Bhutan is located between the world’s two most populated countries, i.e. China in the north and India in the south
- Land area of 46,500 square kilometers.
- Lies between latitudes 26degree 45inches N and between longitudes 88degrees 45inches E and 92degrees 10 inches E.
Bhutan is relatively compact with a maximum latitudinal distance of 170 kilometers and the maximum longitudinal of 300 kilometers. It is about 200 air miles in length and about 100 air miles in breadth.
The Bhutan is dominated by the Himalayas system of mountains interspersed by enchanting deep valleys of rivers. The mountains stand to the North, South and central Bhutan along with the main river valleys and passes. They affect the climate and Bhutan experiences differences in elevation and degree of monsoon.
The land rises from approximately 300 meters above sea level in the south to the towering Himalayan mountains in the north of over 7000 meters high. The country is divided into three geographical regions : the Greater Himalaya, the Inner Himalaya and the Southern foothills.
This region lies in the Greater Himalayas along the Tibet border. This region is inhabited by 2 groups of pastoralists : known as “Jobs” in the west and :Brokpa” in the east.
Mountains along the border are more than 6000m in height, featuring the following peaks :
- Mt. Jomolhari at 7314m
- Gangkarpunsum at 7500m(world highest unclimbed mountain)
- Tshering Gang at 6900m
- Jichu draki(6890m)
- Masang Gang (7000m)
This region is characterized by cold climate conditions with winter temperature often below freezing point and area is covered under a blanket of snow.
Besides the herding yaks, the pastoralists also cultivate grains crops like barley, potato, turnip and radish. This region is very sparsely populated and the people living here lead a nomadic life, moving from one pasture land to another with their yaks. They are heavily dependent on barter trade with the south to supplement their own produce.
This region extends from west to east between the Greater Himalaya in the north and the southern foothill. In the center part of this region, the climate is generally moderate with warm summer and very cold winter where there is occasional snow fall
The Black mountain in center Bhutan spans from north to south, dividing the country into two east and west parts. Eastern Bhutan is mostly humid with relative amount of rainfall while the western part is mostly cold and dry. Central Bhutan, consisting of the Inner Himalayas, rises gradually to about 3000 meters. This region contains the broader river valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Monger and Trashigang, which comprise the economic and culture heartland of the country.
Southern Foothills extends over the Indo-Bhutan border plain. The foothills rise from Indian plain in the south at 600m and then in the steep escarpment to more than 1500m. This foothill region is characterized by hot, humid climate with warm summer. The annual rainfall is average of 500cm and average temperature of this subtropical monsoon region is 25oC. Tropical deciduous vegetation is found in abundance in this region.
This region is densely populated, housing nearly one third of Bhutan’s population. Land is intensively used to cultivate rice, maize, millet, wheat and many other topical fruits including banana, mango, orange, papaya and jackfruit. This region is more developed because of good road infrastructure and low transport cost.
All rivers in Bhutan have their source from the Himalayas in the north and flow southwards to Brahmaputra in India, finally into the Bay of Bengal. Almost all valleys have perennial rivers or streams which merge ultimately into four major river systems : the Ammochu, Wangchu, Sonkosh and Manas. The rivers, fed by the perennial snows or the summer monsoon, are higher in monsoon season (June to September) and lower in winter (December to March).