[Country map of Nepal]



Location: Southern Asia, between China and India

Map references: Asia

total area: 140,800 sq km
land area: 136,800 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Arkansas

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

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: none

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 17%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 13%
forest and woodland: 33%
other: 37%

Irrigated land: 9,430 sq km (1989)

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)
natural hazards: severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

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


Population: 21,560,869 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (female 4,479,950; male 4,692,575)
15-64 years: 55% (female 5,778,107; male 5,994,147)
65 years and over: 2% (female 305,502; male 310,588) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.44% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 37.31 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 12.9 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 81.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 53.09 years
male: 52.86 years
female: 53.34 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.15 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Nepalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepalese

Ethnic divisions: 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 world, although no sharp distinction between many Hindu and Buddhist groups

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
total population: 26%
male: 38%
female: 13%

Labor force: 8.5 million (1991 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 93%, services 5%, industry 2%
note: severe lack of skilled labor


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

Digraph: NP

Type: parliamentary democracy as of 12 May 1991

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:
head of government: Prime Minister Man Mohan ADHIKARI (since 30 November 1994)
chief of state: King BIRENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev (since 31 January 1972, crowned King 24 February 1985); Heir Apparent Crown Prince DIPENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev, son of the King (born 21 June 1971)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the king on recommendation of the prime minister

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament
National Council: consists of a 60-member body, 50 appointed by House of Representatives and 10 by the King
House of Representatives: elections last held on 15 November 1994 (next to be held NA); results - NCP 33%, CPN/UML 31%, NDP 18%, Terai Rights Sadbhavana Party 3%, NWPP 1%; seats - (205 total) CPN/UML 88, NCP 83, NDP 20, NWPP 4, Terai Rights Sadbhavana Party 3, independents 7; note - the new Constitution of 9 November 1990 gave Nepal a multiparty democracy system for the first time in 32 years

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Sarbochha Adalat)

Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist and Leninist (CPN/UML), Prime Minister Man Mohan ADHIKARI, Deputy Prime Minister Madhav Kumar NEPAL; Nepali Congress Party (NCP), president Krishna Prasad BHATTARAI, former Prime Minister Girija Prasad KOIRALA, Leader of the Opposition Sher Bahadur DEUBA; National Democratic Party (NDP), Surya Bahadur THAPA; Terai Rights Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party, Gajendra Narayan SINGH; United People's Front (UPF), Niranjan Govinda BAIDYA; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP), Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE; Communist Party of Nepal (Democratic-Manandhar), B. B. MANANDHAR

Other political or pressure groups: numerous small, left-leaning student groups in the capital; several small, radical Nepalese antimonarchist groups


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires ad interim Pradeep KHATIWADA
chancery: 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
consulate(s) general: New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sandra L. VOGELGESANG
embassy: Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 411179
FAX: [977] (1) 419963

Flag: 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


Overview: Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 90% of the population and accounting for half of GDP. Industrial activity is limited, mainly involving the processing of agricultural produce (jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain). Production of textiles and carpets has expanded recently and accounted for 85% of foreign exchange earnings in FY93/94. Apart from agricultural land and forests, exploitable natural resources are mica, hydropower, and tourism. Agricultural production in the late 1980s grew by about 5%, as compared with annual population growth of 2.6%. More than 40% of the population is undernourished. Since May 1991, the government has been encouraging trade and foreign investment, e.g., by eliminating business licenses and registration requirements in order to simplify domestic and foreign investment. The government also has been cutting public expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. Prospects for foreign trade and investment in the 1990s remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, and susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community provides funding for 70% of Nepal's developmental budget and for 30% of total budgetary expenditures. The government, realizing that attempts to reverse three years of liberalization would jeopardize this vital support, almost certainly will move ahead with its reform program in 1995-96.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $22.4 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $1,060 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.6% (June 1994)

Unemployment rate: NA%; note - there is substantial underemployment (1994)

revenues: $455 million
expenditures: $854 million, including capital expenditures of $427 million (FY93/94 est.)

Exports: $593 million (f.o.b., 1993) but does not include unrecorded border trade with India
commodities: carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain
partners: India, US, Germany, UK

Imports: $899 million (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: petroleum products 20%, fertilizer 11%, machinery 10%
partners: India, Singapore, Japan, Germany

External debt: $2 billion (1993 est.)

Industrial production: NA

capacity: 280,000 kW
production: 920 million kWh
consumption per capita: 41 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, milk, buffalo meat; not self-sufficient in food, particularly in drought years

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

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $304 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1980-89), $2.23 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $30 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $286 million

Currency: 1 Nepalese rupee (NR) = 100 paisa

Exchange rates: Nepalese rupees (NRs) per US$1 - 49.884 (January 1995), 49.398 (1994), 48.607 (1993), 42.742 (1992), 37.255 (1991), 29.370 (1990)

Fiscal year: 16 July - 15 July


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

total: 7,400 km
paved: 3,000 km
unpaved: 4,400 km

Ports: none

total: 44
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 28
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 10


Telephone system: 50,000 telephones (1990); poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radio communication service
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: international radio communication service is fair; 1 INTELSAT (Indian Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 88, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Royal Nepalese Army, Royal Nepalese Army Air Service, Nepalese Police Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 5,163,703; males fit for military service 2,682,284; males reach military age (17) annually 247,978 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $36 million, 1.2% of GDP (FY92/93)