Country Listing

Nepal Table of Contents



Population: 15,022,839 at time of 1981 census; estimated 19,145,800 in July 1990 (July 1991 estimate 19,611,900). Growth rate in 1980s 2.6 percent; birth rate 44 per 1,000 in 1985 (39 per 1,000 in 1991); crude death rate 14 per 1,000 in 1985 (15 per 1,000 in 1991--increase from steady decline). Nearly 44 percent of population resides in Tarai Region; about 48 percent in Hill Region, nearly 9 percent in Mountain Region. Population density per square kilometer total land 102 persons; 61 persons per hectare of cultivatable land. Only 6.3 percent total population in urban areas in 1981. Sex ratio 105 males to 100 females in 1981. Life expectancy at birth close to fifty years in 1985; in 1991, fiftyone years male, fifty years female.

Ethnic Groups: Three major ethnic groups in terms of origin: Indo-Nepalese, Tibeto-Nepalese, and indigenous Nepalese, composed of Newar, Bhote, Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Thakali, Brahman, and other smaller ethnic groups.

Languages: Nepali, written in Devanagari script, official, national language; spoken by almost 60 percent of population. More than twelve other languages with numerous dialects, although rarely spoken outside ethnic enclaves.

Religion: Only official Hindu state in world although intermingling and synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in practice. About 89.5 percent of population Hindu, approximately 5.3 percent and 2.7 percent, Buddhist and Muslim, respectively; remainder, other religions, including Christianity.

Education: Literacy rate in 1990 estimated at 33 percent; higher percentage males literate; also higher literacy rates in urban areas. Free, compulsory primary education, five years; total school enrollment approximately 52 percent school-age children (70 percent male, 30 percent female) in 1984. In 1987 primary and secondary education included 12,491 primary schools (15,834 in 1989), 3,824 lower-secondary schools (3,941 in 1989), 1,501 highersecondary schools (1,791 in 1989); apparent primary school enrollment ratio 85 percent in 1987. In 1989 there were 63,945 primary school teachers, 12,245 lower-secondary school teachers, 33,779 higher-secondary school teachers. In 1989 students numbered 2,536,147 at the primary school level, 325,237 in lower-secondary school, and 338,779 in higher-secondary school. National Education Plan set framework for universal education; national development goals stressed through curriculum. Tribhuvan University sole doctoral-granting institution; sixty-nine public colleges under Tribhuvan University; sixty-three private colleges. In 1987, almost 83,000 students, mostly male, enrolled in higher education institutions. Longstanding prejudice against education of women gradually diminishing, but social class and geography continue to bias educational attainment.

Health: Infant mortality 98 per 1,000 in 1991. Poor nutrition, sanitation, general absence of modern medical care and other social services, especially in rural areas. Goiter, leprosy, intestinal parasites, diarrhea, gastrointestinal disorders, and tuberculosis prevalent although latter somewhat reduced since 1970s. Three types health-care practices--popular folk medical care, Ayurvedic treatment, and modern medicine, sometimes intertwined. Limited health-care delivery system; public and private health-care facilities. Hospitals, mostly confined to urban areas, provide wider range of services than predominantly rural health centers and health posts. In 1990 only 123 hospitals, 16 health centers, 816 health posts, and 153 Ayurvedic dispensaries; 951 physicians, or 1 physician for approximately 19,000 persons.

Data as of September 1991