Bhutan occupies an area of approximately 46,500 square kilometers between China to the north and northwest, and India to south, southwest and east. The Bhutanese north is a mountainous region, comprised of many peaks exceeding 7,000 meters. GangkharPuensem, the highest mountain in Bhutan at 7,570 meters, is the world's tallest unclimbed mountain. The country is divided by a series of expansive valleys, most notably the Haa and Parovalleys, connected by passes which can reach almost 4000 meters. Only a minute portion of Bhutan's land mass is arable. The extreme south, where rice is grown, is marked by subtropical forests, savanna and grasslands.
People and Culture
The authenticity of Bhutan's unique culture, whose roots date back to the 17th century, has been remarkably preserved due to its geographic and economic isolation. Bhutanese people share a likeness with Tibetans in both physical and cultural characteristics. Their two major languages, Sharchop and Dzongkha are closely related to the Tibetan language. Bhutanese and Tibetans share a reverence for guru Padmasambhava, the 8th century founder of Himalayan Buddhism. Buddhism largely influences Bhutanese society and culture, which is evident in the fortress-like dzongs that serve as both the religious and administrative centers of each of its districts.