Nepal Facts

Note: Because I am from the UK, I make size comparisons with the UK.

Nepal is 27.7°N, which about that of Eilat at the southern tip of Israel, or of New Orleans in the USA.

Nepal is divided into three strips, that run more or less east-west along the length of the country. The Himalayas take up the strip that borders China/Tibet. Then there is the strip of lower mountains and hills and valleys that includes the Kathmandu valley.

To the south, and nearest to India there is the Terai – a lowland area where most of the agriculture is.

225 million years ago, India was an island north of Australia. Its 175-million year long drift north ended about 50 million years ago when it collided with the Tibetan Plateau to create the Himalayas.

While the collision slowed the movement, it did not stop.

The Himalayas are still being formed from the onward crush of India, with Nepal on the front line, so to speak. That is why Nepal is prone to earthquakes, the last major one being in 2015.

There is geological and fossil evidence that the Kathmandu Valley was a lake from about three million years ago until it drained about 10,000 years ago when the range to the south was breached.There are mythic stories in Nepal’s history about gods who breached the mountains.

There are mythic stories in Nepal’s history about gods who breached the mountains.

In modern times, Nepal became a country in the modern sense, formed from independent states in the late 1700s.

Birth and Death

The area of Nepal is 147,181 square kilometres, just over half the size of the UK. The population is 29.3 million, about the same population density as the UK. The birth rate is 2.12, compared to 1.8 births for the UK.

In 1960 the birth rate in Nepal was 6, compared to just under 3 in the UK. In other words, the fall in the birth rate in Nepal in the past sixty years is dramatic.

The recent history of Nepal is bloodier than you might think. In 2001 the king, queen, and crown prince of Nepal were assassinated. The Prince lived long enough to appoint a successor who, in the following period, suspended Parliament and arrested many politicians.

In 2008, the monarchy was abolished and today Nepal is a Federal Republic. There are ethnic tensions, a majority Maoist party, and Nepal politics are not stable.

Outside Influences

Chinese influence is growing with major construction programmes, and there is tension with India, with cheap Indian imports swamping the markets and making Nepali agriculture hard to sustain.

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