Geography: His Majesty The King launched the first Atlas of Bhutan, published by the National Land Commission (NLC), on the sidelines of the rehabilitation land kidu programme in Dawathang village in Jomotshangkha on June 23.

National Land Commission secretary, Pema Chewang, said that it took over two years to prepare the atlas, which is the first of its kind.

A team of cartographers prepared the book under the guidance of two renowned atlas makers from the Netherlands.

The atlas covers two thematic areas of land cover and institutional facilities.

The secretary said that the atlas was published in celebration of the auspicious birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey.

“It is indeed most befitting that His Majesty who has ultimate refuge and authority over the land, launched the Atlas of Bhutan,” the secretary said. “The National Land Commission is deeply humbled and honoured with this rare opportunity.”

An official with the National Land Commission said that the 105 page atlas will be made available to schools at a very nominal cost, to cover printing expenses.

The secretary explained that the National Land Commission, as the national mapping agency, is mandated to spearhead geospatial data infrastructure development. The commission has been trying to promote a geographic information system for geo-enabling citizens and as a decision support system.

“The atlas will be useful for students, tourists and policy makers in better understanding Bhutan’s special geography,” the official said.

The commission is planning to come up with another two atlases. Work on a historical, religious and cultural atlas, in collaboration with the Department of Culture has started. The official added that the country is losing its cultural sites, therefore producing the book for conservation purposes and identification of the sites for uniformity.

The tourist atlas will have locations of hotels, trekking routes, and heritage sites, among others.

“We have started the data compilation and are working hard to produce the book within two years,” the official said.

The commission also plans to collaborate with the education ministry on producing a school atlas.

Dechen Tshomo