Perched on the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, State of Nepal is as ethnically diverse as its terrain of fertile plains, broad valleys, terraced hillsides and the highest mountain peaks in the world. The Nepalese are descendants of three major migrations from India, Tibet, and North Burma and Yunnan via Assam.
Among the earliest inhabitants were the Kirat of east mid-region, Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the southern Terai region. The ancestors of the Brahman and Chetri caste groups migrated eastward from India Kumaon, Garwal and Kashmir, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to North Burma and Yunnan and Tibet, e.g. the Gurung and Magar in the west, Rai and Limbu in the east, and Sherpa and Bhotia in the north.
In the Terai, a part of the Ganges Basin with 20% of the land, much of the population is physically and culturally similar to the Indo-Aryans of northern India. Indo-Aryan and East Asian looking mixed people live in the hill region. The mountainous region is sparsely populated above 3,000 meters, but in central and western Nepal ethnic Tibetans inhabit even higher semi-arid valleys north of the high Himalaya. Kathmandu Valley, in the middle hill region, constitutes a small fraction of the nation's area but is the most densely populated, with almost 5% of the population.
Derived from Sanskrit, Nepali is related to the Indian language Hindi and written in Devanagari script. Nepali is the official, national language and serves as lingua franca among Nepalis of different ethnolinguistic groups. Hindi -- along with regional dialects Awadhi, Bhojpuri and Maithili -- are spoken in the southern Terai Region. Hindi is also widely understood by Nepalese who have worked, studied or traveled in India. Many Nepalese in government and business speak English as well.
The 2001 census identified 80.6% of the population as Hindu and 10,7% as Buddhist (although many people labeled Hindu or Buddhist often practice a syncretic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism or animist traditions). 4.2% of the population is Muslim and 3.6% of the population follows the indigenous Kirant Mundhum religion. Christianity is practiced by less than 0.5% of the population.
Buddhist and Hindu shrines and festivals are respected and celebrated by most Nepalis. Certain animist practices of old indigenous religions survive.
Nepal’s 2001 census enumerated 103 distinct castes and ethnic groups including an "unidentified group".
The major caste/ethnic groups identified by the 2001 census are Chetri (15.8%), Hill Brahmin (12.7%), Magar (7.1%), Tharu (6.8%), Tamang (5.6%), Newar (5.5%), Muslim (4.3%), Kami (3.9%), Rai (2.7%), Gurung (2.5%), and Damai/Dholi (2.4%). The remaining 92 caste/ethnic groups (including the world-famous Sherpa) each constitute less than 2 % of the population .
|CASTE OR ETHNIC GROUP||POPULATION||PERCENT OF TOTAL|
|Chamar, Harijan, Ram||269,661||1.19|
Population: 26,469,569 (July 2003 est.)
0-14 years: 39.7% (male 5,424,396; female 5,080,171)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male 7,692,134; female 7,320,059)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 468,697; female 484,112) (2003 est.)
total: 19.7 years
male: 19.6 years
female: 19.9 years (2002)
Population growth rate: 2.17% (2006 est.)
Birth rate: 32.46 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate: 9.84 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 70.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 72.27 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 68.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 59 years
male: 59.36 years
female: 58.63 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.39 children born/woman (2003 est.)
noun: Nepali (singular and plural)
Religions: Hinduism 80.2%, Buddhism 21%, Islam 2.8%, other 1.2% (2006).
Languages: Nepali (official; spoken by majority of the male population), about a 90 other languages and major dialects;
note - many in government and business also speak English (1995)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45.2%
female: 27.6% (2003 est.)
People - note:
Refugee issue over the presence in Nepal of approximately 96,500 Bhutanese refugees, 90% of whom are in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. Presence and activity of Tibetan refugee population in Nepal also raises sporadic diplomatic conflicts with the People's Republic of China.
According to the April 2001 UK National Census There are 6,000 people of Nepali origin in the UK. Hindus comprise 0.17% of the population. Following continuous trend (including those of mixed Nepali ancestry), in 2008 there are likely to be well over 10,000 Indian people in the UK.
Nepalese people in Hong Kong are mainly the children of ex-Gurkhas born in Hong Kong during their parents' service with the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas, which was based in Hong Kong from the 1970s until the handover. Large groups can be found in Shek Kong, Yuen Long District, one of the main bases of the British army. Many ex-Gurkhas remained in Hong Kong after the end of their service under the sponsorship of their Hong Kong-born children, who held right of abode. They often work as security guards for companies such as G4s, TNT, Guardforce, and Afc.
|Country||Articles||Overseas Nepali Population|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong||15,950|
|Total Overseas Nepal Population||~4,611,914|