Sikkim is India’s least populous state, with 607,688 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. Sikkim is also one of the least densely populated Indian states, with only 86 persons per square kilometer. However, it has a high population growth rate, averaging 12.36% per cent between 2001 and 2011. The sex ratio is 889 females per 1,000 males, with a total of 321,661 males and 286,027 females recorded in 2011. With 50,000 inhabitants, the capital Gangtok is the only significant town in the mostly rural state; the urban population in Sikkim constitutes around 11.06 per cent of the total. The per capita income in Sikkim stands at  11,356, which is one of the highest in the country.



A large, long-term population influx from Nepal has resulted in the majority of Sikkim’s residents being of Nepali ethnic origin. However, the native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias, who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century, and the Lepchas, who are believed to have migrated from the Far East. Tibetans reside mostly in the northern and eastern reaches of the state. Migrant resident communities include Biharis, Bengalis and Marwaris, who are prominent in commerce in South Sikkim and Gangtok.


The Rumtek monastery is among Sikkim’s most famous monuments. Hinduism has been the state’s major religion since the arrival of the Nepalis; an estimated 60.93 per cent of the total population are now adherents of the religion. Sikkim’s second-largest religion is Buddhism, which accounts for 28.1 per cent of the population. Sikkim has 75 Buddhist monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s.

Christians in Sikkim are mostly descendants of Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries in the late 19th century, and constitute around 6.6 per cent of the population. Other religious minorities include Muslims of Bihari ethnicity and Jains, who each account for roughly 1 per cent of the population.  The traditional religions of the native Sikkimese account for much of the remainder of the population.

Although tensions between the Lepchas and the Nepalese escalated during the merger of Sikkim with India in the 1970s, there has never been any major degree of communal religious violence, unlike in other Indian states. The traditional religion of the Lepcha people is Mun, which coexists with Buddhism and Christianity.


Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim, while Sikkimese and Lepcha are spoken in certain areas. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Other languages include Dzongkha, Groma, Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepal Bhasa, Rai, Sherpa, Sunuwar, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan, and Yakha.