Inspired by a 1,200-year-old Bhutanese prophecy, the recently completed Thimphu Buddha is one of the largest sitting Buddhas in the world. Bhutan is the world's last independent Buddhist kingdom.
Workers at the Punakha Dzong temple prepare portraits of Bhutan's fourth and fifth kings as part of the fourth king's 60th birthday celebration. Known as "K4," Jigme Singye Wangchuk introduced democracy and the concept of Gross National Happiness.
Monks sing a celebratory song at K4's celebration. Bhutan is one of the only countries to place humility and compassion at the center of its constitution.
Children find a better vantage point at a music festival outside the capital city of Thimphu. Recent advances in technology have introduced Bhutanese artists, including a rapper inspired by Eminem, to more modern forms of music.
Prayer flags like these on top of a grassy hill in Dochula Pass carry prayers for the alleviation of the suffering of all sentient beings.
Butter lamps flicker in the mountain breeze near the iconic Tiger's Nest temple high above the city of Paro. The temple is the most popular attraction in Bhutan.
Visitors circle clockwise, reciting prayers, around the Memorial Chorten Stuppa of Thimphu. Whether students preparing for a test or farmers hoping for a fruitful harvest, people regularly visit the Stuppa to receive blessings and pay their respects.
Backed by snow-capped mountains, gold-painted Dakinis -- the angels of the Buddhist world -- perch high above the capital. Himalayan snowmelt and monsoon rains power Bhutan, which is among the world's leading countries in clean energy.
With a population of just under 100,000, Thimphu is a quickly growing capital. Bhutan is half the size of Indiana, and two-thirds of it is covered by pristine forest. Its constitution insists that it must stay that way -- forever.
Guide Karma Lotey takes a call on his cell phone. Bhutan is in the throes of a technological revolution (television didn't arrive until 1999) and is fighting to find a balance between traditional culture and modern technology.
Bhutanese musicians play at a music festival on the outskirts of the capital as part of the country-wide celebration of the 60th birthday of the fourth king.
The Dochula Pass, a mountaintop gateway from Thimphu to the valley of Punakha, sits among the clouds at over 10,000 feet. A monastery and shrines to Bhutanese soldiers killed in combat are among its attractions.