Early records suggest scattered clusters of inhabitants had already settled in Bhutan when the first recorded settlers arrived 1400 years ago. Bhutan’s indigenous population is the Drukpa. Three main ethnic groups, the Sharchops, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas, make up today’s Drukpa with the total population of 671083 (six hundred seventy one thousand and eighty three only). Bhutan’s earliest residents, the Sharchops, reside predominantly in eastern Bhutan.Their origin can be traced to the tribes of north Burma and northeast India. The Ngalops migrated from the Tibetan plains and are the importers of Buddhism to the kingdom. Most of the Lhotshampas migrated to the southern plains in search of agricultural land and work in the early 20th century. More than 90% of the people live on subsistence farming, scattered in sparsely populated villages across the rugged terrain of the Himalayas.
The geography of the land kept each ethnic group separate until the middle of this century when roads were built between the east and the west. As a result, the Sharchops have retained their influence over the east, while the Ngalops predominate in the west, and the Lhotshampas have retained their homes in the south of Bhutan.