Population of Bhutan

The exact population figure of Bhutan is unknown and is controversial. Until 1990, the official figure quoted for Bhutan's population was 1.3 million and sometimes 1.4 million, possibly for foreign aid considerations. In UN, Bhutan's official statical data on population is 1.4 million. Following the pro-democracy movement, the government of Bhutan has declared it to be only 600,000. The Nepalese (Lhotshampas) of the south have long claimed that the census figures of Bhutan are fiddled, that the population is nearer to only 600,000 than the 1.3 million claimed officially, and that the Nepali population is almost 1/3rd the total against barely one-tenth claimed by the government.

King Jigme's statement on the representation of National Assembly from an interview with Calcutta's Sunday magazine (Vol. 17,No.49,page 27.Oct. 28-3 Nov.1990).

Q. "Is the representation fair?"

A: ''No. I agree with the boys in the south that the representation is not fair. When my father established the National assembly in 1954, no one had any idea about it and nobody wanted it. So, when he forced its creation, the seat representation was done on an ad hoc basis. We had no census. It definitely needs to be changed in accordance with the demographic distribution in the districts.

Also, our official population figure is 1.3 million, but actually, it is closer to 6,00,000.''

Statesman, An Indian daily News paper of Sept.1992 writes:

The statical Yearbook of Bhutan 1990, published by the Planning Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan in July, 1991, said that "the total population of Bhutan was estimated to be 1,461,853, of which 739,833 were males and 772,020 were females". An estimation is generally a rounding off, not an absolute number but within months the Royal government drastically pruned the statistics announced earlier. In December, 1991, its publication, Bhutan: Round Table meting, said the country had a population of only 600,000 - reduction by more than a half , within the six months. A pointed query to the Home Ministry drew the explanation that it was a mistake and efforts were on to rectify it.