In this section of our magazine, that is Asian Explorer, we generally try to give our readers travel tips, or suggestions on activities they can participate in while visiting these foreign lands. Rarely do we come across a land that we find so interesting and unique that we just want to share it with our readers, for no other purpose than to let them know that such a wonderful and exotic land exists. This, however, is one of those rare occasions.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is not a popular summer destination for most Westerners. In fact, most of us have never heard of the country, and would be hard pressed to pronounce the name of the kingdom correctly, let alone find this body of land on a map. But never fear, Asian Avenue is here to show you parts of the world you never otherwise would have known existed; because quite frankly, that’s our job.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked nation located within the Himalaya Mountains, crammed in between the countries of India and Tibet in South Asia. This country is one of the most isolated and least developed countries in the world.
In 1987, a journalist from UK’s Financial Times reported on how slow Bhutan was developing at the time. The king of Bhutan replied by saying “gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.” This particular statement displayed the king’s desire to build an economy that was tailor-made for Bhutan’s unique culture, based on Buddhist spiritual values, and that statement has served as a unifying vision for the country ever since its debut. In a recent survey that was conducted in 2005 in order to measure people’s happiness, on a global scale, 52% of Bhutan reported being happy and only 3% of those surveyed admitted to not being happy. Based on this data, The Happy Planet Index estimates that the average level of life satisfaction in the kingdom of Bhutan is within the top 10% of the world. Imagine that! Despite being one of the least developed countries in the world, the people of Bhutan are among the world’s most happy. Who knows, maybe money really can’t buy happiness.
If you would like to read this article in its entirety, be sure to check out the May issue.