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Bhutan is a Switzerland-sized Himalayan mountain kingdom, wedged between two giants of the region, Tibet and India. Linked historically and culturally to Tibet, yet unnerved by the Chinese invasion of that country, Bhutan has snuggled up to India for security in the last half century. Though there has been tension at times, and one serious skirmish, the relationship has benefited the little kingdom for the most part, providing financial aid and skilled labor, both of which Bhutan sorely lacks. So India gets jobs, Bhutan gets construction, and everybody is mostly happy.

Known as Druk Yul, Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan was a loose conglomeration of fiefdoms until 1907 when a dynasty of kings was established. This is a nation that clings to the past, yet over the course of the last century there has been a cautious shift toward modernity, mostly in health care and education. The diminutive kingdom was finally opened to tourism in the nineties, but very limited. Only in the last decade has the king allowed the use of televisions, computers, and cell phones. Traditional dress is required by law in public and smoking is totally banned, the first nation to do so.


Punakha Temple, site of the recent royal wedding. The young king and queen were both educated at Ivy League schools in the United States and have rock star appeal in their mountain kingdom. (next photo)

© Danny Kimberlin 2015