Nepal, country of Asia, lying along the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain ranges. It is a landlocked country located between India to the east, south, and west and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north. Its territory extends roughly 500 miles (800 kilometres) from east to west and 90 to 150 miles from north to south. The capital is Kathmandu.
Nepal, long under the rule of hereditary prime ministers favouring a policy of isolation, remained closed to the outside world until a palace revolt in 1950 restored the crown’s authority in 1951; the country gained admission to the United Nations in 1955. In 1991 the kingdom established a multiparty parliamentary system. In 2008, however, after a decadelong period of violence and turbulent negotiation with a strong Maoist insurgency, the monarchy was dissolved, and Nepal was declared a democratic republic.
Bordering the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas, the country of Nepal is isolated from any seacoast and buffered from the outside world by India and China. Nepal is about the same size in physical area as Bangladesh, and is home to almost thirty million people. More than 80 percent of its people work the land in a region that is suffering from severe deforestation and soil erosion.
Nepal’s best farmland is in the Tarai lowlands of southern Nepal, while the north is quite mountainous. The towering elevation of the Himalayas restricts human habitation in the north. High population growth has also been outstripping the country’s economic growth rate in recent years.
Nepal has an abundance of tourist attractions, Mt. Everest being its best known. In addition, there are hundreds of ancient temples and monasteries. Swift flowing streams and high-mountain terrain support a modest trekking industry. Visitors to Nepal have an opportunity to glimpse a rich culture that few outsiders can witness. The downside is that tourism demands an investment in infrastructure and services.