South Asia :: Nepal
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Nepal
Map of Nepal
Introduction ::Nepal
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. An insurgency led by Maoist extremists broke out in 1996. The ensuing ten-year civil war between insurgents and government forces witnessed the dissolution of the cabinet and parliament and assumption of absolute power by the king. Several weeks of mass protests in April 2006 were followed by several months of peace negotiations between the Maoists and government officials, and culminated in a November 2006 peace accord and the promulgation of an interim constitution. Following a nation-wide election in April 2008, the newly formed Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a federal democratic republic and abolished the monarchy at its first meeting the following month. The Constituent Assembly elected the country's first president in July. The Maoists, who received a plurality of votes in the Constituent Assembly election, formed a coalition government in August 2008, but resigned in May 2009 after the president overruled a decision to fire the chief of the army staff.
Geography ::Nepal
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates:
28 00 N, 84 00 E
Map references:
total: 147,181 sq km
country comparison to the world: 93
land: 143,351 sq km
water: 3,830 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)
Current Weather
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)
Total renewable water resources:
210.2 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 10.18 cu km/yr (3%/1%/96%)
per capita: 375 cu m/yr (2000)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
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
People ::Nepal
28,951,852 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35.6% (male 5,253,150/female 5,056,249)
15-64 years: 60.1% (male 8,328,202/female 9,074,562)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 581,872/female 657,817) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 21.2 years
male: 20.2 years
female: 22.1 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.419% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
Birth rate:
22.43 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
Death rate:
6.89 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
Net migration rate:
-1.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
urban population: 17% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 4.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 46 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 56
male: 45.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.81 years
country comparison to the world: 163
male: 64.62 years
female: 67.05 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.53 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.5% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
70,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Japanese encephalitis, malaria, and dengue fever (2009)
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)
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 (2001 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 48.6%
male: 62.7%
female: 34.9% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 9 years
male: 10 years
female: 8 years (2003)
Education expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2003)
country comparison to the world: 134
Government ::Nepal
Country name:
conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal
local long form: Sanghiya Loktantrik Ganatantra Nepal
local short form: Nepal
Government type:
federal democratic republic
name: Kathmandu
geographic coordinates: 27 43 N, 85 19 E
time difference: UTC+5.75 (10.75 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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:
Republic Day, 29 May; Democracy Day, 24 April
15 January 2007 (interim Constitution); note - in April 2008, a Constituent Assembly was elected to draft and promulgate a new constitution by May 2010
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: President Ram Baran YADAV (since 23 July 2008); Vice President Paramananda JHA (since 23 July 2008)
head of government: vacant; Prime Minister Madhav Kumar NEPAL resigned on 30 June 2010
cabinet: cabinet was formed in May 2009 by a majority coalition made up of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist, Nepali Congress, Madhesi People's Rights Forum, Nepal-Democratic, and several smaller parties
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by Parliament; term extends until the new constitution is promulgated; election last held on 21 July 2008; date of next election NA
election results: Ram Baran YADAV elected president by the Constituent Assembly in a second round of voting on 21 July 2008; Ram Baran YADAV 308, Ram Jaja Prasad SINGH 282
Legislative branch:
unicameral Constituent Assembly (601 seats; 240 members elected by direct popular vote, 335 by proportional representation, and 26 appointed by the Cabinet (Council of Ministers))
elections: last held on 10 April 2008 (next to be held NA)
election results: percent of vote by party - CPN-M 38%, NC 19%, CPN-UML 19%,Madhesi People's Right Forum 9%, Terai-Madhes Democratic Party and Sadbhawana Party 5%, other 15%; seats by party - CPN-M 220, NC 110, CPN-UML 103, Madhesi People's Rights Forum 52, Terai-Madhes Democratic Party 20, Sadbhawana Party 9, other smaller parties 56; note - 26 seats filled by the new Cabinet and are included in the seat totals above
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Sarbochha Adalat (the president appoints the chief justice on recommendation of the Constitutional Council; the chief justice appoints other judges on the recommendation of the Judicial Council)
Political parties and leaders:
Chure Bhawar Rastriya Ekata Party [Keshav Prasad MAINALI]; Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [Matrika YADAV]; Communist Party of Nepal (ML) [C.P. MAINALI]; Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) [Raj Singh SHRIS]; Communist Party of Nepal (United) [Chandra Dev JOSHI]; Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist-Leninist or CPN/UML [Jhalanath KHANAL, chairman]; Dalit Janajati Party [Vishwendraman PASHWAN]; Madhesi People's Rights Forum, Nepal [Upendra YADAV]; Madhesi People's Rights Forum, Nepal-Democratic [Bijay Kumar GACHHEDAR]; National Democratic Party or NDP [Pashupati Shumsher RANA] (also called Rastriya Prajatantra Party or RPP); Nepal Loktantrik Samajbadi Dal [Upendra GACHCHHADAR]; Nepal Pariwar Dal [Eknath DHAKAL]; Nepal Rastriya Party [Keshav Man SHAKYA]; Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi) [Sarita GIRI]; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party or NWPP [Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE]; Nepali Congress or NC [Girija Prasad KOIRALA]; Nepali Janata Dal [Harish Chandra SHA]; Rastriya Janamorcha [Chitra BAHADUR K.C.]; Rastriya Janamukti Party [Malwar Singh THAPA]; Rastriya Janashakti Party or RJP [Surya Bahadur THAPA]; Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal [Kamal THAPA]; Sadbhavana Party (Mahato) [Rajendra MAHATO]; Samajbadi Prajatantrik Janata Party Nepal [Prem Bahadur SINGH]; Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch [Laxman THARU]; Terai-Madhes Democratic Party [Mahantha THAKUR]; Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [Pushpa Kamal DAHAL, also known as PRACHANDA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: several small armed Madhesi groups along the southern border with India; a variety of groups advocating regional autonomy for individual ethnic groups
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Shankar Prasad SHARMA
chancery: 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5534
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Scott H. DELISI
embassy: Maharajgunj, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 400-7200
FAX: [977] (1) 400-7272
Flag description:
red with a blue border around the unique shape of two overlapping right triangles; the smaller, upper triangle bears a white stylized moon and the larger, lower triangle displays a white 12-pointed sun; the color red represents the rhododendron (Nepal's national flower) and is a sign of victory and bravery, the blue border signifies peace and harmony; the two right triangles are a combination of two single pennons (pennants) that originally symbolized the Himalaya Mountains while their charges represented the families of the king (upper) and the prime minister, but today they are understood to denote Hinduism and Buddhism, the country's two main religions; the moon represents the serenity of the Nepalese people and the shade and cool weather in the Himalayas, while the sun depicts the heat and higher temperatures of the lower parts of Nepal; the moon and the sun are also said to express the hope that the nation will endure as long as these heavenly bodies
note: Nepal is the only country in the world whose flag is not rectangular or square
Economy ::Nepal
Economy - overview:
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with almost one-quarter 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 about one-third of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural products, including pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. During the global recession of 2009, remittances from foreign workers abroad increased 47% to $2.8 billion while tourist arrivals only decreased 1% compared to the previous year. Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower, with an estimated 42,000 MW of feasible capacity, but political instability hampers foreign investment. Additional challenges to Nepal's growth include its technological backwardness, landlocked geographic location, civil strife and labor unrest, and its susceptibility to natural disaster.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$33.25 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$31.76 billion (2008 est.)
$30.16 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$12.47 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
5.3% (2008 est.)
3.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
$1,100 (2008 est.)
$1,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 35%
industry: 16%
services: 49% (FY09 est.)
Labor force:
18 million
country comparison to the world: 33
note: severe lack of skilled labor (2009 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 76%
industry: 6%
services: 18% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate:
46% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
42% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
24.7% (2008)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 6%
highest 10%: 40.6% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
47.2 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 34
36.7 (1996)
revenues: $2.3 billion
expenditures: $3.7 billion (FY10)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
13.2% (September 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
7.7% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
6.5% (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 64
6.5% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
Stock of money:
$2.53 billion (31 July 2009)
country comparison to the world: 86
$2.106 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of quasi money:
$7.49 billion (1 April 2009)
country comparison to the world: 71
$6.99 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of domestic credit:
$6.11 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$5.556 billion (31 December 2008)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$5.721 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
$4.894 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.909 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
pulses, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, jute, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat
tourism, carpets, textiles; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarettes, cement and brick production
Industrial production growth rate:
1.8% (FY08)
country comparison to the world: 55
Electricity - production:
2.6 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
Electricity - consumption:
2.243 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - imports:
213 million kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
Oil - consumption:
18,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
Oil - imports:
16,920 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
Current account balance:
$537 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 46
$241 million (2008)
$907 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 153
$868 million (2008)
Exports - commodities:
clothing, pulses, carpets, textiles, juice, pashima, jute goods
Exports - partners:
India 59.95%, US 7.87%, Bangladesh 6.04%, Germany 4.89% (2009)
$3.626 billion (2009)
country comparison to the world: 129
$3.229 billion (2008)
Imports - commodities:
petroleum products, machinery and equipment, gold, electrical goods, medicine
Imports - partners:
India 52.85%, China 13.35% (2009)
Debt - external:
$4.5 billion (2009)
country comparison to the world: 105
$3.285 billion (2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
Exchange rates:
Nepalese rupees (NPR) per US dollar - 77.44 (2009), 65.21 (2008), 70.35 (2007), 72.446 (2006), 72.16 (2005)
Communications ::Nepal
Telephones - main lines in use:
805,100 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 87
Telephones - mobile cellular:
4.2 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 94
Telephone system:
general assessment: poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radiotelephone communication service and mobile-cellular telephone network
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone service subscribership base only about 15 per 100 persons
international: country code - 977; radiotelephone communications; microwave landline to India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 80, shortwave 4 (2008)
Television broadcast stations:
9 (plus 9 repeaters) (2008)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
43,411 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 87
Internet users:
499,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 108
Transportation ::Nepal
47 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 93
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 30 (2009)
total: 59 km
country comparison to the world: 130
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2008)
total: 17,282 km
country comparison to the world: 119
paved: 10,142 km
unpaved: 7,140 km (2007)
Military ::Nepal
Military branches:
Nepal Army (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for military training; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,699,614
females age 16-49: 7,388,240 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 5,053,600
females age 16-49: 5,730,116 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 374,882
female: 361,848 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 93
Transnational Issues ::Nepal
Disputes - international:
joint border commission continues to work on contested sections of boundary with India, including the 400 square kilometer dispute over the source of the Kalapani River; India has instituted a stricter border regime to restrict transit of Maoist insurgents and illegal cross-border activities; approximately 106,000 Bhutanese Lhotshampas (Hindus) have been confined in refugee camps in southeastern Nepal since 1990
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 107,803 (Bhutan); 20,153 (Tibet/China)
IDPs: 50,000-70,000 (remaining from ten-year Maoist insurgency that officially ended in 2006; displacement spread across the country) (2007)
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

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)