Bhutan - Demographics


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1969 930,614
1980 1,165,000 +25.2%
1991 1,375,400 +18.1%
2005 634,982 −53.8%

Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa, meaning "southerners", are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepalese descent, it was claimed they constituted 45% of the population in 1988 census, include migrants from as early as the 1890s to as recent as the 1980s, who have fought a bitter war with Bhutan over rights to abode, language, and dress, there has been a mass emigration from Bhutan (both forced and voluntary) resulting in hundreds of thousands of people stateless in refugee camps. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops, the dominant group, who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism. In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups. In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and mainstream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government, but after the late 1980s, the Bhutanese government forced about 108,000 Lhotshampas from their homes, seized their land, and expelled them to refugee camps.

The literacy rate in Bhutan is 59.5 percent. The country has a median age of 24.8 years. Bhutan has a life expectancy of 62.2 years (61 for males and 64.5 for females) according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are 1,070 males to every 1,000 females in the country.

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