Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal,┬áis located in Southern Asia and a landlocked country. It is borderd to the north by the┬áPeople’s Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the┬áRepublic of India. The total land area is 147,181 km2.┬á Part of Nepal is situated in the Great Himalayan Range, which contains the highest elevations in the world, including the 8,848 metres (29,029┬áft) high┬áMount Everest┬á(Sagarmatha┬áin Nepali).
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and also┬áthe core of Nepal’s largest urban agglomeration located in the┬áKathmandu valley, consisting of┬áLalitpur, Kirtipur,┬áMadhyapur Thimi,┬áBhaktapur┬áand a number of smaller communities. Kathmandu is also informally known┬áas “KTM” or the “tri-city”. According to the 2011 census, Kathmandu has a population of close to 1 million people.
In Nepal the official language is Nepali. Nepali serves as┬álingua franca┬áamong Nepalis of different ethnolinguistic groups. Many Nepalis in government and business speak English as well.┬áOne hundred and twenty three languages have been reported as mother tongue in the 2011 national census, which shows the degree of cultural diversity found in Nepal.
Nepal at a glance
Nepal has seen rapid political changes during the last two decades. Up until 1990, Nepal was a monarchy under executive control of the King. Faced with a communist movement against absolute monarchy,┬áKing Birendra, in 1990, agreed to a large-scale political reform by creating a┬áparliamentary monarchy┬áwith the King as the┬áhead of state┬áand a Prime Minister as the head of the government.
An insurgency led by Maoists broke out in 1996. The ensuing 10-year civil war between Maoist and government forces brought about a change in the nation’s governance: an interim constitution was promulgated, with the King giving up power, and an interim House of Representatives was formed. The number of parliamentary seats was also increased to 330. In April 2007, the┬áCommunist Party of Nepal (Maoist)┬ájoined the interim government of Nepal.
The newly formed Constituent Assembly (CA) declared Nepal a federal democratic republic and abolished the monarchy at its first meeting the following month. The CA elected the country’s first president in July. King┬áGyanendra┬áwas given 15 days to leave the Royal Palace in central Kathmandu. He left on 11 June 2008.
Between 2008 and 2011 there were four different coalition governments, led twice by the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which received a plurality of votes in the 2008 CA election, and twice by the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (UML). After the CA failed to draft a constitution by the May 2012 deadline set by the Supreme Court, then Prime Minister Baburam BHATTARAI dissolved the CA. Months of negotiations ensued until March 2013 when the major political parties agreed to create an interim government headed by then Chief Justice Khil Raj REGMI with a mandate to hold elections for a new CA. Elections were held in November 2013, in which the Nepali Congress won the largest share of the seats in the CA. They formed┬áa coalition government with the second place UML in February 2014, with Nepali Congress President Sushil KOIRALA as prime minister.
Nepal has a population of around 27 million people. There are three main ethnicities: Khas, Mongoloid and mixed.┬áKhas┬áorigin represents 40 per cent of the population,┬áMongoloids┬áand mixed represent 50 per cent. The other 10 per cent of the population includes Madhesis, Tharus and various other small ethnic groups.
Part of Nepal is situated in the Great Himalayan Range, which contains the highest elevations in the world, including the 8,848 metres (29,029┬áft) high┬áMount Everest┬á(Sagarmatha┬áin Nepali). Becaue of this, dramatic differences in elevations are found in Nepal. The dramatic differences in elevation result in a variety of┬ábiomes, from┬átropical savannas┬áalong the Indian border, to┬ásubtropical┬ábroadleaf┬áand┬áconiferous forests┬áin the Hill Region, to┬átemperate┬ábroadleaf┬áand┬áconiferous┬áforests on the slopes of the Himalaya, to┬ámontane grasslands and shrub lands┬áand rock and ice at the highest elevations.
Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the north summers are cool and winters severe, while in south summers are tropical and winters are mild. Nepal has five major seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter. An average temperature drop of 6┬░C occurs for every 1,000 m gain in altitude.
The Himalayas act as a barrier to the cold winds blowing from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern boundary of the monsoon wind patterns. Eighty percent of the precipitation is received during the monsoon (June-September). Winter rains are more pronounced in the western hills. The average annual rainfall is 1600mm, but it varies by eco-climatic zones, such as 3345mm in Pokhara and below 300mm in Mustang. The best time to visit Nepal is┬áduring spring and autumn. Spring is the time for rhododendrons, while the clearest skies are found after the monsoon in October and November. However, Nepal can be visited the whole year round.
The Kathmandu Valley is in the Warm Temperate Zone of Nepal (elevation ranging from 1200ÔÇô2300 metres (3900ÔÇô7500 ft)), where the climate is fairly temperate, atypical for the region. This zone is followed by the Cool Temperate Zone with elevation varying between 2100ÔÇô3300 metres (6900ÔÇô10800 ft). Portions of the city with lower elevations have a humid subtropical climate, while portions of the city with higher elevations generally have a subtropical highland climate. In the Kathmandu Valley the average summer temperature varies from 28ÔÇô30┬░C (82ÔÇô86┬░F). The average winter temperature is 10.1┬░C (50.2┬░F).
The city generally has a climate with warm days followed by cool nights and mornings. Unpredictable weather is expected during the winter, given temperatures can drop to 3 ┬░C (37 ┬░F). Rainfall is mostly monsoon-based (about 65 per cent of the total is concentrated during the monsoon months of June to August), and decreases substantially (100 to 200 cm (39 to 79 in)) from eastern Nepal to western Nepal. Rainfall has been recorded at about 1400mm┬á(55.1 in) for the Kathmandu valley, and averages 1407mm┬á(55.4 in) for the city of Kathmandu. On average humidity is 75 per cent.