It is amazing to see in what seemingly inhospitable areas of the world humans have settled - and managed to survive and even prosper. This amazement is certainly justified in the case of the inhabitants of a Himalayan region south of Tibet known as Zanskar and Ladakh in India and Dolpo in Nepal. People there live in valleys at an altitude of 4000 m (13,000 feet). Dolpo ist still cut off from the rest of the world for eight months of the year, and even in the remaining four months accessible only over dangerous passes. Rainfall is almost non-existent and temperatures can drop below minus 40 degrees Celsius. In this hostile environment, the inhabitants have developed a low-technology sustainable culture in harmony with nature. The ecological circle is complete: everything is recycled and nothing is wasted. Zanskar has been connected to the rest of the world with a precarious road in the eighties of the past century, Ladakh in the sixties. Thus - as it is the case with many other indigenous cultures - modern lifestyles have found their way into these remote areas through the new Himalayan Highway. The cultural and ecological consequences are disastrous.

Bhutan is a rare and extraordinary case of sustainable development. The political leaders - especially the King Wangchuk - have decided that what matters for their country is not the "Gross National Product" but the "Gross National Happiness". They have forcefully applied these principals and therefore saved Bhutan from the ecological and cultural problems that have befallen Ladakh.

Video clips of Himalayan Indigenous People

Zanskar (India)

Ladakh (India)

Dolpo (Nepal)