More mobiles, less toilets and brides under 14
Besides giving official information about population of a region, censuses also offer interesting insight and information about that particular area. Results of Nepal’s population survey carried out last year and released on Monday too provide similar facts and figures.
Nepal is ranked 95th in the world according to its area, but in the list of countries by population size, it stands 45th–the total population of 26.49 million is higher than that of Australia (23 million)—ranked 6th in terms of size.
The latest figures show Nepal has more women (51.5%) than men (48.5%). One reason behind this and also the low annual growth rate of just 1.35% could be due to the fact that 1.9 million Nepali migrant workers living abroad were not counted. Nepal now has 94 men per 100 women.
Almost 45% of the absent population of migrant workers is youth aged between 15 and 24 years. The survey found one in every four households in Nepal having at least one member residing outside the country.
More Nepalis have access to mobile phones (65%) than toilets (62%)——nearly one fifth of total households don’t have toilets. Tap water is available in 48% households and nearly two-thirds of the total population rely on firewood as source for cooking.
The country may be reeling under intense power crisis throughout the year but more than 67% Nepalis rely on electricity to light up their houses. Radio (51%) still outnumber television (36%) and computer (7%) and internet access (3%) are still a far cry for most of the population.
Only 1.5% Nepali households own cars and bicycles (32%) and two-wheelers (10%) are the more popular modes of private transport.
Chhetris (16.6%) followed by Hill Brahmins (12.2%) top the list of Nepal’s 125 castes and ethnic groups. Interestingly only 45% of the total population speak Nepali — Maithili (12%) is the second most popular among the 123 languages spoken.
Four years after becoming a secular country from a Hindu one, Hinduism (81%) continues to be the dominant religion followed by Buddhism (9%) and Islam (4.4%). Christians comprise 1.4% of the population and Sikhs remain the smallest religious group with just 609 followers.
Literacy rate has increased significantly since the last census in 2001 from 54% to 66%. Figures show half of Nepal’s population reside in the Terai region bordering India–the region witnessed nearly 8% annual growth rate in population in the last decade.
Increase in households headed by women from 15% ten years ago to 26% at present has been welcomed as a positive sign. But the negative aspect is that most Nepalis still get married in their teens.
Almost half the population (49%) still get married between the age of 15 and 19 years. More worryingly 11.5% of the all Nepalis still get married under the age of 14.
Ten years down the line the figures from all indicators could show more positive signs if the country manages to extricate itself from the current political crisis and make rapid economic and social strides.
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