Saturday, 4 October 2014

Gogana Village, Bhutan

This is my first ever Bhutan postcard so it's pretty special to me, even if it wasn't mailed directly from Bhutan (but then, I don't really expect to ever receive one). Kim from Taiwan was kind enough to swap with me for this a couple of years ago.

Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country 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 India. To the 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. Bhutan is the only country to have officially adopted gross national happiness instead of the gross domestic product as the main development indicator. 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. Its total area was reported as approximately 46,500 km2 in 1997 and 38,394 square kilometres 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.

Kim also told me that Bhutan was the last country in the world without television - the country didn't have a TV until 1999! That's pretty impressive I'd say. Apparently Bhutan also doesn't have any traffic lights. They installed a traffic light once but people didn't like it, they preferred the traditional traffic officer.

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