The official estimate of
Bhutan's population in 1990 was about
600,000 but other sources estimate the
population for 2000 was just under 2 million.
Those living in Bhutan of Nepali origin
have been excluded from the official census
since 1990 which results in such a large
discrepancy in population numbers.
Bhutan has four major ethic
groups: Bhutia, Sharchops, Nepali, and
other indigenous groups. The Bhutia, who
are descended from Tibetans, live in the
central and northern regions of Bhutan.
This ethnic group basically dominates
politics in Bhutan particularly with it's
contribution of government officials and
monks that come from it.
Believed to be Bhutan's
earliest settlers, the Sharchops live
in the southeastern and eastern region.
They speak both Tibeto-Burman languages
as well as Hindi.
The Nepali people are the
latest immigrants to Bhutan. Living in
the southwestern and south central section
of Bhutan, immigration of Nepali's has
been forbidden by the Bhutanese government
since 1959. Fear of Bhutan becoming too
heavily populated with Nepalis brought
about this and the ban on living in the
central Himalayan region. Bhutan traditions
and culture are to be retained and not
dilute Bhutanese distinctiveness.
There are small groups of
ethnic minorities that live all throughout
Bhutan with the largest group living in
the Duars. This group is related to those
groups living in India's Assam and Bangla