Capital : Thimphu. Area : 47 000 km². Official language : Dzongkha. Population : 672 425 inhabitants. Currency : Ngultrum. President : Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck ( King ).
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked nation in the Himalaya Mountains, sandwiched between India and China in South Asia. The Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul (land of the thunder dragon). Historically Bhutan was known by many names, such as Lho Mon, Lho Tsendenjong, and Lhomen Khazhi. The origins of the name Bhutan are unclear; historians have suggested that it may have originated in variations of the Sanskrit words Bhota-ant, or Bhu-uttan. The word Bhutan as a name for the country dates from the late 19th century.
Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world. Nonetheless, survery data from the country suggest it is also one of the happiest. Foreign influences and tourism are heavily regulated by the government to preserve the country's traditional culture and national identity. The landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding seven thousand metres. Vajrayana Buddhism is the state religion and the population is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism being the second most dominant. Thimphu is the capital and largest city.
Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact due to its isolation from the rest of the world until the early 1960s. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country's culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism is the second dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. Both religions co-exist peacefully and receive support from the government, and enjoy royal patronage. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Due to its largely unspoilt natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has aptly been referred to as the The Last Shangri-la.
While the Bhutanese are free to travel abroad, Bhutan is seen to be inaccessible to many foreigners. There is a widespread misperception that Bhutan has set limits on tourist visas. However it is the high tourist tariff and requirement to go on packaged tours that makes Bhutan an exclusive tourist destination.