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Introduction Nepal
In 1951, Nepalese monarch ended century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, has gained traction and is threatening to bring down regime. In 2001, Crown Prince massacred ten members of royal family, includes king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, new king dismissed prime minister and his cabinet for "incompetence" after they dissolved parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of ongoing insurgency. country is now governed by king and his appointed cabinet, which has negotiated a cease-fire with Maoist insurgents, until elections can be held at some unspecified future date.
Geography Nepal
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates:
28 00 N, 84 00 E
Map references:
total: 140,800 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km
land: 136,800 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Arkansas
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
Terai or flat river plain of 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 (1999)
Natural resources:
quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, limited deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 20.27%
permanent crops: 0.49%
other: 79.24% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
11,350 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on timing, intensity, and duration of 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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks, includes Mount Everest - world's tallest - on border with China
People Nepal
Total Population:
26,469,569 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.7% (male 5,424,396; female 5,080,171)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male 7,692,134; female 7,320,059)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 468,697; female 484,112) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.7 years
male: 19.6 years
female: 19.9 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.26% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
32.46 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
9.84 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
Population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 70.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 72.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 68.95 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 59 years
male: 59.36 years
female: 58.63 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.39 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.5% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
58,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
2,400 (2001 est.)
noun: Nepalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepalese
Ethnic groups:
Brahman, Chetri, Newar, Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Tharu, and others (1995)
Hinduism 86.2%, Buddhism 7.8%, Islam 3.8%, other 2.2%
note: only official Hindu state in world (1995)
Nepali (official; spoken by 90% of population), about a dozen other languages and about 30 major dialects; note - many in government and business also speak English (1995)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Population: 45.2%
male: 62.7%
female: 27.6% (2003 est.)
Government Nepal
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
Executive branch:
chief of state: King GYANENDRA Bir Bikram Shah (succeeded to throne 4 June 2001 following death of his nephew, King DIPENDRA Bir Bikram Shah)
head of government: Prime Minister Surya Bahadur THAPA (since 4 June 2003); note - Prime Minister CHAND resigned 30 May 2003
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by monarch on recommendation of prime minister
elections: none; monarch is hereditary; following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by monarch
note: King BIRENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev died in a bloody shooting at royal palace on 1 June 2001 that also claimed lives of most of royal family; King BIRENDRA's son, Crown Price DIPENDRA, is believed to have been responsible for shootings before fatally wounding himself; immediately following shootings and while still clinging to life, DIPENDRA previously crowned king; he died three days later and previously succeeded by his uncle
Legislative branch:

: bicameral Parliament consists of National Council (60 seats; 35 appointed by House of Representatives, 10 by king, and 15 elected by an electoral college; one-third of members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and House of Representatives (205 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
note: Nepal's Parliament previously dissolved on 22 May 2002
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NC 37.3%, CPN/UML 31.6%, NDP 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
elections: House of Representatives - last held 3 and 17 May 1999 (next election NA)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Sarbochha Adalat (chief justice is appointed by monarch on recommendation of Constitutional Council; other judges are appointed by monarch on recommendation of Judicial Council)
Political parties and leaders:
Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist-Leninist or CPN/UML [Madhav Kumar NEPAL, general secretary]; National Democratic Party or NDP (also called Rastriya Prajantra Party or RPP) [Surya Bahadur THAPA, chairman]; National People's Front (Rastriya Jana Morcha) [Chitra Bahadur, chairman]; Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party or NSP [Bhadri Prasad MANDAL, acting party president]; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party or NWPP [Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE, party chairman]; Nepali Congress or NC [Girija Prasad KOIRALA, party president; Sushil KOIRALA, general secretary]; Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal [Lila Mani POKHAREL, general secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Maoist guerrilla-based insurgency [Pushpa Kamal DAHAL also known as Prahanda, chairman; and chief negotiator, Dr. Baburam BHATTARAI, from Communist Party of Nepal/Maoist]; numerous limited , left-leaning student groups in capital; several limited , radical Nepalese antimonarchist groups
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador-designate Jai Pratap RANA
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5534
consulate(s) general: New York
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
chancery: 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael E. MALINOWSKI
embassy: Panipokhari, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 411179
FAX: [977] (1) 419963
Flag description:
red with a blue border around unique shape of two overlapping right triangles; smaller, upper triangle bears a white stylized moon and larger, lower triangle bears a white 12-pointed sun
Economy Nepal
Economy - overview:
Nepal is among poorest and least developed countries in world with 42% of its population living below poverty line. Agriculture is mainstay of economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of population and accounting for 40% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves processing of agricultural produce includes jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Textile and carpet production, accounting for about 80% of foreign exchange earnings in recent years, contracted in 2001-02 due to overall slowdown in world economy and pressures by Maoist insurgents on factory owners and workers. Security concerns in wake of Maoist conflict and September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in US have led to a decrease in tourism, another key source of foreign exchange. Since 1991, government has been moving forward with economic reforms, e.g., by reducing business licenses and registration requirements to simplify investment procedures, reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. 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 limited size of economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. international community's role of funding more than 60% of Nepal's development budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures will likely continue as a major ingredient of growth.
buying power parity - $37.32 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-0.6% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $1,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 20%
services: 40% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
42% (1995-96)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 29.8% (1995-96)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36.7 (FY 95/96)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.8% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
10 million
note: severe lack of skilled labor (1996 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 81%, services 16%, industry 3%
Unemployment rate:
47% (2001 est.)
revenues: $665 million
expenditures: $1.1 billion, includes capital expenditures of $NA (FY 99/00 est.)
tourism, carpet, textile; limited rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarette; cement and brick production
Industrial production growth rate:
8.7% (FY 99/00)
Electricity - production:
1.755 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 8.5%
hydro: 91.5%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
1.764 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
95 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
227 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
16,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat
$720 million f.o.b., but does not include unrecorded border trade with India (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain
Exports - partners:
India 47.5%, US 27.6%, Germany 7.5% (2002)
$1.6 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer
Imports - partners:
India 21.2%, China 13%, UAE 11.1%, Singapore 8.5%, Hong Kong 5.9%, Saudi Arabia 4.9%, Kuwait 4.1% (2002)
Debt - external:
$2.55 billion (FY 00/01)
Economic aid - recipient:
$424 million (FY 00/01)
Nepalese rupee (NPR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Nepalese rupees per US dollar - 77.88 (2002), 74.95 (2001), 71.09 (2000), 68.24 (1999), 65.98 (1998)
Fiscal year:
16 July - 15 July
Communications Nepal
Telephones - main lines in use:
236,816 (January 2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radiotelephone communication service and mobile cellular telephone network
domestic: NA
international: radiotelephone communications; microwave landline to India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (January 2000)
840,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus 9 repeaters) (1998)
130,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
6 (2000)
Internet users:
60,000 (2002)
Transportation Nepal
total: 59 km
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2002)
total: 13,223 km
paved: 4,073 km
unpaved: 9,150 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors:
45 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 28 (2002)
Military Nepal
Military branches:
Royal Nepalese Army (includes Royal Nepalese Army Air Service), Nepalese Police Force
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,674,014 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,467,511 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 303,222 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$57.22 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.1% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Nepal
Disputes - international:
joint border commission continues to work on limited disputed sections of boundary with India; India has instituted a stricter border regime to restrict transit of Maoist insurgents
Illicit drugs:
illicit producer of cannabis for domestic and international drug markets; transit point for opiates from Southeast Asia to West