Bhutan is nestled in the eastern Himalayas between China in the north and India to the south, east and west. The altitude varies from 180m (590ft) in the southern foothills to over 7,300m (23,950ft) in the north. Bhutan has three distinct climatic regions – the tropical foothills that are home to deer, tigers, leopards and the rare golden langur monkey. The vegetation here is tropical and broadleaved. Meanwhile, the Inner Himalayan region is temperate with wildlife ranging from bear, boar and sambar infesting its rich, deciduous forests. The alpine region is sparsely populated but the steep mountain slopes shelter many species of animals, including snow leopards and blue sheep.

Most mountains in northern Bhutan are over 7,000m (23,000 ft). The Black Mountains in central Bhutan form the major watersheds in the region. The south is covered with dense forests with elevations up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft).


Glaciers used to cover 10 percent of the northern mountains of Bhutan in 1980s. It is an important source of renewable/fresh water to the Bhutanese who live in the valleys below. It is however reported that due to climate change major glaciers are melting resulting in GLOFs and monsoon river swelling.

River systems

Bhutan has four major river systems: the Drangme Chhu; the Puna Tsang Chhu, also called the Sankosh; the Wang Chhu; and the Amo Chhu. Each of these rivers flows swiftly out of the Himalayas through the Dooars to join the Brahmaputra River in India, and then through Bangladesh where the Brahmaputra (or Jamuna in Bangladesh) joins the mighty Ganges (or Padma in Bangladesh) to flow into the Bay of Bengal.