Nepal has a wide range of ethnic groups.The earliest inhabitants in Nepal were the Kirat of east mid-region, Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and the aboriginal Tharu tribe in the southern Terai region. The ancestors of the Bahun and Chetri caste groups migrated from the east from Kumaon, Garwal and Kashmir areas, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to North Burma and 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 accounts for 20% of the land, many of the people are physically and culturally similar to the Indo-Aryans of northern India whereas Indo-Aryan and East Asian mixed race people live in the hill region. The mountainous region is sparsely populated above 3,000 meters, it is mainly inhabited by Nepal ethnic Tibetans inhabit the higher semi-arid valleys north of the high Himalaya.
Nepal is a multilingual, multireligious and multiethnic society , its diverse linguistic heritage evolved from four major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Mongolian and various indigenous languages.There are over 90 different spoken languages in Nepal but the unifying language is Nepali. Derived from Sanskrit, Nepali is considered the language closest to Sanskrit and written in Devanagari script. Hindi along with regional dialects Awadhi, Bhojpuri and Maithili are spoken in the southern Terai Region. Hindi is also widely understood by Nepalese who have worked, studied or traveled in India. Many Nepalese in government and business speak English as well.
Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Kirant Mundhum and Christian are the major religions practiced in Nepal. Although animist and shaman are considered minor religions, they are practiced by various ethnic groups regardless of their main religion or ethnicity. Nepal being a multiethnic and multi-religious county, people are very tolerant about religion and race. As a result, you will often find a Hindu and Buddhist shrine in the same courtyard.
Nepal is culturally a very festive country and has thousands of religious shrines throughout the country. The Kathmandu Valley alone has 2700 shrines. Moreover, there are many, rock, cave, hilltop and tree based shrines found in Nepal.
Nepal's population is estimated to be around 28 million according to the 2011 census. Gurungs and Magars live mainly in the western region; Rais, Limbus and Sunwars (believed to be descendants of the Kirantis) live in the eastern mid hills; Sherpas, Manangis and Lopas live in the upper hills and across the Himalayan valleys of the country; Newars live mainly in the capital valley of Kathmandu though they are found in major business towns across the country; Tamangs live central to eastern part of the country, Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals live in the Terai region; Brahmans and Chhetris live in Terai and middle hills across the country; Thakuris live mostly in the far western districts nonetheless few are found in other parts of the country.
Nepalese Cultural Etiquettes of Dos and Don'ts:
The form of greeting in Nepal is "NAMASTE" and is performed by putting both palms together.
Before entering a Nepalese home, temple, and stupa remember to remove your shoes.
Be careful not to use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating to touch other's food, plate, cooking utensil or the serving dish.
Do not eat from other people's plates and do not drink from other people's bottles or glasses. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence among Nepalese.
While traveling, you should dress appropriately. Women should esspecially avoid dressing in skimpy outfits outside of the main urban centers.
Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple. Many Hindu temples do not allow westerners or non-Hindus to enter.
Leather articles are prohibited inside the temple precinct.
Walking around a temple or stupa is traditionally done clockwise.
Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
Public displays of affection between men and women is not a good thing to do outside of the main urban centers. Do not do something that is totally alien to the environment and people around you.
Remember, many times, when a person shakes his head from left to right, he may mean "Yes".
Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect their local customs.
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