Population 27.8 million
Nepal has a very diverse geography, rising from less than 100 metres (328 ft) elevation in the tropical Terai—the northern rim of the Gangetic Plain, beyond the perpetual snow line to some 90 peaks over 7,000 metres (22,966 ft) including Earth's highest Mount Everest or Sagarmatha at 8,848m (29,029 ft).
Nepal has been divided into elevation zones, south to north:
Outer Terai - Level plains
Siwalik Range or Churia Hills - the outermost and lowest range of foothills
Inner Terai - large valleys between the Siwaliks and higher foothills to the north.
Mahabharat Range - a prominent foothill range
Middle Hills - Valleys north of the Mahabharat Range and hills up to about 2,000m (6,500 ft)
Valleys - Kathmandu and to the west Pokhara
Lekhs - highe peaks and grasslands.
The High Himalayas - north of the Lekhs, rise along a fault zone to peaks over 6,700m (22,000 ft) and even over 8,000m (26,000 ft).
Trans-Himalaya - Peaks in this region north of the highest Himalayas in central and western Nepal are lower and gentler, mostly around 6,000m (20,000 ft).
Hindu castes migrated from Southern part of present day Nepal to Nepal after 11th century. The traditional Hindu caste system is based on the four Varna Vyawastha "the class system" of Brahman (Bahun) priests, scholars and advisors; Kshatriya (Chhetri) rulers and warriors, Vaishya (merchants); Shudra (farmers and menial occupations).
Traditional caste rules govern who can eat with whom, especially when boiled rice is served, and who can accept water from whom. Until the 1950s these rules were enforced by law.
Dalits are subject to caste-based discrimination and so called ‘untouchability’ in social, economic, educational, political and religious areas. The National Dalit Commission (2002) categorized 28 cultural groups as Dalits. Some argue that the use of the term Dalit will never ever help to abolish caste-based untouchability. (Literally, 'Dalit' translates to 'suppressed' in Nepali.) There are suggestions that the term should not be used because it not only breeds inferiority but is also insulting.
Newars, —the indigenous people of the Kathmandu valley— follow both Hinduism and Buddhism. According to the 2001 census, they can be classified into 40 distinct cultural groups, but all speak a common language called Nepal bhasa (Newa bhaaya). Newars use prevailing lingua francas to communicate outside their community: Nepali in the hills and Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi in the Terai.
The ethnic groups of the hills, Terai and mountain areas are grouped as Janajati. A total of 61 Adibasi Janajatis have been recognised by the Nepal Government, 5 are from the mountain regions, 20 from the Hills, 7 from inner Terai and 11 from the Terai region.
A Janajati is a community who has its own mother tongue and traditional culture and yet does not fall under the conventional fourfold Varna of the Hindu system or the Hindu hierarchical caste structure. Many of these ethnic groups are Hinduized to some degree, although Hindu practices supplement rather than replace more ancient beliefs and practices. Unlike the Hindus, many indigenous nationalities of Nepal such as the Sherpa people as well as the people of Muslim & Christian faiths, have a culture of eating beef.
Other caste and ethnic groups included in the ‘other’ category are; Sikhs, Christians, Bengalis, and Marawadis.
Nepali or 'Gorkhali' is an Indo-Aryan language. It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal. Historically, the language was first called the Khas language (Khas kurā), then Gorkhali or Gurkhali (language of the Gorkha Kingdom) before the term Nepali was coined.
Other names include Parbatiya("mountain language", identified with the Parbatiya people of Nepal) and Dzongkha Lhotshammikha ("Southern Language", spoken by the Lhotshampas of Bhutan). It is also known as Khe language among the Newar people and Pahari language among Madhesi and Tharus. The three main dialects of Nepali are Purbeli Nepali, Kendriya Nepali and Paschimeli Nepali.
The politics of Nepal function within a framework of a republic with a multi-party system. Currently, the position of President (head of state) is occupied by Bidhya Devi Bhandari. The position of Prime Minister (head of government) is held by Puspakamal Dahal (Parchanda). Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, while legislative power is vested in the Constituent Assembly.
The art and culture of Nepal has been strongly influenced by the religious beliefs of the country. The artwork is decorative, delicate and very beautiful. Nepal art is strongly influenced by the culture of the people and the two really go together and are interwoven. The two most typical forms of art are that of paintings and sculptures. Nepal art and culture has changed little over the centuries though western influences are slowly starting to affect some modern artists.
Nepal celebrates a number of religious and non-religious holidays. On most of these holidays, most government offices and private institutions are closed, although is not mandatory for privately owned businesses to close and international organizations may operate their own calendar.
Some of these events are region, religion or gender specific.
The longest consecutive public holiday in Nepal is during Vijaya Dashami. Ghatasthapana and Kojagrat Purnima holidays are part of this festival but are separate from the six-day holiday. These festival holidays do not fall on the same calendar date every year, as they are celebrated on the basis of Lunar dates also known as tithi. Holidays such as Loktantra Diwas (Democracy Day) and Republic day are celebrated on the basis of Bikram Sambat calendar dates. Nepal’s holidays include:
Martyrs’ Day 9 January
Constitution Day 1 February
Basant Panchami (lunar)
Rashtriya Prajatantra Divas (National Democracy Day) 18 February
Maha Shivaratri (lunar)
International Women’s Day 8 March
Chaite Dashain (lunar)
Navavarsha (New Year’s Day)
Ram Navami (Birthday of Lord Rama) 15 April
Buddha Jayanti (Buddha’s Birthday) 21 April
Krishna Janmashtami (lunar)
Fulpati Saptami (lunar)
Maha Ashtami (lunar)
Maha Navami (lunar)
Vijaya Dashami (lunar)
Currently there are nine universities in Nepal.
Far-western University, Kanchanpur
Lumbini Bouddha University
Mid Western University, Birendranagar
Nepal Agriculture and Forestry University, Rampur, Chitwan
Nepal Sanskrit University
In 2014 Nepal exported $1.06 billion making it the 150th largest exporter in the world. The exports include:
Synthetic Staple Fiber Yarn
Coated Flat-Rolled Iron
In 2014 Nepal imported $7.75B, making it the 112th largest importer in the world. These imports include: