Even before we recovered from the peace agreement with Dubai, we were surprised to find that there was another country about which we knew almost nothing – Bhutan.
So a moment before asking about opening a direct airline there as well, we have gathered for you everything that is really interesting in one of the most isolated countries in the world.
Remind me of the name?
First of all, you should know that chances are you are not pronouncing the name of the country correctly. Although the name “Bhutan” was established in the media, in fact the name should be pronounced as “Bhutan” and according to the Hebrew Language Academy, this is how the name of the country should be written. But like many other things – one can assume that after everyone ignores the instructions of the academy and writes the name of the country as they are used to, the academy will eventually straighten a line and “agree” that we will write in Bhutan.
Unlike other countries with organized airports, Bhutan has a total of only one “airport” with only one runway. The small runway is located in a steep valley between the mountains and is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for landing. The state requires a special pilot’s license to get permission to land at the dangerous airport, and it is speculated that there are only a few dozen of these worldwide. And if that’s not dangerous enough – the same route is used for both landings and takeoffs.
The state of happiness?
While most countries in the world focus on the “gross national product” index – related to the country’s economic gains, Bhutan invented the global “gross national happiness” index which examines how happy citizens are in each country. The index was invented by a king of Bhutan, who claimed that although Bhutan is a poor country, what really matters is the happiness of the citizens. The king also provides welfare services to all citizens for free, and even gives land to the homeless, in order to increase happiness in the country.
Although Bhutan’s happiness index – the country is defined as one of the happiest countries in the world, external studies that examined happiness in the country ranked it in a relatively low place – the 95th country out of 156 in the world (Israel, by the way, in 14th place). The sharp differences raise some suspicions about the happiness measurements the king makes in his country, and about the possibility that he is cheating to increase the trust of the citizens, but one way or another – the happiness index they invented has become public domain.
No traffic lights
Bhutan is the only country in the world that has no traffic lights, not even in its capital city. King Bhutan is not a big fan of traffic lights, and he prefers the direction of transportation to be human rather than mechanical. In the past there was an attempt to replace the cops with traffic lights but the residents liked the cops standing at intersections and waving their hands, asking to be brought back to work.
A must-see forest in the country
The environment is an important issue for Bhutan residents, and according to the state constitution more than 60 percent of the state’s land area must be covered by forest. The law also prohibits almost any hunting or harming of animals, so many animals can be seen roaming freely in the forest. The country also boasts that its forests absorb more carbon dioxide than the population produces to help the planet.
Do not like tourists
Bhutan has been cut off from the world for years, but even today when tourists are allowed to reach it they still have to deal with a lot of restrictions. Excursions in the country must be accompanied by a government guide who allows you to travel only in designated places. But despite the restrictions and fear of the dangerous landing, tourists from all over the world still come every year to wander around the country’s stunning forests.
Do not look down
One of the most beloved places in Bhutan is also one of the scariest. The long bridge stretches for 160 meters between the mountains and only a fairly low fence separates the one who passes it from falling into the abyss. The view under the bridge is of course stunning, but not everyone agrees it is worth the fear.
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