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Nepali is an Indo-European language derived from Sanskrit with which it shares and most residents speak at least some Nepali, which is the medium of government, education, and most radio and television broadcasts.For many people Nepali is secondary to the language of their ethnic group or region.This situation puts certain groups at a disadvantage in terms of education and civil service positions.Since the institution of a multiparty democracy in 1990, linguistic issues have emerged as hotly debated topics. The culture has many symbols from Hindu and Buddhist sources.Fast-moving, snow-fed rivers cut through the hills and mountains from north to south, carving deep valleys and steep ridges.The rugged topography has created numerous ecological niches to which different ethnic groups have adapted.The birth of the nation is dated to Prithvi Narayan Shah's conquest of the Kathmandu Valley kingdoms in 1768.
The result is a country with over thirty-six ethnic groups and over fifty languages. High birth rates in rural areas have led to land shortages, forcing immigration to the Terai, where farmland is more plentiful, and to urban areas, where jobs are available.Hindu castes and Buddhist and animist ethnic groups were historically collapsed into a single caste hierarchy. Below them are alcohol-drinking ( matwali ) castes, which include Mongolian ethnic groups.At the bottom are untouchable Hindu castes that have traditionally performed occupations considered defiling by higher castes.By privileging the language and culture of high-caste Hindus, the state has marginalized non-Hindu and low-caste groups.
Resentment in recent years has led to the organization of ethnopolitical parties, agitation for minority rights, and talk about the formation of a separate state for Mongolian ethnic groups.Despite ethnic unrest, Nepalis have a strong sense of national identity and pride.