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(self-designation, Rong), one of the Himalayan peoples living for the most part in the principality of Sikkim, although isolated groups live in West Bengal (India), eastern Nepal, and western Bhutan. Total population, circa 40,000 (1967, estimate).
The Lepcha language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family; the Lepcha have had their own written language since the 16th century. They have been Lamaists since the mid-17th century, but they still retain many animistic religious beliefs. Their principal occupation is terrace farming and, to a lesser extent, slash-and-burn agriculture (rice, corn, buckwheat, and millet); less important livelihoods are hunting, fishing, and stock-raising.