People and Language of Nepal

Nepal has a population of more than 29 million with a complex mixture of different ethnic groups, each with a distinctive lifestyle and cultural flavor speaking different languages and dialects.

The Sherpas live mainly in the mountain of eastern and central Nepal, in particular, in the Solu Khumbu (Everest) region. The Sherpas are probably the best known Nepalese ethnic group originally from Tibet, they settled in the area about 500 years ago. The Sherpas also are known as “snow leopard” live in the Himalayas region up to an average altitude of 4570m.

The Brahmins and Chhetris are simply the two highest castes, the Brahmins and Chhetirs are spread generally over most parts of the Kingdom. The progeny of Brahmin men and hill women were considered Chhetri and a number of high-status families from other hill groups have also adopted Chhetri status, so some do have Mongoloid tribal ancestry. All Bahuns and Chhetris are Hindu.

The Newars living, constitute an important ethnic group, in the capital valley Kathmandu. The Newars of the Kathmandu valley are a good example of the result of this Himalayan melting pot.

The Gurung and Magars live mainly in the west and on the southern slopes of Annapurna, Himalchuli and Ganesh Himal mountains. The Magars and Gurungs also often work as Gurkha soldiers.

The Rais, Limbus, and Sunuwars inhabit the slopes and valleys of the eastern mid hills and many have migrated to the eastern Tarai. A larger number of people find employment with Gurkha regiments.

Tamangs are one of the largest Tibet - Burman ethnic group in Nepal. Around half the Himalayan zone of Nepal is inhabited by Tamangs. Many Tamangs have been influenced in their dress by both western and Newari styles. Traditionally, women wear a colorful wraparound skirt, a blouse, jacket and scarf. On important occasions, they wear chunky gold or brass ear and nose rings set with semi-precious stones. Men wear loincloths or traditional Newari pants, short-sleeved jackets and tops(caps). Both men and women wear several meters of cloth wrapped around the waist.

The Thakalis live mainly in Kali Gandaki valley in central Nepal; the Thakalis are Tibeto Burman people who have become the entrepreneurs of Nepal. Originally Buddhist, many pragmatic Thakalis have now adopted Hinduism. The actual number of Thakalis is very small.

Tharus, Yadavs, Satar, Rajvanshis, and Dhimals are spread generally in the Tarai region. Tharus is one of the largest ethnic groups in Nepal.

Although there are more than 100 ethnic groups in Nepal with different cultural identities, they never have hatred for each other. They always have religious and cultural tolerance. When there is trouble, they all join together and solve it. There is unity in diversity. Actually, people from different parts of the world learn many amazing and fruitful things from Nepali people while visiting Nepal. 

There are 70 different languages that are spoken in Nepal. Though different groups and races have their own languages and dialects Nepali is the national language and is written in the Devnagari script. The mother language “Nepali” is spoken and understood by most Nepalese people, but the speaking style might be different in the different parts of the country.

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