Bhutan- The Land of Thunder Dragon
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is fast emerging from centuries of self imposed isolation. First opened to tourists in 1974 in very regulated manner upon the coronation of present Bhutanese King, this mountain kingdom is still perhaps the world's most exclusive tourists destination. Due to the Royal Government's far-sighted policy to preserve the countries pristine environment and its culture, the harmful effects to industrialization and mass tourism on the environment and the traditional lifestyle of Bhutanese have been carefully avoided. This makes Bhutan a truly unique destination. An unspoiled country with majestic mountains, a unique cultural heritage preserved for many centuries, an architectural style like no other, a landfill of warm hearted and friendly people, reveals a true paradise in the lost era of the present century.
Roughly the size of Switzerland (38,394 sq km) and populated by less than 800,000 people, can be called a small and under-populated country when compared to its giant neighbors. The little Kingdom has an extraordinary ecological diversity. It is about 300 km West to East, 150km from north to south.
A conscious policy of isolation complemented by formidable geographical barriers has enabled the Kingdom to maintain its independence through out its history. Ancient stone implements and other archaeological findings indicate that there were settlements in Bhutan dating back to 2000 B.C. The chronicled history of the Kingdom however begins with the advent of Buddhism in the 8th century.
Besides the Great Himalayan Range which runs East to West, the entire country is mountainous, and ranges in elevation from 100m to the 754m Gangkhar Puensum peak on the Tibetan border. Between each valley, passes are as high as 4000m, which has led to difficult communication between the different valleys.
From South to North, Bhutan is roughly divided into three zones,namely The Southern Foot Hills, the Inner Himalayas and the Northern Belt.