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Lecture Gives Insight into Bhutan

By John Leupold

The little-known Kingdom of Bhutan is sometimes referred to as the last Shangri-la.

Located between India and Tibet in the Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan is one of the few countries never to be conquered or colonized. It existed in self-imposed isolation until 1960 without electricity, running water, automobiles, schools, hospitals, or currency. The Chinese invasion of neighboring Tibet led Bhutan’s king to re-evaluate this policy, and he and his son are largely responsible for Bhutan’s entry into the modern world.

Bhutan made the decision to embrace modernity and at the same time preserve its traditions, culture, and environment. The result has been a carefully thought-out process whereby the kingdom adopted policies, ideas, and institutions deemed helpful to this process while restricting mass tourism, foreign ownership of businesses and land, and the sale of nonrenewable natural resources.

Today, Bhutan has roads, schools, hospitals, and all the conveniences found elsewhere in the world. The population is educated, thanks to free universal education, and all speak English (the official language) because the king decided to provide his citizens with a language enabling them to communicate with the rest of the world. Bhutan has made the transition from a feudal society to a modern democracy smoothly and in a remarkably short span of time.

Bhutan’s fourth king introduced the concept of Gross National Happiness, for which the country is today perhaps best known. It is now a constitutional monarchy due to a stunning decision by this fourth king to voluntarily give up power and hold elections. An elected parliament and prime minister now rule Bhutan, though the king is revered throughout the country for his good deeds on behalf of the Bhutanese people.

While Bhutan is both small and poor, it is extraordinarily blessed with beauty and gracious people. It feels both ancient and modern at the same time. Its unique history, culture, geography, and politics will be the subject of this program.

Part-time San Miguel resident John Leupold, owner of Champaca Journeys, has made 37 visits to Bhutan since 2007 and describes Bhutan as the most remarkable place he has ever visited.

 

Talk

“Bhutan: Kingdom of The Thunder Dragon”

John Leupold

Mon, Apr 1, 3pm

Sala Quetzal

La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A

Free

info@champacajourneys.com

 

 

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