Thimphu ( Tibetan script: ཐིམ་ཕུག།, Dzongkha :ཐིམ་ཕུ ) also spelt Thimpu, is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the name of the surrounding valley is dzongkhag, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. As of 2005 it had a population of 79,185, with 98,676 people living in the entire Thimphu district.
The city is spread out longitudinally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Wang Chuu, also known as the Thimphu Chuu River. Thimphu is located at 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E / 27.4666667°N 89.64167°E / 27.4666667; 89.64167Coordinates: 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E / 27.4666667°N 89.64167°E / 27.4666667; 89.64167 and is spread over an altitudinal range between 2,248 metres (7,375 ft) and 2,648 metres (8,688 ft). Unusually for a capital city, Thimphu is not served by an airport, but relies on the airport at Paro, connected by road some 54 kilometres (34 mi) away.
Thimphu, as the political and economic centre of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base, which contributes to 45% of the country's GNP. Tourism, though a contributor to the economy, is strictly regulated, maintaining a balance between the traditional and development and modernization. Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, located to the north of the city. As a metroplis and capital city, Thimphu is coordinated by the "Thimphu Structure Plan", an Urban Development Plan which evolved in 1998 with the objective of protecting the fragile ecology of the valley. This development is ongoing with financial assistance from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media. Tsechu festival is an important festival when mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichhoe Dzong in Thimphu. It is a four day festival held every year during Autumn (September/October), on dates corresponding to the Bhutanese calendar.
The traditional architectural monuments in Thimphu, as in the rest of Bhutan, are of typical Bhutanese architecture of monasteries, dzongs (most striking fortress type structures), chortens, gateways, Lhakhangs, other sacred places and royal palaces, which are the most distinctive architectural forms of Bhutan. Prayer Flags, Mani Walls and Prayer Wheels present a propitious setting throughout the urban agglomerate of Thimphu. The most prominent architecturally elegant, traditional Bhutanese building structures in Thimphu are the Tashichho Dzong, Drubthob Goemba (now the Zilluka nunnery), Tango Goempa or Cheri Goempa, the Memorial Chorten, Thimphu, Dechen Phodrang, and Changangkha Lhakhang, all vintage monuments with rich history.
These are further sanctified by the recent additions to the architectural excellence of buildings, a fusion of the traditional and modern architecture which are mostly post 1962, after Thimphu became the Capital of Bhutan and opened up for tourism under various Five Year Developmental Plans. The buildings under this category are the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, National Library, National Assembly cum SAARC Building, National Institute for Traditional Medicine, National Textile Museum, Voluntary Artists Studio, Royal Academy of Performing Arts, Telecom Tower and many more. The residential buildings in Thimphu have also undergone change in their construction methods without sacrificing the traditional Bhutanese designs said to be "reminiscent of Swiss Chatels."