people in BHUTAN

There are numerous ethnic groups in Bhutan, and no one group constitutes a majority of the Bhutanese population.

The Bhutanese are of four main ethnic groups, (Ngalop, Sharchop and Lhotshampa)

The politically and culturally dominant Ngalop of western and northern Bhutan;


For tourists, full attire of own discipline is required when you enter dzongs and government offices. If you are anywhere near the national flag of Bhutan, you should remove your caps or hats. With specification, you may require to remove your footwear when you enter a holy place or temple.

“Gho’ is the national dress for men in Bhutan. It is a long robe hoisted up until it is knee-length. The hoisted cloth is held in place with a woven cloth belt called ‘Kera’ wound tightly around the waist. National dress for Bhutanese women is ‘Kira’. Kira looks like an apron. It is generally made of fine woven fabric, is adorned with traditional patterns.


ethnic groups


The Ngalop are dominant in western and northern Bhutan, including Thimphu and the Dzongkha-speaking region. The term Ngalop may subsume several related linguistic and cultural groups, such as the Kheng people and speakers of Bumthang language.


The Sharchop (meaning “easterner”), are the populations of mixed Tibetan, South Asian and Southeast Asian descent that mostly live in the eastern districts of Bhutan.


The Lhotshampa are generally classified as Hindus. The Lhotshampa are dominant in southern foot-hills of Bhutan, including Gelephu, Tsirang, Samtse and Nepali-speaking region. 

Other ethnic

  • Brokpa, Doya,  Lepcha,  Layab,  Tibetan

aboriginal inhabitants

The Lhop or Doya people are a little-known tribe of southwest Bhutan. The Bhutanese believe them to be the aboriginal inhabitants of the country. The Lhop are found in the low valleys of Dorokha Gewog and near Phuntsholing  in the Duars. The dress of the Lhop resembles the Lepcha, but they bear little similarity with the Bhutia in the North and the Toto in the west. 

The Doya trace their descent matrilineally, marry their cross cousins, and embalm the deceased who are then placed in a foetal position in a circular sarcophagus above the ground. They follow a blend of Tibetan Buddhism mixed with animism.

layap PEOPLE
yak herders

Layaps are the semi-nomadic yak herders, inhabiting at the higher region of Bhutan. One of their major activities in their daily life is to rear and herd yaks. The Layap children nowadays attend school provided by the Royal Government of Bhutan in the region. They wear distinct costumes which is similar to some tribes in Tibet.

The women wear tapering/conical bamboo hats and precious stones around their neck. Both men and women wear yak-haired dresses which are different from the national dress.

merak PEOPLE

Merak is known for having the mystic animal-Yeti. The people of Merak and Sakteng are called Brokpas. When culture of other regions hinges at last breath, Brokpas have it preserved well and intact.

The hat they wear
The black hats they wear are spun from the yak hair and has five fringes dangling down. It not only shades the sun but also the fringes are meant to drain the rain water soaked in the thick hat. Thick woven wools and hairs of yak cloths keeps away harsh colds in the winter, and these people herd yaks and cattle for their livelihood.

east north PEOPLE

Women in east-north Bhutan continue to live and practice old customs and traditions the same way as their ancestors did.

Making yarn of sheep wool, weaving, gardening, fetching firewood, tending cattle are some of the daily chores in villages.

Khoma village, is known throughout the country for its woven textile, the Kishuthara. A culture that has evolved over the years is a row of women in a makeshift textile cottage, weaving intricate designs and patterns. A visit to this village will truly be a pleasant trip.

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