Nepal, famous for its extraordinarily beautiful mountain terrains, is a country in Asia. Nepal is located in southern Asia between two large countries, India and China. India surrounds Nepal on the East, West, and South and China on the North making Nepal a landlocked country. Nepal lies in the coordinates of approximately 28°N and 84°E and covers a small area of 147,516 sq. km. The distance from east to west is about 800km and from north to south is about 250km.
Nepal is peculiarly enthralling in all aspects. It is blessed with astounding natural beauty, and diverse culture and celebrates wonderful divergence. Nepal is topographically divided into three regions, Himalayan in the north, Hilly, and Terai in the south. The Himalayan region contains several mountain ranges including the world’s highest peak Mount Everest. The hilly region contains various ranges like Churia and Mahabharata and valleys including the deepest valley in the world, Arun Valley. Terai region contains the most fertile region and has and most suitable for cultivation.
The capital of the country is Kathmandu. Kathmandu lies in the hilly region of Nepal and is one of the valleys. Kathmandu is home to many historical places like Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur durbar squares with their remarkably crafted buildings and structure. It also holds many world heritage sites like Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Boudha Stupa. Kathmandu Valley feels majestic with the wonderful view of green hills and mountains around it and its temperate climate.
Nepalese, despite the diversity, only have warmth to offer each other and to everyone who visits Nepal. Nepal is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural country. Most people are Hindu and Buddhist, Nepal being the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, “the light of Asia” and preacher of peace. Many ethnic groups like Brahmin, Chhetri, Newar, Magar, Gurung, and many more dwell in Nepal with their own special culture. Everyone respects each other’s values and every festival is cherished equally.
Nepal is a developing country and has reached a long way from the Rana regime to democracy to the end of monarchy to the Republic. Nepal is now a federal democratic republic and a sovereign country but the long-term political instability is a hindrance on its way to development.
Within a very small range, Nepal’s altitude varies from 4877 meters and 8848 meters in the Himalayas and hills to 300 meters.
The Himalayan region extends from 4000m above sea level to 8840m above sea level in the northern side of Nepal. It covers about 16 percent of the total land area. It contains several mountain ranges including the highest peak in the world Mount Everest which is 8848.86m according to a recent measurement. Among 14 peaks above 8000m in the world, 8 lies in Nepal. The snow-covered mountains are a spectacular sight in the Himalayan region which attracts heavy tourists from all over the world. The Himalayan region contains sub-mountain soil unsuitable for agriculture and the temperature ranges from sub-zero to -30oC.
The hilly region lies south of the Himalayan region. It extends from 300m to about 4000m and covers 68% of the total area. It enjoys a temperate climate and the land here is comparatively fertile. The hilly region comprises valleys like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Arun, and Churia ranges and Mahabharata ranges. A Mahabharata range extends to 4000m while the Churia range extends to a lower altitude.
Terai region lies in the southernmost region and extends up to 300m from the sea level. It is the hottest region of Nepal and the temperature rises to above 45oC in summer. The land here is exceedingly fertile and the most suitable for agriculture. The luscious green Terai is alluring.
The species of flora and fauna varies within the geographical regions. Blue sheep, musk deer, and rare red pandas are found above 4000m with vegetation like maple and pine. Danfe, the national bird, is also found above an altitude of 4000m. Terai region is characterized by grasslands and Sal forests. Terai shelters a variety of fauna including one-horned rhino, tiger, and spiny babbler.
HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL:
The history of Nepal dates back to around the 7th and 8th B.C when Gopalas ruled Nepal. They were ousted by Kiratis and later by Lichhavis at around 300 A.D. One of the legacies of Lichhavis lies in the Changu Narayan temple in Bhaktapur which is also listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Art, literature, and craft flourished in Nepal during 1200 A.D. when Mallas conquered Nepal. Mallas erected picturesque squares and durbars filled with magnificent woodwork and metalwork. Mallas introduced organized cities, festivals, music, and drama. Mallas ruled three towns in valleys while Shah’s ruled Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king of Gorkha, set up a conquering mission and took off to unite the small kingdoms into Nepal. Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered Kathmandu after a long struggle and set the capital of the country to Kathmandu. Shah’s ruled the country from then to 2008 till the end of the monarchy.
Junga Bahadur Rana was chosen as the first prime minister of Nepal who rose to be more powerful than the then king. He commenced a hereditary reign that lasted for 104 years. Nepalese couldn’t live a rightful life and were deprived even of the basics like education. Ranas’ was overthrown with the rise of democracy in Nepal under the support of the king, King Tribhuwan but later King Mahendra changed his mind and dissolved the parliament that was led by Congress and it was the end of Nepal’s first democratic movement.
Maoists declared the “People’s Movement” in 1990 paving the way for democracy by reforming the constitution and against the monarchy. This movement lasted for years and in 2006 November abdicated his power and a new parliament was formed. On May 2008, the ruling parliament declared Nepal as “the federal democratic republic ending the 240 years long monarchy, and the new constitution was announced on September 20, 2015. This was an historic achievement and the dream of Nepalese to have a true meaning of democracy was realized.
Nepal now practices a federal system with seven provinces and 753 local governments, the president being the head of the state and the prime minister leading the government. Nepal is yet to establish a stable government that prioritizes development and the citizens. The path to a prosperous Nepal may be difficult but we are on our way and the destination isn’t very far.
Nepal has a rich culture that encompasses various ethnic groups, religious groups, social groups, and dynamic heritages. All the social groups practice their own language and literature, art, and culture while they respect others. The latest census identified the majority being Hindu which comprises about 80% of the total population. 11% practiced Buddhism, 3.2% practiced Islam, and 3.6% followed the indigenous Kirat religion, and 0.5% practiced Christianity. The birthplace of Gautam Buddha, Lumbini lies in Nepal, and one of the most sacred Hindu temples Pashupatinath lies in Nepal where lord Shiva is worshipped.
Nepali is spoken as the mother tongue by almost 44% of the total population, its origin being three major language groups; Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous. Other languages spoken are Maithili (11.7%), Bhojpuri (6%), Tharu (5.8%), Tamang (5.1%), Nepal Bhasa (3.2%), Magar (3%), and Bajjika (3%).
Dashain is the major and longest festival celebrated in Nepal. Dashain falls in late September or mid-October. Goddess Durga is worshipped for 15 days and this festival is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. Tihar and Chhath are other major festivals. Buddhists celebrate losar and Buddha Jayanti. Eid and Christmas are also celebrated in Nepal.