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In 1951, the Nepalese monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, has gained traction and is threatening to bring down the regime, especially after a negotiated cease-fire between the Maoists and government forces broke down in August 2003. In 2001, the crown prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, the new king dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet for "incompetence" after they dissolved the parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of the ongoing insurgency. While stopping short of reestablishing parliament, the king in June 2004 reinstated the most recently elected prime minister who formed a four-party coalition government. Citing dissatisfaction with the government's lack of progress in addressing the Maoist insurgency and corruption, the king in February 2005 dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency, imprisoned party leaders, and assumed power. The king's government subsequently released party leaders and officially ended the state of emergency in May 2005, but the monarch retained absolute power until April 2006. After nearly three months of mass protests organized by the seven-party opposition and the Maoists, the king allowed parliament to reconvene on 28 April 2006.


Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates:

28 00 N, 84 00 E


total: 140,800 sq km
land: 136,800 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 2,926 km
border countries: China 1,236 km, India 1,690 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south


Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south, central hill region, rugged Himalayas in north

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Kanchan Kalan 70 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m

Natural resources:

quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore

Land use:

arable land: 16.07%
permanent crops: 0.85%
other: 83.08% (2005)

Irrigated land:

11,700 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons

Environment - current issues:

deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions

Geography - note:

landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga - the world's tallest and third tallest - on the borders with China and India respectively


28,287,147 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 38.7% (male 5,648,959/female 5,291,447)
15-64 years: 57.6% (male 8,365,526/female 7,925,941)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 513,777/female 541,497) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.3 years
male: 20.1 years
female: 20.4 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.17% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

30.98 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

9.31 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 65.32 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 63.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 67.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 60.18 years
male: 60.43 years
female: 59.91 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.1 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.5% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

61,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

3,100 (2003 est.)


noun: Nepalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepalese

Ethnic groups:

Chhettri 15.5%, Brahman-Hill 12.5%, Magar 7%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Newar 5.4%, Muslim 4.2%, Kami 3.9%, Yadav 3.9%, other 32.7%, unspecified 2.8% (2001 census)


Hindu 80.6%, Buddhist 10.7%, Muslim 4.2%, Kirant 3.6%, other 0.9% (2001 census)
note: only official Hindu state in the world


Nepali 47.8%, Maithali 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Newar 3.6%, Magar 3.3%, Awadhi 2.4%, other 10%, unspecified 2.5% (2001 census)
note: many in government and business also speak English


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 48.6%
male: 62.7%
female: 34.9% (2000-2004 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal

Government type:

parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy



Administrative divisions:

14 zones (anchal, singular and plural); Bagmati, Bheri, Dhawalagiri, Gandaki, Janakpur, Karnali, Kosi, Lumbini, Mahakali, Mechi, Narayani, Rapti, Sagarmatha, Seti


1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah)

National holiday:

Birthday of King GYANENDRA, 7 July (1946)


9 November 1990

Legal system:

based on Hindu legal concepts and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of the National Council (60 seats; 35 appointed by the House of Representatives, 10 by the king, and 15 elected by an electoral college; one-third of the members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (205 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held in May 1999; note - Parliament was dissolved in May 2002 but was finally reconvened in April 2006 with most of the members that were elected in 1999
election results: House of Representatives (for 1999 parliament) - percent of vote by party - NC 37.3%, CPN/UML 31.6%, NDP (RPP) 10.4%, NSP 3.2%, Rastriya Jana Morcha 1.4%, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 0.8%, NWPP 0.5%, others 14.8%; seats by party - NC 113, CPN/UML 69, NDP 11, NSP 5, Rastriya Jana Morcha 5, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 1, NWPP 1; note - NC, NSP, and NDP have since each split into two parties

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Sarbochha Adalat (chief justice is appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the Constitutional Council; the other judges are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Judicial Council)

Economy - overview:

Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for three-fourths of the population and accounting for 38% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Security concerns relating to the Maoist conflict have led to a decrease in tourism, a key source of foreign exchange. Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, its civil strife, and its susceptibility to natural disaster.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$42.26 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$6.627 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,500 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 38%
industry: 21%
services: 41% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

10.4 million
note: severe lack of skilled labor (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 76%
industry: 6%
services: 18%

Unemployment rate:

42% (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line:

31% (2003-2004)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 39.1% (2003-2004)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

37.7 (FY04/05)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

7.8% (October 2005 est.)


revenues: $1.153 billion
expenditures: $1.789 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (FY05/06)

Agriculture - products:

rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat


tourism, carpet, textile; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarettes, cement and brick production

Industrial production growth rate:

3.8% (FY04/05)

Electricity - production:

2.565 billion kWh (2005)

Electricity - consumption:

1.85 billion kWh (2005)

Electricity - exports:

111 million kWh (2005)

Electricity - imports:

241 million kWh (2005)

Oil - consumption:

11,980 bbl/day (2005 est.)


$822 million f.o.b.; note - does not include unrecorded border trade with India (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain

Exports - partners:

India 47.4%, US 22.7%, Germany 8.4% (2004)


$2 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer

Imports - partners:

India 46.3%, China 10.8%, UAE 9.3%, Saudi Arabia 4.1% (2004)

Debt - external:

$3.34 billion (March 2005)

Economic aid - recipient:

$424 million (FY00/01)

Currency (code):

Nepalese rupee (NPR)

Fiscal year:

16 July - 15 July

Telephones - main lines in use:

417,900 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

116,800 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radiotelephone communication service and mobile cellular telephone network
domestic: NA
international: country code - 977; radiotelephone communications; microwave landline to India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (January 2000)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (plus 9 repeaters) (1998)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

7,846 (2005)

Internet users:

175,000 (2005)


48 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 10
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 29 (2005)


total: 59 km
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2004)


total: 15,905 km
paved: 8,573 km
unpaved: 7,332 km (2003)

Military branches:

Royal Nepalese Army (includes Royal Nepalese Army Air Service); Nepalese Police Force

Disputes - international:

joint border commission continues to work on small disputed sections of boundary with India; India has instituted a stricter border regime to restrict transit of Maoist insurgents and illegal cross-border activities

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 104,915 (Bhutan)
IDPs: 100,000-200,000 (ongoing conflict between government forces and Maoist rebels; displacement spread across the country) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

illicit producer of cannabis and hashish for the domestic and international drug markets; transit point for opiates from Southeast Asia to the West