One of the greatest assets of the Nepal is its people. These people reside in the mountains, hills, the lower hills or the Terai and the great plains of Nepal. Over 40% of the population lives in the Terai, 56% in the central region and 5% in the Kathmandu Valley. Nepalese people are known for their honesty, hospitality and their ability to grin and bear whatever the situations are. There are over 125 different ethnic groups and over 123 spoken languages. Most of the ethnic groups have their own spoken language and unique culture, fashion and festivals.
Ethnic groups live under different diverse geographic and environmental orientations, from the low plains near the Indian border, northward through the middle hills of Mahabharat range and valleys, and up to the high plain valleys of the Himalayan zone. Mainly there are majority of Mongoloid groups from Tibet and of Indo-Aryan peoples from northern India. However there are over 125 different ethnic groups in Nepal and they live in different places of Nepal. Newar, Sherpa, Tamang, Rai, Magar, Limbu etc are the majority ethnic groups of Nepal.
In Nepal generally two major groups of people can be found in high Himalayan region Tibitan origin (Tibeto-Burman or Bhot Burmes) and in low land to mid hill Indo-Aryan (Bharopeli) origin groups. Himalayan region settlements of Tibetan-speaking groups Sherpa, Tibetan origin Gurung of Manang, Mustang and Dolpo region and Thakali of Mustang’s high plain are found in sub alpine to trans Himalayan areas. And in middle hill area mostly Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Magar, Sunwar, Gurung and Chepang groups as well as other mongoloid groups live in this areas. The Brahmans, Chhetris, Newar and Thakuris and different occupational groups Kami, Damai Sarki, Gaine are spread generally over most parts of the country. In towns Newar, Marbadi, Punjabi, Brahaman, Kshetri and other mixed groups are also settled. The groups of Rai, Limbu, Gurung, and Magar are popular as Gurkha soldier in the world. In lower land of Nepal (i.e. Terai), we shall find Brahaman, Kshetri, Rajput, Tharu, Danuwar, Majhi, Darai, Rajbansi, Satar, Dhimal, and Jhangar, Singh, Jha, Yadav and Lal(Mithila) live in this area.
From where those people are migrated?
Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Bhote and Sunwar are the main tribes of Tibetan origin who resides in the centre and east, while the Magar and Gurung lives in the west. High caste Brahmins, Thakuris and more than 112 different indigenous, ethnic and sub-class groups, are the modern immigrants from Tibet, Bhutan, the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim, Darjeeling and the north-eastern states of India.
People of High Himalayas
Sherpa People: Sherpa, in literal terms, means people of the east in the Tibetan language. Originally from Tibet about 500 years ago they have a close affinity with the Tibetan language, culture and religion. Sherpas major occupations include agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade and have become famous for trekking and mountaineering. Today they are known worldwide for their skill and hardiness. They follow Buddhism as their major religion. To see and meet Sherpa people you can trek to Khumbu region (Everest region). And Everest Base Camp Trek is one the trip which you can meet Sherpa people.
Dolpa People: The settlement of these people is considered the highest of any living ethnic group in the world. These people live beyond the mountains, west of the Kali Gandaki river valley. These people practice Buddhist customs. To see and meet Dolpa people you can trek to Lower and Upper Dolpo. And Dolpo Trek is one the trip which you can meet Dolpa people.
Larke and Siar People: Larke is the northern most part of Nepal's Gorkha district while Siar is the northern part of the Dhading district. These people mainly speak the Tibetan and Gurung languages and have ethnic affinity with Gurungs. To see and meet Larke and Siar people, Manaslu Circuit Trek is the best option.
Manang People: The people of Manang are called Manang Bas. Their major occupations include trade and business. They have their own language and scripts and maintain their own local religious practice with 12 villages called Bara Gaule-Baragaun. The famous pilgrimage spot on the Annanpurna Circuit, Muktinath, lies in their area. Although Buddhism is part religion, they follow Bon-Po which pre-dates the reign of Bhuddha. Manaslu Circuit Trek is the most popular trekking destination to meet these people.
Lo Pas of mustang: The settler of Lo is called Lopas. They carry on trade between Nepal and Tibet in the Upper and Lower Mustang areas. Buddhism is their major religion. They have their own local language and festivals outside typical Buddists as well. Upper Mustang Trek Package takes you to the Lopas people.
Olangchung people: These people are the inhabitants of Olanchung Gola, the main trading route along Eastern Nepal. Besides Buddhism, they have their own customs and practices. Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek brings you to the Olangchung people.
People of Middle Hills and Valleys
Brahmin and Chhetri people: Two large groups distributed in scattered patterns all over the country, which are considered the two highest castes in Nepal. They have sharp Indo-Aryan features and an olive complexion. Brahmins are believed to have migrated from India while Chhetris are from the present day Khasa people from Khasi. These people follow Hinduism as their main religion and socially they have many sects. They are divided into two major streams, the Purba and Umai. The Kumain people are of the origin of Kumo, Northern India, Uttar Pradesh. Their social practices depend upon Hindu religious epics. They speak Nepali, the national language of Nepal and use a script with basis in Sanskrit.
Kirati People: Kirati mainly consists of Rai and Limbu people. Literally Rai or Limbu means headman. They are decendents of the Kirati's who first formed the kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley. They now mainly live in far eastern Nepal. Kirati people are well known for their courage and bravery and are often recruited into armies abroad like the more famous Gurkhas. The religious text of Limbu is the Mundhum.
Newar People: Newars are mainly settled in Kathmandu Valley and in major trading centers throughout the kingdom. They have Mongolian features and their own language and script, Newari, believed to have its origin from Tibeto-Burmans. Hinduism and Buddhism are their main religions. They have complex social systems and practices and are comprised of many castes. Trade and farming are their main occupations.
Tamang People: In Tibetan language Tamang means horse traders. It is believed that they originally came from Tibet. The majority of Tamang people live in the hills surrounding Kathmandu Valley. Their social practices and customs are based on Buddhism and they have their own language, Tamang. They work mainly as farmers, labors and as porters.
Gurung People: They are famous for their innocence, simple mindedness, and bravery while serving in military forces. They are mostly settled along the higher slopes of the Annapurna areas and the Kali Gandaki river above the Baglung district. They are farmers of rice and grains and also sheep. They are ethnically related to Magars, Thakalis and Kiratis in eastern Nepal. The Gurung people love music and they have their own language.
Magar People: Their origin is basically found in hill regions of western Nepal. Their religion is Buddhism and their language, Magar Kura, depicts their affinity to the Tibeto-Burmese tongue and culture. Farming, military service, weaving, hunting, and fishing are their major occupations.
Thakali People: The origin of Thakali is Thok Khola, a high valley in central Nepal along the Muktinath region. They have Mongolian features, a fair complexion and narrow eyes. Thakalis are divided into four major groups: Gauchan, Tulachan, Sherchan and Bhattacan. Their religion is a mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jhankrism. They are known for their hospitality, good salesmanship, and cleanliness.
Occupational castes: Certain ethnic groups in Nepal are categorized according to their occupation. They are Kamis (smiths), Damais (tailors), Dhibis (washerman) Sarkis (cobblers), Gaines (professional singers) and Khumbharas (porters). The origin of these castes has not been investigated yet by the anthropologists. Hinduism is their major religion and Nepali their major language. Many have their own local festivals and practices. Furthermore, Sunwars, Jirels, Chepangs, Kusundas and Panchgaule (five villages) are other minor ethnic groups of the Nepal midland hill regoins. Sunwars are Jirels are considered to be the off shoots of Magars. Panchgaule are similar to Thakalis. Kusundas still live in primitive conditions. They live in caves, under trees and in temporary huts in the forest. Only a handful of them are settled into occupational farming. Chepangs, who are believed to be the offshoots of Kirats, are slowly moving into urban areas.
And these people has unique tradition, language, fashion, cuisine and identify which made make very complex in terms of variety of culture. To explore and experience unique culture, lifestyle, fashion and languages, following trips will take you there and feel and experience with them. Program listed in sidebar (right side) are few program to see those people.