Bhutan, literally Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a mountain kingdom the size of Switzerland, located at the eastern extremity of the Great Himalaya. The mountains in Bhutan include many 7,000 meter peaks and enormous glaciers, particularly along the northern border. Beneath the mountains, the hillsides and forests are lush and green, thanks to an especially strong monsoon.
The culture here is primarily Buddhist, and ancient temples are scattered throughout the valleys. Monasteries are the focal point of many towns and villages, and the chanting of monks is frequently heard. Buddhist festivals and mountain treks of varying levels of difficulty can be experienced in Bhutan, but tourism is generally selective and limited, and must be arranged with official tourist agencies. As of 1996, no technical climbing is permitted in Bhutan.