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Geography of Nepal

Learn Information about the South Asian Nation of Nepal

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Nepal Flag

The unique Nepal flag is red with a blue border around the unique shape of two overlapping right triangles; the smaller, upper triangle bears a white stylized moon and the larger, lower triangle bears a white 12-pointed sun.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated May 02, 2011

Population: 29,391,883 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Kathmandu
Land Area: 56,827 square miles (147,181 sq km)
Bordering Countries: China and India
Highest Point: Mount Everest at 29,035 feet (8,850 m)
Lowest Point: Kanchan Kalan at 230 feet (70 m)

Nepal is a country located in south Asia between China and India. Its northern areas are located in the Himalayas and as such, it is home to the world's highest mountains, including Mount Everest which is on its border with China (Tibet). The capital and largest city of Nepal is Kathmandu and it, along with its fertile southern plains, is where the majority of the country's population lives. Nepal is most known for its recent political and social instability, rugged topography and ancient cultural traditions.

History of Nepal

Nepal has a long history that dates back to ancient times; however, the history of modern Nepal began in the late 18th century. At that time the ruler of Gorkha, Prithvi Narayan Shah, unified the region of present-day Nepal. This region at the time was known as the Gorkha Kingdom. By 1800 though Shah's heirs were unable to create a stable government and in 1816 Nepal was defeated after a short war with the British.

In 1846, Nepal regained its stability after the Rana family took power, reduced the power of the king and created a system of prime ministers. The Rana also isolated Nepal from other countries which helped it keep its independence but it also stifled its development. In 1950 King Tribhuvan (one of Prithvi Narayan Shah's descendents) fled to India. This began a revolt against the Rana which eventually allowed the Shah to return to power.

According to the U.S. Department of State, in 1959 King Mahendra (successor to King Tribhuvan) "issued a new constitution" and Nepal's first democratic national elections were held. In 1962 however, the newly elected government was dismissed and a new constitution was drafted. This led to political and social instability in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s there was a movement to restore democracy to Nepal which led to violent protests throughout the country. There were elections in 1991, 1994 and 1999 and in 2001 Nepal's king, King Birendra (successor to King Mahendra) was killed by his son Prince Dipendra. The King's brother Gyanendra was later made king.

In 2002 King Gyanendra removed Nepal's prime minister, took over the government and called off future elections. He later appointed a new prime minister and attempted to regain political and social stability. This did not happen though and in April 2006 Nepal's major political parties began a series of anti-government demonstrations. As a result in late April 2006, the king reinstated the parliament and a Constituent Assembly was elected to draft a new constitution after elections in 2008.

Government of Nepal

Today Nepal's government is a federal democratic republic. It has an executive branch with a president as chief of state and a prime minister as head of government. It also has a unicameral Constituent Assembly for its legislative branch and a Supreme Court for its judicial branch. Nepal's Constituent Assembly is responsible for drafting its constitution which is to be done by May 2011. Nepal is also divided into 14 zones for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Nepal

Nepal is one of the world's poorest and least developed countries because of its landlocked geographical position, rugged topography and civil unrest. Agriculture is the main industry in Nepal but Himalayan tourism also contributes to the country's economy. The main agricultural products of Nepal are pulses, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, jute, root crops, milk and water buffalo meat. In addition, there are some small industries which include carpets, textiles, rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills, cigarettes and cement and brick production (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of Nepal

Nepal is located in southern Asia and it has a highly varied topography (map). Its southern area is dominated by the flat Ganges River plain, also known as the Tarai, while the central part of the country is hilly and the northern part is rugged the Himalayan Mountain Range. The highest point in Nepal is also the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest at 29,035 feet (8,850 m). Its lowest point is Kanchan Kalan at 230 feet (70 m).

Nepal's climate also varies based on location because of its topography. Its northern areas have cool summers and very cold, severe winters, while the south has humid subtropical summers and mild winters. Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, is located in its central region and it has a January average low of 35.8˚F (2.1˚C) and a June average high of 82.8˚F (28.2˚C).

To learn more about Nepal visit the Nepal Maps section on this website and WorldAtlas.com's page on Nepal.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (25 April 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Nepal. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/np.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Nepal: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107820.html

United States Department of State. (20 December 2010). Nepal. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5283.htm

Wikipedia.com. (1 May 2011). Nepal - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal

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