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The People of Nepal, Ethnic Groups, Languages, and Religion

Bhutia, Tarai, Lumbini, founder of Buddhism, Tamang

Nepalís indigenous population consists of two major groups, the Indo-Nepalese, whose ancestors migrated into the country from the south, and the Tibeto-Nepalese, whose ancestors entered Nepal from the north. Although intermingling between the two groups has occurred, cultural, linguistic, and religious differences exist both between and within the two groups. The Indo-Nepalese group comprises people who speak Sanskrit-derived languages and are strict adherents to Hinduism. Nepali, the official language, is derived from Sanskrit. Differences within the Indo-Nepalese group are marked more by caste (a system of social hierarchy) than by ethnicity. The Tibeto-Nepalese group comprises several different ethnic groups including Newar, Bhutia, Sherpa, Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Rai, and Limbu people. Although most of the Tibeto-Nepalese speak Nepali, each ethnic group also has its own language. While the majority of Nepali people practice Hinduism, the official religion, a strong shamanist element remains in the religious practices of many Tibeto-Nepalese ethnic groups. Buddhism is also important within the country. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini, in present-day Nepal. There is also a small Muslim population mainly located in the Tarai.

Article key phrases:

Bhutia, Tarai, Lumbini, founder of Buddhism, Tamang, Magar, intermingling, Gurung, Sherpa, Hinduism, Buddha, official language, caste, different ethnic groups, ancestors, religious practices, major groups, ethnicity, Newar, south, country


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