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Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon, Land of Happiness

Bhutan, the last Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, is almost the same size as Switzerland. It is trapped  in between its huge neighbours, China and India. With about 750,000 inhabitants, Bhutan is sparsely populated and has retained much of its originality. Native Bhutanese call their country lovingly Druk Yul, Land of the Thunder Dragon, because the high mountains of the kingdom reach (7564 m) up to the sky where the Dragons live. These mountains are also seats of the gods. For this reason, nobody is allowed to climb onto the summits.

The preservation of the unique culture and intact nature can be explained by the long isolation that the kingdom has imposed on itself. Only some time ago, the country cautiously started to open the doors for foreign influences but it still avoids mass tourism. Bhutan also “invented” the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH). In the 70’s Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King of Bhutan, underlined that the happiness of his people is more important for him than the bare increase of the purely money-based Gross National Product (GDP). Maybe this is the reason why Bhutan is often called the  “Land of Happiness”.