Nepali languages

Nepal has over 100 languages and dialects, many of which have no written script. Nepali or Nepalese – which is the language introduced by the Gorkha kings – is the lingua franca and is widely spoken.

Such diversity is the result of being placed between two major civilisations, and a landscape where it is very difficult to interact with communities separated by huge mountains. Languages can be divided up into Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) and Tibeto-Burman (Chinese) families.

Most common languages in Nepal

Nepali (49%)
Maithili (12%)
Bhojpuri (8%)
Tharu (6%)
Tamang (5%)
Newari/Nepal Bhasa (4%)
Magar (3%)
Awadhi (2%)
Bantawa (2%)
Limbu (1%)
Bajjika (1%)

According to the 2001 national census 92 living languages have so far been identified in Nepal. Aside from the above list, other languages are spoken by less than 1% of the population – many with less than 1,000 speakers.

Hindi and English are also widely spoken.


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