Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign statelocated in South Asia. With an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 27 million (and nearly 2 million absentee workers living abroad), Nepal is the world's 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. Specifically, the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Sikkim border Nepal, while across the Himalayas lies the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Nepal is separated from Bangladesh by the narrow Indian Siliguri corridor. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest metropolis.
The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, calledSagarmatha (सगरमाथा) in Nepali. It contains more than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level.[ The southern Terai region is fertile and humid. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is located in this region. Lumbini is one of the holiest places of one of the world's great religions, and its remains contain important evidence about the nature of Buddhist pilgrimage centres from as early as the 3rd century BC.
Hinduism is practiced by about 81.3% of Nepalis, making it the country with the highest percentage of Hindus, Buddhism is linked historically with Nepal and is practiced by 9%, Islam by 4.4%, Kirat 3.1%, Christianity 1.4%, and animism 0.4%.
Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (497 mi) long and 200 kilometres (124 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 km2 (56,827 sq mi). SeeList of territories by size for the comparative size of Nepal. It lies between latitudes 26° and 31°N, and longitudes 80° and 89°E.
Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: Mountain, Hill and Terai. 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 Himalayan rivers: the Kosi, the Narayani, and the Karnali as well as smaller rivers rising below the permanent snowline. This region has a subtropical to tropical climate. The outermost range of foothills called Shiwalik or Churia Range cresting at 700 to 1,000 metres (2,297 to 3,281 ft) marks the limit of the Gangetic Plain, however broad, low valleys called Inner Tarai (Bhitri Tarai Uptyaka) lie north of these foothills in several places.
The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 800 to 4,000 metres (2,625 to 13,123 ft) in altitude with progression from subtropical climates below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) to alpine climates above 3,600 metres (11,811 ft). The Mahabharat Range reaching 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,921 to 9,843 ft) is the southern limit of this region, with subtropical river valleys and "hills" alternating to the north of this range. Population density is high in valleys but notably less above 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) and very low above 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) where snow occasionally falls in winter.
The Mountain Region (Parbat), 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 (29,029 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: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.
Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft), the temperatezone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,937 to 7,874 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,874 to 11,811 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,811 to 14,436 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,436 ft).
Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns. In a land once thickly forested, deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems.
Nepal is popular for mountaineering, containing some of the highest and most challenging mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Technically, the south-east ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb; so, most climbers prefer to trek to Everest through Nepal.
The dramatic differences in elevation found in Nepal result in a variety of biomes, from tropical savannas along the Indian border, to subtropical broadleafand coniferous forests in the Hill Region, to temperate broadleaf and coniferous forests on the slopes of the Himalaya, to montane grasslands and shrublands and rock and ice at the highest elevations.
At the lowest elevations is the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion. These form a mosaic with the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, which occur from 500 to 1,000 metres (1,600 to 3,300 ft) and include the Inner Terai Valleys. Himalayan subtropical pine forests occur between 1,000 and 2,000 metres (3,300 and 6,600 ft).
Above these elevations, the biogeography of Nepal is generally divided from east to west by the Gandaki River. Ecoregions to the east tend to receive more precipitation and to be more species-rich. Those to the west are drier with fewer species.
From 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,900 to 9,800 ft), are temperate broadleaf forests: the eastern and western Himalayan broadleaf forests. From 3,000 to 4,000 metres (9,800 to 13,000 ft) are the eastern and western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. To 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) are the eastern andwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows.
Nepal's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012 was estimated at over $17.921 billion (adjusted to Nominal GDP). In 2010, agriculture accounted for 36.1%, services comprise 48.5%, and industry 15.4% of Nepal's GDP. While agriculture and industry is contracting, the contribution by service sector is increasing. Agriculture employs 76% of the workforce, services 18% and manufacturing/craft-based industry 6%.Agricultural produce – mostly grown in the Terai region bordering India – includes tea, 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. Its workforce of about 10 million suffers from a severe shortage of skilled labor.
Nepal’s economic growth continues to be adversely affected by the political uncertainty. Nevertheless, real GDP growth is estimated to increase to almost 5 percent for 2011/2012. This is a considerable improvement from the 3.5 percent GDP growth in 2010/2011 and would be the second highest growth rate in the post-conflict era. Sources of growth include agriculture, construction, financial and other services. The contribution of growth by consumption fueled by remittances has declined since 2010/2011. While remittance growth slowed to 11 percent (in Nepali Rupee terms) in 2010/2011 it has since increased to 37 percent. Remittances are estimated to be equivalent to 25–30 percent of GDP. Inflation has been reduced to a three-year low to 7 percent.
The proportion of poor people has declined substantially in recent years. The percentage of people living below the international poverty line (people earning less than US$1.25 per day) has halved in only seven years. At this measure of poverty the percentage of poor people declined from 53.1% in 2003/2004 to 24.8% in 2010/2011. With a higher poverty line of US$2 per-capita per day, poverty declined by one quarter to 57.3%. However, the income distribution remains grossly uneven. In a recent survey, Nepal has performed extremely well in reducing poverty along with Rwanda and Bangladesh as the percentage of poor dropped to 44.2 percent of the population in 2011 from 64.7 percent in 2006–4.1 percentage points per year, which means that Nepal has made significant improvement in sectors like nutrition, child mortality, electricity, improved flooring and assets. So if the progress of reducing poverty continues in this rate, then it's predicted that Nepal will halve the current poverty rate and eradicate it within the next 20 years.
The spectacular landscape and diverse, exotic cultures of Nepal represent considerable potential for tourism, but growth in this hospitality industry has been stifled by recent political events. In 2009, the number of international tourists visiting Nepal was 509,956.
The rate of unemployment and underemployment approaches half of the working-age population. Thus many Nepali citizens move to other countries in search of work. Top destinations include India, Qatar, the United States, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brunei Darussalam, Australia, and Canada. Nepal receives $50 milliona year through the Gurkha soldiers who serve in the Indian and British armies and are highly esteemed for their skill and bravery. As of 2010, the total remittance value is worth around $3.5 billion. In 2009 alone, the remittance contributed to 22.9% of the nation's GDP.
A long-standing economic agreement underpins a close relationship with India. The country receives foreign aid from India, Japan, the UK, the US, the EU, China, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries. Poverty is acute; per-capita income is around $1,000. The distribution of wealth among the Nepalis 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%.
The government's budget is about $1.153 billion, with expenditure of $1.789 billion (FY05/06). 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. The inflation rate has dropped to 2.9% after a period of higher inflation during the 1990s
Nepal's exports of mainly carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods and grain total $822 million. Import commodities of mainly gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products and fertilizer total US$2 bn. EU (46.13%), the US (17.4%), and Germany (7.1%) are its main export partners. Recently, the European Union has become the largest buyer of Nepali ready made garments (RMG). Exports to the EU accounted for "46.13 percent of the country’s total garment exports". Nepal's import partners include India (47.5%), the United Arab Emirates (11.2%), China (10.7%), Saudi Arabia (4.9%), and Singapore (4%).
Besides having landlocked, rugged geography, few tangible natural resources and poor infrastructure, the ineffective post-1950 government and the long-running civil war is also a factor in stunting the economic growth and development.
Means of transport in mountain area
Nepal remains isolated from the world's major land, air and sea transport routes although, within the country, aviation is in a better state, with 47 airports, 11 of them with paved runways; flights are frequent and support a sizable traffic. The hilly and mountainous terrain in the northern two-thirds of the country has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. In 2007 there were just over 10,142 km (6,302 mi) of paved roads, and 7,140 km (4,437 mi) of unpaved road, and one 59 km (37 mi) railway line in the south. There is a single reliable road route from India to the Kathmandu Valley. More than one-third of its people live at least a two hours walk from the nearest all-season road; 15 out of 75 district headquarters are not connected by road. In addition, some 60% of road network and most rural roads are not operable during the rainy season. The only practical seaport of entry for goods bound for Kathmandu is Calcutta in India. Internally, the poor state of development of the road system makes access to markets, schools, and health clinics a challenge.
According to the Nepal Telecommunication Authority MIS May 2012 report, there are 7 operators and the total voice telephony subscribers including PSTN and mobile are 16,350,946 which give the penetration rate of 61.42%. The fixed telephone service account for 9.37%, mobile for 64.63%, and other services (LM, GMPCS) for 3.76% of the total penetration rate. Similarly, the numbers of subscribers to data/internet services are 4,667,536 which represents 17.53% penetration rate. Most of the data service is accounted by GPRS users. Twelve months earlier the data/internet penetration was 10.05%, thus this represents a growth rate of 74.77%.
Not only has there been strong subscriber growth, especially in the mobile sector, but there was evidence of a clear vision in the sector, including putting a reform process in place and planning for the building of necessary telecommunications infrastructure. Most importantly, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) and the telecom regulator, the National Telecommunications Authority (NTA), have both been very active in the performance of their respective roles. Despite all the effort, there remained a significant disparity between the high coverage levels in the cities and the coverage available in the underdeveloped rural regions. Progress on providing some minimum access had been good, however. Of a total of 3,914 Village Development Committees across the country, only 306 were unserved by December 2009. In order to meet future demand, it was estimated that Nepal needed to invest around US$135 million annually in its telecom sector.In 2009, the telecommunication sector alone contributed to 1% of the nation's GDP. As of 30 September 2012, Nepal has 1,828,700 Facebook users.
In the broadcast media, as of 2007, the state operates 2 television stations as well as national and regional radio stations. There are roughly 30 independent TV channels registered, with only about half in regular operation. Nearly 400 FM radio stations are licensed with roughly 300 operational. According to 2011 census, the percentage of households possessing radio was 50.82%, television 36.45%, cable TV 19.33%, computer 7.23%. According to the Press Council Nepal, as of 2012 there are 2038 registered newspapers in Nepal, among which 514 are in publication. In 2013, the Reporters Without Borders ranked Nepal at 118th place in the world in terms of press freedom.
Population density map of Nepal
According to 2011 census, Nepal's population grew from 9 million people in 1950 to 26.5 million in 2011. At the time of the 1981 census, the population was 15 million and the average family was made up of 5.8 persons. The population was 23 million in 2001 with a subsequent family size decline from 5.44 to 4.9 from 2001–2011. Some 1.9 million absentee population was noted in 2011, over a million more than in 2001, most being male workers. This correlated with the drop in sex ratio from 94.41 as compared to 99.80 for 2001. The annual population growth rate is 1.35%.
The Nepalese are descendants of three major migrations from India, Tibet, and North Burma and the Chinese province of Yunnan via Assam. Even though Indo-Nepalese migrants were latecomers to Nepal relative to the migrants from the north, they have come to dominate the country not only numerically, but also socially, politically, and economically.
Among the earliest inhabitants were the Kirat of east mid-region, Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the southern Terai region. The ancestors of the Brahmin and Chetri caste groups came from India's present Kumaon, Garhwal and Kashmir regions, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to North Burma and Yunnan and Tibet, e.g. the Gurung and Magar in the west, Rai and Limbu in the east (from Yunnan and north Burma via Assam), and Sherpa and Bhutia in the north (from Tibet).
Despite the migration of a significant section of the population to the southern plains or terai in recent years, the majority of the population still lives in the central highlands. The northern mountains are sparsely populated. Kathmandu, with a population of over 2.6 million (metropolitan area: 5 million), is the largest city in the country.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Nepal hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers in 2007 numbering approximately 130,000. Of this population, approximately 109,200 persons were from Bhutan and 20,500 from People's Republic of China. The government of Nepal restricted ethnic Nepalese expelled from Bhutan to seven camps in the Jhapa and Morang districts, and refugees were not permitted to work in most professions. At present, the United States is working towards resettling more than 60,000 of these refugees in the US