Bhutan, a landlocked country in the Himalayas, has an area of 47,000 km² (18,147 mi²), extending 306 km (190 mi) east to west, and 145 km (90 mi) north to south. Comparatively, the area occupied by Bhutan is slightly smaller than Switzerland. It is known as the "Switzerland of Asia" since its shape, area, and mountainous location are comparable to that of Switzerland. It is bordered on the east, south, and west by India and on the north and northwest by China, with a total boundary length of 1,075 km (668 mi). The capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, is located in the west central part of the country.
Bhutan is a mountainous country of extremely high altitudes and irregular, often precipitous terrain, which may vary in elevation by several thousand feet within a short distance. Elevation generally increases from south to north. The mountains are a series of parallel north-south ranges. The loftiest peaks, found in the Himalayan chain that stretches along the northern border, include Kula Kangri (7,554 m/24,783 ft) and Chomo Lhari (7,314 m/23,997 ft). Great spurs extend south from the main chain along the eastern and western borders. In the rest of the country are mainly ranges of steep hills separated by narrow valleys. Bhutan is drained by many rivers flowing south between these ranges and for the most part ultimately emptying into the Brahmaputra River in India.
Because of the irregular terrain, the climate varies greatly from place to place. In the outer foothills adjoining the Indian plains, rainfall ranges from about 150 cm to 300 cm (60-120 in) a year; the forests are hot and steaming in the rainy season, while the higher hills are cold, wet and misty. Violent Himalayan thunderstorms gave rise to Bhutan's Dzongkha name, "Druk-Yul", which translates as "Land of the Thunder Dragon". Rainfall is moderate in the central belt of flat valleys (which have an elevation of 1,100-3,000 m/3,500-10,000 ft). The uplands and high valleys (above 3,700 m/12,000 ft) are relatively dry. There is less rainfall in eastern Bhutan. In general, the mountainous areas are cold most of the year. Temperatures there average 4°C (39°F) in January and 17°C (63°F) in July.
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates :
27 30 N, 90 30 E
Map references :
total: 38,394 sq km
land: 38,394 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative :
slightly smaller than Switzerland
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