Geographically, where is Nepal?
Nepal is a sovereign, independent land-linked country located in South Asian region. Two gigantic countries frame Nepal from all four sides; China in North and India in East, West and South, keeping it away from any sea or ocean. It has Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China on the North, Sikkim and West Bengal of India on the East, Bihar of India on the South and Uttar Pradesh of India on the West.
Geographically, Nepal lies between 26° and 31°N latitudes and 80° and 89°E longitudes. Its length runs 885 kilometers from East to West and breadth varies from 145 to 241 kilometers from North to South. Nepal’s altitude ranges from about 200 meters (658 ft) in South to over 8,848 meters (29,028 ft) above sea-level in North. Nepal is the 94th largest nation in the world with a total area of 147,181 km2.
Geologically, Nepal lies within the collision region of Indian subcontinent and Eurasia, residing in the central area of the Himalayan arc.
Major Entry points to Nepal
|Indian side||Nepalgunj, Mahendranagar, Birgunj|
|Chinese side||Renjo La pass (5465 m), Cho La pass (5420 m), Kongma La (5535 m)|
|Tibet and Bhutan||Lungu La pass|
The Physiographic regions of Nepal:
The map of Nepal looks like somebody cut it out its shape with blunt knife leaving the jagged edges everywhere. Nepal is mostly covered up by mountains (80% of total land), thus called mountainous country. It is divided into three main physiographic regions: Himalayas, Hill and Terai, running horizontally from East to West. These ecological belts are intersected by the river system flowing from North to South.
The name ‘Himalaya’ is derived from Sanskrit words, hima meaning ‘snow’ and alaya meaning ‘dwelling place’. The Himalayan range stretches all across the northern border of the country. The altitude range of 4,877 meters to 8,848 meters is covered with snow throughout the year and this region covers 25% of total land of Nepal.
Nepal is home for 8 of the 10 highest peaks in the world exceeding an altitude of 8,000 meters. They are:
- Sagarmatha (Mount Everest), 8848 m
- Kanchanjunga, 8586 m
- Lhotse, 8561 m
- Makalu, 8463 m
- Cho Oyu, 8201 m
- Dhaulagiri, 8167 m
- Manaslu, 8163 m
- Annapurna, 8091 m
Below the Great Himalayan range, there lies band of mountains called the Mahabharat range that mounts up to 4,877 meters. The altitude in hilly region varies from 800 to 4,877 meters with the variation in climate within the same region. This region ends at the lower Himalayan Range which crests at 1,500 to 3,000 meters. This region covers almost 64 percent of the total land area.
Below the Mahabharat range, the region is called the Terai which is subdivided in 3 sections. First, the inner Terai or ‘Dun’, a stripe of low valleys running East to West with an altitude of less than 500 meters. Then in the south of inner Terai is Siwalik Hills or Churia Range which stands up to 1,500 meters. Then there is the flat area of the country of 25-40 kilometers stripe along the Indian border in South. The Terai is the northern limit of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
Brief history of Nepal
King Prithvi Narayan Shah founded modern Nepal in his unification process on December 21, 1768. Before that Nepal was divided into many small kingdoms of 22 states (Baise Rajya) and 24 states (Chaubise Rajya. He referred Nepal as a yam in between two boulders (dui dhunga bicha ko tarul) on the basis of its location between two big countries, India and China.
Prithvi Narayan Shah was strong nationalist and had strong determination to preserve and protect his kingdom. He didn’t allow foreigners and missionaries into the country. Nepal was cut off from the rest of the world as it followed the policy of isolation until 1951. His successors expanded the territory of the kingdom to Sikkim in the East and Kangra in the West.
During this expansion process, Nepal came in conflict with Tibet which started Sino-Nepali War. Soon Nepal came into rivalry with expanding power, East India Company and got involved in Anglo-Nepali War. The war ended with Sugauli Treaty where Nepal had to give away some of its lands leaving the present territory of the country. Though it had to lose some parts, Nepal was never colonized and remained sovereign and independent till today.
Political system of Nepal
Nepal was a Hindu kingdom with constitutional monarchy until 2006. But after a decade long Maoist Insurgency (1996-2006), the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal became Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on May 28, 2008. Below is the political history of Nepal pointed out briefly:
- Pre 1959 – Autocratic Rana Regime
- 1959 – ‘partyless’ Panchayat System
- 1980 –Referendum, Multiparty Democracy
- 1989 –People’s Revolution
- 1991 – Constitutional Monarchy
- 1996 – Communist Maoist Insurgency
- 2001 – Royal Massacre
- 2006 – People’s Movement, Nepal declared as a secular state
- 2007 – End of Monarchy, Nepal declared as State
- 2008 – Nepal became Federal Republic
In 1972, King Birendra divided the nation into four development regions, 14 zones and 75 districts. He further divided nation and added one more development region in 1982.
- Eastern Development Region
- Central Development Region
- Western Development Region
- Mid- Western Development Region
- Far- Western Development Region
But after the declaration of Nepal as federal republic, the administrative division of 5 development regions was replaced by provinces. Nepal is now divided into 7 federal provinces and 75 districts from September 20, 2015.
|1||Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Khotang, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Udayapur, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari|
|2||Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa|
|3||Dolakha, Ramechaap, Sindhuli, Kavrepalanchok, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading, Chitwan, Makawanpur, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Kathmandu|
|4||Gorkha, Lamjung, Tanahu, Kaski, Manang, Mustang, Parbat, Syangja, Myagdi, Baglung, Nawalparasi (east)|
|5||Nawalparasi (west), Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Palpa, Arghakhanchi, Gulmi, Rukum (eastern part), Rolpa, Pyuthan, Dang, Banke, Bardiya|
|6||Rukum (western), Salyan, Dolpa, Jumla, Mugu, Humla, Kalikot, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Surkhet|
|7||Bajura, Bajhang, Doti, Achham, Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Kanchanpur, Kailali|
Facts about Nepal
|Land area||143,351 km2|
|Water area||3,830 km2|
|Latitude & Longitude||26° and 31°N
80° and 89°E
|Population||26,494,504 (2011 census)
|Currency||Nepalese Rupee (NPR)|
|Time Zone||UTC +05:45|
|Neighbouring Countries||India, China|
|Government||Federal Parliamentry Republic|
|GDP (nominal)||Total $24.067 billion (2016)
Per capita $837
|HDI||0.548, 145th (2014)|
|Administrative division||Provinces, Districts, VDCs, Metropolitan, Municipalities|
|National Symbols||Flower: Rhododendron Arboreum (Laligurans)
Bird: Lophophorus impejanus (Danphe)
Emblem: Coat of Arms
What is the Capital of Nepal?
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and it is the largest city of the country. It is the only metropolitan of Nepal located in the Kathmandu Valley, Province No. 3. It has total area of 49.45 km2 and is at altitude of 1,400 m. According to census 2011, total population of Kathmandu was 1,003,285 with the density of 20,288/km2.
Kathmandu is surrounded by four hills: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri. Anciently Kathmandu was referred as Nepal Mandala. It is also called Kasthamandap and Kantipur during medieval period.
Ancient legend tells Kathmandu Valley was a lake before Manjushri came and cut the gorge at Chobhar that still drained Kathmandu. Kathmandu was ruled by the Kirantis, the Licchavis and the Mallas before Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered it during the Indra Jatra in 1768.
Kathmandu has always been the center of Nepal. During Rana regime, Kathmandu stepped into modern world after Jung Bahadur Rana visited Britain. He brought the European architecture in Nepal, built various significant buildings like Singha Durbar, Shital Niwas, Narayanhiti Palace, etc. The first commercial road (New Road/ Juddha Sadak), first college (Trichandra College), first modern school (Durbar School), first hospital (Bir Hospital) etc. were built.
Kathmandu Valley lies in Warm Temparate Zone with fairly temperate climate. Being the ancient city and most populous city, Kathmandu is home to various ethnic groups, religions, cultures and festivals. The three durbar squares; Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur Durbar Square are the major tourist attraction of Kathmandu. The secretariat of SAARC is located in Kathmandu.
The other major cities of Nepal are:
UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nepal
Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious country. It is rich in cultural and religious heritages with more than 100 ethnic groups and 70 spoken languages. Also it is blessed with nature, in reference with its area; Nepal is rich in bio-diversity ranging from sub-tropical Rain-forests to Alpine Deserts.
Nepal has four properties, cultural and natural which are identified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. They are:
- Kathmandu Valley (Cultural)
- Lumbini (Cultural)
- Chitwan National Park (Natural)
- Sagarmatha National Park (Natural)
- Pashupatinath Temple
It is one of the sacred temples of Hindus. It is the temple of Lord Shiva and is major pilgrimage of Hindu religion. The Pashupatinath temple got listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site’s list in 1979.
Swoyambhunath is sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sitting atop a hill in Kathmandu Valley. Also known as Monkey Temple, Swoyambhunath is major tourist attraction in the city.
Bouddhanath is the largest stupa of Nepal. Like Swoyambhunath, It is major destination for Buddhists and tourists.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is the Hanuman Dhoka Palace complex which is the old royal palace. It is the complex of century old palace and temples with great work of architecture.
- Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is located in Lalitpur district. It is complex of royal palace of Malla kings, temples and courtyards.
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in Bhaktapur district. It comprises of royal palace of old Bhaktapur Kingdom, temples and four distinct squares. Golden Gate is most significant and beautiful piece of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
- Changu Narayan
Changu Narayan is ancient Hindu temple of Lord Bishnu, located in Changunarayan VDC in Bhaktapur district. It is considered to be the oldest temple of Nepal.
Located in Rupandehi district of Nepal, Lumbini is Buddhist pilgrimage site. Founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha was born here in 563 BC. It has a sacred Bodhi tree, Ashoka Pillar, Mayadevi temple and many other Buddha temples ad monastries built by different countries.
Chitwan National Park
It is the first national park of Nepal, established in 1973 and is located in Inner Terai. It covers Nawalparasi, Parsa, Chitwan and Makawanpur districts with an area of 932 km2. It was listed in World Heritage Site in 1984. It has more than 50 species of flora and more than 700 species of faunas.
Sagarmatha National Park
It was established in 1976 and is located in the Himalayan region of eastern Nepal that is dominated by Mount Everest. It covers total area of 1,148 km2 and elevation ranges from 2,845 to 8,848 meters. It is the first national park of Nepal to be listed in World Heritage Site in 1979.
Protected areas of Nepal
Nepal is rich in biodiversity because of its geographical position, ecological, altitudinal and climatic variations. It incorporates Paliarctic and Indo-Malayan bio-geographical regions. Nepal is home to more than 6000 species of floras and 2000 species of faunas, including some endangered species like One-horned rhino, Red Panda and more. Since 1973, Government of Nepal established protected areas comprising national parks, wildlife reserves, conservation areas and hunting reserve. There are 9 Ramsar sites were declared from 1988 to 2008.
- Chitwan National Park
- Sagarmatha National Park
- Langtang National Park
- Rara National Park
- Khaptad National Park
- Shey Phoksundo National Park
- Bardiya National Park
- Makalu Barun National Park
- Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
- Banke National Park
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
- Parsa Wildlife Reserve
- Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
- Annapurna Conservation Area
- Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
- Manaslu Conservation Area
- Blackbuck Conservation Area
- Api Nampa Conservation Area
- Gaurishankar Conservation Area
- Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
- Bishazari Tal
- Ghodaghodi Tal
- Gokyo Lake Complex
- Jagdishpur Reservoir
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
- Mai Pokhari
- Phoksundo Lake
- Rara Lake
- Lake cluster of Pokhara Valley