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The Kingdom of Nepal, situated in the Himalaya,Mt. Everest, is the world's only Hindu kingdom. It is in South Asia, sharing borders with the People's Republic of China (Tibet Autonomous Region) and India. It is one of the world's poorest countries.

नेपाल अधिराज्य
Nepal Adhirajya
Flag of Nepal
(In Detail) (Nepal COA.gif)
National motto: जननी जन्मभूमिष्च स्वर्गादपि गरियसि
(transliteration: Ja'nani Jan'mabhumis'hcha Swar'gadapi Gariya'si)
Sanskrit: Mother and the Motherland are Worth More than the Kingdom of Heaven)
Official language Nepali
Capital Kathmandu
King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Prime Minister office vacant since February 1, 2005
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 94th
147,181 km²
 - Total (July 2005)
 - 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 Code 977


Main article: History of Nepal

Nepal has a long history that has extended for millennia. The Kirati are one of the first Nepali groups known to historians, having migrated from the east in the 7th or 8th century BC. Lord Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal circa 563 BC and the Emperor Aśoka ruled over a vast empire including North India and southern Terai region of present day Nepal (though the hilly and mountainous regions were not a part of Aśoka's Empire) in the 1st century BC. By 200 AD, the Buddhist empire was displaced by resurgent Hindu fiefdoms such as the Licchavi dynasty.

Around 900, the Thakuri dynasty succeeded the Licchavi era and was eventually superseded by the Malla dynasty that ruled until the 18th century. In 1768, the Gorkha king, Prithvi Narayan Shah, captured Kathmandu. In 1814, Nepal fought the Anglo-Nepalese War with the British East India Company that ended with the 1816 Sugauli Treaty, in which Nepal gave up Sikkim and the southern Terai and the British retreated. After Nepali Gurkhas aided the British in quashing the Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, most of the Terai territories were returned to Nepal.

The Shah dynasty was cut short in 1846 when Jung Bahadur Rana seized control of the country after assassinating several hundred princes and chieftans in Kathmandu's Kot Massacre . Ranas ruled as hereditary prime ministers until 1948 when the British colony of India achieved independence. India propped up King Tribhuvan as Nepal's new ruler in 1951 and sponsored the Nepali Congress Party. Tribhuvan's son, King Mahendra dissolved the democratic experiment and declared a "partyless" panchayat system would govern Nepal. His son, King Birendra inherited the throne in 1972 and continued the panchayat policy until 1989's "Jana Andolan" (People's Movement or Democracy Movement) forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms. In May 1991, Nepal's held its first election in nearly 50 years. The Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal received the most votes. No party has held power for more than two consecutive years since. Critics argue that the governmental reforms did not appreciably improve the political order because the new government was also characterised by extreme corruption bordering on kleptocracy.

In February 1996, one of the Maoist parties started their bid to replace the parliamentary system with a socialist republic through a Maoist revolutionary strategy known as People's war. This has since grown to a civil war and resulted in the deaths of 10,000 people.

According to official Nepal government accounts, on June 1, 2001, the Heir Apparent Crown Prince Dipendra went on a killing spree in the royal palace in a violent response to his parents' refusal to accept his choice for a wife. He apparently shot and killed his parents, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, as well as his brother, sister, two uncles and three aunts, before turning the gun on himself. His suicide attempt was not immediately successful, however, and although in a comatose state, he was proclaimed the king (in accordance with Nepalese tradition) in his hospital bed. He died three days later. See Dipendra of Nepal.

Following King Dipendra's death, his uncle (King Birendra's brother) King Gyanendra was proclaimed king on June 4. Shortly afterward, he declared martial law, and dissolved the government. Gyanendra deployed Nepal's military in the grinding civil war, the Nepalese People's War, with the Maoist insurgents.

King Gyanendra took control once again on February 1, 2005. See Gyanendra of Nepal for more details.


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

Geography and Climate

Main article: Geography of Nepal

Map of Nepal
Map of Nepal

Nepal is landlocked between China and India; total land area 147,181 km² (56,827 mi²). 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 Himalaya, with 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) 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.

Mount Everest (also known as Sagarmatha in Nepali and Chomolongma in Tibetan), the highest mountain in the world, straddles the Nepal - China border. The vista and majesty of Everest and the Himalayan range, including eight of the world's top ten peaks, (the eight-thousanders -- mountains over 8,000 metres), are major tourist attractions and are cited as wonders of the natural 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 mm (98.5 in) in eastern part of country; 1,420 mm (56 in) around Kathmandu; 1,000 mm (39 in) in western Nepal. In some areas of Nepal annual rainfall totals over 4,000 mm, sometimes even 6,000 mm p. a.

Examples for the highest monthly rainfall at the peak of monsoon (generally July, in Mustang August).

Dadeldhura: 350 mm
Nepalganj: 510 mm
Butwal: 715 mm
Pokhara: 920 mm
Mustang: 60 mm
Kathmandu: 370 mm
Chainpur: 320 mm
Namche Bazar: 220 mm


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$240). 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. Most industrial activity is focussed around the Kathmandu valley and the Terai cities such as Biratnagar and Birgunj . 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.

Demographics and Culture

Main article: Demographics of Nepal

Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. The data below are derived from the 2002 Nepal Population Report. [1]


Nepal's diverse linguistic heritage evolved from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous. According to the 2001 national census, 92 different living languages are spoken in Nepal (a 93rd category was "unidentified"). The major languages of Nepal (percent spoken as mother tongue) are Nepali (49%), Maithili (12%), Bhojpuri (8%), Tharu (6%), Tamang (5%), Newari/Nepal Bhasa (4%), Magar (3%), Awadhi (2%), Bantawa (2%), Limbu (1%), and Bajjika (1%). The remaining 81 languages are each spoken as mother tongue by less than one percent of the population.

Nepali, written in Devanagari script, is the official, national language and serves as lingua franca among Nepalis of different ethnolinguistic groups. In the southern Terai Region (5 to 10 mile wide stretch of flat plains in the south which is a northern continuation of Gangetic plains of India), Hindi is also spoken.


Nepal had no free media till 1990. After restoration of democracy 1990 constitution has established all fundamental freedom and press became free. After 14 years the King Gyanendra took over the power in hand and now all media is subjected to censorship by the army. The Government has given notice to the press not to publish any matter against the King, Government, and court, and to avoid news related to terrorism without prior consent of the army. Journalists are struggling to practice free media. Protest is banned for the present even though journalists have demonstrated peace rally with playcard "Full Fledge Press Freedom for Peace and Democracy". There are 2 government owned TV channels and 3 private TV studios.

There is one state owned Publication of Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal Other Daily Broadsheet Newspapers: Kantipur (Nepali) The Kathmandu Post (English) The Himalayan Times (English) Nepal Samacharpatra (Nepali) Rajdhani (Nepali) Annapurna Post (Nepali) Himalaya Times (Nepali) Space Time (Nepali) Closed after Iraq riot on Bhadra 16, 2061 Radio broadcast stations: AM 6(govt. owned Radio Nepal), FM 56, shortwave 1(govt. owned, Radio Nepal) (March 2005) Television Nepal TV (Brodcast from Satellite, Govt. owned) NTV 2 Metro (Broadcast within KTM valley only, Govt. owned) Channel Nepal (Broadcast from satellite, Private) Kantipur Television Network(Broadcast within KTM valley only, Private) Image Metro (Broadcast within KTM valley only, Private) Nepal 1 (Broadcast from India from satellite, Private, banned in Nepal since February 1st, 2005) Avenues TV (Yet to broadcast)


Nepal, constitutionally a Hindu kingdom with long-standing legal provisions prohibiting discrimination against other religions and proselytization, is the only official Hindu country in the world. The 2001 census identified 80.6% of the population as Hindu and Buddhism was practiced by about 11% of the population (although many people labelled Hindu or Buddhist often practice a syncretic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and/or animist traditions). About 4.2% of the population is Muslim and 3.6% of the population follows the indigenous Kirant religion. Christianity is practiced officially by less than 0.5% of the population but by many accounts has over 600,000 practicers as of early 2005.


Nepal’s 2001 census enumerated 103 distinct caste/ethnic groups including an "unidentified group". The caste system of Nepal is rooted in the Hindu religion while the ethnic system is rooted in mutually exclusive origin myths, historical mutual seclusion and the occasional state intervention. The major caste/ethnic groups identified by the 2001 census are Chhetri (15.8%) Hill Brahmin (12.7%), Madheshi (33%), Magar (7.1%), Tamang (5.6%), Newar (5.5%), Muslim (4.3%), Kami (3.9%), Rai (3.9), Gurung (2.8%), and  Damai/Dholi (2.4%). The remaining 92 caste/ethnic groups (including the world-famous Sherpa), each constitute less than 2 percent of the population.

Urban Population

Community District Pop. 19911 Pop. 2001 Average growthrate proj. 2005
Kathmandu Kathmandu 414.264 671.846 4,7 807.300
Lalitpur Lalitpur 117.203 162.991 3,4 190.900
Pokhara Kaski 95.311 156.312 5,0 190.000
Biratnagar Morang 130.129 166.674 2,5 184.000
Birganj Parsa 68.764 112.484 4,9 136.200
Dharan Sunsari 68.173 95.332 3,6 109.800
Bharatpur Chitwan 54.730 89.323 4,9 108.200
Butwal Rupandehi 44.243 75.384 5,3 92.700
Mahendranagar Kanchanpur 62.432 80.839 2,7 89.900
Janakpur Dhanusha 55.021 74.192 3,1 83.800
Dhangadhi Kailali 45.094 67.447 4,1 79.200
Bhaktapur Bhaktapur 61.122 72.543 1,7 77.600
Hetauda Makwanpur 54.072 68.482 2,4 75.300
Triyuga Udaypur - 55.291 3,9 64.400
Nepalganj Banke 48.556 57.535 1,9 62.000
Siddharthanagar Rupandehi 35.456 52.569 2,9 58.900
Madhyapur-Thimi Bhaktapur - 47.751 4,0 55.900
Mechinagar Jhapa - 49.060 2,8 54.800
Gulariya Bardiya - 46.011 4,1 50.700
Tribhuvananagar Dangdeukhuri 29.152 43.126 4,0 50.500
Itahari Sunsari - 41.210 4,3 48.800
Lekhnath Kaski - 41.369 3,2 46.900
Tikapur Kailali - 38.722 4,1 45.500
Kirtipur Kathmandu - 40.845 2,7 45.400
Ratnanagar Chitwan - 37.791 4,1 44.500
Kamalamai Sindhuli - 32.828 5,3 40.400
Kalaiya Bara 17.265 32.260 5,6 40.100
Tulsipur Dangdeukhuri 20.752 33.876 4,0 39.600
Birendranagar Surkhet 22.888 31.381 3,1 35.500
Damak Jhapa 41.419 35.009 -1,7 35.000
Rajbiraj Saptari 23.847 30.353 2,3 33.200
Kapilbastu Kapilbastu 17.146 27.170 4,6 32.500
Byas Tanahu 20.175 28.245 3,4 32.300
Lahan Siraha 19.046 27.654 3,8 32.100
Putalibazar Syanja - 29.667 1,4 31.400
Prithivinarayan Gorkha - 25.738 2,2 28.100
Panauti Kabhrepalanchok - 25.563 2,4 28.100
Gaur Rautahat 23.258 25.383 2,2 27.700
Dipayal-Silgadhi Doti 12.259 22.061 5,8 27.600
Inaruwa Sunsari 18.562 23.200 2,2 25.300
Siraha Siraha - 23.988 1,0 25.000
Ramgram Nawalparasi - 22.630 1,8 24.300
Tansen Palpa 13.617 20.431 4,0 23.900
Jaleswor Mahottari 18.161 22.046 2,0 23.900
Baglung Baglung - 20.852 3,2 23.700
Bhimeswor Dolakha - 21.916 1,3 23.100
Khadbari Sankhuwasabha - 21.789 1,5 23.100
Dhankuta Dhankuta 17.155 20.668 1,9 22.300
Bidur Nuwakot 18.862 21.193 1,3 22.300
Waling Syanja - 20.414 2,0 22.100
Narayan Dailekh - 19.446 2,1 21.100
Malangwa Sarlahi 13.666 18.484 2,7 20.600
Bhadrapur Jhapa 15.123 18.145 1,8 19.500
Amaragadhi Dadeldhura - 18.390 1,1 19.200
Dasharathchand Baitadi - 18.345 0,2 18.500
Ilam Ilam 13.150 16.237 2,1 17.600
Banepa Kabhrepalanchok 12.622 15.822 2,3 17.300
Dhulikhel Kabhrepalanchok 9.664 11.521 1,6 12.300
Sum of urban Population 1.742.359 3.197.834 3,5 3.545.500
increase 91-01 for first 36 mun. 1.742.359 2.528.218

1 by 1991 only 36 municipalities were established


See Music of Nepal


Nepal uses three calendars: the Western (Gregorian), the official solar Bikram Sambat, 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.

Miscellaneous topics


Further reading

  • Barbara Crossette. 1995. So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas. New York: Vintage. (ISBN 0679743634)
  • Bista, Dor Bahadur. The Peoples of Nepal
  • Perer Matthiessen.1993, "The Snow Leopard".(ISBN 0-00-272025-6)
  • Joe Simpson. 1997. "Storms of Silence"
  • Samrat Upadhyay. 2001. "Arresting God in Kathmandu"
  • Joseph R. Pietri.2001. "The King of Nepal"
  • Maurice Herzog.1951. "Annapurna"
  • Dervla Murphy.1967. "The Waiting Land"
  • Jon Kraukauer.1997. "Into Thin Air"
  • Indra Majupuria.1996. "Nepalese Women". (ISBN 974-89675-6-5)
  • Dor Bahadur Bista.1996. "People of Nepal". Kathmandu.
  • Eva Kipp.1995. "Bending Bamboo Changing Winds". (ISBN 81-7303-037-5)
  • Broughton Coburn.1982/1991. "Nepali Ama". (ISBN 0-918373-74-3)

Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13