Bhutanese topography is a beautiful blend of rocky, rugged terrains, consisting of sky-punching mountains set amidst alluring landscapes and deep valleys.
The northern border of Bhutan is dominated with the massive snow-capped mountains of the Himalayan range that reach an elevation of more than 24,000 feet. 20% of the land is perpetually snowbound. Watered by snow-fed rivers, this region consists of alpine meadows bounded by majestic mountains.
The Lesser Himalayas also known as Inner Himalayas range from broad cultivated valleys and dense forested hillsides to rain-swept slopes and terraced river basins.
Several fertile valleys of Central Bhutan like Paro and the capital Thimphu lie in this region and they receive moderate rainfall and are well populated. The woodlands provide most of Bhutan’s valuable forest resources.
The Duars plains are the fertile flatlands and lie south of the lesser Himalayan foothills. They border India and constitute a gateway to strategic mountain passes. Subject to abundant rainfall, these plains are covered with dense sub-tropical forests and luxuriant vegetation, it is home to several species of wild animals.
Bhutan’s climate is a striking meteorological contrast, which changes with the elevation of the region. From the extreme alpine tundra region of the Great Himalayas, to the cooler, temperate region of Lesser Himalayas, and hot, humid sub-tropical climate of the Duars Plains.
The flora and fauna of Bhutan is noted for its rich diversity. 70% of Bhutan is covered with forests. Tall dense grasses in lower elevations, dense forests of pine, oak, conifer, aspen and willow at higher altitudes and the most valuable forests of spruce, fir and juniper on the higher slopes of the Himalayas.
The global significance of preserving natural environment has become an intrinsic part of Bhutan’s unique identity. Several national parks set up by the government aim to protect and preserve the precious forests and wildlife in the country such as the Royal Manas Park along the Manas river adjoining India and the extensive Jigme Dorji in the northwest which spans all three climatic zones of the country. Sambar deer, Clouded leopards, Wild ox, rhinoceros, elephants, tigers and the famous Golden Langur are some native animals of the region.
A bird-lover’s paradise, Bhutan is famous for its variety of bird species. A total of around 670 types of bird species, which include rare, endangered and migratory birds have been documented and is home to 415 resident bird species.
Bhutan’s rivers such as Paro, Manas, and Pho, play a crucial role in the socio-economic and cultural geography. The immense potential for generating hydro-electrical power has helped in shaping the national economy.