Bhutanese - Orientation

The name "Bhutan" is derived from the compound bhotente, the ente or "borderland" of Bhot. The Bhutanese know their country as "Druk-yul," the land ( yul ) of the thunder dragon ( druk ). The country's association with the dragon is explained by the evolution of the early sects of Buddhism in Tibet and its adjoining territories. It was the Indian saint Padma Sambhava, "the lotus-born," known in Tibet as Guru Rimpoche or "precious teacher," who was primarily responsible for the introduction of Buddhism into Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet in the eighth century A . D .

Bhutan has an area of 47,182 square kilometers. It is flanked on the north by Tibet, on the south by Bengal and Assam, on the east by Arunachal Pradesh and on the west by Sikkim. In 1990 the estimated population of Bhutan was 1,566,000, the second most populous Himalayan kingdom after Nepal. At least another 100,000 live in West Bengal and Nepal. However, its density of population, about 32 persons per square kilometer, is the lowest of the three Himalayan kingdoms. Bhutan's population is entirely rural. The Kingdom has no towns, no banks, and no shops worthy of the name. Thimbu is the capital, built up with Indian aid, and is just a cluster of houses around the dzong, a fortress built in the architectural style of the potala or palace of the Dalai Lama at Lhasa. In the north and center of the country Tibetan is spoken, in the southeast Sangla; both are Tibeto-Burman languages. In the southwest live Rai, Gurung, and Limbu settlers from Nepal, and some Nepalese Brahmans and Chhetris, all of whom speak Nepali.

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