The Exhibition in Zaragoza | The south

Bhutan's South

In the course of the centuries, various ethnic groups settled in the country's subtropical South, the numerically strongest of which are the Nepalese. In recent years they have given rise to considerable political discussion.

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The inhabitants of the South grow mainly rice, corn and millet and they keep livestock. The first commercially important plantations of cardamom and oranges were also started here. Several ethnic groups with autonomous cultural traditions settle in the southern lowlands. Since the beginning of this century these groups have been joined by many immigrants of Nepalese descent. The Bhutanese government invited them to cultivate the land on the border to India. The subtropical Monsoon-determined climate had been detrimental to the Bhutanese mountain population. Some groups adhere to Hinduism, others are Buddhists. In some regions shamanistic rituals are still common today. Being members of different language groups they use Nepali as their common language. Indo-European Nepali is widely spoken in Bhutan. It is one of the official languages of the national assembly, of the national radio and of one of the editions of the only newspaper. Up until the recent past the influx of Nepalese immigrants had constantly increased. Here they expected to find better living conditions than in their country of origin. In recent years some political groups among this in the meantime very large minority had striven for political power in such a measure that the Bhutanese government saw the country's unity and autonomy in danger. Thus Bhutanese cititzenship was refused to all persons who could not prove that they or their ancestors had already lived in the country before 1958. Today many Nepalese live in refugee camps in Nepal.