Bhutanese Americans

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Bhutanese Americans
Total population
23,316 Americans of Bhutanese descent or ethnic origin (2013 American Community Survey)[1]
71,000 Bhutanese refugees in USA (according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in USA in 2013)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Vermont (Burlington) • New HampshireMaryland (Baltimore) • Colorado (Denver, Boulder) • Ohio (Akron, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo) • South Dakota (Sioux Falls) • North Dakota (Grand Forks, Fargo) • Kentucky (Louisville, Bowling GreenMassachusetts (Boston, Worcester) • Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Erie, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Lancaster) • Nebraska (Omaha) • Michigan (Lansing, Grand Rapids) • Utah (Salt Lake City) • New York (Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester) • California
Related ethnic groups

Bhutanese Americans are Americans of Bhutanese descent. According to the 2010 census there are 19,439 Americans of Bhutanese descent.[1] However, many Bhutanese came to the U.S. from Nepal as political refugees from that country and are registered as Nepali Americans; often leading to the actual numbers of Bhutanese Americans being underreported. More than 92,323 Bhutanese Nepalis have been resettled in the United States.[3]


According to the 2010 census, there are 19,439 Bhutanese Americans.[1] However, many Bhutanese came to the U.S. from Nepal as political refugees from that country. These political refugees formed, according to estimates of June 20, 2010, a population of 27,926 people in the United States. Many Bhutanese Americans are of the Hindu faith.[4] The others are Kiratas, Buddhist, and Christians.

Bhutanese Lhotshampa[edit]

Many of the Bhutanese living in the United States were actually ethnic minorities of Nepalese descent. This was because, between the late 80s and early 90s, thousands of Bhutanese were driven out of Bhutan, as they were considered by the government of that country as "illegal immigrants" because they did not have the required proof that was needed to tag them as a citizen of Bhutan. Despite this, however, these Bhutanese came from families who had been living in Bhutan for more than two centuries. The government's goal was to maintain the Tibetan ethnic purity of most of the population. Thus, since 1990, more than 105,000 ethnically Nepali Bhutanese refugees temporarily migrated to neighbouring Nepal, from where their ancestors came, establishing in refugee camps in the east of the country. However, after 15 years living in exile in the neighbouring country, many of them have migrated to the U.S., Europe and Australia.[5] This emigration to the United States is due, at least in large part, to a program coordinated by the U.S. State Department and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.[4] Of the 60,000 Bhutanese - Nepali refugees that U.S. has offered to migrate in the country,[6] according to BBC News on June 20, 2010, had already 27,926 lived in USA.[7][8] However, in Oct. 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that around 71,000 Bhutanese refugees living in the U.S.[2]

According to the International Organization for Migration, the Bhutanese refugees are sent to places such as New York City, Chicago, Syracuse (New York), and St. Louis (Missouri). The refugees are also sent to states such as Texas, Arizona, Maryland[6] and Oregon.[9] The community is being helped by The Hindu Temple of Minnesota, along with Lutheran and Catholic social organizations who give them materials and moral support.[4]

In 2014, Connecting Cleveland, a four-page paper with stories in English and Nepali was launched to serve Nepali-speaking Bhutanese families in the Cleveland, Ohio area.[10]

In 2020-2021, Connecting Cleveland founder Hari Dahal, a Bhutanese American, registered the non-profit as Connecting Cleveland Community, Inc. The non-profit has helped Greater Cleveland immigrant families whose members often work in frontline jobs in the service industry where early in the pandemic the virus was spreading fast. Bhutanese Americans youths under Hari Dahal's leadership have found a group in early 2020 - called Nebham LLC - that create various technological solutions and apps for nonprofits and businesses run by Bhutanese Americans.[11]

Communities in the United States[edit]

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the cities, suburbs, and towns with the largest percentages of Nepali Bhutanese Americans were:[12]

Community and social issues[edit]


A trouble in the community is the high rate of suicide. In 2008, more than 30 Bhutanese refugees, shortly after resettlement in United States, committed suicide.[2][13] From 2009 to 2012, 16 more suicides among the Bhutanese community had occurred.[14] According to an article in The Wall Street Journal in 2013, 7 more Bhutanese refugees had committed suicide.[13]

According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, 24.4 commit suicide, almost double the rate of 12.4 for the general population of The United States. It was also stated that this estimate was much higher than the estimated annual global suicide rate for all persons in the world at 16 per 100,000 people.[15][14]


According to data released in 2017 by the Pew Research Center, 33.3% of the Bhutanese American community lived under the poverty line.[16] This is more than twice the USA poverty average of 16% according to data released by the Economic Policy Institute in 2011.[17]


Many sources have indicated that 21% of all Bhutanese Americans suffer from depression which is nearly 3 times the rate of the general American which stands at 6.7%.[18][19][20] It has been observed that other mental illnesses are also prevalent among the community such as anxiety and PTSD.[21][22]

Lack of education[edit]

According to the same date released by the Pew Research Center, the Bhutanese community has one of the lowest educational attainment level in the entire U.S. with only 9% of all Bhutanese Americans 25 years old and older have at least a bachelor's degree.[16]


Bhutanese Americans own various businesses that serve the community and larger group through out the United States. Currently, Nebham LLC - a technology startup run by Bhutanese Americans.[23]


The Bhutanese American Association of Houston (BaaH) and the Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) are two examples of Bhutanese-American organizations. The Bhutanese American Association of Houston has an ESL program which provides elderly people in the community with the resources to learn English. In addition, ESL students are taken to various places and parks with recreational purposes to facilitate adaptation to the city.[24] The Association of Bhutanese in America aims to establish relationships between U.S. Bhutanese and Bhutanese in Bhutan and elsewhere, as well as establish a platform that favors their relationship with the community and their country of origin.[25]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". Archived from the original on 29 December 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Bhutanese refugees in the US still committing suicide at high rate… Archived 2014-01-31 at the Wayback Machine. Posted by Ann Corcoran on January 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "Where in US, elsewhere Bhutanese refugees from Nepal resettled to". 6 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c The Washington post: Bhutanese refugees' American dream. Retrieved June 02, 2013, to 16:20pm.
  5. ^ "Issue". Bhutanese Refugees. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b "First of 60,000 refugees from Bhutan arrive in U.S. -". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  7. ^ "UNHCR, IOM say 20,000 resettle so far". Archived from the original on 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  8. ^ " | पहिलो पृष्ठ | पुन:स्थापना थालिएपछि भुटानी शरणार्थीहरुको संख्या घट्दै". Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  9. ^ Bhutanese refugees in Oregon find a frustrating path to American dream. Posted by Anna Griffin.
  10. ^ Smith, Robert L (2014-07-24). "Nepali teen launches newspaper to guide his community in the Cleveland tradition". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  11. ^ CONN, JENNIFER (2020-12-02). "Cleveland Immigrants Launch BRAVE to Connect Families with Resources During Pandemic". Spectrum News 1. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  12. ^ "The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States - Statistical Atlas". Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  13. ^ a b Staff, W. S. J. (7 January 2014). "American Dream Becomes Nightmare for Bhutanese Refugees". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Suicide and Suicidal Ideation Among Bhutanese Refugees — United States, 2009–2012". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  15. ^ "New to America, Bhutanese refugees face suicide crisis". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population". 8 September 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  17. ^ "New poverty measure highlights positive effect of government assistance". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  18. ^ Preiss, Danielle (13 April 2013). "Bhutanese Refugees Are Killing Themselves at an Astonishing Rate". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  19. ^ Beras, Erika (29 January 2014). "Bhutanese Refugees Face a High Suicide Rate". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Bhutanese Refugees Face a High Suicide Rate". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  21. ^ Vonnahme LA, Lankau EW, Ao T, Shetty S, Cardozo BL (December 2015). "Factors Associated with Symptoms of Depression Among Bhutanese Refugees in the United States". Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 17 (6): 1705–14. doi:10.1007/s10903-014-0120-x. PMC 4631124. PMID 25348425.
  22. ^ Tolan, Casey (9 June 2016). "A mysterious mental health disorder is afflicting Bhutanese refugees in America". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  23. ^ CONN, JENNIFER (2020-12-02). "Cleveland Immigrants Launch BRAVE to Connect Families with Resources During Pandemic". Spectrum News 1. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  24. ^ "Bhutanese American Association of Houston (BaaH)". Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  25. ^ Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA): Chairman's Corner.