Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom situated on the Himalayas’ eastern edge. The kingdom is famous for its monasteries, fortresses, and its breathtaking landscapes. Until recently, Bhutan remained tucked away from the rest of the world, making it a very difficult place to visit. Unsurprisingly, facts about Bhutan have proved meager and elusive.
The kingdom has deliberately shut itself off to retain its traditions and culture intact. Tourists visiting this country must pay an exorbitant price since the country is intent on deterring the travelers from eroding their way of life.
Below are a few facts offering a glimpse into various facets of this mysterious kingdom.
1. The name ‘Bhutan’ may have been derived from the Sanskrit language.
The name Bhutan may have been derived from Sanskrit Bhutanta which means “end of Tibet”, or from Bhu-uttan which means “highlands.” (source)
2. Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world.
Bhutan is a landlocked country surrounded by China to the south and India to the north. The area of Bhutan is 47,000 square kilometers. The area is less than Indiana, a Midwestern U.S. state which has an area of 94, 321 square kilometers.(source)
3. The Bhutanese name for Bhutan is “Druk Yul” which means “land of the thunder dragon.”
The official name for Bhutan is “Druk Yul“. “Druk”, pronounced “drug”or “duk”, means “dragon” in Dzongkha, the official language of Bhutanese. “Druk Yul” means the “land of the thunder dragon“.
According to traditional accounts, when Druk Lineage‘s founder Tsangpa Gyare began to build Ralung monastery there was a violent thunderstorm. Thunder is considered the voice of the dragon. He took this as a good omen and added “thunder dragon” to the monastery’s name. The monastery came to be known as Druk (drug)-Ralung monastery. As the sect of Ralung Monastery began to get popular, they set up monasteries all across Bhutan and the land began to be called Druk Yul. (source)
4. The dual-colored Bhutan flag featuring the dragon was officially adopted in 1965.
The two colors saffron-yellow and orange are divided diagonally across the flag. Druk, the dragon, features in the middle holding jewels in each of its four clawed feet. The dragon on the flag is seen holding a norbu, or jewels, in each of its claws. The orange symbolizes the Drukpa monasteries, the yellow symbolizes the authority of the king. The white-colored dragon embodies purity and loyalty while the jewels represent wealth. (source)
5. The tiny kingdom of Bhutan introduced the revolutionary concept of “happiness” as a measure of good governance in 1972.
Bhutan, which was following the Gross Domestic Product as a success indicator, decided to switch to “Gross National Happiness”, or “GNH”, in 1972. The government of the country decided to use GNH as the indicator of Bhutan’s prosperity. The GNH is measured by its peoples’ happiness, their sense of well-being with the governance, their relationship to the environment, their sense of cultural and national belonging, and their satisfaction with the pace of the development of the country. The term “Gross National Happiness” was coined by King Jigme Wangchuk. (source)