Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia and the world’s youngest republic. It is bordered to the north by the Peoples Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. With an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 30 million, Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. Nepal is a developing country. Nepal is called the “land of the Gods”.
Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and the country’s largest metropolitan city.
Nepal is a country of highly diverse and rich geography, culture and religions. The mountainous north contains eight of the world’s fourteen highest mountains, including the highest, Mount Everest (8848m). The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized. By some measures, Hinduism is practiced by a greater majority of people in Nepal than in any other nation. Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically with Nepal as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama who as the Buddha Gautama gave birth to the Buddhist tradition. About half of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768, when Prithvi Narayan Shah unified its many small kingdoms. However, a decade-long People’s Revolution by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) along with several weeks of mass protests by all major political parties of Nepal in 2006, culminated in a peace accord and the ensuing elections for the constituent assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of the abdication of the last Nepali monarch Gyanendra Shah and the establishment of a federal democratic republic in May 28, 2008. The first President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, was sworn in on 23 July, 2008.
Geography of Nepal is uncommonly diverse. Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (500 mi) long and 200 kilometres (125 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi). See List of territories by size for the comparative size of Nepal.
Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Mountain, Hill, and Terai Regions. These ecological belts run east-west and are vertically intersected by Nepal’s major, north to south flowing river systems.
The southern lowland plains or Terai bordering India are part of the northern rim of the Indo-Gangetic plains. They were formed and are fed by three major rivers: the Kosi, the Narayani, and the Karnali. This region has a subtropical to tropical climate.
The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 1,000 to 4,000 metres (3,300–13,125 ft) in altitude with subtropical to temperate climates, depending on elevation. Two low mountain ranges, the Mahabharat Lekh and Shiwalik Range (also called the Churia Range) dominate the region. The hilly belt includes the Kathmandu Valley, the country’s most fertile and urbanised area. Unlike the valleys called Inner Tarai (Bhitri Tarai Uptyaka), elevations above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) are increasingly sparsely populated.
The Mountain Region, situated in the Great Himalayan Range, makes up the northern part of Nepal. It contains the highest elevations in the world including 8,848 metres (29,028 ft) height Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) on the border with China. Seven other of the world’s eight thousand metre peaks are in Nepal or on its border with China: Kanchanjanga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna.
The arid and barren Himalayan landscape.
Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,940 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,900–7,875 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,875–11,800 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,800–14,400 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,400 ft).
Mantled with high Himalaya to north, Nepal is a land of scenic splendor, age-old temples, diverse cultures, exotic wildlife and some of the friendliest people in the world. All these combine to offer a medley of experience to the visitor in a country the stretches roughly 885 km east to west and 193 km north to south over an area of 147,181 sq. km. Little wonder, those visiting Nepal return home with a longing to come back again and again.
Roughly rectangular in shape, the Kingdom of Nepal is sandwiched between China to the north and India to the south. Nepal contains the world’s tallest peaks, while the fertile plains to the south, known as the Terai, lie at almost sea level. In between the plains, which are interspersed with tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, and the high mountains, lie lush hills and valleys. More than 80% of the people live off the land, while tourism, carpets and garments are its main industries.
Nepal’s 30 million people belongs to dozens of ethnic groups. If the Newars are indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley, the sturdy Sherpas, known for their climbing skills, inhabitat the Everest region, Brahmins and Chhetris are scattered across the hill and valleys while the Tamangs live in the hills surrounding the kathmandu valley. Also inhabiting the hills are the Gurungs, Limbus, Magars and Rais of the Gurkha fame. The Terai is home to the Maithili, Bhojpuri and Tharu people.
Nepal’s different communities speak different languages and dialects, but Nepali is the national language and it serves as the lingua franca of its people. In this linguistic diversity, there are six languages – Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang and Nepal bhasa- which are spoken by more than half of a million people as a mother tongue. In the urban areas and places frequently by tourists, people understand Hindi and English.
The majority of the people follow either Hinduism or Buddhism, which since ages past have co-exited in harmony in Nepal. Some of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus are located here, while the Buddha was born in Lumbini, which lies to the southwest of Kathmandu. Among those religion the percentage are given below (accrding to National centsus 2011):
Art and Culture
Straddling the trans-Himalayan trade routes, Nepal has been exposed to varied cultural influences throughout history. The Kingdom’s diverse heritage is mainly religious in character. In the Kathmandu Valley, which is a center of cultural excellence, the traditional art, architecture, music, dance and festivals are all expressions of religious devotion. Art consists of scroll paintings, murals, carvings and statues depicting sacred themes. Folk music and dances are linked to the agricultural cycle.
Because of its differing elevation, Nepal offers varied climate conditions from the tropical heat in the Terai to the freezing cold in the mountains. In the mid-hills, particularly Kathmandu, the climate is temperate with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures range from a maximum of 37 to a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius in the plains, 28 to 2 degrees in the Kathmandu Valley, and between 16 and -6 degrees in the mountains. From June to August is the rainy season.
What to wear
Light, loose garments are recommended in the spring and summer, while woolens and jackets or similar warm clothing are needed from November to February.
Banks here accept major international currencies as well as the Indian rupee. The Nepalese currency is the rupee (Rs.), which is made up 100 paisa. The Nepalese rupee comes in denominations of Rs. 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5. When traveling outside the major city areas, carry smaller notes.
When visiting a temple, always circumambulate it in a clockwise direction. Entrance to some temples is restricted, so look out for signs. Refrain from touching the images or the offerings, and don’t climb on the statues to pose for photographs. Always ask for permission to photograph or film personal ceremonies. If you have been invited to Nepalese home, it is customary to take your shoes off before entering the room. Showing affection in public is frowned upon in Nepal.
Nepal’s jungles are rich in wildlife and contain more than 30 species of large wild animals and 180 species of mammals. The tropical forests in the south host such animals and reptiles as the one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger and crocodile, while up in the mountains are found such exotic species as the snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan black bear, thar and blue sheep. There are also more thatn 850 species of birds, or 10% of the world total, making Nepal a heaven for bird watchers. Also found here are 650 species of butterflies and 600 species of moths.