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Nepali Women Playing Damphu (Traditional Musical Instrument)

Often it's not even necessary to ask,
as many people use the name of their ethnic group, caste or clan as a surname.
Ethnic Groups of Nepal

Anthropologists divide the people of Nepal into about 50 'ethnic groups'. This is a convenient term to encompass the various categories of tribe, clan, caste and race. The two major groups in Nepalese society are Tibeto-Burman, or Mongoloids from the north, and Indo-Aryans from the south. Many customs are inherited from both sides and have been developed by the influences of the land, climate and available resources. Each ethnic group has its own culture and traditions. Everyone is proud of their embarrassment when asking someone about their ethnicity (jaat or thar in Nepali). Often it's not even necessary to ask, as many people use the name of their ethnic group, caste or clan as a surname.

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While some groups are found only in specific regions, many groups are found only in specific regions, many groups are spread throughout the country. Nepal has historically been a nation of traders, acting as intermediaries for transactions between India and Tibet, so there is a history of extensive travel and resettlement.

The caste system has many 'occupational castes' and these groups have also spread throughout the country. Potters (kumahli), butchers (kasain), blacksmiths (kami), tailors (damai), cobblers (sarki), goldsmiths (sunar), clothes washers (dhobi) and others have traveled Nepal to ply their trade.

Many ethnic groups have their own language, but almost everyone speaks Nepali the official language of Nepal or trade language of the country- as a second language.

As the hill population has increased, many hill and even Himalayan people have migrated to lower elevations and the Terai in order to improve their lot.



 
 
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