Four ethnic groups make up the Bhutanese people - Ngalong, Sharchop, Kheng, and the Lotsampa. They make up 98 percent of the population. The majority are Buddhists adhering to the Drukpa Kagyu school of Mahayana Buddhism, although each group has a distinct identity as well. Its Buddhist values allow its people feeling more connected to one another and its nature. Life moves at a slower pace in Bhutan.
Rice is the main body of Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by a few side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Chilies are a favorite among people. In general, meals are largely organic and farm grown. Today there is a growth of international cusine and there are several restaurants that serve Japanese, Korean, Indian and Chinese food as well.
Bhutan is known for its homegrown philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) over Gross Domestic Product. GNH is based on the belief that true development of society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. GNH has recently received international recognition as an alternative development model that can be achieved. Learn more about GNH here.
Bhutan's mountains and valleys have spectacular panoramic views, making it one of the world's top ten biodiversity 'hotspots'. For centuries, the Bhutanese have nurtured a deep respect for the environment believing that it is the source of all life. Bhutan is the only country that is carbon negative with over 70% of the country placed under forest cover.
The Government of Bhutan has been a constitutional monarchy since 18 July 2008. The King of Bhutan is the head of state. The executive power is exercised by the Lhengye Zhungtshog, or council of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister. Over the centuries Bhutan evolved from a fragmented rule warlords and clans into the parliamentary democracy we have in place today.
According to Lonely Planet, "Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is the last great Himalayan kingdom, shrouded in mystery and magic". There is plenty to see and experience in Bhutan from a day hike to serious trekking, exploring historical monuments to spiritual sanctuaries- there is something for everyone. Some of the most visited places include Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduphodrang and Bumthang.