Bhutan

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Temps de lecture : 2 minutes  

Bhoutan

BHUTAN, Phuntsholing – AFP PHOTO/PEDRO UGARTE

This small Himalayan kingdom, about the same size as Switzerland, is nestled between India and China and is still dubbed the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Steeped in a thousand years of Buddhist heritage, the country has opened slightly to the outside world after centuries of isolation; until 1964 it was still only accessible by foot via the the mountainous Tibetan border. Paro Airport, 55 km from the capital of Thimphu (population 35,000), opened only in 1980. Internet and television were introduced to this unique and little-known country in 1999. A smoking ban has been in effect since 2005, so selling tobacco incurs a fine. 80% of the population depends on agriculture and livestock farming for their livelihood.

Issues

Forests: water and forests are Bhutan’s key natural resources. Both hardwood and softwood forests cover 72% of the country. Whether owing to a lack of available means or a concern for the future, the government tends to favour forest conservation over mass logging.

Protected areas: although Bhutan does not attract mass tourism, it allots a considerable portion of land to national parks: 26% of its land area. These parks are home to snow leopards, one of the country’s 10 most endangered species along with the musk deer and the Black-necked crane.

The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), as opposed to Gross National Product (GNP), originated in Bhutan around 1972; it was proposed by a king who refused to measure development and well-being in terms of material wealth.

Players

The country’s environmental conservation practices are widely admired.

15 years ago, the WWF, the Bhutan government, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) created the first environmental protection fund.

bhutan map
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