Country Profile: Nepal


ever End Peace And Love

      Nepal is a small but very beautiful country nestled in the lap of the highest mountains on earth, the mighty Himalaya - the abode of snow. It is a country of unity and also great diversity. To people of different Castes and Creeds it is a holy land, the birthplace of the "light of Asia", Lord Buddha. The people of Nepal practice a variety of traditions, customs and religion but live peacefully together, respecting each other’s beliefs.


Due to its unique geographical features that incorporate, eco-zones from sub-tropical jungles to alpine, glacial heights within a short transition of 140km the diversity of plant and animal and bird life is amazing. Nepal has 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world, including the pinnacle of Mt. Everest (8,850m), as well as southern borderlands only 70m above sea level in the Terai region. This is a nation of subsistence farmers and small shopkeepers.


In the capital City of Kathmandu sacred cows wander the streets beside Mercedes sedans; a 2000 years old Temple overlooks a tourist area with cyber cafes in every block; pilgrims prostrate themselves on the pavement while circumambulating a sacred Stupa at the feet of western tourists toting the latest digital camera equipment and farmers still plough their land with a single blade hand manipulated plough behind a team of oxen while the latest passenger jets fly overhead. Nepal is truly a land of contrasts. 

Politically, Nepal is in transition. Officially the country is still a constitutional monarchy, although the fate of the King's rule is under discussion and may be coming to an end. The question of future Republic or increased power going to the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister with a ceremonial monarch is still hanging in the balance.

Geographically, Nepal is located on the same north latitude as the City of Honolulu, Hawaii and Miami, Florida and although much of the country sits at a much higher elevation, many areas still produce bananas, mangos, papaya and some citrus fruits plus a myriad of glorious flowers blooming year-round in a moderate, pleasant climate. The total land area is 147,181 sq km. This tiny country is sandwiched between the giant nations of India and China but has remained unoccupied by any foreign nation throughout its history. Eighty-three percent of the total land mass is covered by rolling hills and high mountains. The only flat land is a narrow strip (at the widest 40 km) along the northern border of India that is covered by grasslands and sub-tropical forest. This Terai region is home to one-horned Rhino, Bengal tigers, elephants, sloth bears and many other indigenous animals. Nepal is landlocked nation with the nearest ocean port being 1,127 km away in India. 

Nepal's boundary limits are as follow 
In the east, the Mechi River and Singallia Bridge separate the country from Sikkim and West Bengal. In the south, the boundary pillars and about nine meters of no-man's land on either side demarcate the Nepalese territory from the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In the west Mahakali River is the natural border separating the Kingdom from Uttar Pradesh. Nepal's northern boundary merges with the Tibet Autonomous region of the People\'s Republic of China. Nepal is a land-locked country, the nearest seacoast being 1,127 kilometers away in India. 

The major part of the country is of high mountains and rolling hills. It accounts for about 83% of the total land and the plain of Terai occupies the remaining 17%. Altitude varies from 152 meters above the sea level in the Terai in the south to 8848 meters in the north Himalayas.

Nepal is a melting pot of many races and tribes. She has population of more than 24 Million, made up of an assortment of races and tribes, living in different regions, wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects. They live under quite diverse environmental conditions from the low, nearly sea level plains at the border of India, northward through the middle hills and valleys and up to the flanks of the great Himalayan range where there are settlements at altitude of up to 4,800m. Farming practices are therefore equally diverse along with life styles and social customs. 

The high Himalayan settlements of Tibetan speaking people are found perched precariously on mountain ledges and slopes. Life here is delicate balance of hard work and social merrymaking, tempered by a culture deeply steeped in ancient religious traditions. The best known of the high mountain peoples are the Sherpas who inhabit the central and eastern regions of Nepal. The Sherpas have easy access to Bhot (Tibet) for trade and social intercourse and therefore Tibetan influence on their culture and civilization remains distinct. The midlands are inhabited by various Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan speaking hill and valley people, for example the Brahmins, Chettris, and Newars. While the Brahmins and Chettris are widely distributed throughout the country, the Newars are mainly concentrated in the Katmandu Valley and other towns.

The Rais, Limbus, Tamangs, Magars, Sunwars, Jirels, Gurungs, Thakalis, and Chepangs are other Tibeto-Burman speaking Mongoloid peole found living in the middle hills. They each have their own distinct social and cultural patterns. The Dun valleys and the lowland Terai are inhabited by people such as the Brahmins, Rajputs, Tharus, Danwars, Majhis, Darais, Rajbansis, Statars, dhimals and Dhangars. Though Nepal is a veritable mosaic of dozens of ethnic groups, they are bound together by their ideas of peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance to form one unified nation.

Among the low Caste groups Kumals are also an integral part. The world is in 21st century but the condition of these people is not better than the people of 16th century. In the age of science, this people are still fighting to get their actual place in the society. These people are ignored, dominated by the upper Caste people. 

Although the caste system still exists, particularly in rural Nepal it is weakening. There is an increasing desire among many Nepali people (particularly the younger generation) to see the end of this discrimination. And it will happen, in fact, it is happening but it takes time to change 2500 years of tradition.