Cultures & Religion of Nepal
Nepal was run by a monarchy for several centuries until officially abolished in 2008. The late 2013 elections helped form a coalition government between the Nepali Congress party and UML. According to the latest census Nepal's population stands at almost 31 million people with over 125 castes/ethnicities speaking more than 115 dialects. At more than 147,100 sq km or roughly the size of Arkansas Nepal is compromised of three different terrains; the Terai (plains) in the south, midland hill region of the central, and Himalayan and mountain region of the north. Nepal is a landlocked country with the 10 highest peaks in the world where 75-80% of the population live in rural settings. According to the 2011 census listed on the cia.gov website (link below) the religious make up of Nepal is 82% Hindu, 9% Buddhist, 4% Muslim, 3 % Kirant, & 2% Christian. Despite it's enormous beauty and diverse landscape Nepal is still a poor country with more than 1/4 of the population living below the poverty line and more than 70% of Nepali people working and providing for themselves and their families through agriculture.
Nepal is a multicultural country with a diverse ethnic makeup. This includes:
-North/Himalayan Zone: Tamang, Sherpa, Tibetan, Thakali
-Mid Land/Hill Zone: Rai, Newars, Chhetris, Magars, Gurungs,
More information on Nepal's History, Ethinicities, Culture, & Lifestyle can be found at the following resources:
Trekking the Everest Base Camp route you will come into contact with mostly Sherpa, Rai, Tibetan immigrants, & Tamang. The Sherpa, who mostly serve as trekking & mountaineering guides (as well as porters) and run several successful businesses in Nepal immigrated to Nepal centuries ago from Tibet bringing their religious beliefs, culture, and architectural style along with Tibetan Buddhism. Most Sherpa's reside in the Solu region in north/eastern Nepal while a minority reside in the high Khumbu region. The Rai have inhabited Nepal since for more than 2000 years and are of Tibetan/Burmese descent. Many Rai have a great history as warriors and traders and many work today as porters and guides in the mountain and mid-land region. Many Nepali's that run businesses catering to tourists or work as guides, porters, lodge owners, doctors, and rescue/national park staff are extremely generous, hard working people who, without their efforts, trekking, mountaineering, and a range of outdoor activities would not be possible. Other then a few swindlers in Kathmandu, we have always been treated with nothing but kindness and respect in Nepal.