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Nepal is a Hindu kingdom of Southern Asia, with borders with Tibet and India.

नेपाल अधिराज्य (Nepal Adhirajya)
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto:
जननि जन्मभुमिस्चा स्वर्गदपि गरियोशि
"The Motherland Is Worth More than the Kingdom of Heaven" (translation from Sanskrit)
Official language Nepali
Capital Kathmandu
King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 94th
140,800 kmē
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 40th
Unification 1768
Currency Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Time zone UTC +5:45
National anthem Rastriya Gaan (May Glory Crown You, Courageous Sovereign)
Internet TLD.NP
Calling Code977

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Zones
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 References
10 Further reading


Main article: History of Nepal

On June 1, 2001 the Heir Apparent Dipendra went on a killing spree in the royal palace in an angry response to his parents' refusal to accept his choice for a wife. He shot and killed his parents, the king Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, as well as several other royal cousins before turning the gun on himself. His suicide attempt failed, however, and although in a comatose state, he was proclaimed the King (in accordance with Nepalese tradition) in his hospital bed. He died a few hours later. Following this, his uncle (Birendra's brother) Gyanendra was proclaimed king on June 4. Nepal is currently embroiled in a long-lasting civil war, the Nepalese People's War.


Main article: Politics of Nepal

The former king Birendra was open to parliamentary democracy, and restored it after a referendum in 1990. King Birendra was widely respected by the people of Nepal. However, quarrels between various political parties and numerous social problems caused a Maoist rebellion which has been escalating since 1996 (see Nepalese People's War). Since the ascension of Gyanendra the king has been trying to excercise more control over the government to combat the rebellion and other problems. Democracy has been largely supended by Gyanendra who has taken control of government.


Main article: Zones of Nepal

Nepal is divided into 14 zones (anchal, singular and plural): Bagmati, Bheri, Dhawalagiri, Gandaki, Janakpur, Karnali, Koshi, Lumbini, Mahakali, Mechi, Narayani, Rapti, Sagarmatha, Seti


Main article: Geography of Nepal

Nepal is landlocked between China and India; total land area 147,181 square kilometers. The terrain is mountainous and hilly, although with physical diversity. Three broad physiographic areas run laterally - lowland Terai Region in the south; central lower mountains and hills constituting the Hill Region; the high Himalayas, with 8,848-meters-high Mount Everest and other peaks forming Mountain Region in north. Of Nepal's total land area, only 20 percent is cultivatable. Deforestation is a severe problem.

The vista and majesty of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, and the Himalayas, including the eight-thousanders those mountains over 8,000 metres, are rightly both a major tourist attraction and one of the acknowledged Wonders of the world.

Nepal has five climatic zones based on altitude that range from subtropical in the south, to cool summers and severe winters in the north. There is annual rainfall with seasonal variations depending on the monsoon cycle, which provides 60 to 80 percent of the total annual rainfall: 2,500 millimeters in eastern part of country; 1,420 millimeters around Kathmandu; 1,000 millimeters in western Nepal.


Main article: Economy of Nepal

Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with nearly half of its population living below the poverty line (with, as of 2001, a per capita income of just over US$240240). Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population and accounting for 41% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Production of textiles and carpets has expanded recently and accounted for about 80% of foreign exchange earnings in the past three years. Agricultural production is growing by about 5% on average as compared with annual population growth of 2.3%.

Since May 1991, the government has been moving forward with economic reforms, particularly those that encourage trade and foreign investment, e.g., by reducing business licenses and registration requirements in order to simplify investment procedures. The government has also been cutting expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. More recently, however, political instability - five different governments over the past few years - has hampered Kathmandu's ability to forge consensus to implement key economic reforms. Nepal has considerable scope for accelerating economic growth by exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community's role of funding more than 60% of Nepal's development budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures will likely continue as a major ingredient of growth.


Main article: Demographics of Nepal\

Nepal has three major ethnic groups in terms of origin: Indo-Nepalese, Tibeto-Nepalese, and indigenous Nepalese, composed of Newah or Newars, Bhote, Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Thakali, Brahman, and other smaller ethnic groups.

Nepali, written in Devanagari script, is the official, national language spoken by almost 60 percent of population. More than twelve other languages with numerous dialects are used, although they are rarely spoken outside ethnic enclaves.

Nepal is the only official Hindu state in world, although many people professing either Hindu or Buddhist beliefs often practice a syncretistic blend of Hinduism and Buddhism. About 89.5 percent of population is Hindu, approximately 5.3 percent and 2.7 percent, are Buddhist and Muslim, respectively.


Main article: Culture of Nepal

Nepal uses three calendars: the Western (Gregorian),the official solar Bikram Sambhat, and the lunar calendar. Dates for many religious Nepalese holidays are set according to the lunar calendar (somewhat like Easter is for Christians), so there are no fixed dates for Nepalese holidays in either the Western or the official calendar. Generally, the two major holidays, Dashain and Tihar, fall in October and November.
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
N/A Dashain Dashain  
N/A Tihar Tihar  

Miscellaneous topics


Further reading

Barbara Crossette. 1995. So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas. New York: Vintage. See the "Buddhist Nepal" chapter on pp. 127-148.

[ Edit {}] Countries in South Asia
Bangladesh | Bhutan | India | Maldives | Nepal | Pakistan | Sri Lanka