Facts About Bhutan
|Total Area:||38,394 km2|
|Time Zone:||BTT (UTC+6)|
Bhutan is a country of dramatic contrasts. The terrain rises almost vertically from the warm, tropical plains of India to the rarefied atmosphere of the Himalayas. With three major landform features: the southern foothills, comprised of steep hills and dense forests; the inner Himalayas, with broad river valleys where rice is cultivated; and the high Himalayas, featuring snow-capped mountains and alpine slopes covered with rhododendrons and magnolias. Bhutan offers something for everyone.
These three distinct landforms have unique climates. The southern foothills are characterized by heat and humidity while receiving an annual rainfall of 2500-5000 millimeters. In contrast, the inner Himalayas have a cool, temperate climate, with annual rainfall of 1000 millimeters; the high Himalayas experience severe alpine climate and annual rainfall of only 400 millimeters. Typically, rainfall is concentrated in the summer months, with the monsoon accounting for 60% to 90% of total rainfall. Great diversity exists from one valley to the next, with consequent changes in flora, fauna and cultivated crops. These diversities bequeathed the country with a diversity of plant and animal life and led to Bhutanâ€™s inclusion as one of the Earthâ€™s 10 biodiversity â€œhot spots.â€
Bhutan can be divided into three climatic zones. The sub-tropical zone stretches to altitudes of about 1,800 metres above sea level and is characterized by heavy rainfall and has dense broad-leafed forests. The mid-montane zone covers areas between 1,800 to 3,500 metres, which leads to moderate rainfall and has dense conifer forests. The alpine zone rises beyond 4,000 metres and has mainly tundra vegetation and is generally covered in snow clad peaks. Due to its hardships it has a very low population density with only nomadic groups residing there.
Bhutan is linguistically rich with over eighteen dialects being spoken in the country. The richness of the linguistic diversity can be attributed to the geographical disposition of the country with its high mountain passes and deep valleys that contributed to their survival.
The national language is Dzongkha, which is the native language of the Ngalops of western Bhutan. Dzogkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs and administrative centers of Bhutan.
The other major languages are the Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha. Tshanglakha is the native language of the Tshanglas of eastern Bhutan while Lhotshamkha is spoken by the southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin.
Other dialects spoken are the Khengkha spoken by the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Bumthapkha spoken by the Bumthaps, the Mangdepkah spoken by the inhabitants of Trongs and the Cho Cha Nga Chang kha spoken by the Kurtoeps. The Sherpas, Lepchas and the Tamangs in southern Bhutan also have their own dialect. Dialects that is on the verge of becoming extinct is the Monkha and the Gongduepkha.
The National Emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above the lotus. There is a jewel on all the sides and two dragons on the two vertical sides. The two thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power. The lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies sovereign power. The two dragons (male and female) on each side stand for the name of the country (Druk means dragon and for the Bhutanese, Bhutan is known as Druk yul or the Land of the Dragon).
The national dress was introduced during the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a unique identity. The national dress for men is called the gho and a kira for women. All Bhutanese are required to wear the national dress in government offices, schools and on formal occasions. Wherever the National Flag is flown; you must be dressed in the National Dress. The gho is a long robe hoisted to the knee and held in place with a kera, a woven cloth belt, wound tightly around the waist. The kera helps forms a large pouch/pocket above that to carry traditional items like a bowl and betel nut.
The kira is a floor-length rectangular piece of cloth wrapped strategically around the body over a blouse called wonju. The rectangular piece of cloth is held from the shoulders by koma (broach-like hooks) and is fastened at the waist with a kera. The dress is covered with a short, open jacket-like garment called toego. The toego is fastened closed with one broach.
The flag of Bhutan represents the countryâ€™s general features â€“ rulers, geography, culture and religion. The upper half of the flag expresses the secular authority of the king, which is yellow. The orange half of the flag represents the religion and spiritual power of Mahayana Buddhism. The thunder dragon running across the middle of the flag signifies the name Druk Yul. The colour white is an expression of purity and loyalty of the various ethnic and linguistic groups residing throughout the country. The jewels clasped in the dragonâ€™s claws represent the countryâ€™s wealth and perfection. These characteristics are protected by the strength of deities expressed by the snarling mouth of the dragon.
The national flower is Blue Poppy (Meconopsis horridula).Â The most bristly-haired species of the genus, with usually a spike-like cluster of many light blue to claret-coloured, or occasionally white flowers, and narrow leaves with bristly spiny blades.Â It usually grows on rocky, stony slopes at the altitude of 3500 m to 5500 m.Â This flower is however linked with a myth of a yeti. It was discovered in 1933 by a British Botanist, George Sherriff in remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
Of a variety of games, archery (dha) is the most popular and the most played game. Thus, it is the national game of Bhutan. It is played between two teams wearing traditional dresses and shooting at a small wooden target. Each time a member of the team hits the target the other team members sing and dance to celebrate.
The national bird is the raven. It ornaments the royal crown. Raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen (raven headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.
The national tree is cypress (Cupressus torolusa). In Bhutan one can notice big cypresses near the religious structures. Cypress is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 metres altitude. It is associated with religiou. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicity.
The national animal is takin (burdorcas taxicolor). The reason for selecting this mammal as a national animal is because it is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal. It has a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives in groups and is found in places 4000 meters high on the north-western and far north eastern parts of the country. They feed on bamboos. It can weigh about 250 kgs.