The Kingdom of Bhutan

Now here’s an intriguing country.

Trongsa DzongDid you know that in Bhutan, instead of a Gross National Product they measure the Gross National Happiness (GNH)? It’s an attempt by the government to define the quality of life in a more holistic, spiritual way . Bhutan is located between India and China and has a predominantly Buddhist population. Some interesting tidbits:

  • There is a king. It’s an absolute monarchy.
  • Skateboarding was banned a few years ago due to accidents with cars.
  • Televisions were only introduced in 1999 which makes Bhutan the last country in the world to have them.
  • Plastic bags and tobacco are banned on the grounds that they make the country less happy. Bhutan is the only non-smoking country on the planet.
  • In the capital, Thimpu, there is one junction where there is a man employed as a human traffic light. They did introduce the computer kind once upon a time but the people found them too frustrating so they had to bring the man back.
  • You cannot obtain a visa to travel independently in the kingdom, you have to be part of an arranged tour. You are also required to pay a tourist surcharge which is anywhere between $165-240 per night.