Bhutan: Mountain Fortress of the Gods Hardcover – 1 Oct 1997
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The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, a country the size of Switzerland with a population of around 600,000, is presented in this book through the eyes of nine western and Bhutanese academics. The text first presents the heritage of this last-surviving Mahayana Buddhist kingdom, its topography, fauna and flora, and its ethnic and linguistic diversity. Traditional arts and crafts, and architecture, as well as Bhutan's state and popular religion are also described. The book endorses the view that many Bhutanese have of their own country as a small independent nation between powerful neighbours where Buddhist values guide everyday life, and those in power have a special relationship with gods and saints. Despite the worldwide tendencies towards cultural homogenization and globalization, Bhutan is today in a strong position to survive as an integral culture. From a detailed historical survey that takes the reader up to the present day, the book then introduces the challenges Bhutan faces while trying to keep its cultural heritage and environment intact. Three decades of development have had an impact on the kingdom which has moved rapidly into the 21st century, leading many Bhutanese to conclude that economic development is no substitute for a sense of cultural and national identity to guarantee the country's independence.