Located in the Eastern Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan stands out as a place like no other. Roughly the size of Switzerland, rural and landlocked, the country is wedged between China in the north and India in the south.
Called “The Land of the Thunder Dragon,” the tiny Buddhist kingdom had been virtually untouched by modernity until just 55 years ago, when paved roads were first introduced to the country. And in an effort to protect Bhutan’s natural environment and unique culture, the socially and geographically isolated country did not welcome tourism until 1974.
Forests cover approximately 72 percent of Bhutan, and the mountainous landscape sees elevation changes ranging from 500 feet in the south to 24,770 feet in the north. Such a vast change in altitude means the climate also varies, with a hot and humid subtropical climate in the south, a temperate central region, and an alpine northern region.
“It has a fairytale quality about it that’s hard to get away from,” says Livingston, Montana, artist Amber Jean, who recently spent a month in Bhutan, working on a wood carving for the country’s fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
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