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Kingdom of Bhutan on CNN Wonderlist
  • Kinga Dema

(CNN) — Pretend you're a king.
Pretend that you reign over the Land of the Thunder Dragon, a happy little nation high in the highest mountains, cut off from the wars and worries of the modern world.
You are a nice king. You do your best to improve the lives of your subjects, one road, school and hospital at a time. Instead of gross national product, you measure your country's success in gross national happiness, and your subjects love you dearly.

But one day, you decide you don't want to be a powerful king anymore. Because you believe there shouldn't be powerful kings anymore.

"Democracy?" your subjects wail. "A constitution? What the hell are those? We don't want to vote! We want you to take care of us! You're smarter than us! You're kinder than us! You know what we need to stay happy forever!"

You're the king. What do you do? What kind of society do you build?
These are the questions that sent me scrambling into the Himalayas for "The Wonder List," because this is not a fairy tale. It is the story of Bhutan.