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Location
South Asia (between Assam in northeast India and China).

Area
38,364 sq km (14,812 sq miles).

Population
2.3 million (2006 estimate). It should be noted that population estimates vary hugely for Bhutan - some are as low as around 810,000.

Population Density
59.4 per sq km.

Capital
Thimphu.
Population: 35,000 (UN estimate 2003).

Government
Constitutional Monarchy.

Language
Dzongkha is the official language. A large number of dialects are spoken, owing to the physical isolation of many villages. Sharchop Kha, from eastern Bhutan, is the most widely spoken. Nepali is common in the south of the country. English has been the language of educational instruction since 1964 and is widely spoken.

Religion
The Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism (Drukpa Kagyu) is the state religion; the majority of Bhutanese people follow the Drukpa school of the Kagyupa sect. Those living in the south are mainly Hindu.

Time
GMT + 6.

Electricity
220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Head of State
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck since 2006.

Telephone
Country code: 975. Domestic telephone service is very poor with few telephones in use. International telephone service is by landline through India.

Mobile Telephone
Some roaming agreements exist. Coverage is limited to main cities.

Internet
Access is limited but slowly growing. There are Internet cafes in Thimphu.

Media
Fears of outside influences undermining the country's absolute monarchy, freedom and culture meant that for years Bhutan had a deliberate policy of isolation, including a ban on television. The state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) launched the first TV service as part of celebrations surrounding King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's silver jubilee in 1999. Radio broadcasting began in 1973 and the first Internet service was introduced in 1999. Media freedom is restricted by the government. There are no private broadcasters, but cable television is thriving with rival operators offering a number of channels at relatively inexpensive prices.

Post
Mail from Bhutan is liable to disruption because of the high value of Bhutanese stamps; they are often steamed off the envelopes en route.

Press
Kuensel is the autonomous weekly; The Bhutan Times is a private weekly.

Radio
? Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is the state-run radio station.

Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2007-December 2008 period.

2007
8 Aug Independence Day.
11, 12 ,13 Nov Birthday of HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
17 Dec National Day of Bhutan.

2008
8 Aug Independence Day.
11, 12 ,13 Nov Birthday of HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
17 Dec National Day of Bhutan.

Note
The traditional Buddhist holidays are observed, including Winter Solstice, Day of Offerings, Losar (New Year), Shabdung Kuchoey, Birthday of Drukgyal Sumpa, Lord Buddha's Parinirvana, Coronation Day, Birthday of Guru Rinpoche, First Sermon of Lord Buddha, Thimphu Tsechu and Thimphu Tsechu Domchoe, Blessed Rainy Day, Dashain and the Descending Days of Lord Buddha, The Meeting of Nine Evils and the National Day. Also to be noted is the Birth Anniversary, Coronation and Death Anniversary of Third King HM Jigme Dorje Wangchuck. Buddhist festivals are declared according to local astronomical observations and it is not possible to forecast the date of their occurrence. Please contact local authorities for the latest dates. Dates of smaller festivals are liable to change at short notice.

Contact Information:

Department of Tourism
PO Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel: (2) 323 251/2.
Website: www.tourism.gov.bt

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL)
PO Box 159, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel: (2) 324 045 or 322 647.
Website: www.kingdomofbhutan.com

Royal Bhutanese Embassy in India
Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021, India
Tel: (11) 2688 9230 or 9809/7.

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) in the USA
c/o Far Fung Places, 1914 Fell Street, San Francisco, California 94117, USA
Tel: (415) 386 8306.
Website: www.farfungplaces.com or www.kingdomofbhutan.com


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