Sikkim is a kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas. It is inhabited chiefly by the Lepchas, who are a tribe indigenous to Sikkim with their own dress and language, the Bhutias, who originally came from Tibet, and the Gorkhalis (Nepalis), who entered from Nepál in large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th century. The main languages spoken are Sikkimese, Bhutia, Lepcha and Khaskura (Nepali). Being a small country Sikkim has frequently been involved in struggles over her territory, and as a result her boundaries have been very much reduced over the centuries. In particular the Darjeeling district was acquired from Sikkim by the British East India Company in 1839. The Namgyal dynasty has been ruling Sikkim since the 14th century; the first consecrated ruler was Phuntsog Namgyal who was consecrated in 1642 and given the title of ‘Chogyal’, meaning ‘Divinely appointed King’, derived from Cho—religion and Gyalpo—king.
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