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Bhutan General Information

Bhutan General Information General days are normally warm. Nights can at times be very cold, and during winter it can go below Freezing. Monsoons shower occur in Summer and sometimes even in Spring and Autumn, however the heaviest is in July and August. The most visited months are March, April, May and September, October and November. During those months one can expect mostly warm days and cold nights, however there is always a chance of Rain and Snow.

Population Of Bhutan The population of Bhutan is estimated at 700000 as of 1996. As in most developing countries, the proportion of the population under 15 is as high as 43%. As this age group enters the reproductive period, the population growth rate is likely to rise above the current 3.1% unless family planning is more widely practiced. With this in view, various family planning options with the latest techniques are made freely available, accompanied by a family planning information campaign.

Capital: Thimpu Location: Bhutan lies between 89 degree and 92 degrees E and 27 degrees nd 28 degrees N.Settlements Of Bhutan:Bhutan is one of the least populated countries in South Asia. Most of the population is concentrated in the valleys, while large areas at higher altitudes in the north of the country are virtually empty except for nomadic herders. Most Bhutanese still live in villages in a extended family system or maintain strong links with their rural families. The average size of the household or family is estimated to be 5.6. The number of houses per village varies from 2 to 100 with an average of 43. Thimpu in Western Bhutan is the capital with an estimated population of 30,000 - 40,000 people. The other main urban settlements are Gelephu, Phuntsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar, all of them in the south. Towns are developing in all the 20 dzongkhag (districts) headquarters.Bhutan Visa Formalities

Other than Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals, all visitors to Bhutan require a visa; all visas are issued from Thimphu; visas are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by the tour operator. Visa clearance from Thimphu must be obtained before coming to Bhutan. Visa clearance takes at least 10 days to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. At your point of entry the visa will be stamped in your passport on payment of US$20, two passport photos will also be required. Visas are issued for a 15day period; extensions can be obtained in Thimphu at a cost of Nu.510.
Indians do not require visa or any travel documents to enter up to Phuntsholing. Actually the buses from Siliguri go all the way up to Phuntsholing crossing the border gate. But beyond Phuntsholing, even Indians need a permit to visit other places within Bhutan. Indian citizens need to carry the passport (or any other government issued identity proof recognized by Bhutan Immigration) in order to get the permit. The permit is issued by the Bhutanese immigration office located in the border.
All other foreign nationals (except Bangladeshi and Maldivians) need proper visa to enter any part of Bhutan including Phuntsholing. Note that there is no 'visa on arrival' facility in Bhutan. 

People & culture:
The people of Bhutan are hardworking, simple, hospitable and straightforward. They can be categorized into three broad ethnic groups: the Sharchops, Ngalungs and those from Nepali origin. The Sharchops are believed to have been the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. A majority of them have been living in the eastern parts of the Kingdom. The Nagalungs are the descendants of the Tibetan immigrants, who came to Bhutan from about the 9th century onward. They have been staying primarily in the western part. The people belonging to the Nepali origin are the third category of people. They have been living in the southern belt of Bhutan. When Bhutan was closed to the outside world and had no development, these Nepalese origin people were taken by the Bhutanese government to accelerate the developmental activities. However, it is pity to say that more than 100,000 Nepali origin Bhutanese were evicted from their own homeland by the Bhutanese government on charge of demonstrating for democracy and fundamental human rights. At present, they have been leading a pathetic life in the camps in eastern Nepal. The southern Bhutanese are the followers of Hinduism, while the Sharchops and Ngalungs follow Buddhism. The national language of Bhutan is Dhongkha and its national religion is Buddhism. More than 75 percent of the people in Bhutan have adopted agriculture as their main occupation. Until now, the culture and social life of Bhutan has remained unaffected by modernity.
The men's attire is called "Gho", while "Kira" is the attire of women. However, the Nepalese origin people wear "Gho" and "Kira" only when visiting offices. Jewelries are mostly made from pearls, corals turquoise, and agate set in well-crafted gold and silver.
Meat, cereals particularly rice, vegetables and herbs are the major food items in Bhutan. Meat dishes include mainly mutton, pork and beef, which are lavishly spiced with chilies. Salted butter tea is served to all the visitors as they enter any house. Other famous beverages include Chang, a local beer, and Arra, a type of sprite distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley. As a customary greeting, "Doma" or betel nut is offered to every visitor.
Archery is the national game of Bhutan. So, it has gained popularity across the country. The Bhutanese people play it with zeal and enthusiasm throughout the year with the traditional bows and arrows. In Bhutan, the ancient and traditional art, music and dances of the different ethnic groups have been protected in an effective manner.

Festivals:
In this dragon kingdom, Tshechus are the main annual religious festivals of Bhutan that are celebrated to honour Guru Padmasambhava, also known as "Guru Rimpoche". Tshechus are considered as an occasion for reverence, feasting, socializing and blessing by the people. Staged at different times of the year in different parts of the Kingdom, Tshechu is a unique experience to the outsider. Apart from Tshechus, Dashain and Tihar are also celebrated in Bhutan. Primarily, Dashain and Tihar are celebrated by the Nepali origin Bhutanese.

Art and Craft:
The Bhutanese people have a strong sense of aesthetics, art, craft and architecture. Primarily, Bhutan's art and craft is broadly influenced by the Tibetan art and craft. Dzongs, chortens and monasteries can be seen everywhere. Some of the Lhakhangs and Gompas are even made on high peaks. Basically, chortens are constructed in memory of an eminent lama or to ward off evil spirit. These structures are beautifully decorated inside and outside with woodcarvings and paintings in a riot of colours and patterns.
The walls of temples and shrines are decorated with the paintings and carvings of Buddha and various deities. The "Tashi Tagye" or eight auspicious signs are found painted on buildings. Thankas are hung on the walls for attractions. They offer the Thankas as souvenir when tourists pay their visit. Articles for daily use are not touched by the influence of modernization and commercialization. Traditional craftsmanship has been handed down from generation to generation. Craftsmen of Bhutan are skilled in bronze and precious metals, wood and slate carving and clay sculpture.

Flora and Fauna:
Bhutan is best known for her richness in flora and fauna. The journey to Bhutan offers one the unique opportunity for being familiar with scenic beauty. There is no doubt that Bhutan is a storehouse of biodiversity. The Druk Kingdom is not only home to beautiful flowers and plants such as Rhododendron, Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Gentians, Daphne and the rear Blue Poppy and other some rare medicinal herbs and exotic mushrooms but also faunal diversity.
Bhutan boasts 500 species of birds. Some of them include Monal Pheasant, the Tragopan, wild Pigeons and doves, the rare Rufus-necked hornbill and the endangered Black-necked crane are the major fauna. The population of butterfly fauna is abundant in Bhutan. Bhutan holds a rich wildlife like- Snow leopard, Blue sheep, Musk deer, Takin, the Himalayan Black Bear, Tiger, Rhinoceros, Gaur, the Great Indian Water Buffalo, the Golden Langur and many more. Local fish and brown trout can be found in the northern rivers and the mountain lakes, while Mahseer can be found in the south-east rivers.

Best Season to Visit:
March - May and September - November
Early May : Kurjey Tsechu, Bumthang
Early June : Nemalung Tsechu, Bumthang 
Early July : Wangdue Tsechu, Wangdue 
Late September : Thimphu Dromchoe, Thimphu 
Late September : Thimphu Tsechu, Thimphu 
Early October : Tamsing Phala Choepa, Bumthang 
Late Sept/ Early Oct : Thangbi Mani, Bumthan

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