BHUTAN AT A GLANCE
The National Flag is rectangular and divided diagonally into two parts with a white dragon in the middle. The upper yellow half signifies the country’s secular authority of the King in fruitful action in the affairs of religion and state. The lower saffron orange half signifies the religious practice and spiritual power of Buddhism manifested in the Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingmapa traditions. The Dragon symbolizes the name of the country, locally known as Druk Yul meaning the land of Thunder Dragon and its white color signifies purity and loyalty of the Bhutanese people.
The National Emblem, contained in a circle is composed of double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular and religious power. The lotus symbolizes purity, the jewel – sovereign power and the two dragons – a male and a female stand for the name of the country – the Land of Thunder Dragon (Druk Yul).
Bhutan’s national currency is called Ngultrum (1 Ngultrum = 100 Cheltrum) and was introduced in 1974. The Ngultrum is pegged with the Indian Rupee. One United States Dollar is roughly equivalent to Ngultrum 48.
Staple diet is red rice, buck wheat, wheat, maize, pork, beef, chicken, yak meat, cheese and chilies which are taken as a vegetable and not a spice.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Bhutan is known for handicraft items in bronze, silver and other metals. Sculpting of religious figures is widely practiced and every temple house large brightly painted and gilded statues of Buddha and other saints.
Agricultural and live stock rising have traditionally been the mainstay of the kingdom’s economy. They contribute about 45% to the GNP. 70% of Bhutan’s population lives on subsistence farming growing rice, barley, millet, buckwheat, potatoes, mustard, chili and vegetables. Local cheese is made from cow and yak milk, air-dried yak meat considered a delicacy. Forestry adds another 15% to GNP.
Bhutanese men wear “gho”, which are longish robes tied around the waist by a cloth belt known as “kera”. The women’s ankle-length dress is known as “kira” which is made of bright colored fine woven fabric with traditional patterns.
MEDIABesides a host of private cable channels in most urban centers, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) is the only nationally televised television station in Bhutan.Kuensel and Bhutan Today are dailies while Bhutan Times, Bhutan Observer and Business Bhutan are weekly newspapers available. Online versions of most newspapers are updated regularly on the internet.
The Castle-like dzongs, with their gently tapering walls, classic lines, large courtyards and beautiful galleries are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Containing large monasteries inside and set in commanding position on hilltops or at the confluence of rivers. Dzongs are also the administrative centers of their districts. Bu, the most common architectural sight in Bhutan is the “chortens” or “stupas” which are small shrines built to house sacred relics.