Demographics of Nepal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nepal's population (1960-2010)

The population of Nepal is estimated to be 26,494,504 people based on the 2011 census, with a population growth rate of 1.596% and a median age of 21.6 years. Female median age is estimated to be 22.5 years, and male median age to be 20.7 years. Only 4.4% of the population is estimated to be more than 65 years old, comprising 681,252 females and 597,628 males. 61% of the population is between 15 and 64 years old, and 34.6% is younger than 14 years. Birth rate is estimated to be 22.17 births/1,000 population with an infant mortality rate of 44.54 deaths per 1000 live births. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 67.44 years for females and 64.94 years for males. The mortality rate is estimated to be 681 deaths per 100,000 people. Net migration rate is estimated to be 61 migrants per 100,000 people. According to the 2011 census, 65.9% of the total population is literate.[1]

Demographic history[edit]

Nepali or Nepalese or Gurkha or Gorkhali are descendants of migrants from parts of Greater Nepal, Tibet, India, and parts of Burma and Yunnan, along with indigenous peoples.

Khas and Mongoloid are considered to be Nepali-origin people in Mountains, Hills and Terai. The mountainous region is sparsely populated above 3,000 m (9,800 ft), but in central and western Nepal ethnic Sherpa and Lama people 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. Nepalese society is multilingual, multireligious and multiethnic.

Madhesis are diverse group of indian immigrants to South Eastern region of Nepal also known as Terai. Tharu people are indigenous to south-western Nepal Madhesh or Terai, but many Tharus can be seen in eastern Terai as well. But both the groups are minorities in Terai because of the huge presence of Khas-Mongoloids people. According to the 2011 National Census, 51% of Nepal's population lives in Terai. Out of 51%, 29% are Khas-Mongoloids, 15% are Madhesis and 7% are Tharu people .[2]

Population growth[edit]

Nepalese woman with baby
Elderly woman from Ghyaru in northern Nepal
Old Nepali woman

Vital statistics[edit]

UN estimates[edit]

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR1 CDR1 NC1 TFR1 IMR1
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


Ethnic groups[edit]

Selected ethnic groups of Nepal;      Bhotia,      Sherpa,      Thakali,      Gurung,      Kiranti Sunuwar,      Rai,      Limbu,      Newari,      Pahari,      Tamang
Elderly Limbu, Chong woman

Demographic statistics[edit]

Top 10 Populous Caste/Ethnic group (Census 2011)[4] Population  % of total
Khas-Chhetri 4,398,053 16.6%
Khas/Hill-Brahmin 3,226,903 12.2%
Magar 1,887,733 7.1%
Tharu 1,737,470 6.6%
Tamang 1,539,830 5.8%
Newars (taken as a single linguistic group) 1,345,051 5.2%
Khas-Kami 1,258,554 4.8%
Muslim (taken as a single religious group) 1,164,255 4.4%
Yadav 1,054,458 4.0%
Rai 620,004 2.3%

Nepal Demographic and Health Survey[edit]

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):[5]

Year CBR (Total) TFR (Total) CBR (Urban) TFR (Urban) CBR (Rural) TFR (Rural)
1996 37 4.64 (2,9) 27 2.85 (1,9) 38 4.83 (3,1)
2001 33.5 4.1 (2,5) 20.6 2.1 (1,4) 34.9 4.4 (2,6)
2006 28.4 3.1 (2,0) 21.9 2.1 (1,4) 29.5 3.3 (2,1)
2011 24.3 2.6 (1,8) 16.6 1.6 (1,2) 25.5 2.8 (1,8)

The following demographic statistics are from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).[6]

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.
Age Women Men
15-19 1.9 2.2
20-24 1.9 2.1
25-29 2.1 2.1
30-34 2.2 2.3
35-39 2.3 2.4
40-44 2.5 2.4
45-49 2.6 2.6

CIA World Factbook[edit]

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 81.34%, Buddhist 9.04%, Muslim 4.38%, Kirant 3.04%, other 2.2% (2011 census).


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.)

Age structure

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.)

Median age

total: 21.6 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 22.5 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate

1.768% (2012 est.)

Birth rate

21.85 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate

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.)

Sex ratio

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.)


Main article: Languages of Nepal

Nepal's diverse linguistic heritage evolved from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman languages, 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 as of 2011 census.[7] (percent spoken as mother tongue language) includes

All the dialects of Nepali are not mutually intelligible. Wide regional variations exist. The dialect of Far Western Region is more similar to Kumaon than Nepali.

Nepali (derived from Khas bhasa) is 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—are originated in Terai of Nepal and spoken in the southern Terai Region. 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.


Further information: Religion in Nepal

As of the 2011 census, 81.3% of the Nepalese population was Hindu, 9.0% Buddhist, 4.4% Muslim, 3.0% Kirant/Yumaist, 1.42% Christian, and 0.9% followed other religions or no religion.[8]

Religion is important in Nepal; the Kathmandu Valley alone has more than 2,700 religious shrines. The dissolved constitution of Nepal described the country as a "Hindu kingdom", although it did 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 synthetic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, or animist traditions), 4.2% of the population was Muslim, 3.6% of the population followed the indigenous Kirant Mundhum religion and Christianity was practiced by 0.45% of the population.[9]

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[edit]

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 were at a considerable disadvantage. Issues of ethnic and regional equity have tended to dominate the agenda of the new republican government and continue to be divisive.[10][11][12][13][14]

Nepalese in the U.K.[edit]

Main article: Nepalese British

According to latest figure from Office for National Statistics estimates that 35,000 Nepal-born people are currently resident in the UK .[15]

Nepalese in Hong Kong[edit]

Nepali 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.

Nepalese overseas[edit]

Nepalese migrants abroad have suffered tremendous hardships, including some 7,500 deaths in the Middle East and Malaysia alone since the year 2000, some 3,500 in Saudi Arabia.[16]

Overseas Nepalese Population
Country Articles Population
India Nepalese Indian 4,100,000
Burma Burmese Gurkha 1,400,000
Saudi Arabia Nepalese in Saudi Arabia 250,000
Malaysia Nepalese people in Malaysia 1,700,000
United States Nepalese American 300,490
Bhutan Lhotshampa 50,000
Qatar Nepalis in Qatar 400,000[18]
Japan 100,000
United Arab Emirates Nepalese in the United Arab Emirates 150,000
United Kingdom[15] Nepalis in the United Kingdom 50,000
Iraq[19] 30,000
China Nepalis in China 21,000
Continental Europe 20,000
Hong Kong Nepalis in Hong Kong 16,000
Australia Nepalese Australian 100,000
South Korea Nepalis in South Korea 100,000
Singapore Nepalese in Singapore 4000
Canada Nepalese Canadian 6,000
Total Overseas Nepal Population ~15,643,000

Foreign population in Nepal[edit]

As per census of 2001 there are 116,571 foreign born citizens in Nepal out of which 90% are Indian origin[20] followed by Bhutan, Pakistan and China. This number does not include the refugees from Bhutan and Tibet.

Foreign population in Nepal as per census of 2001


  1. ^ CIA (2011) The World Factbook : Nepal.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "World Population Prospects, the 2012 Revision". 
  4. ^ "Nepal Demographics Profile 2014". IndexMundi. CIA World Factbook. 
  5. ^ "MEASURE DHS: Demographic and Health Surveys". 
  6. ^ "Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2011." (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  7. ^ "Official Summary of Census" (PDF). Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal. 2011. 
  8. ^ "2011 Nepal Census Report" (PDF). p. 16. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 12. OCHA. April 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  11. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 16. OCHA. July–August 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  12. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 30. OCHA. June–July 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  13. ^ Sharma, Hari (2010-11-18). "Body of murder victim found in Gulmi". Gulmi: The Himalayan Times online. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ a b "Population by Country of birth and nationality Jan10-Dec10". Office for National Statistics. September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "'Natural deaths’ raise doubts". 
  17. ^ Indian Gorkha
  18. ^ "Qatar's population - by nationality". bq Magazine. 
  19. ^ "Nepal government lifts Iraq working ban". BBC News. 
  20. ^ Subedi, Bhim Prasad (2007). "The Issue of Foreign Born Population in Nepal: A Short Essay in Honor of Dr. Harka Gurung". The Himalayan Review 38: 23–34. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".

External links[edit]