Introduction / History
The Humla Tibetan people live spread out in 22 main villages across six village development areas (similar to counties) in the central and northwest regions of Humla district, northwestern Nepal. The Humla Tibetan people speak a form of Tibetan that is somewhat similar to other Tibetan languages in Nepal, like Sherpa or Lhomi.
The language they speak is distinct enough to be considered a separate language. Their culture and religion, in many ways, is similar to other high mountain Tibetan Buddhist groups in Nepal. They are very religious and follow mostly the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddism, except for the Limi valley (Drigung Kagyu sect) and the Tumkot Gompa (Sakyapa sect - Yari and Muchu area).
Humla villages are very isolated and hard to travel to. There are almost no roads to be found, mostly footpaths and trails. The villages are all situated at high elevation (from 2500 m. to 3750 m.) and are relatively close to the Chinese border. Many people have trade connections in China. All communities depend on agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade for subsistence. While one or more men of a household travel for long periods of time to engage in long-distance trade and to move animals between summer and winter pastures, women are in charge of agricultural activities in the village.
The Humla Tibetans form tight-knit communities and are proud of their own culture and language. There are considerable differences between the communities, but they are still interrelated. Most people have a strong sense of identity. The language has a very high vitality and ability to read and write in Nepali or Tibetan is still poor. People are interested in developing their own language. Starting with oral forms of language development is advised.