Land of the Thunder Dragon: 10 Facts About Bhutan

Nestled in the Himalayas sits the little known Kingdom of Bhutan.

Nestled in the Himalayas sits the little known Kingdom of Bhutan. It is a truly isolated country – foreigners have to pay an expensive daily tariff just to visit, and even then you can only do so by purchasing a tour from a registered operator. This country is little known in the West and thus I am proud to bring you 10 facts about the country known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

The King of Bhutan’s official title is Druk Gyalpo.

This translates as Dragon King and is thus by far and away the best title of any head of state anywhere in the world. His capital city is called Thimphu.

Slavery was only abolished in the country in 1952 during a period of considerable reform.

Many slaves prior to this were in the service of the government – they had it even worse than people working in the public sector over here.

The country was an absolute monarchy up until 2008.

It is now a democracy and has a constitutional monarchy – why you need a democracy when you have a Dragon-King is one for political scientists.

For a long time television was banned in Bhutan.

They finally got television in 1999 – so just in time to feel the full fury of reality tv. At first it was limited to just the capital city but the rest of the country started picking it up in 2006. In 2012 the Indian intelligence services branded the Bhutanese Broadcasting Service a hate channel for showing anti-India programming. This is quite an achievement given that it only broadcasts for a few hours of the day.

The country is located between the emerging superpowers of India and China.

Its relations with India are warm, the two co-operate militarily and Bhutanese citizens are free to travel to India using just their national ID cards. By contrast Bhutan has no formal relations with China.

Bhutan’s national animal is the Takin.

These strange creatures are from the family known as Goat-antelopes.

Bhutan remains the only country in the world with a blanket ban on all tobacco products, including cigarettes.

A few years ago a Buddhist monk was imprisoned for bringing some back into the country.

In 2013 the government announced that the country would become the first in the world to have 100% organic farming.

Bhutan measures “Gross national happiness,” where the development of the country is measured by the well-being of the population.

This is just as well as their Gross Domestic Product was ranked as 167th in the world by the United Nations in 2012.

The kingdom’s national sport is archery.

This is just as well as their national football is listed in the FIFA rankings as 207th in the world. They are joint bottom with football heavyweights San Marino and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The team has played 40 games since the year 2000, scoring 23 goals and conceding 151 – including a brutal 11-2 kicking from Yemen. They’d probably still beat England.

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