Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH)

The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.

Since then the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and also captured the imagination of others far beyond its borders. In creating the Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan sought to create a measurement tool that would be useful for policymaking and create policy incentives for the government, NGOs and businesses of Bhutan to increase GNH.

The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing. It is a holistic reflection of the general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population rather than a subjective psychological ranking of ‘happiness’ alone.

The GNH Index includes nine domains

  1. Psychological wellbeing
  2. Health
  3. Education
  4. Time use
  5. Cultural diversity and resilience
  6. Good governance
  7. Community vitality
  8. Ecological diversity and resilience
  9. Living standards

The GNH Index is decomposable by any demographic characteristic, meaning it can be broken down by population group, for example, to show the composition of GNH among men and among women, or by district, and by dimension, for example to show which group is lacking in education. The indicators and domains aim to emphasize different aspects of wellbeing, and different ways of meeting underlying human needs.

The Government of Bhutan’s Centre for Bhutan Studies revised and released an updated GNH index in 2011. There are 33 indicators in the 9 domains above and the Index seeks to measure the nation’s wellbeing directly by starting with each person’s achievements in each indicator. It identifies four groups of people – unhappy, narrowly happy, extensively happy, and deeply happy. The analysis explores the happiness people enjoy already, then focuses on how policies can increase happiness and sufficiency among the unhappy and narrowly happy people.

Composition of the GNH Index

The Gross National Happiness Index is a single number index developed from the 33 indicators categorized under nine domains.

The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars; good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. The four pillars have been further classified into nine domains in order to create widespread understanding of GNH and to reflect the holistic range of GNH values.

The nine domains are equally weighted because each domain is considered to be equal in terms of its intrinsic importance as a component of GNH.

The 33 indicators are statistically reliable, are normatively important, and are easily understood by large audiences. Within each domain, two to four indicators were selected that seemed likely to remain informative across time, had high response rates, and were relatively uncorrelated. Within each domain, the objective indicators are given higher weights while the subjective and self-reported indicators are assigned far lighter weights. The 2011 GNH index identifies four groups of people. For policy purposes it identifies ‘happiness’ as comprising sufficient achievements in 66% of the weighted indicators, whichever domains they come from. This corresponds to the groups who are identified as ‘extensively’ and ‘deeply’ happy.

What kind of results does the GNH Index give?

People who have achieved sufficiency in less than 50% are ‘unhappy’, and they comprise 10.4% of the population. A total of 48.7% of people have sufficiency in 50-65% of domains and are called ‘narrowly happy’. A group of 32.6%, called ‘extensively happy’, has achieved sufficiency in 66-76% – in between 6 and 7 domains. And in the last group, 8.3% of people are identified as ‘deeply happy’ because they enjoy sufficiency in 77% or more of weighted indicators – which is the equivalent of 7 or more of the nine domains.

In order to have one overall index, the GNH cut off was set at 66% of the variables, which is the middle cutoff used above. People are considered happy when they have sufficiency in 66% of the (weighted) indicators or more – that is, when they were identified as extensively happy or deeply happy.  The GNH Index value for 2010 is 0.737. It shows us that 40.8% of people in Bhutan have achieved such happiness, and the remaining 59% – who are narrowly happy or unhappy – still enjoy sufficiency in 57% (not 66% as required by the index) of the domains on average.

Impact on policy

The GNH index supports policy-making within Bhutan. Policy selection tools are used to review the potential effects of proposed policies on GNH and the results of the GNH index will be tracked over time to evaluate interventions. This ‘GNH Policy Lens’ requires that the policy consequences on all relevant dimensions be considered prior to implementation. In addition, project screening tools are to be implemented in nearly twenty project areas, including agriculture, forestry, trade and manufacturing, media and information, youths, as well as projects that focus on each of the nine dimensions. The stated goal is that all government projects and policies work together to maximize GNH.

Relationship with other happiness measures

The GNH measure has been designed to fulfil various criteria which are needed for an official national measure of happiness that is also relevant to national and district policy. It aims to reflect the happiness and general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population more accurately and profoundly than a monetary measure.

A measure of Gross National Happiness might be presumed to comprise a single psychological question on happiness such as “Taking all things together, would you say you are: Very happy, rather happy, Not very happy, or Not at all happy.” However, this is not the case here. The objectives of Bhutan, and the Buddhist understandings of happiness, are much broader than those that are referred to as ‘happiness’ in the Western literature. Under the title of happiness in GNH comes a range of domains of human wellbeing including traditional areas of social concern such as living standards, health, and education, while some are less traditional, such as time use, psychological well being, culture, community vitality, and environmental diversity.

Traditional Arts and Crafts of Bhutan

In Bhutan, art remains an essential part of daily life that retains the purity and handcraft of ancient times that rarely manifests itself in Western Culture. Certainly, these practices evolve and adapt through the new generations, but at the same time it preserves the internal and external spirituality—full of the sacred beliefs of this mystic and mysterious land—of creating a work of art from the past. For the Bhutanese people, each piece they create represents a religious experience, a connection with something that goes beyond them and enlightens them creatively, and this is why the 13 Traditional Arts and Crafts, known as Zorig Chusum, have prevailed to this day and continue to be one of the most consequential aspects of Bhutanese culture.

The National Institute of Zorig Chusum, established in 1971, is located north of the city of Thimphu, and this is where the young learn every aspect of the portrayal of spiritual values in each of the crafts that embody the ordinary transformed into something sublime. The institute is open to the public; it is possible to wander through the charming corridors, enter the classrooms to observe and talk to the students, interact with them while they work—learn from them, definitely. It offers visitors the opportunity to be part of this cultural tradition where art and religion are so intrinsically linked.

The 13 Arts are rooted in Buddhism. They are believed to have been introduced by Pema Lingpa in the 15th century and categorized in the 17th century by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Druk Desi—the title given to rulers; it means “thunder dragon” in reference to Bhutan. Each work of art contains the same principles, symbolisms and ideologies that make this practice so ancestral, but the artist inevitably leaves a print of their own style, which contributes to the uniqueness of the piece. However, one important aspect of Bhutanese art is that it is always anonymous. If a work of art bears a name, it is usually the name of the person who commissioned it, not the artist’s, because the importance of the craft lies in the craft itself, not in those who produce it. Art speaks for itself, the same as each representation of belief and value. Thus, these objects decorate every home, temple, and street. The ornaments are used every day as simple, yet beautiful tools. Colors permeate every aspect of the paintings, woodwork, sculptures, and embroideries that depict deities, sacred animals and other relevant imagery. These are some of the most important arts and crafts in Bhutan:


Lha-zo – Bhutanese paintings are the portrayal of human beings and their interaction with nature and their beliefs. The colors of this craft can be appreciated in flags, tools, murals, frescoes, canvases, fabric, paper, wood, stone and much more.

Paintings often are the visual reflection of the inner self; thus, they depict spirituality, the significance of Buddhism, happiness and all things that are sacred to them and that proudly represent Bhutanese identity. Old paintings are considered sacred and are preserved for their cultural value.


Jim-zo – Sculpture on clay is more ancient than sculpture on metals like bronze. These sculptures are characterized for their beauty and delicacy, hollow on the inside but full of meaning on the outside, portraying enthralling beings or landscapes. Sculpting in clay is a male craft, but pottery is reserved for women, and they both carry great significance. Pottery is still an active craft that evolved, but still follows the ancient process of shaping and baking the clay. Sculptures are typically found in temples, monasteries and Dzongs, while pottery is still wildly used in everyday life.


De-zo – The origins of papermaking are deeply rooted in Bhutan and many sacred scripts have been written on this paper. It is beautifully elegant and practical, elaborated with extensive care to be extremely resistant, since it is termite and insect repellent. This craft used to be specifically monastic; nowadays, all kinds of paper are available in the market, but people continue to use Dezho paper, made out of the Daphne and Edgeworthia plants, for special occasions.


Lug-zo– The art of casting was first introduced in Bhutan in the 17th century by Nepalese artisans. It ranges from the creation of kitchen utensils, pinnacles and statues, to musical instruments, pottery, tools and ornaments. 

Casting involves a complex process that requires a lot of skill and masterfulness in the two techniques that are practiced: wax and sand casting. Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, 13th Je Khenpo (a religious authority) of Bhutan, mastered wax casting, and crafted 1,000 Buddha, including the main Buddha at the Punakha Dzong.


Shing-zo – Woodwork is the skeleton of Bhutan. A lot of care and skill goes into the construction of every building, bridge, temple, institute, palace, and Dzong. The master carpenters, known as Zow chen, are the architects of the country, and they excel in creating true masterpieces. Dzongs that were built in the 17th century are vastly appreciated for the detail in their design and structure. A key example of a beautifully built wood structure is the Punakha Dzong.


Do-zo – Masons work closely with the carpenters with a different kind of artistry and sophistication that complement each other. Every structure is built by a combination of wood and stone. Stone is used in Dzongs, courtyards, walls houses, bridges, and Chortens, which are meant to keep religious relics inside. The senior master-mason, zope in Bhutanese, is the one who supervises the construction of stone structures and the preparation of the traditional and durable mortar that has been passed down generation to generation. One example of a prominent stone structure in Bhutan is the Chorten Kora in Trashiyangtse.


Par-zo – Once the structures are standing, the carver takes over with extraordinary precision to engrave from wood and slate to stone and paper. Mantras, deities and cultural motifs are carved into traditional masks, phalluses used in religious festivals, windows, doors and every other possible surface. Wood is the most important form of carving, due to Bhutan’s rich variety of woods. Various schools of Tibetan Buddhism introduced it in the 13th century.

The rest of the arts and crafts include wood turning (Shag-zo), blacksmithing (Gar-zo), gold- and silversmithing (Troe-ko), bamboo work (Tsha-zo), tailoring, embroidering and appliqué (Tshem-zo), and weaving (Thag-zo). Each one of these arts and crafts has great cultural and historic value, and Bhutan continues to preserve them with dedication and respect.


Nowhere in the Himalayas is the natural environment more rich and diverse than it is in Bhutan. One of Bhutan’s ancient names was Menjong Yul, meaning ‘the land of Medicinal Herbs’ and so rightfully. Even today, natural environment is mostly in undisturbed and pristine form. The ecosystem in Bhutan is diverse, because of its location, great geographical and climatic variations. Bhutan’s high, rugged mountains and deep valleys are rich with spectacular biodiversity, making one of the world’s ten most important biodiversity ‘hotspots’. For centuries, Bhutanese have treasured the natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This traditional reverence for nature has delivered Bhutan into the 21st century with an environment still richly intact. The country wishes to continue living in harmony with nature and to pass on this rich heritage to its future generations.

Knowing the importance of the natural environment, Royal Government of Bhutan takes its conservations at the heart of its development strategy. Royal Government of Bhutan has also committed in maintaining more than 70 percent forest cover for all time to come. Currently the total land under forest cover is 72.5 percent and more than 26 percent of the land is under the protected areas, comprising of four national parks and about 9 percent of the land fall under biological corridors so that the wild life sanctuaries and nature reserves connect protected areas.

Fortunately for Bhutan, maintaining a balanced natural ecosystem remains the central theme of its development process. The country’s development policies disregard sacrificing its natural resource base for short-term economic gains and are consistent with the central tenets of sustainable development, environmental conservation and cultural values.

In 1998, Bhutan was identified by Norman Myers as one of the ten bio-diversity hot spots in the world. It has been identified as the centre of 221 global endemic bird areas. The country signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. These conventions were ratified in 1995 at the 73rd session of the National Assembly. The Royal Government of Bhutan has also made a national commitment to uphold its obligation to future generations by charting a path of development called the “Middle Path” – this is the development, which upholds both environmental and cultural preservation as an integral part of the development process.

National Parks

Royal Manas National Park

This 1,023 sq km park in south central Bhutan adjoins the Black Mountain National Park to the north and India’s Manas National Park and Manas Tiger reserve to the south. It was initially established as a reserve game park. It is home of rhinoceros, buffalo, tiger, leopard, gaur, bear, elephant, wild dog, pygmy hog, hispid hare and several species of deer. Plans for opening Manas National park for tourists in underway.

Black Mountain National Park

Black mountain Park is renamed as Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. This area of 1,723 sq km protects the range of mountains that separate eastern and western Bhutan. Its plant life includes wide range of broadleaf species, conifers and alpine pastures. Animal life includes tiger, Himalayan black bear, leopard, red panda, goral, serow, sambar, wild pig and golden langur. The Phobjikha valley (Gangtey), which is the wintering ground for black-necked crane falls within this protected park.

Thrumshing la National Park

The 768 sq km Thrumshing la National Park lies between Bumthang and Mongar and protects temperate forests of fir and chir pine. It is known for its scenic views, dense forests and alpine meadows. Presence of threatened species viz. rufous necked hornbill, Satyra tragopan, Ward’s trogon, chestnut breasted partridge is a noteworthy feature of this reserve. A small area (22hectres) near the Thrumsingla pass (highest motor able pass in Bhutan), has a natural garden established to showcase Bhutan’s rhododendron diversity in their natural habitat. Out of 46 known species of rhododendrons in Bhutan four—R. kesangiae, R. pogonophyllum, R. bhutanense and R. flinckii—are endemic to the kingdom.

Kulong Chhu Wildlife Sanctuary

This reserve with an area of 1, 300 sq km is a large area of alpine tundra. The sanctuary protects the sambar and adjoins the Bomdeling conservation area, which is an important roosting place of black-necked cranes.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

This is in the easternmost part of the country protecting 650 sq km temperate forests of eastern blue pine and rhododendron. This sanctuary is rumored for sighting yeti, yes the legendary abominable snowman.

Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary

Situated in far southeastern Bhutan with an area of 273 sq km this sanctuary protects wild elephant, gaur, pygmy hog, hispid hare and other tropical wildlife.

Toorsa Nature Reserve

Located in western part of the Ha district where Toorsa river enters from Tibet. This 644 sq km reserve was established to protect the temperate forests of far west Bhutan. Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary.

The smallest, with 278 sq km area in southern border with India, around 50km east of Phuentsholing, protects sal forests of the country. Several protected species thrive in the sanctuary including axis deer, chital, elephant, gaur, tiger, golden langur and hornbill.

Flora and Fauna

Some 26.23% of the country’s area is protected through National Parks. In addition, a further 9% has been declared as Biological Corridors, connecting protected areas, and there are a series of Conservation Areas intended to protect important conservation sites outside the formal Protected Areas system. As a result, more than 35% of the country’s area is under the protection of some form of conservation management. This system serves as a globally unique system for in situ conservation of biodiversity.

Regarding diversity at the species level, inventories have indicated that over 5500 species, including 300 species of medicinal plants and over 50 species of rhododendrons. Of the more than 600 species of orchid, most are commonly found up to 2100m, although some hardy species thrive even above 3,700m.

Tropical evergreen forests growing below 800m are repositories of unique bio-diversity. The next vegetation zone is the subtropical grassland and forests found between 900m and 1800m. The tree rhododendron is found in this zone, along with forest of oak, walnut and sal, and numerous varieties of orchids. Temperate zone is a region of great diversity, largely influenced by the elevation. The tropical vegetation of the lower zones gives way to dark forests of oak, birch, maple, magnolia and laurel. Above 2400 altitude is the home of spruce, yew, and weeping cypress, and higher still, growing up to the tree line, is the east Himalayan fir. Between the tree line and the snow line at about 5,500m are low shrubs, rhododendrons, Himalayan grasses and flowering herbs.

Bhutan’s national flower, Blue Poppy grows above the tree line 3,500 – 4,500m elevation and can be found atop some high passes from the far eastern parts of the country all the way across to the west. Because of its unique setting and relatively un-exploited environment, Bhutan probably possesses the greatest biological diversity of any country of its size in Asia. It certainly contains some of the best remaining representatives of habitat types found in the Himalayas.

So far 770 species of birds have been recorded in Bhutan, which reflects the Kingdom’s wide range of agro-ecological environments, from subtropical to alpine and its location at the northern edge of the Zoogeographical oriental region and the permeable and fluid border with China. Also country is famous for wintering populations (about 350 birds) of the vulnerable black-necked crane in the valleys of Phobjikha, Bomdeling and Gyetsa. Blue Sheep in Yaksa.

Along its southern border, the narrow tropical and subtropical belt supports the Asiatic elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, gaur, wild water buffalo, hog deer, tiger, clouded leopard, hornbill, trogon and other mammals and birds characteristic of indomalayan species. Only 150 kilometers to the north, high Himalayan fauna include the blue sheep, Takin, musk deer, snow leopard, wolf and other species characteristic of the Pale arctic realm.

For many countries, poaching, retaliatory killing in response to livestock losses has plagued the conservatory efforts for endangered species, however, in Bhutan to a large degree the religious propensity of people and sustainable compensative measure in place and general awareness have led to resounding success in this venture. According to recent census it is found to have remarkable rise in population of endangered Snow leopard.

Bhutan’s history of isolation and policy of sustainable development provides decision makers with a unique opportunity to conserve the country’s natural and cultural heritage. As a first step in conserving its natural heritage, Bhutan has established a system of nine protected areas. The system sets aside approximately 26% of country’s total land area in national parks, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and conservation areas.

Kingdom established its national park system to protect important ecosystems, and they have not been developed as tourist attraction. In many case people even won’t be aware that they are entering or leaving a national park or wild life sanctuary.

Jigme Dorji National Park It is the largest protected area in the country, encompassing an area of 4,349 sq. km, covering the western parts of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha and almost entire area of Gasa district. The park is habitat of several endangered species including takin, blue sheep, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan black bear and red panda. The trek from Paro to Choolhari, Lingshi, Laya and Gasa goes through this park


Though referred to as the last Vajrayana Buddhist country, yet one may still come across animistic traditions and beliefs being practiced by the people. Nature worship and animal sacrifice are still a part of the Bhutanese worship. Every village has a local priest or a shaman to preside over the rituals. Some of the common nature worship being practiced are the Cha festival in Kurtoe, the Kharphud in Mongar and Zhemgang, the Bala Bongko in Wangdue Phodrang, the Lombas of the Haaps and the Parops, the Jomo Solkha of the Brokpas, the Kharam amongst the Tshanglas and the Devi Puja amongst our southern community. All these shamanistic rituals are being performed to keep at bay the evil spirits, to bring in prosperity, to cure a patient, or to welcome a new year. In all of these rituals a common feature is the offering of animals ranging from slaughter of an ox, fish a chicken or a goat


Bhutan is a Buddhist country and people refer to it as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. The Indian Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava first introduced Buddhism in the 8th century. Till then people by and large worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident even today in some remote villages in the country. The older form of religion was referred to as Bon and was accompanied by offerings of animal sacrifice and worshipped a host of deities invoking and propitiating them. They believed in invisible forces and considered them as the rightful owners of different elements of nature. Mountain peaks considered as abodes of Guardian deities (Yul lha), the lakes as inhabited by lake deities (Tsho mem), cliffs resided by cliff deities (Tsen), land belonging to the blockterranean deities (Lue), land inhabited by (Sabdag), water sources inhabited by water deities (Chu gi Lhamu), and dark places haunted by the demons (due) etc.

With the visit of Padmasambhava, Buddhism began to take firm roots and especially led to the propagation of the Nyingmapa (the ancient or the older) school of Buddhism.

The visit of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo’s from Ralung in Tibet to Bhutan in 1222 marks another milestone in the history of Bhutan and in Buddhism. He was instrumental in introducing yet another school of Buddhism – the Drukpa Kagyu that is today the state religion of the country. His sons and descendants were also instrumental in spreading it to many other parts in western Bhutan.

By far the greatest contributor was Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. His arrival in 1616 from Tibet marks another landmark. He was not only able to bring under his domain the various Buddhist schools that had cropped up in many parts of western Bhutan but unify the country as a one whole nation-state and give it a distinct identity. Buddhism is still vibrant and alive. The Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels punctuate the Bhutanese landscape. The chime of ritual bells, sound of gongs, people circumambulating temples and stupas, fluttering prayer flags, red robed monks conducting rituals, among many others are all living case in point to reveal that Buddhism is an essential ingredient of a Bhutanese life.

Bhutanese Society

The Bhutanese society is free of class or caste system and any inhibition that is detrimental for a society to progress. The Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck abolished slavery in the early 1950s through a royal edict. Though, few organizations to empower women have been established a few years back, in general the Bhutanese have always been gender sensitive. In general ours is an open and a good-spirited society.

Living in a Bhutanese society generally means understanding some basic norms like Driglam Namzha, the traditional etiquette. This is a norm that desires members of the society to conduct themselves in public places. Wearing a scarf when visiting a Dzong or an office, letting the elders and the monks serve themselves first, offering felicitation scarves during ceremonies such as marriages and promotions, greeting elders or senior officials are some simple manners that harmonizes and binds together the Bhutanese society.

Normally, greetings are limited to saying Kuzuzangpo amongst equals. For seniors and elders, the Bhutanese bow their head a bit and say kuzuzangpola. But, the western ways of shaking hands has become an accepted norm. The Bhutanese are also fun-loving people. Dancing, singing, playing archery, stone pitching, partying, social gatherings etc. are common things that one observes. Visiting friends and relatives at any hour of the day without any advance notice or appointment clearly depicts the openness of the Bhutanese society.


Bhutanese people can be generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Tshanglas, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas. The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and the Monpas of Rukha villages in Wangdue Phodrang. Together the multiethnic Bhutanese population number slightly more than 758,000.


The Tshanglas or the Sharchops as they are commonly known are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of eastern Bhutan. Tshanglas or the descendants of Lord Brahma as claimed by the historians speak Tshanglakha and are commonly inhabitants of Mongar, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse, Pema Gasthel and Samdrup Jongkhar. Besides cultivation of maize, rice, wheat, barley and vegetables, the Tshanglas also rear domestic animals to supplement their living. Weaving is a popular occupation of women. They produce beautiful fabrics mainly of silk and raw silk.


The Ngalops who have settled mostly in the six regions of western Bhutan are of Tibetan origin. They speak Ngalopkha, the polished version of Dzongkha that is the national language of Bhutan. Agriculture is their main livelihood. They cultivate rice, wheat, barley, maize etc, among others. In the regions of Thimphu and Paro apple is also cultivated as cash crop. They are known for Lozeys, or ornamental speech and for Zheys, dances that are unique to the Ngalops.


The Lhotshampas who have settled in the southern foothills are the latest to settle in the country. It is generally agreed that they migrated from Nepal in the beginning of the 19th century mostly coming in as laborers. They speak Lhotshamkha that is the Nepali language and practice Hinduism. One can find various castes of Lhotshampas including Bhramin, Chhetri, Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung, Mongar, Sherpa and the lepchas. They essentially depend on agriculture and cultivate cash crops such as like ginger, cardamom, oranges, etc.


The people who speak Bumthangkha, Mangdepkha and khengkha respectively inhabit the central pockets of Bhutan. The Bumthaps cultivate buckwheat, potatoes and vegetables. A section of this population also rear yaks and sheep and produce fabrics of wool and yak hair. The Mangdeps depend on cultivation of rice, wheat, maize, vegetables, etc besides rearing domestic animals. The khengpas also depend on agriculture similar to the Mangdeps. However, they are also known for the bamboo and cane craft.


Kurtoeps are the other category of people in the east. They inhabit the district of Lhuentse and the villages are found spread along the banks of Kurichu. Khoma women are expert weavers and are known for their skill in weaving the grandiose Kushithara.


The Brokpas and the Bramis are a semi nomadic community. They are settled in the two villages of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan. They mostly depend on yaks and sheep for livelihood. Living in the high altitude zones they hardly take up agriculture. They speak a different dialect and have their own unique dress that is made of yak hair and sheep wool. They are also experts in cane and bamboo crafts.


To the extreme north are the Layaps who speak the layapkha. Like the Brokpas, they are also semi nomads whose source of livelihood is dependent on yaks and sheep the products of which they barter with the people of Wangdue Phodrang and Punakha with rice, salt and other consumables.

The Doyas, these are the other tribal community and are settled mostly in southern Bhutan. They are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of western and central Bhutan, who over the years settled in the present areas in Dorokha. They have a dialect of their own and dress in their own unique style.


The Monpas are a small community in Rukha under Wangdue Phodrang. Together with the Doyas they are also considered the original settlers of central Bhutan. They speak a different dialect unique to their own but one that is slowly ding as these people are now being absorbed into the main stream Bhutanese society.


Bhutan is linguistically rich with over eighteen dialects spoken all over the country. National language is Dzongkha, the native language of the Ngalops of western Bhutan. Dzongkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs and administrative centres of Bhutan. The other major languages are Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha. Tshanglakha is the native language of the Tshanglas of eastern Bhutan while Lhotshamkha is spoken by the southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin.