01/03/2005: Obscure Country of the Week I: Bhutan
This is the first in a weekly series I will be doing here at Dark Bilious Vapors. The purpose of the series is to help alleviate geographical ignorance, especially my own. My only criterion for labeling a country "obscure" is that I myself do not know much about it.
Bhutan is a small, landlocked country in the Himalayas between China and India, with a population of about 2.1 million. Its capital city is Thimphu.
The main religions are Buddhism (about 75% of the population) and Hinduism (about 25%). The official language is Dzongkha.
Up until 1998, Bhutan was an absolute monarchy. In 1998, the National Assembly was given the right to remove the hereditary monarch with a two-thirds vote, and much of the executive power was transferred to a council of ministers, nominated by the monarch and approved by the assembly. Bhutan is in the process of drafting a constitution.
Prior to 1999, television was outlawed in Bhutan.
Bhutan recently became the first country to ban the sale of tobacco.
Josh Parsons, a philosophy professor at UC Davis, gives the Bhutan flag a grade of D+.
The world's largest published book, five feet tall and seven feet wide when open, is Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom. If you don't have a spare $15,000 to purchase your own copy, you can see a copy at the main branch of the Memphis Public Library. Here's a picture:
Unfortunately, they won't let you check it out.
For more information, see the entries on Bhutan in the CIA World Factbook and in the Wikipedia, as well as the BBC's country profile.
Brock on 01.03.05 @ 10:02 PM CST