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Being Bhutanese

by Jonah Goodman (4883 words)

In a region where borders are unstable and often disputed, Bhutan has crafted a national identity that distinguishes it from its neighbours and emphasises its uniqueness and sovereignty.

You can learn a lot about a country from its airport. Like the ornate gates of ancient cities, 21st-century terminals are statements of identity, built with aspirational energy and utopian intent. Bhutan’s Paro Airport, opened in 1999, is no exception. But rather than soaring concrete, latticed steel and sparkling glass, arriving travellers encounter whitewashed walls, hand-carved window frames, and intricately painted woodwork.

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