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Happiness is a place
Bhutan is a landlocked country nestling within the Himalayas between two nuclear powers, India and China. This tiny Himalayan kingdom is home to roughly seven hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, mainly semi-nomadic yak herders who switch their dwellings between the wind-shielding lower valleys in winter and the breezy highlands in summer.
As the predominant religion, Buddhism is one of the fundamental pillars of this nation, on which its history and culture are based. To a large extent, Bhutan mirrors its neighbor in the North, Tibet (now an integral part of China). It, too, like Tibet, had seen countless bloody wars where the lords of the principals and high-ranking monks fought for territory and the right to collect taxes from serfs. Although the country was first united under one flag in the 17th century, the infighting accompanied Bhutan for another 200 years.
The political turmoil had only ended at the beginning of the 20th century when the first hereditary king of Bhutan, the "Dragon King", was crowned as a head of state. The king relinquished most of his powers in the early 21st century, turning Bhutan from a monarchical state into a constitutional kingdom. Religiously, Bhutan is a meeting point for a variety of sects within Tibetan Buddhism. There are factions of the yellow hats (Gelugpa), the red hats (Drukpa), the black hats (Karmapa), and the white hats (Kagyupa). These schools differ in their customs and rituals and the way Buddhism is taught and practiced.
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