Nepal (officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal), is a small land-locked country. It is high in biodiversity and contains a wide range of flora and fauna. It occupies an area of 147,181 square kilometers and a population of about 28.98 million. The sad reality is that more than two million Nepalese have gone abroad, both to work and send money home as well as to study. This has resulted in a lack of skilled manpower remaining within the country. While Nepal is an underdeveloped country, it is transitioning toward a more sustainable development pathway. However, illiteracy and poverty have recently become serious issues.
Nepal sits between the neighboring countries of China and India. It consists of five distinct regions; the capital city of Kathmandu is in the Central Development Region. Nepal is home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest and is the birthplace of the Buddha; these are both the pride of the country.
Nepal is divided geographically into three sub regions; the Himalayan region, the Hilly region and the Terai region. Each of these regions has their own distinct climate and features. Mount Everest lies in the Himalayan region, whereas the Terai region is a flat, low land region in the south of the country. This is a major tourist area which offers safaris, hiking and trekking. The Chitwan National Park lies in Terai region.
Most Nepalese depend on the land for their daily livelihood. Some still go into the jungle to gather resources such as firewood, as well as to materials to build their houses.
The spectacular landscape and the diverse, exotic cultures of Nepal hold considerable promise for tourism, but growth in this hospitality industry has been stifled by recent political events.
Most energy needs are met through fuel wood (68%), agricultural waste (15%), animal dung (8%) and imported fossil fuel (8%). Except for some lignite deposits, Nepal has no known oil, gas or coal deposits. All commercial fossil fuels (mainly oil and coal) are either imported from India or from international markets routed through India. Fuel imports absorb over one-fourth of Nepal's foreign exchange earnings.
Electricity provides only about 1% of Nepal’s energy needs. Paradoxically, the constant flow of Nepal’s rivers and the steep gradient of the country's topography provide ideal conditions to develop some of the world's largest hydroelectric projects. Current estimates put Nepal's economically feasible hydro-power potential to be approximately 44,000 MW from 66 hydro-power project sites. However, currently Nepal has been able to exploit only about 600 MW from 20 major hydro-power plants and a number of small and micro hydro-power plants. There are 9 major hydro-power plants under construction, and additional 27 sites considered for potential development.
Only about 40% of Nepal's population has access to electricity and there is a great disparity between urban and rural areas. The electrification rate in urban areas is 90 percent whereas that in rural area is only 5 percent. The electrical system is very challenging due to high tariffs, high system losses, high generation costs, high overheads, over staffing and low domestic demand.
Nepal remains isolated from the world's major land, air and sea transport routes. Within the country, aviation is in a good state with 47 airports (11 of them with paved runways), flights are frequent and they support sizable traffic. The hilly and mountainous terrain has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. In 2007 there were just over 10,142 km of paved roads, and 7,140 km of unpaved roads, and one 59 km railway line in the south. 15 out of 75 district headquarters are not connected by road. In addition, some 60% of road network and most rural roads are not operable during the rainy season. Internally, the poor state of development of the road system makes access to markets, schools, and health clinics a challenge.
By the mid-20th century, 20 out of Nepal’s 22 high schools were built, financed, and managed by local communities. Successive governments continued this model, treating education as a partnership with communities. In 1972, however, the government took over the more than 8,000 existing schools. Because of the country’s remoteness and diversity – and weak government capacity – results were disastrous.
Most houses in the rural lowlands of Nepal are made up of a tight bamboo frame, with 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 the roofs.
Nepal's flag is the only national flag in the world that is not rectangular in shape; it is also considered to be the most mathematical flag in the world. 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. 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.
Football is the most popular sport in Nepal. It was first played during the Rana dynasty in 1921. Despite its popularity and years of play, football in Nepal has still a long way to go. Cricket has been gaining popularity since the last decade as it continues to move onto the world stage.