Fast Facts

Population:
970,000
Capital:
Thimphu; 35,000
Area:
46,500 square kilometers (17,954 square miles)
Language:
Dzonkha, Tibetan and Nepali dialects
Religion:
Lamaistic Buddhist, Hindu
Currency:
Ngultrum, Indian rupee
Life Expectancy:
66
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,300
Literacy Percent:
42
Flag: Bhutan
Map: Bhutan

Bhutan is a tiny, remote, and impoverished country between two powerful neighbors, India and China. Violent storms coming off the Himalaya gave the country its name, meaning "Land of the Thunder Dragon." This conservative Buddhist kingdom high in the Himalaya had no paved roads until the 1960s, was off-limits to foreigners until 1974, and launched television service only in 1999. Fertile valleys (less than 10 percent of the land) feed all the Bhutanese. Bhutan's ancient Buddhist culture and mountain scenery make it attractive for tourists, whose numbers are limited by the government.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages
  • Agriculture: Rice, corn, root crops, citrus; dairy products
  • Exports: Electricity (to India), cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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