10 Fascinating Facts about Bhutan
A tiny, remote kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan was almost completely cut off from the rest the world for centuries. The country opened up to outsiders in 1970s, but it still fiercely guards its ancient traditions and remains a place that is mysterious, magical, and utterly unique. Here are 10 fascinating facts about this inimitable country.
The Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul, meaning ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’
A name earned because of the fierce storms that come in from the Himalayas
Thimphu is the only capital city in the world where there aren’t any traffic lights
Instead, policemen stand at major intersections and direct traffic. A set was installed but it only lasted 24 hours because the people of Thimphu preferred the policemen.
Bhutan’s stamps are works of art
Intricately designed in many colours and shapes, new stamps are released regularly to celebrate festivals, anniversaries, and national events.
Over 70% of Bhutan is covered in forest
Bhutan is the first country in the world to have specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment, one of which is that least 60% of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times. This commitment has allowed flora and fauna to flourish - today it is home to more than 5,500 varieties of plants and 165 species of mammals and it is the only country in the world to be carbon negative.
The black-necked crane is culturally sacred
Anyone found guilty of killing this a highly endangered bird risks life in prison.
Bhutan is home to the highest unclimbed mountain in the world
Gangkhar Puensum stands at 24,840 feet, but it remains unclimbed because, in 1994, the Bhutanese government banned climbing mountains above 18,000 feet, declaring these areas sacred.
The architecture is so unique it’s being codified
Bhutan’s traditional buildings are characterised by small arched windows, sloped roofs, and colourful woodwork.
It's polite to refuse food – at least at first
Bhutanese manners dictate that you refuse food whenever it’s offered to you. The tradition is to say the words “meshu meshu” and cover your mouth with your hands. However, after two or three offers, you can give in and eat.
Bhutanese people love chilli!
The national dish is ema datshi, or chilli cheese stew.
And butter tea
Known as suja, it is usually drunk on all social occasions alongside snacks such as roasted rice, or zaw.
Come and discover Bhutan for yourself on our once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Find out more here