Nepal (नेपाल) officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People’s Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. With an area of 147,181 square kilometers (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 30 million, Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and the country’s largest metropolis.
Nepal has a rich geography. The mountainous north has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali. It contains more than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized.
By some measures, Hinduism is practiced by a larger majority of people in Nepal than in any other nation. Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically with Nepal. Many Nepali do not distinguish between Hinduism and Buddhism and follow both religious traditions. There are three different Buddhist traditions: Himalayan Buddhism, Buddhism of Kathmandu Valley (mostly Mahayana and Vajrayana), and also the Theravada Buddhism.
A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768, when Prithvi Narayan Shah it’s many small kingdoms. However, a decade-long Civil War by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and several weeks of mass protests by all major political parties led to the 12 point agreement of November 22, 2005. The ensuing elections for the constituent assembly on May 28, 2008 overwhelmingly favored the abdication of the Nepali monarch Gyanendra Shah and the establishment of a federal multiparty representative democratic republic. The first President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, was sworn in on July 23, 2008.
The 10 largest cities (by population)
Kathmandu (Pop.: 989,273
Pokhara (Pop.: 200,000)
Patan (Pop.: 183,310)
Biratnagar (Pop.: 182,324)
Birgunj (Pop.: 133,238)
Dharan Bazar (Pop.: 108,600)
Bharatpur (Pop.: 107,157)
Janakpur (Pop.: 93,767)
Dhangadhi (Pop.: 92,294)
Butwal (Pop.: 91,733)
A typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a spicy lentil soup, served over bhat (boiled rice), and served with tarkari(curried vegetables) together with achar (pickles) or chutni (spicy condiment made from fresh ingredients). The Newar community, however, has its own unique cuisine. It consists of non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian items served with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Mustard oil is the cooking medium and a host of spices, such as cumin, coriander, black peppers, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger, methi (fenugreek), bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, etc., are used in the cooking. The cuisine served on festivals is generally the best.
Folklore is an integral part of Nepalese society. Traditional stories are rooted in the reality of day-to-day life, tales of love, affection and battles as well as demons and ghosts and thus reflect local lifestyles, cultures and beliefs. Many Nepalese folktales are enacted through the medium of dance and music.
The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months. Saturday is the official weekly holiday. Main annual holidays include the National Day, celebrated on the birthday of the king (28 December), Prithvi Jayanti (11 January), Martyr’s Day (18 February), and a mix of Hindu and Buddhist festivals such as Dashain in autumn, and Tihar in late autumn. During tihar, the Newar community also celebrates its New Year as per their local calendar Nepal Sambat
Most houses in rural lowland of Nepal are made up of a tight bamboo framework and walls of a mud and cow-dung mix. These dwellings remain cool in summer and retain warmth in winter. Houses in the hills are usually made of unbaked bricks with thatch or tile roofing. At high elevations construction changes to stone masonry and slate may be used on roofs.
Nepal’s flag is the only national flag in the world that is not rectangular in shape. According to its official description, the red in the flag stands for victory in war or courage, and is also color of the Rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal. Red also stands for aggression. The flag’s blue border signifies peace. The curved moon on the flag is a symbol of the peaceful and calm nature of Nepalese, while the sun represents the aggressiveness of Nepalese warriors.