In Photos: Winds of Change in Idyllic Bhutan
For decades Bhutan had no television, no traffic lights and a culture that had barely changed in centuries.
Today, bars dot the capital Thimphu, set in mist-covered mountains, teenagers crowd internet cafes to play violent video games, and men smoke and gamble in snooker halls.
There are still no traffic lights after residents protested against the installation of one, but otherwise the once-isolated Buddhist country tucked between India and China is changing, and bringing the modern world's problems in its wake.
Signs of change are everywhere, pulling the country of snow-capped, jagged mountains, forests, rivers and clean air into the modern world.
Smoke billows from construction sites across the country and a giant bronze-and-gold Buddha statue that commands the entry to the Thimphu valley now shares space with modern telecom towers.
On the streets and even in the countryside, jeans have become as commonplace as the traditional Bhutanese knee-length gho robes for men and the ankle-length kira dresses that women wear.
Bhutan's $2.2 billion economy remains predominantly agricultural, but mobile phones and TV sets are everywhere, even in the Phobjikha valley, a tourist haven about seven hours' drive from Thimphu and in winter, home to Bhutan's famed black-necked cranes.
This piece has been edited for length and published in an arrangement with Reuters.
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