19,600 in Nepal (2011 census), decreasing. Population total all countries: 20,410. Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 17,000.
Kosi Zone, south Sankhuwasabha and east Dhankuta districts, east to Arun river between Hinuwankhola north and Leguwakhola south. Northern Yakkha dialect: south Sankhuwasabha district and adjoining extreme north Dhankuta district; Southern Yakkha dialect: Dhankuta district.
6b (Threatened). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Yakkha.
SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no noun classes or genders; content q-word in situ; 1 prefix, up to 10 suffixes (depending on analysis); clause constituents indicated by case-marking; verbal affixation marks person and number; ergativity; tense and aspect; passives and voice; nontonal; 22 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes.
Considered by many a distinct group of Kirati not fitting neatly into either Rai or Limbu groups (Bista 1996:39); in terms of mythology and people’s own judgment, they seem closer to Limbu than to Rai groups. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Hindu.