Bhutanese Americans, By the Numbers

Nearly 99% of Bhutanese Americans immigrated to the U.S. in the past two decades, driven by forced migration and a refugee crisis.


Meghna Rao


July 4, 2019

Bhutan, a country of roughly 800,000 and a $7.7b GDP (around that of the Maldives and Fiji), is often known as the happiest country in the world. But the story of its diaspora in the U.S. is largely one of forced migration, distress, and unhappiness.

In the late 1980s, Bhutan conducted its first-ever census. The census allowed the Buddhist, Tibetan-majority, or Ngalop, government to distinguish the country’s Lhotshampa, its Hindu Nepali-speaking population, who had lived in the country since the late-eighteenth century. 

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