Sherpas: The people of the Khumbu
The Sherpas are an eastern, indigenous people living in the eastern regions of Nepal. The word Sherpa is a combination of two Tibetan words, “Shyar,” meaning east, and “Pa,” or people. They are indeed easterners both in origin and present location of settlement, as they migrated from Eastern Tibet and now live in Eastern Nepal. While traditionally Sherpas were farmers and traders, today many work in mountaineering, trekking, or portering. The Sherpa people are known for their strength and relationship to the mountains. Therefore, the Khumbu region is well known as “Sherpa Land.”
Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa, meaning “southerner Bhutanese”, are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepal ancestry. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops the dominant group, who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism. In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups.