National Tree: Cyprus
National Animal: Takin
National Bird: Raven
National Flower: Blue Poppy
The national flag is rectangular and divided diagonally into two parts with a white dragon in the middle. The upper yellow half signifies the country's secular authority of the King in fruitful action in the affairs of religion and state. The lower saffron-orange half signifies the religious practices and spiritual power of Buddhism manifested in the Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. The dragon symbolizes the name of the country, locally known as Druk Yul, meaning land of the thunder dragon and its white colour signifies purity and loyalty of the Bhutanese people. The snarling mouth of the dragon expresses the strength of the male and female deities protecting Bhutan, white the jewels in its claws represent the wealth, prosperity and perfection of the country and the people.
The national emblem, contained in a circle, comprises a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular and religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its Vajrayana from. The lotus symbolizes purity; the jewel – sovereign power; and the two dragons – a male and female stand for the name of the country – the thunder dragon (Druk Yul).
Bhutanese are friendly and hospitable people. Large majority of Bhutanese are a homogeneous group devided linguistically into three broad sub-groups. These are Sharchops, Ngalong and Lhotshampa.
Besides there are number of smaller groups, many with their own language which form about one percent of the population. Some of these groups are: Bumthap in Bumthang, Tsangho in the east, Layapa in the north-west, Brokpa in the north-east and the Doya in the south-west Bhutan. The last century has witnessed a greater variety of Bhutanese mosaic with the addition of the people of Nepalese origin comprising many ethnic groups who now form a large section of the Bhutanese population.
National day is celebrated on 17th of December in commemoration of the accession of Gongsar Ugyen Wanchuck, the first king of Bhutan to the throne, in Punakha dzong.
Ngultrum, the currency of Bhutan, has the same value as the Indian rupee, which is also a legal tender. One US$ is roughly equal to 40 NU.
Staple diet is red rice, buck-wheat, wheat, maize, pork, beef, chicken, yak meat, cheese and chilies which are taken as a vegetable and not as a spice.
Bhutan is known for handicraft items in bronze, silver and other metals. Sculpting of religious figures is widely practiced and every temple houses large brightly painted and gilded statues of the Buddha and other saints.
Agriculture and livestock raising are the mainstay of the economy. They contribute about 45 percent to the GNP. More than 90 percent of the people live in on subsistence farming. The farms are narrow pieces of land cut into terraces on hill slopes. Forestry contributes 15 percent to the GNP and industry and mining 10 percent.
Bhutanese men's wear gho, which are longish robes tied around the waist by a cloth belt, known as kera. The women's ankle-length dress is known as kira, which is made of bright colored fine woven fabric with traditional patterns.
The national sport of Bhutan is archery. Other traditional sports include digor – a kind of shotput, darts and wrestling. The international sports, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis and table tennis are also popular.
Kuensel, a bi-weekly newspaper, is published in Dzongkha, Nepalese and English. An online English version, updated daily, is available on the Internet. There are also two privately owned English weeklies – Bhutan Times and Bhutan Observer. Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), a national radio and TV station, broadcasts news and other programmes daily on current affairs.
Private Cable operators throughout the country provide access to several regional and international TV channels.
The castle-like dzongs, with their gently tapering walls, classic lines, large countryards and beautiful galleries are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Containing large monasteries inside and set in commanding position on hilltops or at the confluence of rivers, dzongs are also the administrative centers of their districts. But, the most common architectural sight in Bhutan are the chortens or stupas which are small shrines built to house sacred channels.