s Nepal
china flag
Capital :  
Kathmandu (Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal)
Population :  
29 million
Area :  
Approximately 147,000 sq km
Language :  
Nepali 58% (official language), Newari 3%, mainly in Kathmandu. Tibeto- Burman languages (20%) mainly in the hill areas, and Indian-related languages (20%) mainly in the Terai areas bordering India. Nepal has over 30 Languages and over a hundred dialects.
Currency :  
Nepalese Rupee (NPR) which is pegged to the Indian Rupee.
GNI per capita :  
: US$15.1 billion (2011 IMF)
Time Zone :  
Current UTC (or GMT/Zulu)-time
UTC is Coordinated Universal Time, GMT is Greenwich Mean Time
The five city-states of the Kathmandu Valley, in which the culture of the Malla Kings flourished from the 14th to the 17th centuries, were conquered by the ruler of the central hill state of Gorkha in the mid 18th century. Prithvi Narayan Shah is looked upon as founder of the nation. Further expansion by the Shahs in the early 19th century brought them into conflict with British India. Following the Anglo-Nepal war of 1816 the Treaty of Sugauli was signed. A permanent British Resident was posted to Kathmandu in 1816, with the British remaining the only foreign diplomatic presence in the capital for well over a century. In 1846 the Shah dynasty were deprived of executive rule by Jung Bahadur Rana, who established a line of hereditary Prime Ministers which ruled until 1951 when King Tribhuvan in a 'Palace revolution' re-established the Shahs as rulers of the country, followed by a series of more representative cabinets and the first democratic elections. However, in 1960 King Mahendra assumed direct rule and drew up a new Constitution based on the 'partyless' Panchayat (five-man village council) system. Political parties were banned and suppressed, at times violently.
In early 1990, during King Birendra's reign, following widespread agitation for a multi-party democracy, Nepal experienced a virtually bloodless 'revolution' and a new Constitution was promulgated in November of that year which retained the constitutional Monarchy as Head of State but introduced a full parliamentary system of government. The Nepali Congress party formed a government which ruled from 1991-94. From 1994-1999 there were five successive coalition governments.
It was against this unstable political background that in February 1996, the leaders of the Maoist United People's Front began a violent insurgency, waged through killings, torture, bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and intimidation against civilians, police, and public officials in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts. Over 16,000 civilians, insurgents, police, and soldiers were killed in the conflict and around 1,500 people were 'disappeared'.
King Gyanendra, came to the throne in June 2001 following the ‘Palace Massacre’ in which King Birendra and much of his family died. After Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed Prime Minister on 22 July 2001 he announced a unilateral ceasefire against the Maoists, which they reciprocated immediately. The Maoists broke the ceasefire in November 2001, in response to which Prime Minister Deuba declared a State of Emergency. The conflict intensified over the following year, drew in the full participation of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA), and saw a dramatic increase in human rights violations.
On 4 October 2002 King Gyanendra, citing fears over the handling of the insurgency, requested Deuba's resignation and appointed a transitional government of his own choosing. On 29 January 2003 a ceasefire was once again agreed between the Maoists and the transitional government but peace talks failed and the Maoists unilaterally ended the ceasefire on 27 August 2003. On 1 February 2005 the King deposed the Government and took power directly. The takeover was met with widespread international criticism from India, the US, and the EU, including the UK. On 14 April the King announced his intention to gradually restore democracy.
In September 2005 the Maoists announced a three-month unilateral ceasefire and in November 2005, the Maoists and seven of the political parties (the Seven Party Alliance) announced a 12-point understanding aimed at ending the King's autocratic rule and restoring democracy.
Following weeks of nation-wide civil unrest (the ‘People’s Movement’) in April 2006, the King reinstated Parliament. G P Koirala was sworn in as Prime Minister on 30 April 2006 and proposals to hold elections to a Constituent Assembly and hold peace talks with the Maoists were passed. The peace talks concluded with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in November 2006 and the composition of an interim government that included the Maoists. Elections to a Constituent Assembly were finally held on 10 April 2008.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia with over half the population surviving on less than $1.25 a day and the fifteenth poorest in the world. In 2006 the tourism industry was opened up to foreign investors. Nepal attracts over 500,000 tourists every year, with around twenty foreign airlines now flying to Nepal. A survey by the Asian Development Bank found that 76% of companies identified electricity supply a key constraint to business Nepal's power shortage is severe with seasonal outages of up to 16 hours a day.
The economy is dominated by agriculture and remittances from Nepalis working overseas, each of which account for around a third of GDP. Remittances are crucial to Nepal’s economy, and bring in more foreign exchange than exports. Tourism accounts for around 7% of GDP.
The global financial crisis had a delayed effect on Nepal, as growth in remittances slowed and exports declined fell in 2010. Funding from the IMF increased boosted confidence in the currency peg and the economy as a whole, preventing capital flight. The banking sector remains vulnerable as the rapid growth in credit has strained the Central Bank’s supervisory capacity. Asset prices have boomed in recent years, particularly in real estate.
The UK’s trade with Nepal has not grown significantly in recent years. Nepal enjoys tariff-free access to the EU market under the ‘Everything But Arms’ regulation, but goods exports to the UK still only represent a small share of total Nepalese exports (around 2% in 2009).
Nepal covers approximately 147,000 sq km, stretching 800km from east to west and 90 to 230km from north to south. Nepal is land-locked between China (including the Tibet Autonomous Region) and India. Nepal has three geographic regions; the mountainous Himalayan belt (including 8 of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world), the hills region and the plains region. Nepal contains the greatest altitude variation on earth, from the lowland Terai, at almost sea-level to Mount Everest at 8848 metres. Nepal is divided into five development regions and seventy-five districts.
Climate Change
Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries in South Asia to climate change, yet it has limited capacity to address impacts of climate change or to take advantage of the opportunities. It has a highly variable climate and fragile ecosystems. The Himalayan glaciers are retreating faster than any other major body of ice. With climate change, climate variability, a driver of poverty in a country where 75% of the population is reliant on agriculture, will only increase. The monsoon rains are already more intense, but of shorter duration, and are arriving later, which has a devastating impact on the rice crop.
The rupee is the official currency of Nepal. The present rupee has the ISO 4217 code NPR and is normally abbreviated with the sign Rp. It is subdivided into 100 paisa. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Nepal Rastra Bank. The most commonly used symbol for the Rupee is Rs or Rp
The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has traditionally maintained a non-aligned policy and enjoys friendly relations with neighboring countries, especially India and China. As a small, landlocked country wedged between two larger and far stronger powers, Nepal maintains good relations with both China (People's Republic of China) and India.
Constitutionally, foreign policy is to be guided by “the principles of the United Nations Charter, nonalignment, Panchsheel [five principles of peaceful coexistence], international law and the value of world peace.” In practice, foreign policy has not been directed toward projecting influence internationally but toward preserving autonomy and addressing domestic economic and security issues.
Nepal’s most substantive international relations are perhaps with international economic institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a multilateral economic development association. Nepal also has strong bilateral relations with major providers of economic and military aid, such as France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United States, and particularly the United Kingdom, with whom military ties date to the nineteenth century. The country's external relations are primarily managed by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Relations between India and Nepal are close yet fraught with difficulties stemming from geographical location, economics, the problems inherent in big power-small power relations, and common ethnic, linguistic and cultural identities that overlap the two countries' borders. New Delhi and Kathmandu initiated their intertwined relationship with the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship and accompanying letters that defined security relations between the two countries, and an agreement governing both bilateral trade and trade transiting Indian soil. The 1950 treaty and letters stated that "neither government shall tolerate any threat to the security of the other by a foreign aggressor" and obligated both sides "to inform each other of any serious friction or misunderstanding with any neighboring state likely to cause any breach in the friendly relations subsisting between the two governments." These accords cemented a "special relationship" between India and Nepal that granted Nepal preferential economic treatment and provided Nepalese in India the same economic and educational opportunities as Indian citizens. Jayant Prasad is India's ambassador to Nepal.