Bowled Over by Bhutan - 2007

Several international organizations measure various societies according to many

different parameters, but all find in survey after survey over the years that Bhutanese

people are the “happiest” on earth! The four goals for attaining a high GNH score are: 1)

promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, 2) preservation

and promotion of cultural values, 3) conservation of the natural environment and 4)

establishment of good governance. It is actually fairly obvious even to casual observers

like tourists on short visits that Bhutan is reaching those four ends steadily and striving

continuously for even higher attainments. In our 10-day visit, we saw and were impressed

by this country’s commitment to these goals. Evidence of their efforts will be revealed as the

story of our visit progresses.


First, though, let me recall some of the fascinating facts about Beautiful Bhutan. The

country is landlocked by India on three sides and China on its northern border. It is

relatively small in size, 36,420 square miles--Florida is 65,728 sq. miles. Its population

is small, around 700,000, with a median age of 20. Life expectancy for Bhutanese

people has reached 61 years for males and 64 years for females. The ethnicity of

Bhutanese people is divided among three major groups: 50% Bhotes (people of Tibetan

origin who migrated into what is now Bhutan in the 9th century), 35% ethnic Nepalese

people who came much later—probaby lin the 18th century, and 15% the indigenous

peoples (3 main tribes) of Mongolian heritage whose origins are unclear but whose entry

into the land is generally held to be around 2000 B.C. The Nepali and Tibetan peoples are

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