Demographics of Nepal
|Regions with significant populations|
|Nepali language, English|
|Predominantly Hinduism and significantly Buddhism|
The population of Nepal is estimated at 26,494,504 people in census of 2011, with a population growth rate of 1.596% and a median age of 21.6 years. Female median age is estimated at 22.5 years, and male median age at 20.7 years. Only 4.4% of the population are estimated to be more than 65 years old, comprising 681,252 females and 597,628 males, whereas 61.1% of the population is between 15 and 64 years old, and 34.6% is estimated at younger than 14 years. Birth rate is estimated at 22.17 births/1,000 population with an infant mortality rate at 44.54 deaths per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth is estimated at 67.44 years for females and 64.94 years for males. Death rate is estimated at 681 deaths per 100,000 people. Net migration rate is estimated at 61 migrants per 100,000 people. According to the 2001 census, only 48.6% of the total population is literate, of which 62.7% are male and 34.9% are female.
- 1 Demographic history
- 2 Population growth
- 3 Vital statistics
- 4 Ethnic groups
- 5 Demographic statistics
- 6 Languages
- 7 Religion
- 8 Ethnic and regional equity
- 9 Nepalese in the U.K.
- 10 Nepalese in Hong Kong
- 11 Nepalese overseas
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Indo-Aryans and East Asian looking(Mongoloid) mixed people live in the hill region. The mountainous region is sparsely populated above 3,000 m (9,800 ft), but in central and western Nepal ethnic Tibetans inhabit even higher semi-arid valleys north of the 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 percent of the nation's population. Nepali society is multilingual, multireligious and multiethnic.
A significantly high universal marriage rate, particularly among reformed Hindus drives Nepal's annual population growth rate in excess of two percent. The result of this is that the marriage rate has caused the population to double about every 30 years. This severely strains the country's underdeveloped economy and finite natural resources. Deforestation is exceedingly widespread. A large amount of marginal land is cleared for agriculture, trees are cut down for firewood and leaves are harvested for fodder. Deforestation causes erosion in the hills, in turn causing alluvial buildup down on the Gangetic Plain that interferes with flood control structures.
Population in the hills greatly exceeds agricultural productivity. Thus, chronic food deficits drive resettlement into the Inner Terai to the detriment of indigenous Tharu people and eastward into Sikkim and Bhutan, where traditional practices of delayed marriage and diversion of significant population into monasteries and nunneries otherwise checked population growth. Overpopulation also drives export of manpower to India, the Middle East, Europe, Australia and North America in search of employment, the so-called Nepalese Diaspora.
Most refugees live in seven camps established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Presence and activity of Tibetan refugees in Nepal also raise sporadic diplomatic conflicts with the People's Republic of China.
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR1||CDR1||NC1||TFR1||IMR1|
|1950–1955||368 000||218 000||150 000||42.9||25.0|
|1955–1960||406 000||230 000||176 000||43.4||24.6||18.8||6.10||199.3|
|1960–1965||448 000||241 000||207 000||43.9||23.6||20.3||6.10||186.9|
|1965–1970||496 000||249 000||246 000||43.8||22.0||21.8||6.08||172.5|
|1970–1975||546 000||253 000||292 000||43.1||20.0||23.1||6.04||156.0|
|1975–1980||597 000||254 000||343 000||42.0||17.9||24.1||5.92||139.2|
|1980–1985||651 000||253 000||398 000||40.7||15.8||24.9||5.72||122.9|
|1985–1990||707 000||249 000||458 000||39.3||13.8||25.5||5.39||106.8|
|1990–1995||767 000||244 000||523 000||37.7||12.0||25.7||4.96||91.5|
|1995–2000||805 000||224 000||581 000||35.0||9.7||25.3||4.41||72.3|
|2000–2005||797 000||201 000||596 000||30.9||7.8||23.1||3.74||54.9|
|2005–2010||732 000||177 000||555 000||25.6||6.2||19.4||2.95||38.7|
|1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births|
There are three main ethnicities: Khas, Mongoloid and mixed. Khas : Bahun, Chhetri, Damai, Kami etc. Mongoloid consists of Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sherpa, Thakali and Kirat (e.g., Rai, Limbu, Sunuwar) and mixed solely consists of Newar people. Khas origin represents 40% of the population, Mongoloids and mix represents 50%, who consists of mainly Newar castes and these days any caste marries to each other and forming the third group known as Mixed People of both Khas and Mongoloid Origin. The rest 10% includes immigrants such as Indians, Tibetans,etc.
|Caste/ethnic group||Population||% of total|
|Khas - Chhetri (Kshatriya)||3,593,496||15.8|
|Khas - Brahman||2,896,477||12.7|
|Khas - Kami||895,954||3.9|
|Khas - Damai/Dholi||390,305||1.72|
|Khas - Thakuri||334,120||1.47|
|Khas - Sarki||318,989||1.40|
|Chamar, Harijan, Ram||269,661||1.19|
|Khas - Sanyasi||199,127||0.88|
|Khas - Kalwar||115,606||0.51|
|Non-Khas Pahari peoples||11,505||0.05|
|Khas - Mali||11,390||0.05|
|Khas - Gaine/Gandarbha||5,887||0.03|
|Unspecified Khas Dalit||173,401||0.76|
|Caste/Ethnicity not stated||231,641||1.02|
Nepal Demographic and Health Survey
The following demographic statistics are from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).
Median birth intervals (Median number of months since preceding birth)
- Total: 36.2
- Rural: 35.9
- Urban: 40.3 (2011)
Median age at first birth
- Median age: 20.1 (2011)
Fertility rate - past trend and present
- Total fertility rate: 4.6 children born/woman (1996)
- Total fertility rate: 4.1 children born/woman (2001)
- Total fertility rate: 3.1 children born/woman (2006)
- Total fertiltiy rate: 2.6 children born/woman
- Rural fertility rate: 2.8 children born/woman
- Urban fertility rate: 1.6 children born/woman (2011)
Ideal family size - Mean ideal number of children
- Overall (female/male): 2.1 / 2.3
- Currently married (female/male): 2.2 / 2.3
- Urban (female/male): 1.9 / 2.0
- Rural (female/male): 2.2 / 2.3 (2011)
Ideal family size by gender and age group
- Below is a table of the ideal family size by gender and age for 2011.
CIA World Factbook
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
- noun: Nepali, Nepalese, Gorkhali (singular and plural)
- adjective: Nepali, Nepalese, Gorkhali
- Hindu 80.6%, Buddhist 10.7%, Muslim 4.2%, Kirant 3.6%, other 0.9% (2001 census). Many peoples in Nepal follows both Hinduism and Buddhism together and often called as Buddhinduism.
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 48.6%
- male: 62.7%
- female: 34.9% (2001 census)
- 29,890,686 (July 2012 est.)
- 0-14 years: 34.6% (male 5,177,264/female 4,983,864)
- 15-64 years: 61.1% (male 8,607,338/female 9,344,537)
- 65 years and over: 4.4% (male 597,628/female 681,252) (2011 est.)
- total: 21.6 years
- male: 20.7 years
- female: 22.5 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate
- 1.768% (2012 est.)
- 21.85 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
- 6.75 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate
- 2.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate
- 2.41 children born/woman (2012 est.)
- urban population: 19% of total population (2010)
- rate of urbanization: 4.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
- at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 66.51 years
- male: 65.26 years
- female: 67.82 years (2012 est.)
Nepal's diverse linguistic heritage evolved from four major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Mongolian, and various indigenous language isolates. According to the 2001 national census, 92 different living languages are spoken in Nepal (a 93rd category was "unidentified"). The major languages of Nepal (percent spoken as mother tongue) are Nepali (43%), Maithili (12%), Tharu (5%), Tamang (4%), Gurung (1.5%), Newari/Nepal Bhasa (3%), Magar (1%), Awadhi (1%), Rai (1%), Limbu (1%) and Bajjika (1%). The remaining 81 languages are each spoken as mother tongue by less than one percent of the population. All the dialects of Nepali are not mutually intelligible. Standard Nepali is spoken by all as the literacy rate is just around 14% comparing to that of 50% before decades. Wide regional variations exist. The dialect of Far Western Region is more similar to Kumaon than Nepali.
Nepali (derived from Khas bhasa) and Maithili are considered to be a member of Indo-European language and is written in Devanagari script. Nepali was the language of the house of Gorkhas in the late 18th century and became the official, national language that serves as the lingua franca among Nepalese of different ethnolinguistic groups. Maithili—along with regional dialects Awadhi and Bhojpuri—is spoken in the southern Terai Region. Hindi and Urdu are widely understood in urban and areas throughout the nation. Many Nepali in government and business uses English as an official language.. English is the language of technical, medical and scientific community as well as the elite bankers, traders and entrepreneurs. There has been a surge in the number and percentage of people who understand English. Majority of the urban and a significant number of the rural schools are English-medium schools. Higher education in technical, medical, scientific and engineering fields are entirely in English.
Other languages, particularly in the Inner Terai, hill and mountain regions are remnants of the country's pre-unification history of dozens of political entities isolated by mountains and gorges. These languages typically are limited to an area spanning about one day's walk. Beyond that distance dialects and languages lose mutual intelligibility.
Religion is important in Nepal; the Kathmandu Valley alone has more than 2,700 religious shrines. The constitution of Nepal describes the country as a "Hindu kingdom", although it does not establish Hinduism as the state religion. Nepal's constitution continues long-standing legal provisions prohibiting discrimination against other religions (but also proselytization). The king was deified as the earthly manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Then on May 19, 2006, the government facing a constitutional crisis, the House of Representatives which had been just reformed, having been previously dissolved, declared Nepal a "secular state".
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 Nepalese. Certain animist practices of old indigenous religions survive.
Ethnic and regional equity
Pahari Hill Hindus of the Khas Gorkha tribe (Bahun and Chhetri castes) and the Newar ethnicity dominated the civil service, the judiciary and upper ranks of the army throughout the Shah regime (1768–2008). Nepali was the national language and Sanskrit became a required school subject. Children who spoke Nepali natively and who were exposed to Sanskrit had much better chances of passing the national examinations at the end of high school, which meant they had better employment prospects and could continue into higher education. Children who natively spoke local languages of the Terai and Hills, or Tibetan dialects prevailing in the high mountains were at a considerable disadvantage. This history of exclusion coupled with poor prospects for improvement created grievances that encouraged many in ethnic communities such as Madhesi and Tharu in the Terai and Kham Magar in the mid-western hills to support the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and various other armed Maoist opposition groups such as the JTMM during and after the Nepalese Civil War. The negotiated end to this war forced King Gyanendra to abdicate in 2008. Issues of ethnic and regional equity have tended to dominate the agenda of the new republican government and continue to be divisive.
Nepalese in the U.K.
Nepalese in Hong Kong
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, 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.
Nepalese of middle age or older generations in Hong Kong are predominantly found in security, while those of younger generations are predominantly found in the business industry.
|Saudi Arabia||Nepalese in Saudi Arabia||350,000|
|Malaysia||Nepalese people in Malaysia||300,000|
|United States||Nepalese American||110,616|
|Qatar||Nepalese in Qatar||100,000|
|Japan||Nepalese in Japan||100,000|
|United Arab Emirates||Nepalese in the United Arab Emirates||50,000|
|United Kingdom||Nepalese in the United Kingdom||35,000|
|China||Nepalese in China||21,000|
|Hong Kong||Nepalese in Hong Kong||16,000|
|South Korea||Nepalese in South Korea||100,000|
|Total Overseas Nepal Population||~5,643,000|
- International Nepal Fellowship - Nepali diaspora
- CIA (2011) The World Factbook : Nepal.
- World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
- Government of Nepal. Central Bureau of Statistics. Statistical Year Book of Nepal, 2009. Kathmandu.
- "Nationalities of Nepal, #36: Bhujels/Ghartis". Friedrich-Ebert-Stifting (FES). Retrieved 2011-04-06.
- Lewis, M. Paul (2009). "Bhujel, a language of Nepal". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas: SIL International. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
- Anon. (April 2006), Social Inclusion: What really achieved?, Kishore, Nepal: Centre for Professional Journalism Studies, Nepal
- Jha, Shrawan Kumar (1997), "The Khatbe of North Bihar, an Anthropological Perspective", Scheduled Castes Today (Makhan Jha, ed.), New Delhi: M D Publications, pp. 161 ff.
- "#40: Majhis". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Majhi, a language of Nepal".
- "Call to uplift ethnic Nunia community". The Rising Nepal (Kathmandu: Gorkhapatra). June 13. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- "#12: Jhangads". FES, op. cit.
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- "#5: Gangais". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Darai, a language of Nepal".
- "#24: Darais". FES, op. cit.
- "#16: Tajpurias". FES, op. cit.
- "#34: Botes". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Bote-Majhi, a language of Nepal".
- "#32: Baramos". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Baraamu, a language of Nepal".
- Sharma, Sudhindra. "How the crescent fares in Nepal". Himal, May 1995. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Siddique, Muhammad (2001). "Muslim Population in the Kingdom of Nepal: Some Outstanding Features". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 21 (2). Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "#43: Meches". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Bodo, a language of India".
- "#35: Byasis". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Byangsi, a language of India".
- "#61: Hyolmos". FES, op. cit.
- Lewis, op. cit. "Helabu Sherpa, a language of Nepal".
- "#3: Kushbadias". FES, op. cit.
- National Coalition Against Racism. "Janajati: Kushbadia". Retrieved April 8, 2011.
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- 2011 Nepal Census Report
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- Hatlebakk, Magnus (2007). "Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Terai of Nepal" (PDF). Kathmandu: Norwegian Embassy. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- "Population by Country of birth and nationality Jan10-Dec10". Office for National Statistics. September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- Nepal government lifts Iraq working ban