Nepal General Information

As the country of unique topography and varied climatic conditions, Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity. The latitudinal variation is so distinct that the elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the world's highest point-- Mt. Everest ( 8,848m.) in a short distance of 150 kilometers. With several ecosystems, mountain ranges, dense forests, green hills and valleys, the country is a melting pot of different ethnic communities. The country has more than 100 ethnic groups and over 90 languages and dialects. 

Because of her spectacular landscape and cultural diversity, the country has been recognized as Shangri-La, living cultural museum, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Himalayan Pilgrimage, Nature's Amphitheatre, Land of Non-Stop Festivals, etc.

Nepal Fact-Sheet
Area: 147,181 sq. km 
Geography: Situated between China in the north and India in the South 
Location: Latitude: 2612' to 3027' North Longitude:804' to 8812' East 
Capital: Kathmandu 
Population: 23 million 
People: more than 103 ethnic groups and 93 spoken languages 
Climate: sub-tropical in lowlands to arctics in higher altitudes 
Language: Nepali 
Currency: Nepalese Rupee 
Political System: Multiparty democracy. 
National Bird: Impean Pheasant (Danfe). 
National Flower: Rhododendron Arboreum (Lali Gurans). 
Occupying only 0.01% of the earth, Nepal is home to 2% of all the flowering plants, 8% of the world's population of birds, 4% mammals, over 500 species of butterflies, 600 indigenous plant species and 319 species of exotic orchids.

Ashoka Pillar is believed to be the first epigraphic evidence relating to the life history of Lord Buddha. The historic importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription. The country has witnessed a large number of rulers and dynasties. The Kirants are regarded as the earliest rulers, who had ruled the country between the 9th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. 

The Kirants were replaced by the Lichchhavis. Similarly, the Lichchhavis were followed by the Thakuris, then came the Malla dynasty. The Mallas ruled the Kathmandu Valley, which is very rich in cultural heritage. 
In the 14th century A.D. King Jayasthiti Malla established a rigid social order. His grandson tried in every way to protect his country from suspected rival states. But he failed to do so and the country was divided into as many as 50 small feudal states.

The Shah dynasty started to rule the country. It was late King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified all the small principalities into a single kingdom. The visionary King had dismissed European missionaries from the country, as he suspected that the British rulers in India would attack on Nepal. During the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal's first prime minister and took absolute power. The Ranas were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s. At present, Nepal enjoys a multiparty democratic system.

Covering an area of 147,181 sq. kilometers, Nepal is a country of diversity-- cultural and natural. 

Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the northern summers are cool and winters severe, while in south summers are subtropical and winters mild. 

The variety in Nepal's topography provides a home to wildlife like tigers, rhinos, monkeys, bears, yaks, leopards and different species of insects and birds. Nepal is a home to almost 10 percent of the world's bird species among which 500 species are found in the Kathmandu Valley. 

Nepal has managed to preserve some endangered species of Asia in its extensive parks and protected natural habitats. The most abundant natural resource in Nepal is water. Other resources found here are quartz, timber, lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore and scenic beauty.

The country can be divided into three main geographical regions: 

Himalayan Region 
The altitude of this region ranges between 4877 meters and 8848 meters with the new line running around 488848 meters. It includes 8 of the existing 14 summits in the world which exceed the altitude of 8000 meters. They are: (1) Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) - 8848 m (2) Kangchenjunga - 8586 m, (3) Lhotse - 8516 m, (4) Makalu - 8463 m, (5) Cho Oyo - 8201 m, (6) Dhaulagiri - 8167 m, (7) Manaslu - 8163 m, and (8) Annapurna - 8091 m. 

Mountain Region
This region accounts for about 64 percent of total land area. The Mahabharat range that rises up to 4877 meters forms it. To its south lies the lower Churia range whose altitude varies from 610 meters to 1524 meters. 

Terai Region 
The lowland Terai region, which has a width of about 26 to 32 kilometers and an altitude maximum of 305 meters, occupies about 17 percent of total land area of the country. Kechanakawal, the lowest point of the country with an altitude of 70 meters lies in Jhapa District of the eastern Terai. 

All this adds up one interesting fact that there is no seasonal constraint on travelling in and through Nepal. Even in December and January, when the winter is at its severest, there are compensating bright sun and brilliant views. Winter days often begin in mist, which can last until noon. Then suddenly, as if by magic, the fog disappears bringing in to views snowy peaks, glistening white and fresh against the large blue sky. 

Nepal has mainly four seasons-- spring (Mar - May), summer (Jun - Aug), autumn (Sep - Nov) and winter (Dec - Feb). The climate is varied ranging from the sub-tropical Terai to the cool dry temperate and alpine climate in the northern Himalayan ranges. In the Terai, the hottest part of the country, summer temperatures may rise as high as 40°C. The climate is hot and humid. In the mid-mountain region, the summer climate is mild with temperatures around 25°C - 27°C. The winter temperatures range from 7°C to 23°C in the Terai and subzero to 12°C in the mountain regions and valleys. The northern Himalayan region has an alpine climate. The valley of Kathmandu has a pleasant equable climate with average summer and winter temperatures of 19°C - 27°C and 2°C - 12°C respectively.

Nepali is the national language of Nepal. Educated people understand and speak English as well. There are hundreds of local dialects spoken by people from various ethnic groups.

Currency & Foreign exchange
Nepali Rupee notes come in Rs. 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 denominations. Coins come in Rs. 1, 2 , 5 and 10 denominations. Foreign currencies must be exchanged only through banks or authorized money exchangers. The receipts of such transaction are to be obtained and retained. Visitors can exchange foreign currency at the foreign exchange counter at the airport upon arrival. Visitors other than the Indian nationals have to make the payment in foreign currency (non-Indian currency) in hotel, trekking agencies or travel agencies and for air tickets.