Bhutan has been described as a natural paradise. Even as the world mourns the loss of its ecology, this small Himalayan kingdom is emerging as an example to the international community, with more than 72 percent of its land still under forest and a great variety of rare plant and wildlife species.
Wedged between China and India, Bhutan’s terrain ranges from the sub- tropical foothills in the south, through the temperate zones, to dazzling heights of over 7,300 meters (24,000 feet). In historical records, Bhutan was known as Lhojong Menjong ‘the Southern valleys of medicinal herbs’. Besides these rare herbs, the Bhutanese seasons are reflected in full color by wild flowers and plants, which carpet the mountainsides.
The rugged east borders the little known Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The high Himalayas to the north separate the kingdom from Tibet. The population of 600,000 is made up primarily of indigenous Bhutanese. In the higher reaches of the kingdom and in some isolated valleys, many nomadic tribes bearing close affinity to similar tribes across the border thrive on the land. Some, like from Merak and Sakten in the east and Laya in the north, have almost no contact with western civilization and trade only in bartered goods.
The immense beauty of Himalayas is contained in its diverse landscape. Cascading rivers, conifers, wild rhododendron and blue poppies, long sweeping valleys, fields of maize and tall, imposing white- capped peaks: these are only a few references. From the lowlands of the south where the whether is more sub-tropical and the land more lush to the rich farmland of the central valleys to the high peaks close to the Tibetan border, Bhutan’s land changes with the altitudes and with the latitudes. In the east, where the valleys are narrower, towns such as Trashigang and Mongar are built on the sides of hills.