Gasa, in the extreme north west of Bhutan, shares its borders with districts of Punakha, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, and autonomous region of Tibet to the north. The total area is 3117.74 sq.km. Elevations in the district range between 1,500 and 4,500 meters above the sea level. The region experiences extremely long and hard winters and short but beautiful summer.
The Dzongkhag is administratively supported by four Gewogs namely Goenkhatoe, Goenkhamae, Laya and Lunana. Lunana is the furthest and most remote Gewog amongst the four. Gasa has a total population of 3116 (PHCB, 2005). The people of Gasa generally speak Dzongkha with a distinctive accent. People of Laya and Lunana Gewogs also speak their local dialect and the women of Laya have their own unique dress.
The natural splendor of Gasa is unparalled in the country. The Dzongkhag has some of the highest peaks in the kingdom. Over a hundred glacial lakes that are at the foot of these greater Himalayan peaks feed some of the major river systems in the country, including the Phochhu and the Mochhu rivers which join further downstream to form the Sunkosh, which eventually drains into the Bay of Bangal.
The whole Dzongkhag falls under the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park and is the habitat for different species of birds and animals like the takin, musk deer, blue sheep, snow leopard, red pandas, raven, wild pheasants, snow pigeons, red billed cough, Himalayan black bear, tiger, etc. The Dzongkhag has about 68% of its land area under forest cover, out of which about 35% is scrubs forest, 27% under fir forest, 15% under mixed conifer forest, 4% under broad leafed forest and the rest as tsamdro.
A famed hot spring and series of Menchus with renowned medicinal properties are another important natural resources in the dzongkhag, drawing numerous locals as well as tourists. Every year a number of tourists pass through the region along its popular trekking trails, including the famous snowmen, one of the longest and most arduous of the treks in the world. The region’s high altitude and extreme climate makes it difficult to practice agriculture but livestock is mainstay, particularly rearing of yaks.
The first Deb Raja of Bhutan, Tenzin Drugyel came from the well known house of the Hobtsho lams who were famous in Gasa. The ruins of the Raja’s ancestral dzong can be seen to this day. Besides, Gasa hold significant place in the history of Bhutan due to visit of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan via Gasa.