New Bhutan-Israel Relations

The tiny South Asian country has diplomatic relations with only a handful of countries and measures its success by its National Happiness Index

Israel announced on Saturday the establishment of diplomatic ties with Bhutan, the fifth country to do so in recent months, joining the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. But Bhutan is not an Arab country, and most people who hear the news of the normalization agreement are probably asking themselves, “What is Bhutan?”

The normalization deal was signed on Saturday night by Israel’s ambassador to India, Ron Malka, and Bhutan’s ambassador to India, Vysop Nangyal. The signing of the agreement follows secret talks, including exchange of visits, between officials of the two countries in recent years to establish diplomatic ties, according to the foreign ministry, which noted that it communicated with the different countries through the Mashav division of the International Development Agency. Dan collaborates. As a result, students from Bhutan came to Israel to receive agricultural training.

According to a joint statement on the agreement, the two countries plan to cooperate in economic, technological and agricultural development. It also said cultural exchanges and tourism would be “further strengthened”.

“This agreement will open up more opportunities to work together for the benefit of our two peoples,” Malka tweeted.

Bhutan, a country in South Asia, known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, is a small inland country located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. It borders Tibet to the north and India to the south, and has a population of less than 800,000. Its capital and largest city is Thimphu. At 14,824 square miles (38,394 square kilometers), the country is about the size of the US state of Maryland.

Bhutan’s official state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, practiced by as many as three-quarters of the country’s population. Another quarter of the population practices Hinduism. Freedom of religion was guaranteed, and preaching was banned by royal government decree.

Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy when it held its first general election in 2008. Before that, it was an absolute monarchy. The king’s official title is Dragon King.

The country has formal diplomatic relations with only 53 countries and became a member of the United Nations in 1971. For example, the United States and the United Kingdom are among the countries that do not have formal relations with Bhutan. Of the 53 countries, the country has embassies in only seven countries, and only India, Bangladesh and Kuwait have embassies in Bhutan. Other countries maintain informal diplomatic ties through embassies in neighboring countries. Internet and television have only been allowed into the country since 1999.

Bhutan maintains strong economic, strategic and military ties with India and strong political and diplomatic ties with Bangladesh. Its main export is hydroelectric power to India. As a way of preserving the country’s cultural and natural resources, the country is largely closed to outsiders, especially those from outside South Asia. Citizens of India and Bhutan can travel to each other’s countries without passports or visas, despite restrictions on tourism in the country. After China invaded Tibet in 1959, Bhutan closed its border with nearby China

The country’s official language is Dzongkha, also known as Bhutanese, one of 53 Tibetan languages ​​spoken throughout Central Asia. However, English is the language of instruction in Bhutanese schools.

Bhutan is known as the happiest country in the world, in fact, the government of Bhutan included in its constitution in 2008 a National Happiness Index to measure the country, which is even higher than the country’s GDP. This actually makes sense as Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in the world with a poverty rate of 12%.

For the foodies among us, Bhutan does have some traditional dishes of its own. According to reports, the most recommended national dish is Ema Datshi, a chili and cheese concoction. Other traditional foods include Jasha Maroo or Maru, which is spicy chicken, and Phaksha Paa, or pork with red peppers.

While Bhutan is considered a very safe destination and theft is rare, Lonely Planet says there are still some dangers and annoyances to be aware of, including: stray dogs make a lot of noise at night and rabies is a risk; Roads are rough; Indian separatist groups are active on Bhutan’s southeastern border; rain, clouds, snow and falling rocks can affect road and air travel.

Bhutan is famous for its monasteries, forts (called dzongs) and stunning scenery. Tourists must be pre-planned, pre-paid, guided tourists, or guests of the government. They can also enter the country as guests of “citizens of certain status” or with volunteer organisations.

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