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 Nepal [Country Flag of Nepal]
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Nepal]

Nepal

Geography

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Location: Southern Asia, between China and India

Geographic coordinates: 28 00 N, 84 00 E

Map references: Asia

Area:
total: 140,800 sq km
land: 136,800 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than Arkansas

Land boundaries:
total: 2,926 km
border countries: China 1,236 km, India 1,690 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south

Terrain: Terai 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 8,848 m

Natural resources: quartz, water, timber, hydropower potential, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore

Land use:
arable land: 17%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 15%
forests and woodland: 42%
other: 26% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 8,500 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons

Environment—current issues: the almost total dependence on wood for fuel and cutting down trees to expand agricultural land without replanting has resulted in widespread deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution (use of contaminated water presents human health risks)

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks

People

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Population: 23,698,421 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42% (male 5,087,855; female 4,779,941)
15-64 years: 55% (male 6,655,865; female 6,387,255)
65 years and over: 3% (male 392,141; female 395,364) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.52% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 35.66 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 10.44 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 75.98 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 57.89 years
male: 58.04 years
female: 57.74 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.87 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Nepalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepalese

Ethnic groups: Newars, Indians, Tibetans, Gurungs, Magars, Tamangs, Bhotias, Rais, Limbus, Sherpas

Religions: Hindu 90%, Buddhist 5%, Muslim 3%, other 2% (1981)
note: only official Hindu state in the world, although no sharp distinction between many Hindu and Buddhist groups

Languages: Nepali (official), 20 other languages divided into numerous dialects

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 27.5%
male: 40.9%
female: 14% (1995 est.)

People—note: refugee issue over the presence in Nepal of approximately 91,000 Bhutanese refugees, 90% of whom are in seven United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps

Government

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Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal

Data code: NP

Government type: parliamentary democracy as of 12 May 1991

National capital: Kathmandu

Administrative divisions: 14 zones (anchal, singular and plural); Bagmati, Bheri, Dhawalagiri, Gandaki, Janakpur, Karnali, Kosi, Lumbini, Mahakali, Mechi, Narayani, Rapti, Sagarmatha, Seti

Independence: 1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah)

National holiday: Birthday of His Majesty the King, 28 December (1945)

Constitution: 9 November 1990

Legal system: based on Hindu legal concepts and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: King BIRENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev (succeeded to the throne 31 January 1972 following the death of his father King MAHENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev, crowned king 24 February 1975); Heir Apparent Crown Prince DIPENDRA Bir Bikram
head of government: Prime Minister Girija Prasad KOIRALA (since 15 April 1998); note—Prime Minister KOIRALA—the country's seventh prime minister since 1991—replaces Prime Minister Surya Bahadur THAPA, who served from October 1997 until April 1998, when he resigned as part of a power-sharing agreement with his coalition partners
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the king on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: none; the king is a constitutional monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the king

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the National Council (60 seats; 35 appointed by the House of Representatives, 10 by the king, and 15 elected by an electoral college; one-third of the members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (205 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives—last held 15 November 1994 (next to be held by 15 November 1999)
election results: House of Representatives—percent of vote by party—NCP 33%, CPN/UML 31%, NDP 18%, Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party 3%, NWPP 1%; seats by party - CPN/UML 88, NCP 83, NDP 20, NWPP 4, Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party 3, independents 7

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Sarbochha Adalat), chief justice is appointed by the king on recommendation of the Constitutional Council, the other judges are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Judicial Council

Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist-Leninist (CPN/UML), Man Mohan ADHIKARI, party president, Madhar KUMAR, general secretary; Nepali Congress Party (NCP), Girija Prasad KOIRALA, party president, Daranath Rana DHATT, general secretary; National Democratic Party (NDP; also called Rastriya Prajantra Party or RPP), Surya Bahadur THAPA; Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party, Gajendra Narayan SINGH, president; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP), Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE, party chair

Political pressure groups and leaders: numerous small, left-leaning student groups in the capital; several small, radical Nepalese antimonarchist groups

International organization participation: AsDB, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFCTU, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIBH, UNMOP, UNPREDEP, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
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 Ralph FRANK
embassy: Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 411179
FAX: [977] (1) 419963

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 bears a white 12-pointed sun

Economy

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Economy—overview: Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with more than half of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population and accounting for 40% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Production of textiles and carpets has expanded recently and accounted for about 80% of foreign exchange earnings in the past two years. Apart from agricultural land and forests, exploitable natural resources are mica, hydropower, and tourism. Agricultural production is growing by about 5% on average as compared with annual population growth of 2.5%. Since May 1991, the government has been moving forward with economic reforms particularly those that encourage trade and foreign investment, e.g., by eliminating business licenses and registration requirements in order to simplify investment procedures. The government has also been cutting expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. More recently, however, political instability - five different governments over the past few years—has hampered Kathmandu's ability to forge consensus to implement key economic reforms. Nepal has considerable scope for accelerating economic growth by exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas where there has recently been foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other areas will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. The 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.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$31.1 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4.2% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,370 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 21%
services: 39% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 7.5% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 10 million (1996 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 81%, services 16%, industry 3%
note: severe lack of skilled labor

Unemployment rate: NA%; substantial underemployment (1996)

Budget:
revenues: $536 million
expenditures: $818 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY96/97 est.)

Industries: tourism, carpet, textile; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarette; cement and brick production

Industrial production growth rate: 14.7% (FY94/95 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 292,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 980 million kWh (1996)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 48 kWh (1996 est.)

Agriculture—products: rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat

Exports:
total value: $419 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.) but does not include unrecorded border trade with India
commodities: carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain
partners: India, US, Germany, UK

Imports:
total value: $1.6 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
commodities: petroleum products 20%, fertilizer 11%, machinery 10%
partners: India, Singapore, Japan, Germany

Debt—external: $2.6 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $411 million (FY97/98)

Currency: 1 Nepalese rupee (NR) = 100 paisa

Exchange rates: Nepalese rupees (NRs) per US$1—63.265 (January 1998), 58.010 (1997), 56.692 (1996), 51.890 (1995), 49.398 (1994), 48.607 (1993)

Fiscal year: 16 July—15 July

Communications

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Telephones: 115,911 (1996 est.)

Telephone system: poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radiotelephone communication service
domestic: NA
international: radiotelephone communications; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 88, FM 1, shortwave 0

Radios: 690,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 9 (1996 est.)

Televisions: 45,000 (1992 est.)

Transportation

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Railways:
total: 101 km; note—all in Kosi close to Indian border
narrow gauge: 101 km 0.762-m gauge

Highways:
total: 7,700 km
paved: 3,196 km
unpaved: 4,504 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: none

Airports: 45 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 40
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 29 (1997 est.)

Military

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Military branches: Royal Nepalese Army, Royal Nepalese Army Air Service, Nepalese Police Force

Military manpower—military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 5,739,283 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 2,983,449 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 275,582 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $36 million (FY92/93)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1.2% (FY92/93)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: with Bhutan over 91,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis for the domestic and international drug markets; transit point for opiates from Southeast Asia to the West