Geography

Land

Mountain-ranges.jpgBhutan (locally Drukyul-the Land of Thunder Dragon) is one of the most fascinating South Asian countries to visit. It is a home to roughly 7, 5000 people. About 56 percent is the youth population. This small landlocked Himalayan Kingdom is full of magnificent mountains, deep valleys, pristine forests and spectacular countryside. Most of the ancient fortresses (Dzongs) and sacred temples are perched on steep cliffs. The stupas, historic sites, traditional villages and modern towns are everywhere.

The Kingdom is beautifully tucked between Chinese Tibet in the North (470 kilometres border) and India in the South, East and West (605 kilometres). It occupies a unique geo-strategic location in the Eastern Himalayas. The capital city is Thimphu, situated over 7600 feet. It is perhaps the smallest capital city in the world.

Bhutan has a total area of 38,394 square kilometers encompassing many land use pattern. More than 70 percent of its land is forests. Snows and glaciers makes up 7 percent. Just 3 percent constitute agriculture lands. Pastures and meadows represent 4 percent. Rests are wastelands. The country has rugged terrains and diverse geo-eco zones. The plains rise from as low as 160 metres [upward] to majestic mountains of more than 7000 metres elevation.

The high northern peaks are glacier-covered. Their lakes are perennial source of rivers. The rivers run down the valleys and drains into the southern basins. The highland alpine valleys provide rich pastureland for transhumant practice. The coniferous trees, magnolia, rhododendrons, birch, fir, spruce and others grow in the alpine zone. The inner Himalayas constitute the woodlands, cultivated valleys and watersheds. This zone has abundant growth of infinite variety of plants, flowers and trees. Birch, pines, chestnut, oaks, apple, peach, and plums are some common pants. The southern Siwalik Hills abound in broadleaf forests and alluvial river valleys.

Climate

Three eco-climate zones and the monsoons provide the country with diverse climatic conditions. There are five major seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter.

The southern foothills has hot and humid climate (temperature range between 15° C and 30° C). The heaviest rainfall registered was 7,800 mm.

The inner Himalayas experience temperate climate. Most places are pleasant all year round with cool winter nights.

The northern mountain ranges are snow-clad and cold throughout the year. The Himalayas act as barriers to the cold winds and regulates the monsoon wind patterns. The average annual rainfall is 1,000 mm, but precipitation varies by eco-climatic zones. Thimphu on average experience 650 mm of annual rainfall.

There is no severe seasonal constraint on traveling in and through Bhutan. Even in severest winter months (December and January) are bright sun and splendid views. Summer months are humid with overcast days, occasional landslides and road blocks. But, the monsoon rains spread the pleasantness of lush green vegetation as well.

The best seasons to visit Bhutan are during spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). These seasons also mark the celebrations of festive occasions across the country. The spring is a flowering season. The autumn season offer clearest skies and best views of the magnificent mountains and beautiful valleys. Bhutan, nevertheless, can be visited the whole year round.