|National motto: "The Motherland Is Worth More than the Kingdom of Heaven" (translation from Sanskrit)|
|Monarch||Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev|
|Prime Minister||Surya Bahadur Thapa|
- % water
|Ranked 94th |
- Total (2000)
|Currency||Nepalese Rupee (NPR)|
|Time zone||UTC +5:45|
|National anthem||Ras Triya Gaan (May Glory Crown You, Courageous Sovereign)|
|Table of contents|
8 Miscellaneous topics
HistoryMain 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 parent's refusal to accept his choice for a wife. He shot and killed the king Birendra and queen Ayswari, 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 king in his hospital bed. He died a few days later. Following this, his uncle (Birendra's brother) Gyanendra was proclaimed king on June 4.
PoliticsMain article: Politics of Nepal
The former king Birendra was open to parliamentary democracy, and restored it after a referendum in 1990. However, the quarrels between various political parties and numerous social problems caused a Maoist rebellion which has been escalating since 1996. Since the ascension of Gyanendra the king has been trying to excercise more control over the government to combat the rebellion and other problems
ZonesMain article: Zones of Nepal
GeographyMain 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.
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.
EconomyMain 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 $240 U.S.). 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.
DemographicsMain 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 a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs is actually practiced. About 89.5 percent of population is Hindu, approximately 5.3 percent and 2.7 percent, are Buddhist and Muslim, respectively.
CultureMain article: Culture of Nepal
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