Bhutan is a remote Himalayan kingdom between neighbours Sikkim, West Bengal, Nepal and Tibet, and has long cherished a policy of isolation and cultural preservation. Bhutan is truly unique in terms of its approach to development, embodied in its policies of Gross National Happiness (GNH), expounded by former King Jigme Singye Wangchuk in the late 1980s.
The four guiding principles of the GNH are economic self-reliance, good governance, environment protection and cultural preservation. The results of this unique human-centric approach to development are that Bhutan's cultural heritage, values and social fabric remains intact. Besides its wealth of wonderful architecture, as embodied in its monasteries, palaces, fortresses and traditional houses, and its beautiful natural landscapes, what is truly endearing to visitors is the general atmosphere of contentment, tranquillity, community, and a sense of place and inner resources.
Bhutan, is also known as Druk-Yul, the land of the thunder dragon. The kingdom has a size of 38, 394 square kilometres, of which 70% is forested. It is country of high mountains and fertile valleys, and its local people are called the Drukpa. The three main ethnic groups are the Sarchops (originally from the tribes of Northern Burma and Northeast India), the Ngalops (of Tibetan origin), and the Lhotsampas (of Nepali origin). Its official language is Dzongkha, and its population is around 750,000.