Surface area: 147.181 km²
Number of inhabitants: 28.980.000
Religion: Hinduism, Buddhism
Currency: Nepalese rupee
Form of Government: Federal Republic
Nepal has a score of 0.558 on the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite number that includes numbers pertaining to life expectancy, education and income per capita. This number is used to rank countries in four levels of human development. The higher these factors, the higher the index number. According to this index, Nepal is ranked 144th out of 186 countries. Life expectancy at birth is 70 years. The average time people go to school and get education is almost 12 years. (source: www.undp.org)
The Gupta and Ahir are Nepal's oldest dynasties and were known for their wealth and prosperity. Around 500 BC, Prince Siddharta was born, also known as the Buddha. From then on various royal houses were in power. Between 1200 and the end of 1700 the Malla dynasties were in charge. During this period, trade and prosperity increased and this was demonstrated by the many temples and palaces they built. By the end of the ruling period of the Malla princes, turmoil increased and Nepal got divided into several small states. Between 1849 and 1951 the Rana family was in power and the country was shared among relatives and friends. In 1951 King Tribhuvan came to power. With the help of India, he introduced a political party system. (source: www.landenweb.nl)
Politics and Economy
In recent years, Nepal has had six different governments. From 1996, there was a civil war between the Maoist movement and the government army of the Kingdom of Nepal. During the civil war, several rulers were in power. King Birenda ruled from 1972 till 2001 when he and his family were killed. The king's brother, Gyanendra, was crowned ruler. This enraged the population of Nepal, who saw him as the man behind the murders. In 2005, King Gyanendra grasped all the power through a palace coup, pushing aside the political parties and the democracy. In early 2007, five former Maoist insurgents officially became ministers in the Nepalese parliament. Their accession meant a definitive end to the years of civil war which had taken the lives of about 13.000 people. In 2008, Nepal got a new president: Ram Baran Yadav of the Congress Party defeated the maoist-supported candidate Ramraja Prasad Singh.
The Nepalese greet with Namasté, where the hands are brought together in a prayer like position and brought to the forehead, pronouncing the word Namasté. Embracing and kissing between men and women is still very unusual and often seen as inappropriate. When you enter a temple or a Nepalese house, shoes should be takes off. Religion is a part of everyday life in Nepal and this is clearly visible on the streets. There are small sanctuaries, temples and holy images and symbols everywhere. Religious festivals are also common. Because of the many ethnic groups there are more than 400 religious celebratory days. The Nepalese religions have a lot of influence on art. Especially in architecture, through the well-known pagoda building style.