If you decide to go to Bhutan someday, there might be more than a few things that will surprise you about its authentic culture.
Bhutan is a beautiful country but one that doesn’t exist in most areas of the world, due to its traditional customs and unique way of life. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about this country of the Tiger’s Nest.
1. The Median Age in Bhutan is 27 years
Around 30% of the population is 14 years of age or under, with only around 5% being above 60 years old.
2. The main religion is Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet, but it is also found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas, which includes Bhutan. It is considered the state religion of the kingdom.
3. National Happiness is Officially Measured
And is the only country in the world known to do so. Known as GNH (Gross National Happiness), Bhutan strives to track the happiness of its population, instead of prioritizing it’s GDP. The report measures GNH by factors such as health, social aspects and environmental wellbeing. Despite the emphasis on happiness, the government of Bhutan has been accused of various human rights violations against minorities.
4. Bhutan is one of the few countries without traffic lights
Traffic lights are absent all around the country, including in the capital city of Thimphu, where traffic can get quite heavy. Instead, policemen who stand in booths in major intersections oversee and attempt to control traffic.
5. Bhutan introduced television in the late 90s
In an aim to modernize the nation, the King allowed internet and television access in 1999.
6. Education and healthcare is free for all
Bhutanese citizens receive free education, with a heavy importance placed on teachings of Buddhism.
7. Many in Bhutan Believe in the existence of the Yeti
If you have read Tintin in Tibet, you’re probably familiar with the Yeti, known in the West as the abominable snowman. Many cultures around the world have lost faith in the existence of the mythological creature, yet in Bhutan, it lives on through rumors, supposed corpses, and postage stamps.
8. Visiting Bhutan as an independent traveler is near impossible
It is one of the most closed countries in all of Asia. The government is very reserved about allowing visitors in the country. With the exception of a few passport holders, all travelers can only visit on a prepaid guided tour.
9. Producing and selling tobacco is banned, as of 2010
The first King of Bhutan named tobacco as “the most filthy and noxious herb”. Since tobacco is very harmful on physical health, the ban is premised on many important elements of Gross National Happiness.
10. Bhutan only has 14,800 square miles of territory
Texas has around 268,000 miles of territory, meaning that Bhutan makes up about 6% of Texas. A lot of the terrain in Bhutan is made up of mountains.