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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Nepal

Ethnicity

The people of Nepal consist of numerous tribes and peoples of differing ethnicities. Nearly all of the people are ethnically related to the people of modern day India to some degree, especially the Indians along the shared border. Many people are also related to the people of Tibet and Mongolia to varying degrees. Of these numerous domestic ethnic groups, the most populous are the Chhettri, Brahman-Hill, Magar, Tharu, Tamang, and Newar, none of which consist of more than 16% of the country's total population.

Language

Nepali is the only official language in Nepal as nearly half the population natively speaks this language. Nepali is an Indo-Aryan language written in the devanagari script. Nepali's closest relatives are other nearby languages spoken in small numbers and often found in the Himalayas. More distantly, numerous languages found in India and Pakistan are similar, including Hindi and Punjabi. Nepali is distinct due to its noticeable Tibetan influence.

There are numerous smaller languages spoken by the people of Nepal, although some of these people learn Nepali or English as a second language. English is one of the most common second languages taught in Nepal and is particularly important in business, tourism, and government operations.

Religion

Over 80% of Nepal's population is Hindi, although this version of the religion is slightly different than most of India. Another 10% of the population is Buddhist and the last 10% is made up of various religions, including Muslims and Kirants.

Hinduism is a religion that is sometimes called a "way of life" as opposed to a religion as there are various differences in Hinduism from one believer to the next. There are also a huge number of variations of Hinduism, making it difficult to fully define due to the number of variations. There is no single higher being that is worshipped, although many followers believe in a number of gods or simply see the earth and all living beings as being sacred. There is generally a strong reliance on karma and reincarnation in the way Hindus live their lives. Many believe their actions, positive or negative, will return to benefit or hurt one's existence, now or in a future life. How a person lives this life is also often times associated with how that being will be re-born, either in a better position or worse than a being is currently in.

This page was last updated: May, 2014