10 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN
Exotic Yoga Retreats has been returning to the remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan for the past five years for our annual yoga retreat. Every year this culturally unique and secluded country charms us. The people are welcoming and proud of their heritage, ready to show you the best they know. The landscape is stunning, with soaring snow-capped Himalayan peaks, and lush green valleys. This is a relatively under-developed country with limited tourism, and so we would like to share some fun and amazing facts about this country to give an indication of just some of the unique magic to be discovered when travelling there.
Happiness is a big deal in Bhutan
Bhutan is the first country to switch from the western ideal of Gross National Product to “Gross National Happiness”. Bhutan’s former King invented the notion that his country’s wealth should be measured by the happiness of his people in 1974 in order to replace western consumption driven values by the spirituality of a Buddhist society. Happiness is achieved through four foundations: good governance, natural environment, sustainable growth, and cultural values.
No lights, no problem
The capital city, Thimphu, has no traffic lights– just white-gloved traffic officers. When the city tried to install some lights there was a public outcry, and they were promptly removed.
Bhutan became the first country in the world to ban the production and sales of tobacco products. This is inline with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness and tobacco affects ones spiritual and social health. Smoking in public areas is illegal, however, tobacco can be used in private. Violators are slapped with a harsh fine: the equivalent of over two months' salary.
Everyone in Bhutan has the same Birthday
Most of the Bhutanese do not know or celebrate their birthday as it isn’t required to register the date of birth. As the new year steps, everyone turns a year older on January 1st!
Tourist daily fee
In 1974, the first international tourists were allowed into Bhutan by invite only. Today it’s fully open for tourism, but at the high cost of $250.00 a day per person. You must arrange all your travel through a government authorized tourist agency, but once you arrive everything is taken care of from food through to your transportation and guide.
Inheritance (land, house, and animals) is generally passed to the eldest daughter rather than the eldest son. A man often moves into the home of his new wife until he can "earn his keep."
Late to tune in
Bhutan legalised television broadcasting only in 1999. It was the last country in the world to do so.
Crime pays time
In Bhutan, if anyone is found guilty of killing a highly endangered (and culturally sacred) black-necked crane he or she could be sentenced to life in prison.
Not too high please
Bhutan has the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, a mountain so sacred by the Bhutanese that the government has banned mountaineering on any peak above 19,685 feet.
Bhutan is the world’s only carbon sink, that is; it absorbs more CO2 than it gives out. It sells hydro-electrical power, making it the only country whose largest export is renewable energy. 72% of the country is forested. In fact, it’s in the country’s constitution to keep 60% of its land forested.
Discover something entirely different, and expand your world by encountering Bhutanese culture with us on a luxury yoga retreat this October.