You better watch out, if a wily tour guide or a travel agent says Bhutan is the ‘last Shangrila’ on earth. It is  not. It is beautiful, its environment well-conserved, it culture ‘unique’, its people peaceful and hospitable, – but it is not a Shangrila. It’s a country like any other developing nations, on the road to modernization, although we follow a completely different path – we call it the Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan is a small country, both fortunately and unfortunately, perched right in between the two Asian giants – India and China – somewhere in the southeast of the Himalayas.

The predominantly Buddhist nation has a population of barely 672, 425 people.

Even as tiny as it may be  (some 39,00 square kilometer), Bhutan has generally three major ethnic peoples – Ngalops (people of the west), Sharshops (people of the east), and Lhosthampas (people of the south). There are however several sub-ethnic people speaking almost 19 different dialects.

Until 2008, Bhutan was a Monarchy, ruled by hereditary Kings of the Wangchuck Dynasty.  The fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, rightly known as the democratic King, dissolved his own power To introduce  parliamentary democracy in Bhutan.

In another unprecedented move, the fourth King abdicated the throne in favor of his son, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Today he is the head of the state and the guardian of the country’s Constitution.


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