Ten things you should know about Bhutan

  1. Bhutan is the eighth “happiest” country in the world and the happiest country in Asia. This is despite widespread poverty and illiteracy. According to a survey, reasons attributing to the happiness were the nation’s beautiful scenery, land-locked isolation and strong sense of national identity.
  2. Television was banned in the country until 1999 to preserve its cultural identity.
  3. The fourth Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, introduced a Constitution in 2005 and abdicated the throne in favour of his son, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk in 2008.
  4. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the term “Gross National Happiness.”
  5. The kingdom constantly faced fears of Tibetan invasion and British colonization yet managed to remain a sovereign country.
  6. The Tibetan lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel who also built fortresses called Dzongs to fight Tibetan invaders unified Bhutan.
  7. Britain never colonized Bhutan but the country’s forces were defeated in North Bengal and a treaty was signed between them, which gave Britain control over its foreign relations. When India gained independence in 1947, it also became a powerful influence over Bhutan.
  8. Bhutan is mainly Buddhist with a Hindu and Christian minority. Phalluses are painted on walls or wooden ones are hung from rooftops to ward off the evil eye.
  9. The country’s national sport is archery. Teams dance around the targets to distract their opponents.

10. The country’s national dish is a fiery stew made of red or green chilies cooked in a cheese sauce. It’s served with rice or “rotis”.

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