Demographics of Nepal
In the 2011 census, Nepal's population was approximately 26 million people with a population growth rate of 1.35% and a median age of 21.6 years. In 2016, the female median age was approximately 25 years old and the male median age was approximately 22 years old. Only 4.4% of the population is estimated to be more than 65 years old, comprising 681,252 females and 597,628 males. 61% of the population is between 15 and 64 years old, and 34.6% is younger than 14 years. In 2011, the Birth rate is estimated to be 22.17 births per 1,000 people with an infant mortality rate of 46 deaths per 1,000 live births. Compared to the infant mortality rate in 2006 of 48 deaths per 1000 live births, the 2011 IMR is a slight decrease within that 5-year period. Infant mortality rate in Nepal is higher in rural regions at 44 deaths per 1000 live births, whereas in urban regions the IMR is lower at 40 deaths per 1000 live births. This difference is due to a lack of delivery assistance services in rural communities compared to their urban counterparts who have better access to hospitals and neonatal clinics. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 67.44 years for females and 64.94 years for males. The mortality rate is estimated to be 681 deaths per 100,000 people. Net migration rate is estimated to be 61 migrants per 100,000 people. According to the 2011 census, 65.9% of the total population is literate.
The population of Nepal has been steadily rising in recent decades. In the June 2001 census, there was a population of about 23 million in Nepal. The population increased by 5 million from the preceding 1991 census; the growth rate is 2.3%. The current population is roughly 30 million which contributes to an increase of about 3 million people every 5 years.
Sixty caste and linguistic subgroups have formed throughout time with the waves of migration from Tibet and India. There was a moderate amount of immigration early in Nepal's history, then the population essentially remained the same without any significant fluctuations for over one hundred years. Natural disasters and the following government resettlement programs in the 1950s led to a spike in internal migration from the hills to the Terai region. In the 1980s the Western Chitwan Valley became a major transportation hub for all of Nepal. Along with this major change came a dramatic increase in government services, business expansion, and growing employment, especially in the agricultural industry. The valley's population grew rapidly through both in-migration and natural increase.
Total fertility rate (TFR) (wanted fertility rate) and crude birth rate (CBR):
The following demographic statistics are from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).
Median birth intervals (median number of months since preceding birth)
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
Nepal's diverse linguistic heritage evolved from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman languages, and various indigenous language isolates. According to the 2001 national census, 92 different living languages are spoken in Nepal (a 93rd category was "unspecified"). Based upon the 2011 census, the major languages spoken in Nepal (percentage spoken out of the mother tongue language) includes
Nepali (derived from Khas bhasa) is considered to be a member of Indo-European language and is written in Devanagari script. Nepali was the language of the house of Gorkhas in the late 18th century and became the official, national language that serves as the lingua franca among Nepalese of different ethnolinguistic groups. Maithili language—along with regional dialects Awadhi and Bhojpuri—are mother tongue Nepalese languages and spoken in the southern Terai Region. There has been a surge in the number and percentage of people who understand English. Majority of the urban and a significant number of the rural schools are English-medium schools. Higher education in technical, medical, scientific and engineering fields are entirely in English. Nepal Bhasa, the mother-tongue of the Newars, is widely used and spoken in and around Kathmandu Valley and in major Newar trade towns across Nepal.
Other languages, particularly in the Inner Terai hill and mountain regions, are remnants of the country's pre-unification history of dozens of political entities isolated by mountains and gorges. These languages typically are limited to an area spanning about one day's walk. Beyond that distance, dialects and languages lose mutual intelligibility. Since Nepal's unification, various indigenous languages have come under threat of extinction as the government of Nepal has marginalized their use through strict policies designed to promote Nepali as the official language. Indigenous languages which have gone extinct or are critically threatened include Byangsi, Chonkha, and Longaba. Since democracy was restored in 1990, however, the government has worked to improve the marginalization of these languages. Tribhuvan University began surveying and recording threatened languages in 2010 and the government intends to use this information to include more languages on the next Nepalese census.
Nepal defines itself as a Secular nation according to Constitution of Nepal It is common for many Hindus in the country to also worship Buddhist deities simultaneously with Hindu traditions. The notion of religion in Nepal is more fluid than other countries, particularly Western countries. The Nepali people build their social networks through their religious celebrations, which are a central part to the whole of communities within the country.
There is a general ideal held by the Nepalese people that there is an omnipotent, transcendental "moral order" that is sacred to Hinduism. This ideal exists along with the constant presence of chaos and disorder in the material world. In the Northwestern region of the country, this all-encompassing state of disorder in the world is synonymous with human affliction, for which the religious Shamans can alleviate. Shamans create a world of mythic time and space to restore order and balance to the world to cure the suffers.
Kathmandu Valley is home to the Newars, a major ethnic group in Nepal. The city Bhaktapur is located inside of Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur was once an independent Hindu Kingdom. Individual homes typically have at least one shrine devoted to personal deities, with an altar displaying flowers, fruit, and oil among other offerings to the Gods. The perimeter of Kathmandu Valley is lined with shrines devoted to Hindu goddesses, whose purpose is to protect the city from chaotic events. At least one shrine can be found on the vast majority of streets in Kathmandu. The people of Nepal do not feel the need to segregate or compete based upon religion, so Hindu and Buddhist shrines are often coexisting in the same areas. The areas outside of the city are perceived to always possess some form of wild or disordered nature, so the Nepalese people inside of the city lines regularly worship the Hindu gods through public ceremonies.
The Hindu god Vishnu symbolizes moral order in the Newar society. The natural human shortcomings in maintaining the godly moral order is represented by the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva is destructive and acts in greed, and he threatens the moral order. In ancient myths, Vishnu must step in to contain Shiva and restore the order. In recent times, there has been a rise in political violence, specifically Maoist violence. This increased violence, along with the widespread poverty creates times of hardship for the people of Nepal. During their struggles they find stability and peace in religion.
Nepal's constitution continues long-standing legal provisions prohibiting discrimination against other religions (but also proselytization). The king was defied as the earthly manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu. On May 19, 2006, the government faced a constitutional crisis, the House of Representatives which had been just reformed, having been previously dissolved, declared Nepal a "secular state".
However, the 2001 census identified 80.6% of the population as Hindu and 10.7% as Buddhist (although many people labeled Hindu or Buddhist often practice a syncretic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, or animist traditions), 4.2% of the population was Muslim, 3.6% of the population followed the indigenous Kirat Mundhum religion and Christianity was practiced by 0.45% of the population.
Buddhist and Hindu shrines and festivals are respected and celebrated by most Nepalese. Certain animist practices of old indigenous religions survive.
Nepali was the national language and Sanskrit became a required school subject. Sanskrit was taught as a compulsory subject for grade 6 to 8 students before 2000. The Maoists, during the insurgency, were against the subject which was scrapped after they started attacking teachers who taught the subject. The subject is reintroduced after two decades when the education minister comes from the same Maoist party.  Children who spoke Nepali natively and who were exposed to Sanskrit had much better chances of passing the national examinations at the end of high school, which meant they had better employment prospects and could continue into higher education. Children who natively spoke local languages of the Madhesh and Hills, or Tibetan dialects prevailing in the high mountains were at a considerable disadvantage. This history of exclusion coupled with poor prospects for improvement created grievances that encouraged many in ethnic communities such as Madhesi and Tharu in the Tharuhat and Madhesh and Kham Magar in the mid-western hills to support the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and various other armed Maoist opposition groups such as the JTMM during and after the Nepalese Civil War. The negotiated end to this war forced King Gyanendra to abdicate in 2008. Issues of ethnic and regional equity have tended to dominate the agenda of the new republican government and continue to be divisive. Today, even after the end of a 10-year-old Maoist conflict, the upper caste dominates every field in Nepal. Although Newars are low in numbers, their urban living habitat gives them a competitive advantage. Kayastha of Madhesh are the toppers in Human Development Index. From a gender perspective, Newari women are the most literate and lead in every sector. Brahmin and Chhetri women have experienced less social and economic mobility compared to Newari women. Specifically, Brahmin women experience less equality due to their predominately rural living conditions which deprives them of access to certain educational and healthcare advantages.
In the 2001 census, approximately 6,000 Nepalese were living in the UK. According to latest figure from Office for National Statistics estimates that 51,000 Nepal-born people are currently resident in the UK. There has been increasing interest in the opportunities offered in the UK by the Nepalese, especially education. Between the years of 2001 to 2006, there were 7,500 applications for student visas.
The Nepali people residing in Hong Kong are primarily made up of children of ex-Gurkhas; born in Hong Kong during their parents' service with the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas, which was based in Hong Kong from the 1970s until the handover. Large groups of Nepali people can be found in Shek Kong and Yuen Long District off of the main bases of the British army. Many ex-Gurkhas remained in Hong Kong after the end of their service under the sponsorship of their Hong Kong-born children, who held right of abode.
Nepalese of middle age or older generations in Hong Kong are predominantly found in security, while those of younger generations are predominantly found in the business industry.
According to the 2001 census, there were 116,571 foreign born citizens in Nepal; 90% of them were of Indian origin followed by Bhutan, Pakistan and China. This number does not include the refugees from Bhutan and Tibet.