I was looking at a list of countries and their population on Polish Wikipedia. (It provides data for multiple years which I couldn't find in English.)

I noticed one quirk: between 2007 and 2008, the population of Bhutan dropped from 2,327,849 to 682,321 people.

The only information I found that happened was that around that time, a king abdicated and the first parliamentary elections were held. Not much more. I suspect something must have happened.

What is the reason for ~70% decline in population around this time?


2 Answers 2


The article on Bhutan in the English-language Wikipedia has this explanation:

The population of Bhutan had been estimated based on the reported figure of about 1 million in the 1970s when the country had joined the United Nations and precise statistics were lacking. Thus, using the annual increase rate of 2–3%, the most population estimates were around 2 million in the year 2000. A national census was carried out in 2005 and it turned out that the population was 672,425. Consequently, United Nations Population Division reduced its estimation of the country's population in the 2006 revision for the whole period from 1950 to 2050.

There was no such drastic decline in population, just inaccurate data.

  • 26
    Note that Native Hawaiians once suffered a similar "paper genocide". In 1970 the US census removed a racial category for "part Hawaiian", causing 10's of thousands of Native Hawaiinas from the 1960 Census to disappear. When they changed it again in 2000 to allow people to select more than one race, the missing Hawaiians magically reappeared as if they'd never been gone (which of course they hadn't.). It lives on now as a very annoying blip in their population curve.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 14:46
  • It's surprising that the estimations weren't retroactively corrected
    – everyone
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 1:46
  • 5
    @everyone: They were (“United Nations Population Division reduced its estimation of the country's population in the 2006 revision for the whole period from 1950 to 2050”). It’s just Polish Wikipedia that apparently hadn’t updated the old figures.
    – chirlu
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 2:03
  • Yes probably the paper count was off the mark. But how is it possible that it was so much off the mark? Could a 'selective' census be part of the answer?
    – FluidCode
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 19:41


The fact is that Buhtan was not well developed. It was estimated that about 1.2 million people was its population. The UN increased it by 3-4% every year. It came out to be 2 million. But after the 2006 census. The population was noted as 600,000 people.

Buhtan is now well censused and its estimates are also decreased,.... So this is the reality. And Buhtan is now developing and more and more people are going towards the center for better jobs that now will result in better and more reliable numbers in 2020.

  • 8
    Welcome to Politics.SE! I don't see how this adds anything that isn't already in chirlu's answer (which has sources).
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 12:49

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