Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan.
It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. As of 2011, it had a population of 91,000.
Thimphu, as the political and economic center of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base. Tourism, though a contributor to the economy, is strictly regulated, maintaining a balance between the traditional, development and modernization. Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, located to the north of the city.
The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media.
|POPULATION :||City: 91,000 / Metro: 115,260|
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||Dzongkha (official)|
|RELIGION :||Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%|
|AREA :||300 km2 (100 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||7,656 ft (2,320 m)|
|COORDINATES :||27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 53.74% |
• Female: 46.26%
|ETHNIC :||Bhote 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% , indigenous or migrant tribes 15%|
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+975 2|
Initially, when Bhutan was opened up for Tourism in 1974, the Government-owned Tourism Corporation was set up in Thimphu to encourage and organise individual and group tours to destinations of cultural importance in Bhutan, concentrating on Buddhism, weaving, birds, nature and trekking, and any special package. This organization was privatised in 1994 and named as Bhutan Tourism Development Corporation. The corporation also owns and manages hotels and tourist lodges at all major tourist centres in Bhutan. It has its own fleet of cars and also interpreters in several international languages to cater to tourists of various denominations.
Thimphu does not have a vibrant night life but the number of nightclubs and pool rooms for young people is growing quickly.
The main street, Norzim Lam, contains a number of shops and small hotels and restaurants. The Bhutan Textile Museum, the National Library, the Peling Hotel, Wangchuck Hotel, the Chang Lam Plaza, the Art Cafe, the Khamsa Cafe, the Swiss Bakery, Yeedzin Guest House, the Mid-Point South Indian restaurant, the Benez restaurant, the Bhutan Kitchen and the sports field are buildings of note around this street area.
Near the main square is a clock, decorated with dragons, which is now an open-air theatre site and art and craft stores and the Tashi supermarket. In the building in front of the old cinema there is a Chinese restaurant and trekking stores. Some of the grocery stores such as Sharchopa are noted for their cheeses, namely Bumthang and Gogona.
Before 1960, Thimphu consisted of a group of hamlets scattered across the valley including Motithang, Changangkha, Changlimithang, Langchupakha, and Taba, some of which constitute districts of the city today.
In 1885, a battle was held at what is now the Changlimithang sports ground in Thimphu. The decisive victory opened the way for Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King of Bhutan to virtually control the whole country. Since this time the sports ground has been of major importance to the city; football, cricket matches and archery competitions take place there. The modern Changlimithang Stadium was built on the site in 1974. Under the Wangchu Dynasty, the country enjoyed peace and progress under successive reformist monarchs.
The third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, reformed the old pseudo-feudal systems by abolishing serfdom, redistributing land, and reforming taxation. He also introduced many executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. Reforms continued and in 1952 the decision was made to shift the capital from the ancient capital of Punakha to Thimphu.
The fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, opened the country for development and India provided the needed impetus in this process with financial and other forms of assistance. In 1961, Thimphu officially became the capital of Bhutan.
The fourth king, who had established the National Assembly in 1953, devolved all executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the people in 1998. He introduced a system of voting no confidence in the king, which empowered the parliament to remove the monarch. The National Constitution Committee in Thimphu started drafting the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan in 2001. In 2005, the fourth king of Bhutan announced his decision to hand over the reins of his kingdom to his son Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. The coronation of the king was held in Thimphu at the refurbished Changlimithang Stadium and coincided with the centenary of the establishment of the House of Wangchuck. In 2008, this paved way for the transition from absolute monarchic rule to a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy, with Thimphu as the headquarters of the new government, with the national defined objective of achieving "Gross National Happiness" (GNH) concomitant with the growth of Gross National Product (GNP)
The city experiences a southwest monsoon-influenced Subtropical highland climate of a warm, temperate climate.
The southwest monsoon rainfall occurs during mid-June to September. Lightning and thunder often precedes rainfall in the region with cumulonimbus clouds and light showers dominating the weather. Continuous rainfall for several days occurs resulting in landslides and blockage of roads.
Cold winds, low temperatures at night, and moderate temperatures during the day, cloudiness, light showers and snowfall mark winter weather in this zone. Fog causes poor visibility, which poses a threat to vehicular traffic in the city. As spring approaches, the landscape is marked by violent winds and relatively dry and clear skies.
Thimphu experiences a wet season, which runs from May through September and a dry season that covers the remainder of the year.
The average temperature recorded during winter varies between 5–15 °C (41–59 °F) while in summer the variation is between 15–30 °C (59–86 °F).
The coldest average (minimum) temperature in January is −2.6 °C (27.3 °F) and the average highest temperature recorded during August is 25 °C (77 °F).
|Daily highs (°C)||12||14||16||20||23||24||19||25||23||18||14||11|
|Nightly lows (°C)||-3||1||4||7||13||15||13||16||15||10||5||-1|
Thimphu is situated in the constricted, linear valley of the Raidāk River, which is also known as the Thimphu River (Thimpu Chuu). While the surrounding hills are in an altitudinal range of 2,000–3,800 metres (6,600–12,500 ft) (warm temperate climate between 2,000–3,000 metres (6,600–9,800 ft) and cold temperate zone between 3,000–3,800 metres (9,800–12,500 ft)), the city itself has an altitude range varying between 2,248 metres (7,375 ft) and 2,648 metres (8,688 ft). It is these two variations in altitude and climate which determine the habitable zones and vegetation typology for the valley. The valley, however, is thinly-forested and is spread out to the north and west. At the southern end of the city, the Lungten Zampa bridge connects the east and west banks of the Wang Chuu which flows through the heart of city.
Thimphu is the political and economic centre of Bhutan and the location of the central government. Agriculture and livestock contribute to 45% of the GNP. The use of hydropower plants to generate electricity has also substantially contributed to the economy. Tourism is also a contributor to the economy but its adoption is on a graduated scale maintaining a balance between development and modernization. India is its major trading partner with most of the electricity produced (90%) exported to India, with imports from India limited to 70%.
A morning market is held on the central square during weekends. These are the only days when the residents of Thimphu can buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The inhabitants rely on the supermarkets for other provisions throughout the week. The market also sells yak butter, cheese, wooden bowls and fabrics. A number of cheap souvenirs from Nepal are also sold at the market. Behind the open market, several shops sell Chinese and Bangladeshi crockery, appliances, shoes, silks and carpets. For many years merchants would come to the central square from all over Bhutan and market their goods and would sleep in the open air. However, in 1986, platforms were erected and in 1989 covered market halls were built over the platforms. A special building for meat products was constructed on the north side of the market. In 2006, the handicrafts section was moved to the new stalls on the other side of the new bridge, built in the traditional style in 2005.
Internet cafes in Thimphu are linked to broadband. Connections are swift, but quite expensive.
- Buddha Internet, Norzin Lam (diagonally across from Chopstick Restaurant). Has a large range of computers - excellent service - very fast connections.
- Hotel Norling, opposite the hotel reception room on the second floor - efficient and fast.
- JP Internet Cafe, Jojos Building - very professional.
- Go Go Internet Cafe, Lhaki Building (located in the building that houses the Bhutan Times offices), Hong Kong Market - remains open until around 11PM (the latest in town).
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