Geography of Bhutan - History

Geography of Bhutan - History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Landlocked Bhutan is situated in the eastern Himalayas and is mostly mountainous and heavily forested. It is bordered for 470 kilometers by Tibet (China's Xizang Autonomous Region) to the north and northwest and for 605 kilometers by India's states of Sikkim to the west, West Bengal to the southwest, Assam to the south and southeast, and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly the North-East Frontier Agency) to the east. Sikkim, an eighty-eight-kilometer-wide territory, divides Bhutan from Nepal, while West Bengal separates Bhutan from Bangladesh by only sixty kilometers. At its longest east-west dimension, Bhutan stretches around 300 kilometers; it measures 170 kilometers at its maximum north-south dimension, forming a total of 46,500 square kilometers, an area one-third the size of Nepal. In the mid-1980s, about 70 percent of Bhutan was covered with forests; 10 percent was covered with year-round snow and glaciers; nearly 6 percent was permanently cultivated or used for human habitation; another 3 percent was used for shifting cultivation (tsheri), a practice banned by the government; and 5 percent was used as meadows and pastures. The rest of the land was either barren rocky areas or scrubland.

In the north, the snowcapped Great Himalayan Range reaches heights of over 7,500 meters above sea level and extends along the Bhutan-China border. The northern region consists of an arc of glaciated mountain peaks with an arctic climate at the highest elevations. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasturage for livestock tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.

The Inner Himalayas are southward spurs of the Great Himayalan Range. The Black Mountains, in central Bhutan, form a watershed between two major river systems, the Mo Chhu and the Drangme Chhu (chhu means river). Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 meters and 2,700 meters above sea level, and the fast-flowing rivers have carved out spectacular gorges in the lower mountain areas. The woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan's valuable forest production. Eastern Bhutan is divided by another southward spur, the Donga Range. Western Bhutan has fertile, cultivated valleys and terraced river basins.

In the south, the Southern Hills, or Siwalik Hills, the foothills of the Himalayas, are covered with dense deciduous forest, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains that reach to around 1,500 meters above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars Plain. Most of the Duars Plain proper is located in India, and ten to fifteen kilometers penetrate inside Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars has two parts. The northern Duars, which abuts the Himalayan foothills, has rugged, slopping terrain and dry porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savanna grass, dense mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Taken as a whole, the Duars provides the greatest amount of fertile flatlands in Bhutan. Rice and other crops are grown on the plains and mountainsides up to 1,200 meters. Bhutan's most important commercial centers-- Phuntsholing, Geylegphug, and Samdrup Jongkhar--are located in the Duars, reflecting the meaning of the name, which is derived from the Hindi dwar and means gateway. Rhinoceros, tigers, leopards, elephants, and other wildlife inhabit the region.
Climate:Bhutan's climate is as varied as its altitudes and, like most of Asia, is affected by monsoons. Western Bhutan is particularly affected by monsoons that bring between 60 and 90 percent of the region's rainfall. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits.

Temperatures vary according to elevation. Temperatures in Thimphu, located at 2,200 meters above sea level in west-central Bhutan, range from approximately 15° C to 26° C during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to between about -4° C and 16° C in January (see table 22, Appendix). Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate yearround . In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15° C and 30° C year-round, although temperatures sometimes reach 40° C in the valleys during the summer.

Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the severe climate of the north, there is only about forty millimeters of annual precipitation--primarily snow. In the temperate central regions, a yearly average of around 1,000 millimeters is more common, and 7,800 millimeters per year has been registered at some locations in the humid, subtropical south, ensuring the thick tropical forest, or savanna. Thimphu experiences dry winter months (December through February) and almost no precipitation until March, when rainfall averages 20 millimeters a month and increases steadily thereafter to a high of 220 millimeters in August for a total annual rainfall of nearly 650 millimeters.


History of Bhutan

History of Bhutan
The name 'Bhutan' appears to derive from the Sanskrit 'Bhotant' meaning 'the end of Tibet' or from 'Bhu-uttan' meaning 'high land'. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, the Bhutanese themselves refer to their country as Druk Yul or the Land of the Thunder Dragon. 'Druk' meaning 'Dragon' and extending from the predominant Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The documented history of the Kingdom begins with 747 A.D. with Guru Padsambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche who made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress's back. He arrived in Paro valley at Taktsang Lhakhang also known as Tiger's Nest. Guru Rinpoche is not only recognized as the founder of the Nyingmapa religious school but also considered to be second Buddha. In the ensuing centuries, many great masters preached the faith resulting in full bloom of Buddhism by the middle ages. Although sectarian at first, the country was eventually unified under Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism by saint/administrator Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century. Ngawang Namgyal codified a comprehensive system of laws and built a chain of Dzongs which guarded each valley during unsettled times and now serving as the religious and administrative centre of the region.

During the next two centuries civil wars intermittently broke out and the regional Governors became increasingly more powerful. At the end of 19th century, Trongsa Governor overcame all his rivals and soon afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. The Governor of Trongsa, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, was elected as the first King of Bhutan in 1907 by an assembly of representatives of the monastic community, civil servants and people. Since 18 July 2008, the Government of Bhutan has been a constitutional monarchy with the King being the Head of State and the Prime Minister heads the executive branch of the government.


Geography of Bhutan

The princely Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country, about 300 km long and 170 km wide encompassing an area of 38,394 square kilometres. Located between longitude 88045' and 92010' East and latitudes 26040' and 28015' North in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bounded by India in South and South-West and Tibetan autonomous region of China in the North and North-West respectively. It shares 470km border with Tibet (China&rsquos Xizang Autonomous Region) in the north and northwest, 605km with the Indian state of Sikkim in the west, West Bengal in the southwest, Assam in the south and southeast, and Arunachal Pradesh in the east.

Virtually the entire country is mountainous, and ranges in elevation from 160m along the Indian border to the 7,570m Gangkhar Puensum on the Tibetan border. These two extremes frame a landscape which stretches from sub-tropical to arctic like conditions. The maximum East-West stretch of the country is approximately 300km and north-South about 170km.
About 72 percent of the Kingdom is covered with forests, 7 percent with year-round snow and glaciers, nearly 3 percent is cultivated or agriculture areas and 4 percent as meadows and pastures. The rest of the land is either barren, rocky or scrubland.

Physiography
Talking in geomorphologic terms, Bhutan is distinctively divisible into three lateral zones from South to North. Incidentally, this zonation is more or less applicable to meteorological, ethnographical and geographical divisions of the country.

The Great Himalaya
Extending from Mt. Chomolhari (7,314m) in the West to 7,570m Gangkhar Puensum near the Center point of the northern border between Tibet and Bhutan, this region is virtually a snow-wilderness zone where almost 20% of the land is under perpetual snow. This zone is represented by alpine meadows and perpetually snow bound high summit of the Great Himalayan range.

The Inner Himalaya
This is the largest physiographic region of Bhutan and lies among broad valleys and forested hillsides from 1,100m to 3,000m in elevation. All the major towns of Bhutan are situated in this zone such as Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, in western Bhutan, Trongsa and Bumthang in central Bhutan and Mongar, Trashigang in eastern Bhutan.

The Southern foothills
Also called as Himalayan foothills or Siwalik Hills, this zone occupies the southernmost part of the country. The plains in the south of the country are part of the region known as Terai, which extends from Kashmir, through Nepal, to Bhutan. The average annual rainfall in this region generally reaches up to 200 inches resulting to luxuriant vegetation particularly tropical forests rich in wildlife, while at times hot, steamy and unhealthy tracts are other features of this zone.

Drainage / River system
Rivers play an important role in Bhutan's physical, economic, social and cultural geography. Their enormous potential for hydroelectric power has helped in shaping the national economy. Since the central Himalayas of Bhutan receives the full brunt of the monsoon so the rivers are larger and have created much broader valleys than rivers further to the west in Nepal and India. In their upper reaches, most Bhutanese rivers have created large fertile valleys such as those of Paro, Punakha, Thimphu and Bumthang. As the rivers pass through the centre of Bhutan, the valleys become steeper and narrower, and roads have to climb high on the hillside.

Bhutan has four major river systems: the Drangmechhu the Punatsangchhu the Wangchhu and the Amochhu. Each flow southerly through the Duars to join the Brahmaputra in India. The largest river system, the Drangmechhu, flows southwesterly from India&rsquos state of Arunachal Pradesh and has three major tributaries: the Drangmechhu, Mangdechhu, and Chamkharchhu. These rivers form the Drangmechhu basin. In the Duars, where eight tributaries join, the Drangmechhu is called the Manaschhu. The 320km-long Punatsangchhu rises in northwestern Bhutan as the Mochhu and Phochhu, which are fed by the snows and glaciers from the Great Himalayan Range. They flow southerly to Punakha, where they join to form the Punatsangchhu, which flows southerly into India&rsquos state of West Bengal. The Wangchhu, which is 370 kilometres, flows southeasterly through west-central Bhutan, drains the Ha, Paro, and Thimphu valleys, and continues through the foothills, before it finally drains into West Bengal. The smallest river system, the Torsachhu, known as the Amo Chhu in its northern reaches, flows swiftly through western Bhutan before broadening near Phuentsholing and then flows into India. Glaciers in northern Bhutan, which cover about 10 percent of the total surface area, are an important renewable source of water for Bhutan&rsquos rivers.

Meteorology and Vegetation
Bhutan's climate varies widely depending upon elevation and country is divided into three distinct climatic zones: alpine, temperate and subtropical zones. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the central regions, and cold in the north with year-round snow on the main Himalayan range. The eastern part of the country is warmer than the west. The central valleys of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhuntshi enjoy a semi-tropical climate with cool winters, whereas Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa and Bumthang have relatively harsher climate including snowfall in winter.

In the valleys where most tourist activities are concentrated, the winters (mid-November to mid-March) are dry with daytime temperatures of 14 – 16 degree centigrade while evening and early morning are cold with nighttime temperature sometimes falling below zero.

Spring lasts from mid-March to the beginning of June, with temperatures warming gradually to 27-30 degree centigrade by day and about 18 degree centigrade at night. However, cold spells are possible up until the end of April, with a chance of new snow on the mountains above the valleys. Strong, gusty winds start blowing almost every day from noon to early evening. The first storms break, and they become more and more frequent with the approach of the monsoon which arrives in late-June.

The country receives abundant rain especially in the south, as it gets full face of monsoon coming from the Bay of Bengal. At the end of September first fortnight, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives and sky gets clear, a brisk breeze picks up and temperature starts falling towards freezing at night although bright sunshine continues to keep the days warm. Autumn and Spring are best time to visit this fascinating mountain Kingdom.
Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the severe climate of the north, there is only about forty millimetres of annual precipitation—primarily snow. In the temperate central regions, a yearly average of around 1,000 millimetres is more common.
There is a pronounced difference in the vegetation cover in three different zones of the country, mostly due to the prevalence of varied climatic conditions across the Kingdom. The southern foothills are mostly covered with the dense and thick deciduous trees while the inner regions are dotted with large variety of plants, flowers and trees including birch, pine, chestnut, oak, apples, peaches and plums are also grown in the fertile valleys. The northern part with the tundra type of climate allows the growth of coniferous trees and other alpines growths like magnolia, rhododendrons, birch, fir, spruce, etc.


Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

A large percentage of Bhutanese are rural residents who live in houses built to withstand the long, cold winters, with wood-burning stoves for both heat and cooking. Nearly all these rural houses are surrounded by some land that is used for growing vegetables. There are also a number of cities, including the capital of Thimphu, which is home to the royal family and government buildings. Other cities include Wangdue Phondrang and Tongsa. Bumthang is the spiritual region and has a number of monasteries and places of religious pilgrimage, as well as numerous religious legends associated with it.

The use of the space involves preserving both the environment and the quality of life of Bhutan residents and at the same time using space to preserve wildlife. As part of Bhutan's Buddhist heritage, this includes preserving the numerous Dzongs (monastery fortresses) that are located throughout the entire country.


Geography

Bhutan is a very compact and landlocked nation, with just a small bit more length than width. The nation's territory totals an approximate 47,000 km². Its shape, area, and mountainous location are comparable to that of Switzerland.

Bhutan's territory used to extend south into present-day Assam, including the protectorate of Cooch Behar but, starting in 1772, the British East India Company began to push back the borders through a number of wars and treaties, severely reducing Bhutan's size until the Treaty of Sinchulu of 1865, when some border land was ceded back. The Himalayas dominate the north of the country, where mountain peaks can easily reach seven thousand meters the highest point is claimed to be the Kula Gangri, at 7,553 m. The highlands are the most populous part of the nation the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu lies in the western region. The region is characterized by its many rivers (flowing into India's Bramaputra), its isolated valleys that house most of the population, and the expansive forests that cover seventy percent of the nation. Winters are cold, summer are hot the rainy season is accompanied with frequented landslides.


Geography of Bhutan - History

Location

Bhutan is located in the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas, the kingdom is landlocked between the two great Asian civilizations, Tibet (China) to the north and the Indian States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & West Bengal in the East, West, & South. The country lies between latitudes 26′ 45’N & 280″ 10’N, and longitudes 88′ 45′E & 92′ 10’E. It has a total area of 38,394 square kilometres.

Topography

Bhutan’s physical geography consists mostly of steep and high mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. The land rises from 200 meters above sea level in the southern foothills to 7000 meters high northern mountains. Within this latitudinal range are found a diverse biodiversity rich enough to be considered as one of ten global environmental ‘hotspots’. About 72.5% of the area is under forests, and it is constitutional mandate to maintain 60% forests cover for all times to come.

Climate

The climate varies hot subtropical in south to cold alpine slopes in the north. Human settlement is confined mostly to interior river valleys and a swath of southern plains nomads and other tribes live in the north, raising sheep, cattle and yaks.

Bhutan straddle two major bio-geographic realms, the Indo-Malayan realm consisting of the lowland rain forests of South and Southeast Asia and the Pale-arctic realm consisting of conifer forests and alpine meadows of northern Asia and Europe.


Climate

Bhutan and Himalayan views | Paro, Bhutan

Bhutan is small, but the weather varies drastically due to the Himalayan region and elevation.

In the North, it is perennially covered with snow. In the western, central and eastern Bhutan (Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Wandue, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse) you will experience European-like weather. Winter happens from November to March. However, Punakha is an exception as it is in a lower valley and summer is hot and winter is pleasant.

Southern Bhutan bordering with India is hot and humid with a sub-tropical climate. Summer months tend to be wetter with isolated showers predominately in the evenings only. Winter is by far the driest period while spring and autumn tend to be pleasant.

Temperatures in the far south range from 15°C in winter (December to February) to 30°C in summer (June to August). In Thimphu the range is from -2.5°C in January to 25°C in August and with a rainfall of 100mm.

In the high mountain regions the average temperature is 0°C in winter and may reach 10°C in summer, with an average of 350mm of rain. Precipitation varies significantly with the elevation. The average rainfall varies from region to region.


Language of Bhutan

The Bhutanese language is called Dzongkha. 

Numbers in Dzongkha

The term Dzongkha means 'language of the palace', as it combines the words 'palace' dzongਊnd 'language' kha. The Bhutanese language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family. There are 19 different languages and dialects spoken by the Bhutanese people. Dzongkha is learnt in all schools and the official language since 1971.

The Bhutanese writing uses the Tibetan Alphabet. The alphabet consists of 35 basic letters, including five vowels and 30 consonants.

Many people speak English and most street signs are written in English and the national language Dzongkha. Children learn English in school where English is the language of instruction. 


3. Tourism In Bhutan Is Tightly Regulated

Unlike most countries that often ignore the environmental impacts of tourism to earn greater revenues from tourist inflow, the Bhutanese government ensures that nature is left unharmed by tourism. Therefore, tourism is tightly regulated in the nation. The tourists to the country must abide by the rules set by the government. Only licensed tour operators can operate in the nation and most foreigners must be accompanied by a licensed guide while visiting the country.


Climate

Although geographically quite small, Bhutan’s weather varies from north to south and valley to valley, depending on the elevation.

In the North, it is perennially covered with snow. In the western, central and eastern Bhutan (Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Wandue, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse) you will experience European-like weather. Winter happens from November to March. However, Punakha is an exception as it is in a lower valley and summer is hot and winter is pleasant.

Southern Bhutan bordering with India is hot and humid with a sub-tropical climate. While the monsoon affects northern Indian, it does not command the same influence in Bhutan. Summer months tend to be wetter with isolated showers predominately in the evenings only. Winter is by far the driest period while spring and autumn tend to be pleasant.

There are four distinct seasons similar in their divisions to those of Western Europe. Temperatures in the far south range from 15°C in winter (December to February) to 30°C in summer (June to August). In Thimphu the range is from -2.5°C in January to 25°C in August and with a rainfall of 100mm. In the high mountain regions the average temperature is 0°C in winter and may reach 10°C in summer, with an average of 350mm of rain. Precipitation varies significantly with the elevation. The average rainfall varies from region to region.


Watch the video: Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, and the Sacred Geography of Bhutan