A landlocked country the size of Arkansas, lying between India and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, Nepal contains Mount Everest (29,035 ft; 8,850 m), the tallest mountain in the world. Along its southern border, Nepal has a strip of level land that is partly forested, partly cultivated. North of that is the slope of the main section of the Himalayan range, including Everest and many other peaks higher than 8,000 m.
Jane & Heather going on safari!
There are also jungles in Nepal...where you can ride on the back of elephants and hear and see tigers and rhinos! :D
In Nov. 1990, King Birendra promulgated a new constitution and introduced a multiparty parliamentary democracy in Nepal. Under pressure amid massive pro-democracy protests in April 2006, King Gyanendra gave up direct rule and reinstated Parliament, which then quickly moved to diminish the his powers. In December 2007, Parliament voted to abolish the monarchy and become a federal democratic republic. The transition to a republic was completed in May 2008, when the Constituent Assembly voted to dissolve the monarchy.
The first civilizations in Nepal, which flourished around the 6th century B.C. , were confined to the fertile Kathmandu Valley where the present-day capital of the same name is located. It was in this region that Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born c. 563 B.C.Gautama achieved enlightenment as Buddha and spawned Buddhist belief.
The Caste System Today
The castes system is divided into four main castes ~ Brahmins, Chetris, Basya, and Sudra groups.
Within each of these groups are different levels as well. The caste system is still intact today but the rules are not as rigid as they were in the past. Because of western education, contact with foreigners, media, and modern communications, people are progressive in many aspects. In 1962, a law was passed making it illegal to discriminate against the untouchable castes. In practice however, discrimination still continues today.
In the past, when Brahmins and Chetris came in contact with Sudras, they used to bathe. Now, some people just sprinkle water on their body and some do not even care at all. Today, Brahmins have land, work in the field and are involved in government service. Some Baisya and Sudra caste people are teachers, high officials, and successful politicians. Previously, Brahmins were not subject to the death penalty and were instead given the same status as cows in the Hindu religion. But now, all castes are equally treated by the law. Education is free and open to all castes. Discrimination is only done socially.
Nepali rulers' early patronage of Buddhism largely gave way to Hinduism, reflecting the increased influence of India, around the 12th century. Though the successive dynasties of the Gopalas, the Kiratis, and the Licchavis expanded their rule, it was not until the reign of the Malla kings from 1200–1769 that Nepal assumed the approximate dimensions of the modern state.
The kingdom of Nepal was unified in 1768 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who had fled India following the Moghul conquests of the subcontinent. Under Shah and his successors Nepal's borders expanded as far west as Kashmir and as far east as Sikkim (now part of India). A commercial treaty was signed with Britain in 1792 and again in 1816 after more than a year of hostilities with the British East India Company.
Nepal has a typical monsoonal, two-season year. The dry season runs from October to May and there's the wet (monsoon) season from June to September. Autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) bring almost perfect weather and are definitely the best times to come to Nepal.
(I am terrified of leeches...this is one of my main worries about traveling in the summer here...)
Mid-June to September, when the monsoon finally arrives, is the least popular time to visit Nepal. Although it doesn't rain all day it usually rains every day, and the trails and roads are muddy and plagued by leeches; the Himalaya disappear behind rain clouds; most rivers are too high to raft; and landslides often hold up transport. The latter part of the monsoon (August and September) is a time of festivals, which will certainly enliven a visit to Kathmandu, and this is also the best time to visit neighbouring Tibet.
Women harvesting rice.
Prime Minister: Pushpa Kamal Dahal (2008)
President: Ram Baran Yadav (2008)
Prime Minister: Madhav Kumar Nepal (2009)
Land area: 52,819 sq mi (136,801 sq km); total area: 54,363 sq mi (140,800 sq km)
Population (2009 est.): 28,563,377 (growth rate: 1.2%); birth rate: 23.1/1000; infant mortality rate: 47.4/1000; life expectancy: 65.4; density per sq km: 206
Capital and largest city (2003 est.):Kathmandu, 1,203,100 (metro. area), 729,000 (city proper)
Other large cities: Biratnagar, 174,600; Lalitpur, 169,100
Monetary unit: Nepalese rupee $1.00 = 70 rp