Nepal is a landlocked country bordering with the Tibet autonomous region of the people’s republic of China in the north and surrounded by India in the east, south and west. It lies in between 26º 22′ N – 30º 27′ N latitude and 80º 4’E – 88º 12’E longitude. Roughly rectangular in shape, the land extends approximately 885-kms-east west and 145 kms south north. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 145 kilometers resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic.
Nepal is divided into three geographical zones. The snow capped high Himalayas, the mountainous region (with long terraced slopes leading to fertile valleys) and the flat sub-tropical Terai region. The high Himalayan region extends in the north from west to east at an altitude of above then 4000 m. to 8,848 m. The world famous Mountain Mt. Everest (8848 m.), Kanchanjunga (8586m), Makalu (8463m.), Dhaulagiri (8167m.) Annapurna (8091m.) and many others dominate the formidable range of everlasting snows. The alpine region consists of mountain ranges of Mahabharata varying in height from 1525 m. to 4877m. Below these ranges lies the Churia range at 610 m. to 1524-m.
Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitude variation of 70 meters to 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 150 kilometers resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic. This wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems, the greatest mountain range on earth, thick tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys.
Physical features also include green paddy terraces, wind-swept deserts, dense forests and marshy grasslands. The country is well endowed with perennial rivers, lakes and glacial lakes that originate in the Himalayas. Twenty percent of the land in the country is used for agriculture, where 0.49 percent is used for permanent crops, mainly rice.
Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the north summers are cool and winters severe, while in south summers are sub tropical and winters mild.
The variety in Nepal’s topography provides home to wildlife like tigers, rhinos, monkeys, bears, yaks, leopards and different species of insects and birds. Nepal is a home to almost 10 percent of the world’s bird species among which 500 species are found in the Kathmandu Valley. The country has managed to preserve some endangered species of Asia in its extensive parks and protected natural habitats. The most abundant natural resource in Nepal is water. Other resources found here are quartz, timber, lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore and scenic beauty.
Nepal is a country of ancient civilization which can be traced thousand of years before the birth of christ (B.C.). In its along and glorious history Nepal has remained always sovereign and never bowed to any foreign power. Although Nepal was modernised by King Prithivi Narayan Shah of present dynasty after consolidating number of principalities and conquering the Kathmandu Valley in 1768 A.D., there were many glorious dynasties who contributed a lot to its sovereignty, In fact most of the monuments, Pagodas and Stupas, Monasteries which stand as an example of our glorious past originated from the Mall dynasty i.e. from 12 to 18 century.
Nepal has seen many rulers and ruling dynasties. The earliest rulers were the Kirantis who ruled from 9th century B.C. to 1st century A.D. Legends and chronicles mention that the Indian Emperor Ashoka had come to Nepal and visited Lumbini, the place where the Buddha was born, and where he erected a huge stone pillar to commemorate his visit to that spot.
The Kirants were replaced by Licchavis who, according to the earliest evidences in inscriptions of the 5th century A.D. found in the courtyard of Changunarayan temple which is about 15 km north east of Kathmandu, ruled this country from 1st century to 9th century A.D. This period is noted for the many temples and fine sculptures built around the Kathmandu valley.
The Licchavis were followed by the Thakuris, then came the Malla dynasty. The Mallas ruled focusing mainly on the Kathmandu Valley which has been the residence for most Nepali rulers from time immemorial. No other part of Nepal is as rich in cultural heritage as Kathmandu. Thanks to the exceptionally talented crafts-men, who dedicated themselves to construct the many temples and statues, we have seven world heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley itself.
In the 14th century A.D. King Jayasthiti Malla established a rigid social order. His grandson tried in every way to protect his country from suspected enemy states. Unfortunately, all his efforts were fruitless, everything went beyond his control and the country eventually divided up into 50 small feudal states including the three major ones in the valley.
Then came the Shah dynasty. King Prithvi Narayan Shah who annexed small principalities including three states in the Kathmandy Valley and unified Nepal in a single kingdom. Recognizing the threat of the British Raj in India, he dismissed European missionaries from the country and for more than a century, Nepal remained in isolation. During the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power.
With the fall of Rana regime in February 1951 after a popular revolution, Nepal saw the dawn of democracy. A democratic revolt of 1990 has restored the Multi-Party-Democratic Country with constitutional monarchy according to the new constitution of November 1990.
In 2008, the Nepali parliament voted for abolition of the Monarchy. The King was thereafter given 15 days to vacate the Narayanhiti Royal Palace, in order to re-open it as a public museum. Nepal was declared a Federal Democratic Republic state on May 28, 2008, during the first meeting of the constituent assembly.