The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is like no other nation of the world. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth where people still live in perfect harmony with nature. Bhutan's people are peace-loving and nature worshippers. They believe in non-violence and spiritual well-being. Many unique facts exhibit the greatness of this nation. Some of them are mentioned below:
9. There Are No Traffic Signals In Bhutan
Bhutan has a population of about 790,000 individuals while there are only about 75,000 cars in the country for the total population. Therefore, it is not surprising that the roads here are quite empty and there is no need for traffic signals. Only recently, a traffic signal was installed in Thimpu, the nation’s capital city. This signal was the country’s first and sole traffic signal. However, it lasted only for 24 hours. Public protests against its installation led to its quick removal. As a replacement, a policeman was posted at the same place to control the traffic.
8. The World’s Highest Unclimbed Mountain Is In Bhutan
The country’s highest mountain is the 7,570 m tall Gangkhar Puensum. It is believed to be the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. Gangkhar Puensum is located in Bhutan and is at or near the nation’s border with China. Since climbing mountains taller than 6,000 m is banned in Bhutan, the Gangkhar Puensum remains unclimbed. Such a ban respects the belief of the Bhutanese people who consider that such peaks are the abode of protective spirits and deities.
7. Bhutan Was The First Country In The World To Ban Smoking
In 2004, a law was passed that prohibited the sale of tobacco and tobacco products in the country. Although tobacco imports were allowed to a limited extent, heavy taxes were levied against such imports to discourage the practice altogether. In 2010, Bhutan passed the Tobacco Control Act that further strengthened the previous ban on tobacco and its products. It is illegal to smoke in public in the country. Fines of up to $232 are levied against the violators of this ban.
6. A Mysterious Phenomenon Is Associated With Bhutan’s Gangteng Monastery
Every year, black-necked cranes, a threatened species, arrive in Bhutan from their breeding ground in the Tibetan Plateau. As they arrive in the Phobjikha Valley of the country, they circle the Gangteng Monastery three times as if they are performing the sacred act of circumambulation or kora. While they leave the valley in early spring, they repeat the act. Scientists have failed to explain this strange behavior of the cranes and it remains a great mystery to this date.
5. Bhutan Is The World’s Only Carbon-Negative Country
Carbon-dioxide is one of the biggest contributors to global warming induced climate change. All countries in the world with the exception of one produces more carbon dioxide than they can absorb. Bhutan is the only exception. 72% of Bhutan's territory is still forested. The large number of trees growing here absorb the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. While the country produces only 1.5 million tons of carbon annually, it absorbs more than 6 million tons of carbon within the same period of time. This great achievement makes Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative nation.
4. The Tiger's Nest Monastery Is Located In Bhutan
A monastery famous for its surreal beauty and dangerous cliffside location, the Paro Taktsang or the Tiger's Nest monastery, is located in Bhutan. It is built into a cliffside in Bhutan’s Paro Valley. The sacred site hosts several caves where Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have meditated. He introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. An elegant temple was built around the caves in 1692. Today, the monastery serves as Bhutan’s cultural icon.
3. Tourism In Bhutan Is Tightly Regulated
Unlike most countries that often ignore the environmental impacts of tourism to earn greater revenues from tourist inflow, the Bhutanese government ensures that nature is left unharmed by tourism. Therefore, tourism is tightly regulated in the nation. The tourists to the country must abide by the rules set by the government. Only licensed tour operators can operate in the nation and most foreigners must be accompanied by a licensed guide while visiting the country.
2. Bhutan’s Government Measures The Happiness Of The Country’s Citizens
The philosophy of Gross National Happiness or GNH guides the Bhutanese government. It is an index that measures the well-being and happiness of the country’s citizens. The nation's constitution also mentions the philosophy. Thus, the country aims to achieve happiness for all its citizens instead of just material wealth.
1. Bhutan Is Often Referred To As The Last Shangri-la
The Shangri-La is a term used to refer to any earthly paradise. It is primarily a mythical land in the Himalayas, a perfectly happy place that is not affected by the woes and worries of the rest of the world. Bhutan is often referred to as the last Shangri-la because of its pristine natural and cultural heritage. It is a unique country in many aspects and some of them have been mentioned above.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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