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Cultural Traces Around the World

Bhutan: The Land of Happiness

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Bhutan is the only nation in the world to focus on Gross National Happiness or GNH in its national decision-making. Bhutan’s ancient legal code states that: “If the government cannot create happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for the government to exist.” That message from the nation’s ancestors offers a guiding principle to all of Bhutan’s rulers, requiring them to ensure the happiness of all its citizens.

The Bhutanese people live according to Buddhist principles of compassion and nonviolence. Since ancient times, they have strived to live in harmony with their environment and to protect both animal-people and plants as best they can. The government combines conservation and carefully implemented ecotourism to earn state revenue. The country has ten national parks that lie on the border with India. In Bhutan’s constitution, Article 5 Section 3 states that at least sixty percent of its territory must be covered by forest. Bhutan has exceeded that objective for several years, as currently, about 72 percent of the kingdom’s land area is forested.

As a part of its mission to raise the level of happiness of its citizens, the Bhutanese government has launched an intensive organic farming program. A pilot program began in 2003, and then the National Framework for Organic Farming for Bhutan (NFOFB) was established in 2007, followed by the launch of the National Organic Program (NOP) in 2008. Farmers in the country are becoming increasingly convinced that working in harmony with nature helps to sustain the flow of nature's bounties.

The size of Bhutan’s economy is relatively small, with a Gross Domestic Product of less than two billion dollars. But education and healthcare are completely free. All citizens are guaranteed a free basic school education, and those who work hard are provided with a free college education. The state also guarantees the basic human need of housing. If a citizen does not have a house, the government will assist them in finding a place to live, under the oversight of the Ministry of Happiness. Young Bhutanese learn how to achieve happiness in their lives from a young age. Bhutan is one of the countries which has been impacted the least by the pandemic. The king, government officials, and the general population all worked hand in hand to respond to the pandemic, and the king personally traveled to many remote areas to warn his people.
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