteenth summit in April 2010.