With an area of 38,394 square km, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography. The mighty Himalayas protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left it blissfully untouched through the centuries.
The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and – perhaps most important of all – the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people. Each moment is special as one discovers a country, which its people have chosen to preserve in all its magical purity.
Hidden deep in the folds of the great Himalaya Mountains for years, Bhutan developed its own civilization. The population of about 750,000 people, living in close harmony with nature, evolved a unique identity, derived largely from a rich religious and cultural heritage. Today, the world is seeing many exotic aspects of this kingdom.
The few visitors who make the rare journey into this extraordinary kingdom will discover that there is no other destination like this land of pure and exotic mysticism. In this country known as Druk Yul, or the ‘Land of the Peaceful Dragon’, the fortunate visitor will find a rare combination of harmony and accord, amidst a landscape of incredible natural beauty.
Bhutan is becoming increasingly known for its pure practice of Mahayana Buddhism in the Tantric form, its untouched culture, its pristine ecology and wildlife, and the unparalleled scenic beauty of its majestic peaks and lush valleys. It is still, in many ways, a magical kingdom of the past.
The National flag is divided diagonally into two equal halves. The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the practice of religion and the power of Buddhism, manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name and the purity of the country while the jewels in its jeweled claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.
The national sport is the Archery (Dha). The bow and arrow play a significant role in many Bhutanese myths and legends; images of the gods holding a bow and arrows are considered especially favorable. Archery is played during religious and secular public holidays in Bhutan.
The National Emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above the lotus. There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on the vertical sides. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the dragons (male and female) represent the name of the country DrukYul (Land of the Dragon).
The national bird is the raven. It adorns the royal crown. The raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen (raven headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.
The national animal is the Takin (Burdorcastaxicolor) that is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal with a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives in groups and is found above 4000 meters on the north-western and far north eastern parts of the country. They feed on bamboo. The adult Takin can weigh over 200 kg.
The national flower is the Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis). It is a delicate blue or purple tinged blossom with a white filament. It grows to a height of 1 meter, and is found above the tree line (3500-4500 meters) on rocky mountain terrain.
The national tree is the cypress (Cupressustorolusa). Cypresses are found in abundance and one may notice large cypresses near temples and monasteries. This tree is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 meters. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicity.