2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Asian Countries; Countries

नेपाल अधिराज्य
Nepāl Adhirājya

Kingdom of Nepal
Flag of Nepal Emblem of Nepal
Flag Emblem
Motto: Sanskrit: जननी जन्मभूमिष्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी
("Mother and motherland are dearer than the heavens")
Anthem: Rastriya Gaan
Location of Nepal
Capital Kathmandu
27°42′N 85°19′E
Largest city Kathmandu Kantipur
Official languages Nepali
Government Transitional government
 - King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
 - Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala
Unification December 21, 1768 
 - Total 147,181 km² ( 93rd)
56,827 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 2.8
 - July 2005 estimate 27,133,000 ( 42nd)
 - 2002 census 23,151,423
 - Density 184/km² ( 56th)
477/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $39.14 billion ( 87th)
 - Per capita $1,675 ( 153rd)
HDI  (2003) 0.526 (medium) ( 136th)
Currency Rupee ( NPR)
Time zone NPT ( UTC+5:45)
 - Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC+5:45)
Internet TLD .np
Calling code +977

Nepal ( [neˈpaːl] ), officially the Kingdom of Nepal, is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia, bordered by China ( Tibet) to the north and by India to the south, east and west. Nepal is a kingdom of various geographical features, and is culturally rich. More than 80% of Nepalese follow Hinduism, which is higher than the percentage of Indian Hindus, making it the single most Hinduic nation in the world. For a small territory, the Nepali landscape is uncommonly diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. Nepal boasts eight of the world's fourteen highest mountains, including Mount Everest on the border with China. Kathmandu is the capital and largest city. The other main cities include Bharatpur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Janakpur, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, and Mahendranagar. The origin of the name Nepal is uncertain, but the most popular understanding is that it derived from Ne (holy) and pal (cave).

After a long and rich history, during which the region splintered and coalesced under a variety of absolute rulers, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy in 1990. However, the monarchy retained many important and ill-defined powers. This arrangement was marked by increasing instability, both in the parliament and, since 1996, in large swathes of the country that have been fought over by Maoist insurgents. The Maoists, alienated from mainstream political parties, went underground and started a guerrilla war against both monarchy and mainstream political parties. They have sought to overthrow feudal institutions, including the monarchy, and establish a republic. This has led to the ongoing Nepalese Civil War in which more than 13,000 people have died. On the pretext of quashing the insurgents, who now control about 60% of the country, the king closed down the parliament and sacked the elected prime minister in 2002 and started ruling through prime ministers appointed by him. He then unilaterally declared a state of emergency early in 2005, and assumed all executive powers. Following the Loktantra Andolan, the king agreed to relinquish the sovereign power back to the people and reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives on April 24, 2006. Using its newly acquired sovereign authority, on May 19, 2006, the newly resumed House of Representatives unanimously passed a motion to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state. As of September, 2006, a complete rewrite of the country's constitution was still expected to happen in the near future.


Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least 9,000 years. It appears that people who were probably of Tibeto-Burman ethnicity lived in Nepal 2,500 years ago.

Indo-Aryan tribes entered the valley around 1500 BC. Around 1000 BC, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose. One of the princes of the Shakya confederation was Siddharta Gautama (563–483 BC), who renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha ("the one who has awakened"). By 250 BC, the region came under the influence of the Mauryan empire of northern India, and later became a puppet state under the Gupta Dynasty in the 4th century. From the late 5th century, rulers called the Licchavis governed the area. The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late 8th century and was followed by a Newari era, from 879, although the extent of their control over the entire country is uncertain. By late 11th century, southern Nepal came under the influence of the Chalukya Empire of southern India. Under the Chalukyas, Nepal's religious establishment changed as the kings patronised Hinduism instead of the prevailing Buddhism.

Hindu temples in Patan, the capital of one of the three medieval kingdoms
Hindu temples in Patan, the capital of one of the three medieval kingdoms
Nepalese royalty in the 1920s
Nepalese royalty in the 1920s

By the early 13th century, leaders were emerging whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix malla ("wrestler"). Initially their reign was marked by upheaval, but the kings consolidated their power over the next 200 years. By late 14th century much of the country began to come under a unified rule. This unity was short-lived: in 1482 the kingdom was carved into three – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon – which had petty rivalry for centuries.

In 1765, the Gorkha ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah set out to unify the kingdoms, after first seeking arms and aid from Indian kings and buying the neutrality of bordering Indian kingdoms. After several bloody battles and sieges, he managed to unify Nepal three years later. However, the actual war never took place while conquering the Kathmandu Valley. Infact, it was during the Indra Jaatra, when all the valley citizens were celebreting the festival, Prithvi Narayan Shah with his troops captured the valley, virtually without any effort. This marked the birth of the modern nation of Nepal. A dispute and subsequent war with Tibet over control of mountain passes forced Nepal to retreat and pay heavy repatriations to China, who came to Tibet's rescue. Rivalry with the British East India Company over the annexation of minor states bordering Nepal eventually led to the brief but bloody Anglo-Nepalese War (1815–16), in which Nepal defended its present day borders but lost its territories west of the Kali River, including present day Uttaranchal state and several Punjab Hill States of present day Himachal Pradesh. The Treaty of Sugauli also ceded parts of the Terai and Sikkim to the Company in exchange for Nepalese autonomy.

Factionalism among the royal family led to instability after the war. In 1846, a discovered plot to overthrow Jang Bahadur, a fast-rising military leader by the reigning queen, led to the Kot Massacre. Armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country. Bahadur won and founded the Rana dynasty, leading to the Rana autocracy. The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British, and assisted the British during the Sepoy Rebellion in 1857, and later in both World Wars. In 1923 the United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship, in which Nepal's independence was recognised by the UK.

In the late 1940s, emerging pro-democracy movements and political parties in Nepal were critical of the Rana autocracy. Meanwhile, China occupied Tibet in 1950, making India keen on stability in Nepal, to avoid an expansive military campaign. Thus India sponsored Tribhuvan as Nepal's new king in 1951, and a new government, mostly comprising the Nepali Congress Party. After years of power wrangling between the king and the government, the democratic experiment was dissolved in 1959, and a "partyless" panchayat system was made to govern Nepal. In 1989, the "Jan Andolan" (People's) Movement forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and establish a multiparty parliament in May 1991. Nepali Congress Party wins first democratic elections. Girija Prasad Koirala becomes prime minister.

Current events

Map of Nepal
Map of Nepal

On June 1, 2001, the Heir Apparent Dipendra reportedly went on a killing spree in the royal palace, in response to his parents' rejection of his choice of wife. His parents were killed and he died 3 days later. Following the carnage, the throne was inherited by Birendra's brother Gyanendra. In the face of unstable governments and a Maoist siege on the Kathmandu Valley in August 2004, popular support for the monarchy waned.

On February 1, 2005 Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers in the name of combating the Maoist movement. In September 2005, the Maoists declared a three-month unilateral ceasefire which was not reciprocated by the royal government; the latter vowed to defeat the rebels by force. A few weeks later, the government stated that parliamentary elections would be held by 2007 even after the failed municipal elections.

The seven parliamentary parties (SPA), with support from the Maoists, arranged a mass uprising against the reign of King Gyanendra. The royal government used various means to quell the uprising. Frustrated by lack of security, jobs and good governance, thousands of people took to the streets to demand that the king renounce power outright, but the royal government turned even more ferocious and continued its atrocities including daytime curfews amid a Maoist blockade. Food shortages hit people so that they prepared to march into the city centre and encircle the royal palace. The security forces turned brutal and the king seemed to think nothing had happened so far. Thousands were injured and 21 people died in the uprising, which was meant to be peaceful but turned violent due to the actions of the government and its vigilantes.

Foreign pressure continued to increase on King Gyanendra to surrender power so that on April 21, 2006 Gyanendra announced that he was giving up absolute power and that "Power was being returned to the People". He called on the seven party coalitions to name a possible Prime Minister and that elections would be held as soon as possible. Many Nepalese protesters however, still carried out rallies in numerous cities and vowed to continue the stir until they would achieve complete abolishment of the monarchy. Finally after 19 days of protests, on April 24 midnight, the king called for the country's parliament to reassemble on April 28.

Parliament has since reassembled and stripped the king of his power over the military, abolished his title as the descendent of a Hindu God, and required royalty to pay taxes. Furthermore, several royal officials have been indicted, and the Nepalese government is no longer referred to as "His Majesty's Government", but rather as the "Government of Nepal". An election of the constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution has been declared unanimously to be held in the near future, with the possible abolition of the monarchy as part of constitutional change.

Following Gyanendra's relinquishing of absolute power, the Nepalese government and Maoist rebels agreed on a ceasefire. In August 2006, both parties came to an agreement on the issue of arms accountability, agreeing to ask the United Nations to oversee and keep track of the weapons cache of both sides. The government and the Maoists are trying to come to an agreement on the future of the monarchy.

As of 21 November 2006, Maoists and the Seven Party Alliance have signed a peace deal. This will reportedly end the Nepal Civil War, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives to date.


Topographic map of Nepal
Topographic map of Nepal
The arid and barren Himalayan landscape
The arid and barren Himalayan landscape

Nepal is of roughly rectangular shape, 650 kilometres (400  mi) wide and 200 kilometres (125 mi) broad, with an area of 147,181  square kilometres (56,827  sq mi). Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Mountain, Hill, and Terai Regions. These ecological belts run east-west and are bisected by Nepal's major river systems.

The Terai Plains 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 (India's Gandak River), and the Karnali. This region has a hot, humid climate.

The Hill Region (Pahad in Nepali) abuts the mountains and varies from 1,000 to 4,000 metres (3,300–13,125  ft) in altitude. 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. Despite its geographical isolation and limited economic potential, the region always has been the political and cultural centre of Nepal. Unlike the valleys, elevations above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) are sparsely populated.

The Mountain Region contains the highest region in the world. The world's highest mountain, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) at 8,850 metres (29,035 ft) is located on the border with China. Eight of the world's fourteen highest mountains are located in Nepal. Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, is also located in Nepal. Deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems.

Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to altitude. 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). Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns.

Although Nepal shares no boundary with Bangladesh, the two countries are separated by a narrow strip of land about 21 kilometre (13 mi) wide, called the Chicken's Neck. Efforts are underway to make this area a free-trade zone.

Mt Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and is situated between Nepal and Tibet. The South-east ridge on the Nepalese side of the mountain is technically easier to climb, which is why so many keen climbers are pouring in through Nepal to climb Mt Everest. Also other Mountains including Annapurna I, II, III and IV are located in the Annapurna Mountain Range in Nepal.


Agriculture sustains 76% of the population and accounts for about 39% of the GDP; services comprise 42%, and industry 21%. Hilly and mountainous terrain in the northern two-thirds of the country has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. There are just over 4,000 km of paved roads, and one 59 km railway line in the south. Aviation is in a better state, with 46 airports, nine of them with paved runways. There is less than one telephone per 46 people; landline services are poor, although mobile telephony is in a reasonable state in some parts of the country. There are around 100,000 Internet connections, but after the imposition of the "state of emergency", intermittent losses of service have been reported.

Its landlocked location and technological backwardness and the long-running civil war have also prevented Nepal from fully developing its economy. The country receives foreign aid from China, the United States, Japan and the European Union. The government's budget is about US$665 million, with expenditures of $1.1bn. The inflation rate has dropped to 2.9% after a period of higher inflation during the 1990s. The Nepalese Rupee has been tied to the Indian Rupee at an exchange rate of 1.6 for many years. Since the loosening of exchange rate controls in the early 1990s, the black market for foreign exchange has all but disappeared. A long-standing economic agreement underpins a close relationship with India.

The distribution of wealth among people is consistent with that in many developed and developing countries: the highest 10% of households control 39.1% of the national wealth and the lowest 10% control only 2.6%.

Terraced farming on the foothills of the Himalayas
Terraced farming on the foothills of the Himalayas

Nepal's workforce of about 10 million suffers from a severe shortage of skilled labour. Agriculture employs 81% of the workforce, services 16% and manufacturing/craft-based industry 3%. Agricultural produce——mostly grown in the Terrai region bordering India——includes rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, milk, and water buffalo meat. Industry mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce, including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. The spectacular landscape and deep, exotic culture of Nepal represents considerable potential for tourism, but growth in this export industry has been stifled by recent political events. The rate of unemployment and underemployment approaches half of the working-age population. Thus many Nepalese move to India in search of work, the Gulf countries and Malaysia being new sources of work. Poverty is acute. Nepal receives US$50 million a year through the Gurkha soldiers who serve in the Indian and British armies and are highly esteemed for their skill and bravery. The total remittance value is worth around 1 billion USD, including money sent from Arabia and Malaysia, who combined employ around 200,000 Nepalese.

Nepal's GDP for the year 2005 is estimated at just over US$37 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 83rd-largest economy in the world. Per-capita income is around US$1,402, ranked 163rd. Nepal's exports of mainly carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods and grain total $568 million. Import commodities of mainly gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products and fertiliser total US$1.419 bn. India (48.8%), the US (22.3%), and Germany (8.5%) are its main export partners. Nepal's import partners include India (43%), the United Arab Emirates (10%), China (10%), Saudi Arabia (4.4%), and Singapore (4%).

Government and politics

Until 1990, Nepal was an absolute monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.

Nepal's legislature was bicameral consisting of a House of Representatives and a National Council. The House of Representatives consists of 205 members directly elected by the people. The National Council had 60 members, 10 nominated by the king, 35 elected by the House of Representatives and the remaining 15 elected by an electoral college made up of chairs of villages and towns. The legislature had a five-year term, but was dissolvable by the king before its term could end. All Nepalese citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote.

The executive comprised the King and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet). The leader of the coalition or party securing the maximum seats in an election was appointed as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet was appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Governments in Nepal have tended to be highly unstable; no government has survived for more than two years since 1991, either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch.

Military and foreign affairs

Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu region close to Mount Everest. The town is built on terraces in what resembles a giant Greek amphitheatre.
Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu region close to Mount Everest. The town is built on terraces in what resembles a giant Greek amphitheatre.

Nepal's military consists of the Nepalese Army which includes the Nepalese Army Air Service, (the air force unit under it), and the Nepalese Police Force. On May 19, 2006 The House unanimously passed the proposal to rename Royal Nepal Army (RNA) as the “Nepali Army”. Service is voluntary and the minimum age for enlistment is 18 years. Nepal spends $99.2 million (2004) on its military—1.5% of its GDP. The Nepali Army has 90,000 soldiers, who are currently engaged in the civil war against the Maoist insurgents.

Nepal has close ties with both of its neighbours, India and China. In accordance with a long-standing treaty, Indian and Nepalese citizens may travel to each others' countries without a passport or visa. Nepalese citizens may work in India without legal restriction. Although Nepal and India typically have close ties, from time to time Nepal becomes caught up in the problematic Sino-Indian relationship. India considers Nepal as part of its realm of influence, and views Chinese aid with concern. Some Indians consider Nepal to be part of a greater pan-Indian state, an attitude that has caused Nepalese antagonism towards India.Moreover,there is a growing anti-indian sentiment among Nepali youths. In 2005, after King Gyanendra took over, Nepalese relations with India, the U.S., and the UK have worsened. These three foreign countries have been vociferous opponents to the crackdown on civil liberties in Nepal. China mainly seeks cooperation with Nepal on the issue of Tibetan independence, including the degree of freedom that Nepal gives the thousands of Tibetan refugees living in its territory and the approximately 2,000-3,000 Tibetans that seek to escape Tibet through Nepal each year. Outside of Asia, Nepal has especially friendly relations with Germany,Japan and has historical military links with the United Kingdom.

Administrative divisions

Nepal is divided into 14 zones and 75 districts grouped into five development regions. Each district is headed by a fixed chief district officer responsible for maintaining law and order and coordinating the work of field agencies of the various government ministries.

The 14 zones are:
1 Bagmati 8 Lumbini
2 Bheri 9 Mahakali
3 Dhawalagiri 10 Mechi
4 Gandaki 11 Narayani
5 Janakpur 12 Rapti
6 Karnali 13 Sagarmatha
7 Koshi 14 Seti


The Shaivaite Pashupatinath temple.
The Shaivaite Pashupatinath temple.

Nepal has a total population of 27,676,547 as of July 2005, with a growth rate of 2.2%. 39% of the population is up to 14 years old, 57.3% are aged between 15 and 64, and 3.7% above 65. The median age is 20.07 (19.91 for males and 20.24 for females). There are 1,060 males for every 1,000 females. Life expectancy is 59.8 years (60.9 for males and 59.5 for females). Nepal is the only country in the world where males outlive females. Total literacy rate is 53.74% (68.51% for males and 42.49% for females).

According to the 2001 census, Hindus constitute 80.6% of the population. Buddhists make up 10.7%, Muslims 4.2%, Kirant 3.6%, other religions 0.9%. The largest ethnic group is the Chhettri (15.5%). Other groups are the Brahman-Hill 12.5%, Magar 7%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Newar 5.4%, Kami 3.9%, Yadav 3.9%, other 32.7%, unspecified 2.8%. Nepali is the national language with 47.8% of the population speaking it as their first language. Other languages include Maithili 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Nepal Bhasa 3.6%, Magar 3.3%, Awadhi 2.4%, other 10%, unspecified 2.5%. Differences between Hindus and Buddhists have been in general very subtle and academic in nature due to the intermingling of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Both share common temples and worship common deities and many of Nepal's Hindus could also be regarded as Buddhists and vice versa. Buddhists are mostly concentrated in the eastern regions and the central Terrai. Buddhism was relatively more common among the Newar and Tibeto-Nepalese groups. Among the Tibeto-Nepalese, those most influenced by Hinduism were the Magar, Sunwar, Limbu and Rai peoples. Hindu influence is less prominent among the Gurung, Bhutia, and Thakali groups, who employ Buddhist monks for their religious ceremonies.

The northern mountains are sparsely populated. A majority of the population live in the central highlands despite the migration of a significant section of the population to the fertile Terrai belt in recent years. Kathmandu, with a population of 800,000, is the largest city in the country.


Nepali culture is influenced by the cultures of Tibet, which borders to the north, and India, which borders to the south. There are similarities in clothing, language and food. A typical Nepali meal is dal-bhat - boiled dal served with rice and vegetables, and some spicy relish. This is consumed twice daily, once in the morning and again after sunset. Between these main meals, snacks such as chiura (beaten rice) and tea are consumed. Meat, eggs, and fish are considered a treat and eaten on special occasions only. In the mountainous region the staple diet are based on wheat, maize, millet and potatoes. Millet-based alcoholic drinks known as " Tongba" and other cereal based alcohol are popular, including chhaang and the distilled rakshi. However, the Newar community enjoys its own special Newari cuisine.

Traditional Nepali folklore retains a strong influence in society and its stories are widely acted out in dance and music. The Newari culture is the richest culture amongst all ethnic groups. Most of the festivals observed in the country are the Newari festivals. The Newar people are well known for masked dance that tell stories of the gods and heroes. The associated music is percussion-based, sometimes with flutes or shawm accompanying the intense, nasal vocal lines. Musical styles are a variety of pop, religious and folk music, among other styles. Musical genres from Tibet and India have had a strong influence on traditional Nepali music. Women, even of the musician castes, are less likely than men to play music, except in specific situations such as traditional all-female wedding parties.

Houses in rural parts of Nepal are made up of stones and clay.
Houses in rural parts of Nepal are made up of stones and clay.

The sarangi, a four-stringed, hand-carved instrument is usually played by wandering minstrels. Since the sixties, Nepali rock or rock music, sung to Nepali lyrics, has become popular among youth. Also catching on fast is Nepali rap and Nepali reggae which has blossomed with the advent of the music video industry. There are also many heavy metal bands. Football is the most popular sport, followed by cricket and kabaddi. The Martyrs Memorial Football League is the national football championship.

Television was only introduced to Nepal in the 1980s. Currently there are four television broadcasting channels: Nepal Television - the national television channel; NTV 2 Metro - a city channel owned by the government; and two private channels - Kantipur Television and Image Channel. Also many other networks, particularly those that originate in India, are available with the installation of increasingly popular satellite dishes, although lack of electrification makes this difficult. Radio is listened to throughout the kingdom; as of 2000, there were 12 radio stations.

The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months. Saturday is the official weekly day of rest. Main holidays include the National Day (birthday of the late king Tribhuvan) December 28, Prithvi Jayanti, ( January 11), and Martyr's Day ( February 18) and a mix of Hindu and Buddhist festivals such as Teej, Dashai in autumn, and Tihar late autumn. Most marriages are arranged, and divorce is rare. Polygamy is banned by law; relatively isolated tribes in the north, such as the Dolpo, practise polyandry. Nepal has a rich tradition of ceremonies, such as nwaran (the christening of a child), and the Pasni, the day a child is first fed rice, and bratabandha (the penance ceremony) and gupha for prepubescent boys and girls, respectively. In bel bibaha, preadolescent girls are "married" to the bel fruit tree, ensuring that the girl becomes and remains fertile.

Most houses in rural Nepal are made up of a tight bamboo framework with mud and cow- dung walls. These dwellings remain cool in summers and retain warmth in the winter. Dwellings at higher altitudes are mostly timber-based.

Woman's status in Nepal has been steadily rising. The first lady to have gained the prestigious chartered accountant status is Samikshya Shrestha in August 2004.

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