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Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa 2013-09-15 00-28.jpeg
Amar Singh Thapa, a Nepali legend
Total population
c. 30 million
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal 26,494,504a[1]
 India 2,871,749b[2]
 Bhutan 265,000b[3]
 United States 59,490c[4]
 Hong Kong, China 15,950c[5]
 Canada 9,780c[6]
 China (Mainland) 3,500c[7]
Nepali, Hindi, Dzongkha
Predominantly Hinduism and Buddhism

a Total population of Nepal, b Nepali-speaking population, c Nepali diaspora

Nepalis (Nepali: नेपाली Nēpālī) are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group native to Nepal, India, and Bhutan. As per Nepal's 2011 Census, 44.6% of its population natively spoke Nepali.[1]


Local legends say that a Hindu sage named "Ne" established himself in the valley of Kathmandu in prehistoric times and that the word "Nepal" came into existence as the place was protected ("pala" in Pali) by the sage "Ne". It is mentioned in Vedic texts that this region was called Nepal centuries ago. According to the Skanda Purana, a rishi called "Ne" or "Nemuni" used to live in the Himalayas.[8] In the Pashupati Purana, he is mentioned as a saint and a protector.[9] He is said to have practised meditation at the Bagmati and Kesavati rivers[10] and to have taught there.[11]

The name of the country is also identical in origin to the name of the Newar people. The terms "Nepāl", "Newār", "Newāl" and "Nepār" are phonetically different forms of the same word, and instances of the various forms appear in texts in different times in history. Nepal is the learned Sanskrit form and Newar is the colloquial Prakrit form.[12] A Sanskrit inscription dated 512 CE found in Tistung, a valley to the west of Kathmandu, contains the phrase "greetings to the Nepals" indicating that the term "Nepal" was used to refer to both the country and the people.[13][14]

It has been suggested that "Nepal" may be a Sanskritization of "Newar", or "Newar" may be a later form of "Nepal".[15] According to another explanation, the words "Newar" and "Newari" are vulgarisms arising from the mutation of P to V, and L to R.[16]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001
  3. ^
  4. ^ "ASIAN ALONE OR IN COMBINATION WITH ONE OR MORE OTHER RACES, AND WITH ONE OR MORE ASIAN CATEGORIES FOR SELECTED GROUPS". United States Census Bureau. United States Department of Commerce. 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities" (PDF). Publications and Products of the 2006 Population By-census. Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong (xvi). 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  6. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  7. ^ . The Himalayan Times Archived from the original on 12 January 2006. Retrieved 13 September 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Dangol, Amrit (6 May 2007). "Alone in Kathmandu". Alone in Kathmandu. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  9. ^ Prasad, P. 4 The life and times of Maharaja Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal
  10. ^ Khatri, P. 16 The Postage Stamps of Nepal
  11. ^ W.B., P. 34 Land of the Gurkhas
  12. ^ Malla, Kamal P. "Nepala: Archaeology of the Word" (PDF). Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.  Page 7.
  13. ^ Malla, Kamal P. "Nepala: Archaeology of the Word" (PDF). Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.  Page 1.
  14. ^ Majupuria, Trilok Chandra; Majupuria, Indra (1979). Glimpses of Nepal. Maha Devi. p. 8. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  15. ^ Turner, Ralph L. (1931). "A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language". London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Retrieved 8 May 2011.  Page 353.
  16. ^ Hodgson, Brian H. (1874). "Essays on the Languages, Literature and Religion of Nepal and Tibet". London: Trübner & Co. Retrieved 8 May 2011.  Page 51.