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People of Nepal

Nepal is an oasis of many races and tribes. With the population of twenty- three million, Nepal is an assortment of races and tribes, living in different regions, following different costumes and speaking different languages. Nepalese live under diverse environmental conditions from the low, nearly sea level plains at the border of India, northward through the middle hills and up to the flanks of the great Himalayan range where there are settlements at altitude of up to 4,800m. Farming practices are therefore equally diverse along with life styles and social customs.

Fast facts:
Original Inhabitants: Newaras, Chhetris and Bhramins
Early Settlements: Mongoloid groups from Tibet
                                   Indo-aryan from Northen India
Major Religion: Hinduism (90%)
                             Buddhism (10%)
Official Language: Sanskrit
Native Language: Nepali

Major Groups

The early settlement of Nepal was accomplished by large-scale emigrations of Mongoloid groups from Tibet and of Indo-Aryan peoples from northern India. Nepalese of Indo-Aryan ancestry constitutes the great majority of the total population. Tibeto-Nepalese peoples form a significant minority of the country's population. Nepali, a derivative of Sanskrit, is the official language; Newari, a language of the Tibeto-Burman family, and numerous other languages are spoken. About 90% of the population is Hindu, and the remaining Buddhist.

Sherpas:

The best known of the high mountain people are the Sherpas who inhabit the central and eastern regions of Nepal. The Sherpas have easy access to Bhot (Tibet) for trade and social intercourse and therefore Tibetan influence on their culture and civilization remains distinct.

Tibetan speaking people:

The high Himalayan settlements of Tibetan speaking people are found perched precariously on mountain ledges and slopes. Life here is delicate balance of hard work and social merrymaking, tempered by a culture deeply steeped in ancient religious traditions.

Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan:

The midlands are inhabited by various Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan speaking hill and valley people, for example the Brahmins, Chettris, and Newars. While the Brahmins and Chettris are widely distribute through out the country, the Newars are mainly concentrated in the Katmandu Valley and other towns.
The Rais, Limbus, Tamangs, Magars, Sunwars, Jirels, Gurungs, Thakalis, and Chepangs are other Tibeto-Burman speaking Mongoloid people found living in the middle hills. Each has their own distinct social and cultural patterns.

Lowland Terai People:

The Dun valleys and the lowland Terai are inhabited by people such as the Brahmins, Rajputs, Tharus, Danwars, Majhis, Darais, Rajbansis, Statars, Dhimals and Dhangars. Though Nepal is a veritable mosaic of dozens of ethnic groups, they are bound together by their loyalty to the institution of monarchy, and by the ideas of peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance to form one unified nation.

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