|Regions with significant populations|
|Eastern Bhutan (Lhuntse, Trashiyangtse, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar)
Southwest China (Tibet Autonomous Region)
Northeast India (Assam)
|Tshangla · Monpa languages · Dzongkha · Tibetan Languages|
|Buddhism · Bon|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Monpa · Ngalop · Tibetan people|
The Sharchops (Dzongkha: ཤར་ཕྱོགས་པ, Wylie: shar phyogs pa; "Easterner") are the populations of mixed Tibetan, Southeast Asian and South Asian descent that mostly live in the eastern districts of Bhutan.
The Sharchops are an Indo-Mongoloid people who migrated from Assam, or possibly Burma, c. 1200 – c. 800 BC. Van Driem (1993) indicates that Sharchops are closely related to the Mönpa and that both are descendants of the indigenous pre-Tibetan (pre-Ngalop) peoples of Bhutan. Due to the societal prominence and political power of Dzongkha-speaking Bhutanese, however, Sharchops are marginalized (and sometimes persecuted) in Bhutan. The Sharchops are the largest ethnic group in Bhutan.
The Sharchops comprise most of the population of eastern Bhutan, a country whose total population in 2010 was approximately 708,500. Although they have long been the largest single ethnic group in Bhutan, the Sharchop have been largely assimilated into the culturally and politically dominant Tibetic Ngalop culture. Together, the Ngalop, Sharchop, and tribal groups constituted up to 72 percent of the population in the late 1980s, according to official Bhutanese statistics. The 1981 census claimed that Sharchops represented 30% of the population, and Ngalops approximately 17%. The World Factbook, however, estimates that the "Bhote" Ngalop and Sharchop ethnic groups together comprise approximately 50% of Bhutan's population, at 354,200 people. Assuming Sharchops still outnumber Ngalops at a 3:2 ratio, the total population of Sharchops in Bhutan is approximately 212,500.
Most Sharchops speak Tshangla, a Tibeto-Burman language; fewer speak the Olekha language. They also learn the national language, Dzongkha. Because of their proximity to India, some speak Assamese or Hindi.
Tshangla is also spoken by the Monpa (Menba) national minority across the border in China, distributed in Mêdog, Nyingchi and Dirang. Tshangla is similar to the Kalaktang and Dirang languages spoken by the Monpa of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
Sharchop peoples practice slash-and-burn and tsheri agriculture, planting dry rice crops for three or four years until the soil is exhausted and then moving on, however the practice has been officially banned in Bhutan since 1969.
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