Major ethnic groups of Nepal
Kathmandu, the capital city has been the homeland
of the Newars. The Newars are inhabitants of a
Tibeto-Burman origin speaking in Newari(their
own dialect) as well as Nepali. The Newars are
among the largest indigenous groups of Nepal and
Make up the 7% of the total population (/ 800000).
Several Newar Families follow Buddhism as well
as Hinduism. They are usually inclined towards
commerce, trade and farming. The Newars, who have
been divided into 64 occupational groups by King
Sthiti Malla, are a unique testimony of the richness
of Nepali cultural heritages. They have excelled
in arts literature, sculpting, casting bronze
and silver and fascinating forms of architecture.
Brahmins, the priestly class of Indo-Aryan origin,
occupy the highest position in the Hindu hierarchy.
They are said to have come to Nepal from different
Parts of India. Today they are found in every
part of Nepal and have taken up different occupations.
The Chhetris, who like the Brahmins also have
an Indo-Aryan origin, have been traditionally
classified as warriors and administrators. They
are recognized for their bravery and administrative
skills. Today, they are distributed in almost
all the parts of Nepal and have been working in
different fields. They are said to have originally
come from northern India during and after the
time of the Buddha. The Khas are generally regarded
as Bahuns and Chhetris who set up their own kingdoms
in the far- western parts of Nepal. Their language,
khas-kura (Nepali) which had evolved out of Sanskrit,
was later introduced as the state language after
the king, Prithvi Narayan Shah, conquered the
Kathmandu valley in 1778.
The Gurungs, originally belonging to the Tibet-Burman
ethnic group, live mostly in the central region
of Nepal in places like the foothills of Kaski,
Lamjung and Annapurna Himal. The Gurung villages
surrounding the hills of Pokhara have attracted
tourists because of their beautifully maintained
stone houses. The Gurungs are good farmers as
well as warriors. They, like the Rais, Limbus
and Magars, have introduced themselves internationally
as the brave Gorkha- soldiers. They follow Hinduism
The Kiratis ( Rais, Limbus and several other minor
groups living in eastern Nepal at present) are
among the first group of people ruling over Nepal.
Ancient Hindu texts like Himvat-khanda, and Mahabharata
have mentioned their names. They basically come
from eastern Nepal's Tamakoshi, Bhaotekoshi, Arun
and Tamor. These people of Tibeto-Burman origin
worship their ancestors and at the same time follow
Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism and so on. They are
very good farmers and warriors. They are rich
in culture and have several languages and scripts
called the Sri-Jung.
The Magars, having Tibeto-Burman origin, live
in the Kali Gandaki region on the South of Dhaulagiri.
They speak the Tibeto-Burman language and are
Hindu by faith but they also follow Buddhism.
They are mostly farmers but their martial qualities
and physical fitness have made them good soldiers.
The Sherpas, who are said to have come from Tibet,
speak the Tibeto-Burman language and live in the
Himalayan region of Nepal. They are hardworking,
friendly, and reliable in nature. The largest
Sherpa settlement is in Solu Khumbu at the foothill
of Mt.Everest, the worlds' highest peak (8848m).
The Sherpas are adventurous mountaineers of international
repute. Tenzing Norgay was the first guide, who
with Sir Edmund Hillary from New-Zealand, successfully
climbed Mt.Everest in 1953. Ang Rita, Babu Chiri(late),
Pasang Lhamu(late) are a few well known Sherpas
in the field of mountaineering.
The Tharus are the only people living in the forests
of the hot Terai along the southern base of the
Shivalik hills. Their age-old religion has been
Animism, which often reflects their mixed belief
in Hinduism and Buddhism. The Tharus, who are
said to be descendants of the Rajput(ruling class
) of India, have spread from eastern to western
part of Nepal. We have many Madesi or Terai people
living along the border Between India and Nepal.
They speak Languages like Maithali in the eastern
Terai, Bhojpuri in the central Terai and Avadhi
in the western terai.