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Bhutan basks in a cultural timelessness, making it a photographer's paradise for the nearly 20,000 tourists who visit each year. But what really makes Bhutan special are the people. Their stories are etched into each of their faces - hard working, smiling, honest, generous, friendly and curious. This enchanting kingdom is known for having a policy of Gross National Happiness, which is a goal for every Bhutanese to embrace.
 
There are approximately 600,000 inhabitants in Bhutan, a country the size of Switzerland. 70% are involved in farming with the largest "urban" center being the capital city of Thimphu with only 50,000 people.
 
Bhutan's landlocked borders were well established since at least the 7th century, from which time Bhutan has existed as an independent entity. Located on the eastern slopes of the Himalayan mountain range, Bhutan is situated between Tibet and India. It enjoys a variety of climates from Gangkhar Puensum, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world (7570 m./24,835 ft.) to the tropical foothills with an average rainfall of 100 inches per year.
 
 
With the Buddhist faith largely influencing the course of Bhutan's history, Bhutan was governed as a theocracy in the 1600s by a temporal and spiritual ruler, Shabbdrung Ngawang Namgyel who, for a time, unified the country under a central authority. Then, following centuries of civil wars, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected hereditary monarch in 1907. Since then Bhutan has progressed at its own careful pace under the wisdom and guidance of five generations of the Wangchuck family. In 2008 Bhutan will celebrate the coronation of the fifth hereditary King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and as declared under the new draft Constitution, will hold parliamentary elections for the first time in its history.
 
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