Even today, within the multinational state of Nepal, the Newar of the Kathmandu Valley form a microcosmic society with their own culture and a caste system which is regarded by other Nepali as being extremely orthodox. More than 30 castes exist within the relatively small group of Newar.
The classification of castes correlates with a ritual and economic allocation of the various functions to be carried out within the population, and is manifested spatially in the tendency of the various castes toward segregation. Moreover, there are definite differences between caste structure and, therefore, functional divisions in the settlements. As there are often only a small number of castes in one settlement, the Newar village can very rarely be regarded as an autonomous unit. Ritual and economic relationship have to be built up beyond the confines of the settlement.
The Newar caste system, the individual castes, and the types of interaction between them are outlined here. As an aid to understanding the functional structure of rural Newar settlements a cartographic presentation of the Newar caste system is given.