does not have any indigenous group. It is a nation of immigrants
and a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic
society. There are three main ethnic, religious and linguistic
groups and a dozen smaller groups.
Ngalung - often called Drukpas - are the ruling group who
control the monarchy and the government and dominate the economy.
King and all the high Government Officials belong to this
politically and economically dominant ethnic group. They live
in the north-western region, speak Dzonkha language and wear
robe like dresses. They migrated from Tibet. They are called
Drukpas as they follow the Drukpa Kargyupa school of Mahayana
second ethnic group is called Sharchop, who inhabit in eastern
and central region and practice Nyingmapa sect of Mahayana
Buddhism and belong to Tibeto-Burman ancestry. They speak
Tsangla, Kurteop, Kheng and Brokpa dialects. They were supposedly
migrated from North-east India.
third ethnic group is called Lhotshampas ( meaning Southern
Bhutanese) live in six southern foothill districts, speak
Nepali language, practice mostly Hinduism and migrated from
Nepal, Darjeeling and Sikkim in India.
three ethnic groups migrated to Bhutan at different points
of time in history, but before the exodus of British from
India in 1947. There are other minority ethnic groups having
their own distinct characteristics in terms of language, culture,
religious practices etc. They are Tibetans, Doyas, Khengs,
Adivashis, Brokpas Mangdepas and Kurteopas. In terms of religion
and faith, Bhutanese people practise Hinduism, Christianity,
Drukpa Kargyupa and Nyingmapa sects of Buddhism and Animism.
ethnic group of Bhutan have lived clustered together in separate
regions. For example, the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas lived
in southern foothills, the Sharchops lived in eastern region
and the Ngalungs lived in north-western regions. In Bhutan
the census record is maintained in the district of origin,
even though they are living in different parts like capital
government of Bhutan does not disclose the exact number of
population. It has been a guarded secret. In the eighties
the government put the figure at 1,165,800 and even increased
to 1.4 million. The reason and the need for this inflated
figure could not be ascertained. However, due to external
pressure and after the dissident groups published the population
figure at between 600,000 to 700,00, the king of Bhutan admitted
in 1991 that the real number was just about 600,000.
1999, Bhutan's population was 657,548 according to the Planning
Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The following
population figures have been derived form various government
sources mention in the Note below:
: 452,000 (1)
: 564,000 (1)
1998 : 636,499
1999 : 657,548
1. National Human Development
Report 2000, Planning Commission Secretariat, Thimphu 2000,
2. Bhutan At A
Glance, 2000, Central
Statistical Organization, Planning Commission Secretariat,
Royal Government of Bhutan
3. Bhutan At A
Glance, 2001 Planning
Commission Secretariat, Thimphu 2001.
population growth rate was 3.1
according to the
National Human Development Report 2000, Planning Commission
Secretariat, Thimphu 2000, page number 12. 3.1 percent
growth rate added to the population figure of 2000 to arrive
at 2001 population figures.
Prime ministerís annual government report presented to the
national Assembly on July 03, 2004.
Kuenselonline July 04, 2003.
In his report
population growth was mentioned as 2.5 percent.
growth rate added to the population figure of 2001 to
arrived at population figures for 2002.
The above population figure do not
include the refugee population. In the year 2001, there were
110,800 Bhutanese refugees registered with the UNHCR ( as per
UNHCR report, November, 2002). There were a total of approximately 135,000 Bhutanese
refugees living in the UNHCR managed camps in Nepal and
outside of the refugees camps in Nepal and India in 2001.
Thus, the approximate total
population of Bhutan including Bhutanese refugees in
POPULATION ESTIMATE FOR 2001
The following unofficial demographic statistics have been
derived by a complex system based on Government statistics,
population figures of 1980 and 2000, UN, World Bank and other
international sources. The following figures include the
refugee population, about 125,000 living in refugee camps in
Nepal, other parts of Nepal and India.
Total Inside Bhutan