Bhutan’s economy is of one the world’s smallest and least developed. However, it has been growing rapidly in recent years and is largely based on hydroelectricity, tourism, agriculture and forestry. In spite of the rugged terrain and diverse landscape, hydroelectricity and construction continue to be major contributors to Bhutan’s economy. Bhutan’s ability to produce hydroelectricity is largely due to its abundant water resources and its fast-flowing glacier fed rivers. The construction of several major dams such as the Chukha dam and Tala dam, has boosted generation of hydroelectricity. The power hereby generated is exported to neighboring countries like India, thus garnering revenue for the Bhutanese treasury.
The Bhutanese tourism industry was first opened in 1974, and has since then contributed immensely to the economy as well as opened up employment opportunities. Due to its long isolation, Bhutan’s ecosystem has been untouched by environmental damage to a large extent. The government is devoted to building a sustainable tourism industry to ensure that only the most judicious and discerning tourists with respect for cultural values and environment are attracted to visit the country.
Agriculture still remains Bhutan’s predominant occupation. Rice, maize and wheat are the main staple crops along with fruits such as apples and oranges. Farmer’s markets are found throughout the country and supply the locals with fresh, seasonal and organic produce. The farmers also sell animal or dairy produce such as milk, cheese and butter, to supplement their income.
Bhutan’s rich and ample forest resources have also given birth to a thriving cane and bamboo industry. Hats, mats, backpacks and bowls are some intricate articles created by the expert craftsmen, which has also provided them with a secondary source of income.