The state religion of Bhutan is the Drukpa sect of Kargyupa, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism. Ever since its introduction in the 8th century, Buddhism has shaped the nation’s history and played a vital part in the life of its people. Bhutanese language and literature, arts and crafts, drama, music, ceremonies and events, architecture, and basic social and cultural values draw their essence from Buddhism. Just as the Kingdom’s history is characterized by religious landmarks, the influence of religion is highly visible in everyday life. Hundreds of sacred monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, prayer flags and prayer wheels mark the countryside, providing a strong infrastructure and atmosphere for the teachings of their living faith.