🇧🇹 Thimphu (ཐིམ་ཕུ; formerly Thimbu or Thimpu) is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan, and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city extends in a north–south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Raidāk River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu in Bhutan. Thimphu is the fifth highest capital in the world by altitude and ranges in altitude from 2,248 metres (7,375 feet) to 2,648 metres (8,688 feet). Thimphu relies on the Paro Airport connected by road some 52 kilometres (32 miles) away.
Thimphu, as the political and economic centre of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base, which contributes 45% of the country's GNP. Tourism, though a contributor to the economy, is strictly regulated, maintaining a balance between the traditional, development and modernisation. 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. Thimphu is co-ordinated by the "Thimphu Structure Plan", an Urban Development Plan which evolved 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 literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, and dance, and in the media. Tshechu is an important festival when mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. It is a four-day festival held every year in September or October.
Thimphu is the political and economic centre of Bhutan and the location of the central government. A morning market is held on the central square during weekends. These are the only days when the residents of Thimphu can buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The inhabitants rely on the supermarkets for other provisions throughout the week. The market also sells yak butter, cheese, wooden bowls and fabrics. A number of cheap souvenirs from Nepal are also sold at the market. Behind the open market, several shops sell Chinese and Bangladeshi crockery, appliances, shoes, silks and carpets. For many years merchants would come to the central square from all over Bhutan and market their goods and would sleep in the open air. However, in 1986, platforms were erected and in 1989 covered market halls were built over the platforms. A special building for meat products was constructed on the north side of the market. In 2006, the handicrafts section was moved to the new stalls on the other side of the new bridge, built in the traditional style in 2005.
The Loden Foundation, Bhutan's first registered charity, has been based in Thimphu since 2007. It is run by a board of trustees composed of prominent citizens, and the foundation has a working team in the United Kingdom (UK). The organisation was established to support education and promote learning and entrepreneurship in Bhutan and other Himalayan areas and to promote Bhutanese culture and religion in other parts of the world.
Thimphu has a population of over 114,600 people.