Bhutan Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Bhutan Country Overview

Where is Bhutan located? Bhutan (translated: “Land of the Thunder Dragon”) is an independent kingdom found in the middle of South Asia. On the world time zone map, countries are divided into world time zones along the longitude. The allocation to a specific time zone provides information on how much the regional time deviates from the coordinated world time (UTC). The time zone in which Bhutan is found is called “Bhutan Time” (BTT) and is 6 hours ahead of Coordinated World Clock (UTC +6). There is no time shift to daylight saving time in Bhutan in summer.

Bhutan National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Bhutan is 782,318, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 782,318
Population growth rate 1.02%
Birth rate 17.30 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 68.44 years
Men life expectancy 67.54 years
Women life expectancy 69.38 years
Age structure
0-14 years 25.35%
15-64 years 68.26%
65 years and above 6.39%
Median age 26.70 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.10
Population density 20.38 residents per km²
Urbanization 8.50%
approx. 60% Bhutija, 20% Lhotsampa (Nepalese) and others
Lamaistic Buddhists 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.617
HDI ranking 134th out of 194

People in Bhutan

Around 800,000 people live in Bhutan. Mainly they belong to three population groups. The Ngalongs live in the western highlands. These are the descendants of a group who came to Bhutan from Tibet in the Middle Ages. The royal family also belongs to this group. The Sarchops live in the eastern highlands. They are close to the ethnic groups from North and East India. The third large group does not live in the mountains, but in the lowlands of Bhutan, in the south. They are the Lhotshampa. They are also known as the “Nepalese Bhutanese”. 39 out of 100 Bhutanese live in a city.

What is “assimilation policy”?

Assimilation policy means the compulsory assimilation of one group to another. In the case of Bhutan, one also speaks of Bhutanization. Such a process of approximation was ordered by the Bhutanese royal family. The population is encouraged or even obliged to maintain Bhutanese traditions.

For example, it is encouraged to wear traditional Bhutanese clothing or it is expected that only the language of the Ngalongs is used. Since 1988, this has mainly driven out Nepalese people who had brought their own culture into the country and wanted to live. Many fled to Nepal.

Languages in Bhutan

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, a Tibetan language. Other Tibetan languages ​​can also be heard, for example Dzala or Kheng. The Nepalese in the south of the country speak Nepalese. English and Dzongkha are the languages ​​of instruction in Bhutan.

Religions in Bhutan

In Bhutan, more than 70 out of 100 people are Buddhists. They are mainly attached to Mahayana Buddhism. This is one of the two main directions in Buddhism.

Since many Nepalese and also Indians live in Bhutan, Hinduism also has an influence. About 27 out of 100 people describe themselves as Hindus. Muslims and Christians are only represented in the country to a very limited extent.