Ethnic Groups

The country is primarily divided in Ngalops (westerner), Sharchops (easterner) and Lhotshampa (southerner). The westerners have close cultural affinities with Tibetans to the north and the Lhotshampas have Nepalese ancestry. Culture in certain region in the east resembles the culture of north eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.


Vajrayana Buddhism is the state religion and majority of the population are Buddhist. Bhutan also has a sizable Hindu community. Citizens are allowed to practice religion by choice however organized religious missionary campaigns are forbidden legally.


Traditionally the only way to receive formal education was to enroll in the monastic institution. Government sponsored and private schools with modern education system were opened. Student enrollment increased to 15000 by late 60’s.  The core curriculum included English, mathematics and Dzongkha. Bhutan’s literacy rate was lowest among the least developed countries in the early 90’s. Today literacy rate has gone up to 60 percent.  Developmental aid from World Food Programme and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization supported the Ministry of Education in providing stationary, books, tuition and clothing for all boarding schools across the country.

Higher education in the country was provided by Polytechnic school in Samdrup Jongkhar and Technical school in Phuntsholing. It taught civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Sherubtse junior college at the time was started in 1983. It offered three year degree courses affiliated with University of Delhi. Today the Royal University of Bhutan has 12 constituent colleges ranging from business, engineering, language and medicine.


Affordable and accessible health care is central to Bhutan’s development policy. Modern health care services accelerated after the initiation of first national five year plan. Hospitals and dispensaries were constructed across the country. The Government also sent Bhutanese to foreign institution to train and grow the medical staffs. Royal Institute of Health Sciences was established to train health care assistants and nurses to address the shortage of medical staff in the country.