Lhuntse District (Dzongkha: ལྷུན་རྩེ་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie: Lhun-rtse rdzong-khag; previously "Lhuntshi") is one of the 20 dzongkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. It consists of 2506 households. Located in the northeast, Lhuntse is one of the least developed dzhongkhags of Bhutan. There are few roads, the first gas station was opened in September 2005, electricity is not well distributed, and the difficult terrain makes distribution of social welfare problematic. Despite its favourable climate, farming is hindered by the lack of infrastructure.
Eastern Bhutanese culture is distinctive in its high alcohol consumption in relation to other parts of Bhutan. Ara, the traditional alcohol of Bhutan, is most often home made from rice or maize, either fermented or distilled. It may only be legally produced and consumed privately. Ara production is unregulated in method and quality. Its sale has been prohibited in Bhutan and enforced since a severe crackdown. However, because Ara returns far more profit than other forms of maize, many Bhutanese farmers have pressed for legal reform.
Through government efforts to reduce ara production and consumption in Lhuntse District, locals conceded in 2011 that something should be done to curb the distinctly eastern Bhutanese tradition of heavy drinking. The government's strategy is to reduce ara production and consumption gradually until it is eliminated. Alcoholism and ara production have been notable topics of political discussion Bhutan, especially at the local level. Ara, however, is culturally relevant for its religious and medicinal uses. In 2011, the government passed its Alcohol Control Regulation, which imposed up to three times the previous taxes on alcohol. As a result, alcohol sales have dropped and prices have risen.
Lhuntse is home to a variety of language groups. In the east, Dzala an East Bodish language, is spoken. In southern Lhuntse, Chocangacakha, a sister language to Dzongkha, is spoken. The northern and western parts of the district are known as the Kurtö region, where inhabitants speak the East Bodish Kurtöp language.
Most of Lhuntse District is part of the environmentally protected areas of Bhutan. The district contains parts of Wangchuck Centennial Park in the north (the gewogs of Gangzur, Khoma and Kurtoe), Thrumshingla National Park in the south (the gewogs of Gangzur, Jarey and Metsho), and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east (the gewogs of Khoma and Minjay). These three parks are connected by biological corridors that crisscross the central and southern regions of the district.
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