Ethnic Groups

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Introduction

Nepal, for a surprisingly small geographic area, is a very diverse country with literally hundreds of Ethnic groups, cultures, religions and languages. Perched on the southern slopes of the mighty Himalayas, Nepal is an ethnically diverse, culturally rich and geographically varied country with some of the world's highest mountain peaks that blend beautifully with terraced hills, broad valleys and large terrains of fertile plains. Nepal is unique in that in a small land size of only around 147,000 square kilometres (56,000 square miles), its varied landscape ranges from the highest point on earth to flat plains close to sea level, interspersed with thousands of rivers, lakes, dense forests and a rich assemblage of exotic wildlife.

Nepalis are descendants of migrants from parts of earlier Greater Nepal, Tibet, India and parts of Burma and Yunnan along with native tribal population. Among the earliest inhabitants were the Kirat of east mid-region, Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the malarial southern Terai region. The ancestors of the Khas (Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri, Sanyasi, Dalit) migrated eastward along the himalayan foothills out of Kashmir, Kumaon, Garhwal-- parts of then Greater Nepal, Karnali Pradesh (Nepal). Other ethnic groups trace their origins to North Burma, Yunnan and Tibet, e.g. the Gurung and Magar in the west, Rai and Limbu in the east, and Sherpa and Bhotia in the north.

In the Terai, a part of the Ganges Basin with 20% of the land, much of the population is physically and culturally similar to the Indo-Aryans of northern India. Indo-Aryan and East Asian looking mixed people live in the hill region. The mountainous region is sparsely populated above 3,000 meters, but in central and western Nepal ethnic Tibetans inhabit even higher semi-arid valleys north of the high 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. Nepal is a multilingual, multireligious and multiethnic society.

Categorization

Himali: The peoples of Himalayas

Bahra Gaunle, Bhutia/Bhote, Byasi, Dolpo, Lhomi (Shingsaba), Marphali Thakali, Mugali, Sherpa, Siyar (Chumba), Tangbe, Thakali, Tin Gaule Thakali (Yhulkosompaimhi), Tokpegola (Dhokpya), Walung

Pahadi: The peoples of the Hills

Baramu, Bhujel, Chepang, Chhantyal, Dura, Free (Phree), Gurung, Hayu, Khas ( Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri, Sanyasi, Dalit) , Kushbadia (Kuhbadia), Kusunda, Larke (Nupriba), Lepcha, Limbu, Magar, Newar, Pahari, Rai, Sunuwar, Surel, Tamang, Thami, Yakkha, Yolmo

Teraili: The peoples of the Terai

Bote, Danuwar, Darai, Kumal, Majhi, Raji, Raute, Dhanuk, Dhimal, Gangai, Jhangad, Kisan, Meche (Bodo), Rajbanshi (Koch), Satar (Santhal), Tajpuria, Tharu

Miscellaneous

Usually janajaati means peoples that are not the Khas ( Brahmins, Chhetris, Thakuri, Sanyasi, Dalit) or Newars in Nepal. Usually a janajaati is unrepresesented in every arena of Nepal. However, this scenario is changing slowly.

See Also

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