Nepal had a population of 18,462,081 at the time of the 1991 census. The average population density at the time was 125 persons per sq km (329 per sq mi), although nearly half the people were concentrated in the narrow Tarai region. In contrast, the 2003 population estimate was 26,469,569. The population has grown rapidly since 1950 when there were only 9 million people. Although the government has sponsored family planning since the 1950s, these programs have been slow to affect Nepal 's population growth. In 2003 the population was increasing at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. Only 12 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. Major cities include Kathmandu , Lalitpur (Patan), Bhaktapur, Biratnagar, Pokhara and Birganj.
Nepal is a melting pot of many races and tribes. People of nepal are made up of an assortment of races and tribes, living in different regions, wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects. People of Nepal live under quite diverse environmental conditions from the low, nearly sea level plains at the border of India, northward through the middle hills and valleys and up to the flanks of the great Himalayan range where there are settlements at altitude of up to 4,800m. Farming practices are therefore equally diverse along with life styles and social customs.
The high Himalayan settlements of Tibetan speaking people are found perched precariously on mountain ledges and slopes. Life here is delicate balance of hard work and social merrymaking, tempered by a culture deeply steeped in ancient religious traditions. The best known of the high mountain peoples are the Sherpas who inhabit the central and eastern regions of Nepal. The Sherpas have easy access to Bhot (Tibet) for trade and social intercourse and therefore Tibetan influence on their culture and civilization remains distinct. The midlands are inhabited by various Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan speaking hill and valley people, for example the Brahmins, Chettris, and Newars. While the Brahmins and Chettris are widely distribute through out the country, the Newars are mainly concentrated in the Katmandu Valley and other towns.
The Rais, Limbus, Tamangs, Magars, Sunwars, Jirels, Gurungs, Thakalis, and Chepangs are other Tibeto-Burman speaking Mongoloid peole found living in the middle hills. They each have their own distinct social and cultural patterns. The Dun valleys and the lowland Terai are inhabited by people such as the Brahmins, Rajputs, Tharus, Danwars, Majhis, Darais, Rajbansis, Statars, dhimals and Dhangars. Though Nepal is a veritable mosaic of dozens of ethnic groups, they are bound together by their loyalty to the institution of Monarchy, and by the ideas of peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance to form one unified nation.