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Kingdom of Bhutan
འབྲུག་ཡུལ
Druk Yul
Flag of Bhutan Coat of arms of Bhutan
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Druk tsendhen
Location of Bhutan
Capital Thimphu
28°28′ N 89°35′ E
Largest city Thimphu
Official language(s) Dzongkha, English
Government
King
Prime Minister
Monarchy
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
Independence
recognized by India
1949- 08-08
Area
• Total

• Water (%)

47,500 km² ( 130th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

negligible%
Population
• 2005 est.
• 2003 census

• Density

2,232,291 (disputed) ( 139th)
734,340

45/km² ( 123rd)
{{{population_densitymi²}}}/mi²
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
.913 billion ( 162nd)
,330 ( 124th)
HDI ( 2003) 0.536 ( 134th) – medium
Currency Ngultrum ( BTN)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
BTT ( UTC+6:00)
not observed ( UTC+6:00)
Internet TLD .bt
Calling code +975
The Kingdom of Bhutan ( IPA: /buː'tɑːn/ ) is a landlocked South Asian nation situated between India and China. The entire country is mountainous except for an 8-10 mile wide strip of subtropical plains in the extreme south which is intersected by valleys known as the Duars. The elevation gain from the subtropical plains to the glacier-covered Himalayan heights exceeds 7000 m. Its traditional economy is based on forestry, animal husbandry and subsistence agriculture however these account for less than 50% of a GDP now that Bhutan has become an exporter of hydroelectricity. Cash crops, tourism, and development aid (the latter mostly from India) are also significant. Population estimates range from 734,000, to 2.23 million. Thimphu is the capital and largest town.Bhutan is one of the most isolated nations in the world; foreign influences and tourism are heavily regulated by the government to preserve its traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture. Most Bhutanese follow either the Drukpa Kagyu or the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism. The official language is Dzongkha (lit. "the language of the dzong"). Bhutan is often described as the last surviving refuge of traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture. Non-Buddhists complain of human rights violations. Approximately 100,000 ethnic Nepali (who are generally Hindu) were exiled from the south of the country in the late 1980s in the wake of pro-democracy demonstrations..Bhutan has been a monarchy since 1907. The different dzongkhags were united under the leadership of Trongsa Penlop. The current king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, has made some moves toward constitutional government.

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Contents

Name
History
Geography
Economy
Government and politics
Districts
Military and foreign affairs
Demographics
Culture



Name - Contents

The origins of the name Bhutan are unclear; historians have suggested that it may have originated in variations of the Sanskrit words Bhota-ant (the end of Bhot – a variation of the Indian Sanskrit word "Buddha" meaning enlightened, another word for Tibet), or Bhu-uttan (highlands). The word Bhutan as a name for the country dates from the late 19th century.The Dzongkha (and Tibetan) name for the country is Druk Yul ("Land of the Dragon").Historically, Bhutan was known by many names, such as Lho Mon (Southern Land of Darkness), Lho Tsendenjong (Southern Land of the Sandalwood), and Lhomen Khazhi (Southern Land of Four Approaches).


History - Contents

Stone tools, weapons, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC. Historians have theorised that the state of Lhomon (literally, "southern darkness"), or Monyul ("Dark Land", a reference to the Monpa – the aboriginal peoples of Bhutan) may have existed between 500 BC and 600 AD. The names Lhomon Tsendenjong ( Sandalwood Country), and Lhomon Khashi, or Southern Mon (country of four approaches) have been found in ancient Bhutanese and Tibetan chronicles.The earliest transcribed event in Bhutan was the passage of the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava (also called Guru Rinpoche) in the 8th century. Bhutan's early history is unclear, because most of the records were destroyed after fire ravaged Punakha, the ancient capital in 1827. By the tenth century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Various sub-sects of Buddhism emerged which were patronised by the various Mongol and Tibetan overlords. After the decline of the Mongols in the 14th century, these sub-sects vied with each other for supremacy in the political and religious landscape, eventually leading to the ascendancy of the Drukpa sub-sect by the sixteenth century.
The Trongsa Dzong
The Trongsa Dzong
Until the early 17th century, Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms until unified by the Tibetan lama and military leader Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. To defend the country against intermittent Tibetan forays, Namgyal built a network of impregnable dzong (fortresses), and promulgated a code of law that helped to bring local lords under centralised control. Many such dzong still exist. After Namgyal's death in 1652, Bhutan fell into anarchy. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Tibetans attacked Bhutan in 1710, and again in 1730 with the help of the Mongols. Both assaults were successfully thwarted, and an armistice was signed in 1759.
Map of Bhutan
Map of Bhutan
In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Cooch Behar to the south. In 1772, Cooch Behar appealed to the British East India Company who assisted them in ousting the Bhutanese, and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–1865), a confrontation over who would control the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.During the 1870s, power struggles between the rival valleys of Paro and Trongsa led to civil war in Bhutan, eventually leading to the ascendancy of Ugyen Wangchuck, the ponlop (governor) of Tongsa. From his power base in central Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck defeated his political enemies and united the country following several civil wars and rebellions in the period 1882–1885.In 1907, an epochal year for the country, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously chosen as the hereditary king of the country by an assembly of leading Buddhist monks, government officials, and heads of important families. The British government promptly recognised the new monarchy, and in 1910 Bhutan came under the suzerainty of the British crown in exchange for political autonomy. After India gained independence from the United Kingdom in August 1947, kingdoms such as Bhutan were given the option to remain independent or to join the Indian Union. Bhutan chose to remain independent, and on August 8, 1949, Bhutan's independence was recognised by India.After the Chinese People's Liberation Army entered Tibet in 1951, Bhutan sealed its northern frontier and improved bilateral ties with India. To reduce the risk of Chinese encroachment, Bhutan began a modernisation program that was largely sponsored by India. In 1953, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck established the country's legislature – a 130-member National Assembly – to promote a more democratic form of governance. In 1965, he set up a Royal Advisory Council, and in 1968 he formed a Cabinet. In 1971, Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations, having held observer status for three years. In July 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne at the age of 16 after the death of his father, Dorji Wangchuck.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Government decrees promulgated in the 1980s sought to preserve Bhutan's cultural identity in a "one nation, one people" policy called driglam namzha (national customs and etiquette). For example, a Bhutanese-derived national dress is required of all Bhutanese, even of the recent immigrants from Nepal. Nepali-language education has also been restricted on grounds of national unity.Such policies were criticized at first by human rights groups as well as Bhutan's Nepalese economic migrant community, who perceive the policy to be directed against them. From the perspective of Bhutanese, the issue is one of preserving a Himalayan Buddhist culture and way of life (which has been completely destroyed in nearby Sikkim by an onslaught of over immigration by very same ethnic Nepalese). To the Nepalese immigrants, the Bhutanese are clinging to power at the expense of human rights, pluralism, and democratic principles.Simmering tensions between ethnic Nepali and Bhutanese communities were exacerbated in the late 1980s after the government moved to implement the 1985 Citizenship Act, which provided that only those Nepalese immigrants who could show they had resided in Bhutan since 1958, as proved by being able to show documents prior to 1958, would be deemed citizens of Bhutan. This led to the setting up of numerous organisations to protest against what was seen as an injustice against resident Nepalis. Matters reached a head in 1991 after protests by the Nepali community led to violence, leaving 300 dead and 2,000 under arrest. After protests by the government of Nepal, the Bhutanese government released most of those arrested. However, the issue of expatriate Nepalis remains unresolved, with at least 100,000 living in UNHCR camps in Nepal and Sikkim.In 1998, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced significant political reforms, transferring most of his powers to the Prime Minister and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. In late 2003, the Bhutanese army launched a large-scale operation to flush out anti-India insurgents who were operating training camps in southern Bhutan.A new constitution has been presented in early 2005, which will be put up for ratification by a referendum before coming into force. In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that he would step down as King of Bhutan in 2008. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said he would be succeeded by his son, the crown prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A group comprised of ethnic Nepalese claiming to be Bhutanese exiles, have criticized the constitution saying that the king is trying to overshadow the refugees problem in the country by introducing "limited democracy".


Geography - Contents

Topographic map of Bhutan
Topographic map of Bhutan
The northern region consists of an arc of glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m above sea level; the highest point is claimed to be the Kula Kangri, at 7,553 m, but detailed topographic studies claim Kula Kangri is wholly in Tibet and modern Chinese measurements claim that Gangkhar Puensum, which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, is higher at 7,570m. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds. The Black Mountains in central Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Mo Chhu and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 m and 2,700 m above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's forest production. The Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.
Terraced farming in the Punakha valley.
Terraced farming in the Punakha valley.
In the south, the Shiwalik Hills are covered with dense, deciduous forests, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1,500 m above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10–15 km wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars. The northern Duars, which abuts the Himalayan foothills, has rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savannah grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra river in India. Over 70% of Bhutan is forested. The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.


Economy - Contents

The Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and its value is pegged to the Indian rupee.
The Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and its value is pegged to the Indian rupee.
Bhutan's economy is one of the world's smallest and least developed, and is based on agriculture, forestry, and the sale of hydroelectric power to India. Agriculture provides the main livelihood for more than 90% of the population. Agrarian practices consist largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Handicrafts are a small cottage industry and a source of income for many. The sculpting of religious figurines is a popular occupation, and gilded Buddha statues and Buddhist saints are sold to tourists. A landscape that varies from hilly to ruggedly mountainous has made the building of roads, and other infrastructure, difficult and expensive. This, and a lack of access to the sea, has meant that Bhutan has never been able to benefit from significant trading of its produce. Bhutan currently does not have a railway system, though Indian Railways plans to link up southern Bhutan with its vast network under an agreement signed in January 2005. Historically, there have been well patronised trading routes from the Tibetan plateau to the Indian subcontinent through Bhutan, but haulage has been limited to human porters and livestock. The industrial sector is minimal, production being of the cottage-industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian contract labour. Agricultural produce includes rice, corn, root crops, citrus, food grains, dairy products and eggs. Industries include cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages and calcium carbide.Bhutan's currency, the ngultrum, is pegged to the Indian Rupee. The rupee is also accepted as legal tender in the country. Incomes of over Nu 100,000 per annum are taxed, but very few wage and salary earners qualify. Bhutan's inflation rate was estimated at about 3% in 2003. Bhutan has a Gross Domestic Product of around USD 2.913 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 162nd largest economy in the world. Per capita income is around ,400 (€1,170), ranked 124th. Government revenues total €122 million (6 million), though expenditures amount to €127 million (2 million). 60% of the budget expenditure, however, is financed by India's Ministry of External Affairs. Bhutan's exports, principally electricity, cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones and spices, total €128 million (4 million) (2000 est.). Imports, however, total €164 million (6 million), leading to a trade deficit. Main items imported include fuel and lubricants, grain, machinery, vehicles, fabrics and rice. Bhutan's main export partner is India, accounting for 87.9% of its export goods. Bangladesh (4.6%) and the Philippines (2%) are the other two top export partners. As its border with Tibet is closed, trade between Bhutan and China is now almost non-existent. Bhutan's import partners include India (71.3%), Japan (7.8%) and Austria (3%).In a response to accusations in 1987 by a journalist from UK's Financial Times that the pace of development in Bhutan was slow, the King said that " Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product." This statement appears to have presaged recent findings by western economic psychologists, including 2002 Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, that questions the link between levels of income and happiness. It signalled his commitment to building an economy that is appropriate for Bhutan's unique culture, based on Buddhist spiritual values, and has served as a unifying vision for the economy.


Government and politics - Contents

The Takstang Monastery. Buddhism is the state religion and plays an important part in the nation's politics.
The Takstang Monastery. Buddhism is the state religion and plays an important part in the nation's politics.
The question of whether Bhutan is a sovereign country is a difficult one. Bhutan was treated as a suzerainty by the British Raj, which set up a monarchy and allowed it to administer Bhutan's internal affairs. Foreign and defense policy, however, was decided by the British. In 1949, after Indian independence, Bhutan and India agreed to a ten-article, perpetual treaty which effectively continued the relationship, but with India taking the place of the United Kingdom as the imperial power. That is, India agreed not to interfere in Bhutan's internal relations, while Bhutan agreed "to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations" (Article 2). The treaty also established free trade and full extradition between the two countries.Bhutan's head of state is the Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King"), presently Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Although his title is hereditary, he can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote by the parliament, the unicameral National Assembly, or Tshogdu. The 154-seat National Assembly is composed of locally elected town representatives (105), religious representatives (12), and members nominated by the king (37), all of whom serve a three-year term. Suffrage in Bhutan is unique in that each family-unit, rather than individual, has one vote.In 1998, the monarch's executive powers were transferred to the council of ministers, or cabinet ( Lhengye Shungtsog). Candidates for the council of ministers are elected by the National Assembly for a fixed, five-year term, and must be a part of the legislative assembly. The cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister, who is the head of government. The post of Prime Minister rotates each year between the five candidates who secured the highest number of votes. Recently, a new constitution that includes provision for a two-party democratic system was unveiled after four years of preparation. This constitution is likely to be put to the people in a referendum at the end of 2005; at the behest of the monarch, the referendum proposes a significant reduction in his powers.In Bhutan's judicial system, the monarch is the final court of appeal (the "Supreme Court of Appeal"). The Royal High Court of Bhutan is the highest court in the country. The Royal High Court has original jurisdiction over the 20 districts of the nation. Bhutan's legal system is superficially based on Indian law and English common law, but is in fact largely informal. Judicial appointments are made by the monarch, and may be recalled by him at any time.


Districts - Contents

For administrative purposes, Bhutan is divided into four dzongdey (administrative zones). Each dzongdey is further divided into dzongkhag (districts). There are 20 dzongkhag in Bhutan. Large dzongkhags are further divided into subdistricts known as dungkhag. At the basic level, groups of villages form a constituency called gewog and are administered by a gup, who is elected by the people.
Dzongkhag of Bhutan.
Dzongkhag of Bhutan.
  1. Bumthang
  2. Chukha (old spelling: Chhukha)
  3. Dagana
  4. Gasa
  5. Haa
  6. Lhuntse (Lhuntshi)
  7. Mongar
  8. Paro
  9. Pemagatshel (Pemagatsel)
  10. Punakha
  1. Samdrup Jongkhar
  2. Samtse (Samchi)
  3. Sarpang
  4. Thimphu
  5. Trashigang (Tashigang)
  6. Trashiyangste
  7. Trongsa (Tongsa)
  8. Tsirang (Chirang)
  9. Wangdue Phodrang (Wangdi Phodrang)
  10. Zhemgang (Shemgang)



Military and foreign affairs - Contents

The Royal Bhutan Army is Bhutan's military service. It includes the Royal Bodyguard and the Royal Bhutan Police. Membership is voluntary, and the minimum age for recruitment is 18. The standing army numbers about 6,000 and is trained by the Indian Army. It has an annual budget of about US.7 million—1.8% of the GDP.India handles most of Bhutan's foreign affairs by way of conducting formal communications to and from other countries as Bhutan has a shortage of diplomatic personnel. Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 22 countries, including the European Union, with missions in India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Kuwait. It has two UN missions, one in New York and one in Geneva. Only India and Bangladesh have residential embassies in Bhutan, while Thailand has consulate office in Bhutan.By a longstanding treaty, Indian and Bhutanese citizens may travel to each other's countries without a passport or visa. Bhutanese citizens may also work in India without legal restriction. Bhutan does not have formal diplomatic ties with its northern neighbour, China, although exchanges of visits at various levels between the two have significantly increased in the recent past. The first bilateral agreement between China and Bhutan was signed in 1998, and Bhutan has also set up consulates in Macau and Hong Kong. Bhutan’s border with China is largely undemarcated and thus disputed in some places. In late 2005, Bhutan claimed that Chinese soldiers were building roads and bridges within Bhutanese territory. Bhutanese Foreign Minister Khandu Wangchuk took up the matter with Chinese authorities after the issue was raised in Bhutanese parliament. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang of the People's Republic of China has said that the border remains in dispute and that the two sides continue to work for a peaceful and cordial resolution of the dispute ; an Indian intelligence officer has also said that a Chinese delegation in Bhutan told the Bhutanese that they were overreacting. The Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel has said that China might use the roads to further Chinese claims along the border.


Demographics - Contents

The dominant ethnic group is of Tibetan / Tibeto-Burman ancestry; Ethnic Nepalis migrants form the majority in the southern part of the country.
The dominant ethnic group is of Tibetan / Tibeto-Burman ancestry; Ethnic Nepalis migrants form the majority in the southern part of the country.
The population of Bhutan, once estimated at several million, has now been officially downgraded by the Bhutanese government to 750,000, after a census in the early nineties. Some Nepali activists claim that the downgrade was motivated by a desire to minimise the proportion of immigrant ethnic Nepali population. However most believe that the population was artificially inflated in the seventies because of an earlier perception that nations with populations of less than a million would not be admitted to the United Nations.The population density, 45 per square kilometer, disguises the fact that most of Bhutan's land is unusable under present economic conditions. Bhutan's population is concentrated in the towns, in the southern plains, and in valleys where agriculture is feasible. Over half of the people live in the central highlands of Bhutan, and 40 percent live in the southern plains bordering India. The remaining 10 percent are dispersed in the northern mountains and in the eastern tracts. Ninety-two percent of the population live in rural settlements. The largest town is the capital, Thimphu, which has a population of 50,000.Among the Bhutanese people, several principal ethnic groups may be distinguished. The dominant group are the Ngalongs, a Buddhist group based in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops ("Easterners"), who are associated with the eastern part of Bhutan (but who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism). These two groups together are called Bhutanese. The remainder of the population consist of ethnic Nepalese, most of whom are Hindu (with a small Muslim minority).The national language is Dzongkha, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script, here called Chhokey ("Dharma Language"), is identical with the Tibetan script. The government classifies 19 related Tibetan languages as dialects of Dzongkha. Lepcha is spoken in parts of western Bhutan; Tshangla, a close relative of Dzongkha, is widely spoken in the eastern parts. The Nepali language is widely spoken in the south (though the government forbids its being taught as a second language). Ethnologue lists 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali, an Indo-Iranian language. The languages of Bhutan are still not well-characterized, and several have yet to be recorded in an in-depth academic grammar. English now has official status as well.The literacy rate is only 42.2% (56.2% of males and 28.1% of females). People 14 years old and younger comprise 39.1%, while people between 15 and 59 comprise 56.9%, and those over 60 are only 4%. The country has a median age of 20.4 years. Bhutan has a life expectancy of 62.2 years (61 for males and 64.5 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females in the country.


Culture - Contents

Bhutan remains one of the most secluded nations in the world, and foreigners are not permitted to travel to many of its areas to minimise the effects of tourism on the local culture. In contrast to Nepal, which is well-known as a budget travel destination, Bhutan attempts to limit tourism to group tourists willing to pay upwards of US0 per day.The traditional dress for Ngalong and Sharchop men is the gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist. An accompaniment to the kira is a long-sleeved blouse, which is worn underneath the outer layer. Social status and class determine the texture, colours, and decorations that embellish the garments. Scarves and shawls are also indicators of social standings, as Bhutan has traditionally been a feudal society. Earrings are worn by both males and females. Controversially, Bhutanese law now requires these Tibetan-style garments for all Bhutanese citizens—including the Nepalese, who are not of Tibetan stock.Rice, and increasingly corn, are the staple foods of the country. The diet in the hills is rich in protein because of the consumption of meat — chiefly poultry, yak and mutton. Soups of meat, rice, and corn spiced with chilis are a favourite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, despite the scarcity of milk. Popular beverages include butter tea and beer. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have banned tobacco smoking and the sale of tobacco.
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and competitions are held regularly.
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and competitions are held regularly.
Bhutan's national sport is archery, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic standards not only in technical details such as the placement of the targets, but also in that participants are encouraged to drink heavily, and mock one another as they shoot (behaviour forbidden in Olympic play).Another traditional sport is the digor, a type of shot put. Soccer is an increasingly popular sport. Rigsagar is the dominant style of popular music, played on a stringed instrument, and dates back to the late 1960s; it shows the influence of Indian popular music, a hybrid form of traditional and Western popular influences. Traditional genres include the zhungdra and boedra.Characteristic of the region is a type of fortress known as dzong architecture.
Chaam or the masked dance is a mystic dance performed during Buddhist festivals.
Chaam or the masked dance is a mystic dance performed during Buddhist festivals.
Bhutan has numerous public holidays, most of which centre around traditional seasonal, secular and religious festivals. They include the winter solstice (around January 1, depending on the lunar calendar), the lunar New Year (January or February), the King's birthday and the anniversary of his coronation, the official start of monsoon season ( September 22), National Day ( December 17), and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations. Even the secular holidays have religious overtones, including religious dances and prayers for blessing the day.Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colourful wooden or composition facemasks and stylised costumes, depict heroes, demons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient art of mask making.The Kuensel, Bhutan's only legal newspaper (several samizdat periodicals may be found on the internet), circulates biweekly in Dzongkha, English and Nepali. Bhutan has about 15,000 Internet users, 25,200 landline users, and 23,000 mobile phone subscribers. The Bhutan Broadcasting Service was established in 1973 as a radio service, broadcasting in short wave nationally, and on the FM band in Thimphu. The service started television broadcasts in 1999, making Bhutan the last country in the world to introduce television. As part of the King's modernization program, cable television was introduced shortly after. By 2002, however, the crime rate had increased appreciably, and the introduction of cable television is alleged to be responsible for the spurt in crime.Bhutanese lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche is a well-known filmmaker, who produced and directed The Cup as well as Travellers and Magicians. While The Cup was shot in a Tibetan monastery in northern India, Travellers and Magicians was the first feature film to be filmed entirely in Bhutan, with a cast comprised entirely of Bhutanese people. No professional actors were used in either of the two films.
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