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Country Name: Nepal
Geographical Area: 147,181 sq km
Population: 23 million
Capital City: Kathmandu
People: Various ethnic groups, including the Bhotiya, Khas, Kirati, Magar, & Newari.
Language: Nepali (also called the Gurkhalis)
Religion: Hindu, Buddhist, & Muslims.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy.
Visas: All foreign nationals requires visa. Single-entry tourist visas are issued for up to 30 days and can be extended for a maximum of three months.
Health Risks: Altitude sickness, hepatitis A, malaria, & meningococcal Meningitis.
Time Zone: GMT/UTC plus five hours 45 minutes
Currency: Nepalese rupee (NR)
Weights & measures: Metric
National Airport: Tribhuvan Intl. (KTM), Kathmandu
Nepal's Background

Located at the Southern Asia, between China and India is Nepal. Geographic coordinates is 28 00 N, 84 00 E. And the total area is about 140,800 sq. km while the land area is 136, 800 sq. km .The border countries from Nepal are China 1,236 km and India 1,690 km . Terrain in the lowest point is Kanchan Kalan that is 70 m, and the highest point is Mount Everest about 8,848 m . Natural resources are, quartz, water, timber, hydropower potential, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, and iron ore. Current issues in the country of Nepal are the almost total dependence on wood for fuel and cutting down trees to expand agricultural land without replanting has resulted in widespread deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution. Geographic condition of Nepal is landlocked, a strategic location between China and India,and also contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks.

In the high mountain ranges, temperatures remain cold all year and snow covers the mountains. In the Tarai and the Kathmandu Valley, summer (April:September) is hot and rainy, and winter (November:February) is cool. Monsoon season is mid-June to mid:September.

Population: 22,094,033 (July 1996 est.) Ethnic divisions: Newars, Indians, Tibetans, Gurungs, Magars, Tamangs, Bhotias, Rais, Limbus, Sherpas

For most of its known history, Nepal was ruled by an hereditary king but, from the middle of the 19th century, hereditary prime ministers of the Rana family controlled the country. In 1951 the Ranas were overthrown and the monarchy restored under King Tribhuvan. Four years later he was succeeded by his son, King Mahendra.

In 1959 Mahendra established a parliamentary constitution, and the ensuing elections were won by the Nepali Congress (led by B P Koirala) which had played a key role in the re-establishment of the monarchy. A year later, however, a royal coup led to the banning of all political parties and the establishment of a constitution based on the traditional village councils (the Panchayat system).

Mahendra ruled until his death in 1972 when he was succeeded by his son Birendra, who is the current ruler. Following a referendum, in which the Panchayat regime was approved by a narrow majority, Birendra persevered with the system, assisted by censorship and repression where necessary.

As serious opposition to the regime gathered strength through the 1980s, the King wavered in his response to the movement between more repressive measures and cosmetic administrative reforms designed to defuse the situation. In 1986, a member of the minority Newari community, Marich Man Singh Shrestha, became Prime Minister for the first time, holding the office until his dismissal and replacement by Lokendra Bahadur Chand in 1990.

During 1990, growing public unrest brought the underlying political tension to the surface, and forced the King to make concessions on the introduction of representative government. Following negotiations between the Government and the newly legalised opposition parties, a draft constitution was promulgated in November 1990 which allowed for direct elections to a bicameral parliament. The first poll under the new system was held in May 1991: the Congress Party (linked to the Indian party of the same name) took 110 of the 205 seats in the new parliament to become the largest single party; the United Marxist-Leninist Party (UML) became the largest opposition grouping.

Despite an overall majority, Congress was unable to lead a stable government and the next election was brought forward from its scheduled date in 1996 to take place in November 1994. The UML unexpectedly emerged as the largest party with 88 seats; Congress came second with 85. The UML formed a minority government, the first of six governments which held office over the next five years (including three in the twelve months leading up to the latest poll). The most recent election, staggered over two weeks in May 1999, returned Congress with 110 seats once again but given the faction-ridden nature of the party (a feature it shares with the UML) the new government is unlikely to prove any more stable than its various predecessors.

Nepal has always been a dividing line between cultures and civilizations, and a cross-roads for the commerce and culture. Here the plains of the subcontinent climb up to the high plateau of Tibet, the languages and people of India give way to those of China and the Hindu religion blends in to Buddhism. Nepal is often a complex blend of the two influences and this variation is further complicated by the diversity of ethnic groups within the country.

Nepali (official), 20 other languages divided into numerous dialects.

Nepal is a constitutional monarchy. Although more power has been vested in the monarch than is customary under such a system, the main center of legislative and executive power is bicameral parliament, comprising the 205-seat Pratinidhi Sabha (House of the States), whose members are directly elected to serve a five-year term, and the 60-seat Rashtriya Sabha (House of States).

While the majority of Nepali people practice Hinduism, the official religion, a strong shamanist element remains in the religious practices of many Tibeto-Nepalese ethnic groups. Buddhism is also important within the country. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini, in present-day Nepal. There is also a small Muslim population mainly located in the Tarai.

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