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Nepal Information

Geography of Nepal

Nepal is land locked between China and India. It covers an area of 147,181 sq. kms and can geographically be divided into three regions- the Himalayan, Hilly, and Terai with altitude varying from 70 to 8,848 meters, which of course is Mount Everest. The Himalaya occupies 15% of the total area of the country and this is what the country is known for. The landscape is covered with snow capped mountains in the northern part, the altitude of the region ranges from 3500m to 8,848m. Some of Nepal's most beautiful animals and plants are found in this region, although vegetation is sparse and almost nothing in the higher altitudes. People depend on trade with Tibet and employment often comes  as labor, guides and porters. Sherpas and Tamangs are the dominant inhabitants of this region.

 

The hilly region falls between the Himalayan and the Terai region. Made up mainly with of the Mahabharat, Siwalik and Chure ranges, the region is divided into 39 districts, and spreads over 68%of the total country. The altitude ranges between 600 up to 3500m.  This is an ideal temperature and climate, for the regions large amount of flora and is home to many exotic animals including spotted leopard, barking deer, Himalayan black bear, and many other species. Brahmin, Chhetri, Newar, Rai, Limbu, Gurung, and many other ethnic groups reside in the region. The Terai or the plains covers 17% of the area of Nepal and is the most populated region. It is the industrial and agriculture centre of the country. This region has a lot  of  fertile lands, and many people are engaged in agriculture. Much rice and vegatables are grown here.

 

Nepal Fact Sheet

Area: 147,181 sq. km

Geography: Situated between China in the north and India in the South

Location: Latitude: 2612' to 3027' North Longitude:804' to 8812' East

Capital: Kathmandu

Population: 23 million

People: 101 ethnic groups and 92 spoken languages

Climate: sub-tropical in low lands to arctic in the  higher altitudes 

Time : Nepal time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT 

Religion : Nepal is a secular state with a pre-dominance of Hindus and Buddhist Population.

Currency : Nepali Rupee.

 

History of Nepal

The history of Nepal is believed to begin in the 7th century BC with the arrival of Kiratis from the east, considered to be the first inhabitants of Nepal, who also brought Buddhism to the country. Buddhism was replaced by Hinduism in the 3rd century, when the Licchavi kings from India defeated the Kiratis. The caste system was also introduced during this period. Nepal history is divided into three category- ancients Nepal (Licchhavi dynasty), Medival Nepal (Malla dynasty) and Shaha dynasty. Around the turn of 7th century, the Thakuris took over the power from the Licchavis, making Amshu Varma, the first Thakurian king. The period that followed was often referred to as the 'Dark ages' because of instability and invasion that surrounded much part of the reign.

The Malla dynasty began from 1200 and ended towards 1769, when they were dethroned by the Shah rulers, who ruled comfortably till 19th century. During the mid 1300s, Nepal began dividing into many small states. Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king of Gorkha is known as the unifier who conquered many independent hill states, even taking over three Malla kingdoms within the valley and was successful in extending the territory even further in the 18th century. In 1846, the Kot Massacre, orchestrated by Jung Bahadur Rana brought Ranas into power. The Ranas who ruled Nepal for 104 years are often criticized of leading Nepal into poverty.

In 1950s, the Shah Kings who had virtually no power during the Rana rule came back into power. King Mahendra was succeeded by King Birendra in 1972, who in 1990 approved constitutionamonarchy for the first time. After the royal massacre in 2001, Gyanendra, brother of King Birendra was made the King. However, he was ousted by the people's revolution in 2006. Nepal was declared a Federal Democratic Republic secular state in 2008. 

 

 

Religion of Nepal

Hinduism

According to 2011 census Hindu is the major religion of Nepal. Approximately 81% of the Nepalese people identified themselves as Hindus.It is also believed, according to Nepalese theology that Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the main God and Goddess in Hinduism. The people of Nepal follow Buddhism and Hinduism together due to the existence of religious tolerance. The same person can follow Hinduism and Buddhism at the same time. They celebrate Dashain/Tihar/ Loshar  and Buddha Jayanti (janai purnima) no mater what their religious category is. At the time of Malla dynasty both religion were practice in the country traditionally. After the unification of Nepal by King Prithivi Narayan, Nepal was declared as a Hindu dominant country. Nepals Buddhism is differs than any other countrys Buddhism in the world.

 

Buddhism

Buddha was born in Sakya family about 563 B.C. in Lumbeni. According to the 2011 census 10% of Nepal population practice Buddhism. Buddhism is practice in hill and mountain regions of Nepal. In many cases they have shared deities as well as temples for Pooja. For example, the Muktinath Temple is sacred and a common house of worship for both Hindus and Buddhists. Islam is a minority religion of Nepal. According to 2011 census only 4.27% of the people practice Islam in Nepal. It is thought that Islam was introduced in Nepal by Indian Muslims. Mainly they are found in the low land area (Terai)

 

Culture

Nepal has the richest and most diverse culture landscapes anywhere. Nepal is the holy land of Lord Pashupatinath and Gautam Buddha where the Hindus and Buddhists have lived together in harmony for centuries. The Temple of Pashupatinath is Nepals most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the four most important cities in the world for Shiva worshippers. Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal/s southern plains, which makes Nepal a scared pilgrimage destination for Buddhists as well.The rich tapestry of the cultural heritage of Nepal is synthesized in the Kathmandu Valley. The three ancient cities of the Valley Patan, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur represent an epitome of harmony in urban design, elegant architecture and refined culture. These cities pack a concentration of religious monuments unequalled in the world. Don/t miss the seven monument zones named as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO all situated within the small confines of the Valley.

Adding dazzling color to Nepals myriad attractions are the many festivals that dot the calendar. Join in the numerous annual festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs. Go for village tours and visit the mufti-ethnic groups to get first hand experience of their customs and lifestyles. As eating is a special affair in Nepal, there is food for each and every occasion and festival. Kathmandu offers an incredible selection of dining opportunities. There are many restaurants that serve only authentic Nepali food complete with ethnic an ambiance.

 

Environment of Nepal

The dramatic differences in elevation found in Nepal result in a variety of environments, from tropical savannas along the Indian border, to subtropical broadleaf and coniferous forests in the Hill Region, to temperate  coniferous forests on the slopes of the Himalaya, to grasslands and scrublands and rock and ice at the highest elevations.

At the lowest elevations is the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands eco region. These form a mosaic with the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, which occur from 500 to 1,000m and include the Inner Terai Valleys. Himalayan subtropical pine forests occur between 1,000 and 2,000m.Above these elevations, the bio geography of Nepal is generally divided from east to west by the Gandaki River. Eco regions 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 m are temperate broadleaf forests: the eastern and western Himalayan broadleaf forests. From 3,000 to 4,000m are the eastern and western Himalayan sub alpine conifer forests. To 5,500m are the eastern and western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows.

 

Nepal Climate

Nepal’s weather is generally predictable and pleasant. The monsoon is approximately from the end of June to the middle of September. About 80% of the rain falls during that period, so the remainder of the year is dry. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons; winter temperatures drop to freezing with a high level of snowfall in the mountains. Summer and late spring temperatures range from 28ºC (83ºF) in the hill regions to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the Terai. In winter, average maximum and minimum temperatures in the Terai range from a brisk 7ºC (45ºF) to a mild 23ºC (74ºF). The central valley’s experience a minimum temperature often falls below freezing point and a chilly 12ºC (54ºF) maximum. Much colder temperatures prevail at higher elevations. The Kathmandu Valley, at an altitude of 1310m (4297ft), has a mild climate, ranging from 19-27ºC (67-81ºF) in summer, and 2-20ºC (36-68ºF) in winter.

 

Peoples of Nepal

Brahmin and Chhetris

These are two large groups distributed in scattered patterns all over the country, which are considered the two highest castes in Nepal. They have sharp Indo-Aryan features and an olive complexion. Brahmins are believed to have migrated from India while Chhetris are from the present day Khasa people from Khasi. These people follow Hinduism as their main religion and socially they have many sects. They are divided into two major streams, the Purba and Umai. The Kumain people are of the origin of Kumo, Northern India, Uttar Pradesh. .They speak Nepali, the national language of Nepal and use a script with basis in Sanskrit.

 

Newars

Newars are mainly settled in Kathmandu Valley and in the major trading centers throughout the kingdom. They have Mongolian features and their own language and script, Newari, believed to have its origin from Tibeto-Burmans. Hinduism and Buddhism are their main religions.Trade and farming are their main occupations.

 

Tamangs

In the Taamang language Tamang means horse rider. It is believed that they originally came from Tibet via Mongolia. The majority of Tamangs live in the hills surrounding Kathmandu Valley. Their social practices and customs are based on Buddhism and they have their own culture, costom  and  language, Tamang. They work mainly as Mountain climber, Trekking  guide, Tibetan Thanka Art and also farmered. The Tamang language originates from the Tibeto-Burmese family.

 

Kiratis 

Kirati mainly consists of Rai and Limbu people. Literally Rai or Limbu means headman. They are decendents of the Kirati's who first formed the kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley. They now mainly live in far eastern Nepal. Kirati people are well known for their courage and bravery and are often recruited into armies abroad like the more famous Gurkhas. The religious text of Limbu is the Mundhum.

 

Magars

Their origin is basically found in hill regions of western Nepal. Their religion is Buddhist and their language, Magar Kura, depicts their affinity to the Tibeto-Burmese tongue and culture. Farming, military service, weaving, hunting, and fishing are their major occupations.

 

Gurungs
They are famous for their bravery while serving in military forces. They are mostly settled along the higher slopes of the Annapurna areas and the Kali Gandaki river above the Baglung district. They are farmers of rice and grains and also sheep. They are ethnically related to Magars, Thakalis and Kiratis in eastern Nepal. The Gurung people love music and they have their own language.

 

Thakalis
The origin of Thakali is Thok Khola, a high valley in central Nepal along the Muktinath region. They have Mongolian features, a fair complexion and narrow eyes. Thakalis are divided into four major groups: Gauchan, Tulachan, Sherchan and Bhattacan. Their religion is a mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jhankrism. They are known for their hospitality, good salesmanship, and cleanliness.

 

Sherpas

Sherpa in literal terms, means people of the east in the Tibetan language. Originally from Tibet about 500 years ago they have a close affinity with the Tibetan language, culture and religion. Sherpa major occupations include agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and have become famous for trekking and mountaineering. Today they are know worldwide for their skill and hardiness. They follow Buddhism as their major religion.

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