Nepal

Nepali FlagOfficial name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal

Area: 147 181 sq km.

Population: 27,070,366 (est. July 2004). Census in July 2001: 23,2 millions.

Administrative divisions: 14 zones; Bagmati, Bheri, Dhawalagiri, Gandaki, Janakpur, Karnali, Kosi, Lumbini, Mahakali, Mechi, Narayani, Rapti, Sagarmatha and Seti.

Capital: Kathmandu

System of government: Republic since 28 May 2008, when political leaders in Nepal in the new constitutional assembly voted overwhelmingly to abolish the Himalayan nation's 240-year-old Hindu monarchy.

PM NepalPrime Minister:  Jhala Nath Khanal (photo), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) chairman. He was elected Nepal’s 34th Prime Minister by the Legislature Parliament on 3 February 2011, ending a six-month long status quo. In addition to his party UML and his largest supporter Unified CPN (Maoist), Rastriya Janamorcha, CPN (ML), CPN (ML-Samajwadi), Nepal Rastriya Party, Sadbhawana Party (Anandidevi), Rastriya Janmukti Party, Nepali Janata Dal and Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch also supported Khanal. Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party lawmakers boycotted election process. 
On 14 August 2011, Jhala Nath Khanal stepped down and resigned from office after the government and the opposition failed to agree on a new constitution after 10 years of civil war. More information

President: On 23 July 2008, Ram Baran Yadav (Nepali Congress) was elected as the first President of Nepal.

Former Head of State: King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah (photo) was coronated to become the new king of Nepal on June, 4, 2001, after a shocking massacre on the Royal family inside the palace at Kathmandu three days earlier.
In the carnage king Birendra, who had ruled Nepal since 1972 was assasinated. Crown prince Dipendra was also severely hurt at the event, but nonetheless he was soon declared king after his father. Dipendra, though, also died two days later and after that Gyanendra took over.
On May 29, 2008, the Constituent Assembly decided to abolish Nepal's monarchy, and two weeks later the deposed king left the royal palace in Kathmandu. He now lives as a commoner in the country.

Ethnic groups: The population is divided into two broad ethnic groups, the Indo-Nepalese – which include the Pahari, Newar, Tharu and the Indians of the Tarai (all of which account for nearly 80 p.c of the population) and the Tibeto-Nepalese who account for the remainder (including the more numerous Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Bhote, Sunwar, Magar and Gurung tribes).
The Magars constitute the largest group of the nationalities. They constitute 7,2 p.c of the total population. In descending order, the Tharus follow with 6,5 p.c, the Newars at 5,6 p.c, Tamangs with 5,5 p.c, Rais with 2,8 p.c, Gumngs at 2,4 p.c and Limbus at 1,6 p.c. The rest of the nationalities are less than one percent. The Rautes have the least number among the nationalities, numbering 2,878.

Religions: Hindus 86,2 p.c., Buddhists 7,8 p.c., Muslims 3,8 p.c., other religions 2,2 p.c.

Languages: Approximately 40 languages. Nepali 50 p.c is the official language; Maithili 11 p.c; Bhojpuri 8 p.c; Awadhi 5 p.c.

National anthem: Shreeman Gambhir” (May Glory Crown Our Illustrious Sovereign”, composed 1899 by Bakhatbir Budhapirthi. Text by Chakrapani Chalise. More information .

National Calendar: The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months: Baisakh, Jestha, Asadh, Shrawan, Bhadra, Aswin, Kartik, Marga, Poush, Phalgun, Chaitra. Saturday is the official weekly holiday.

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity – 1.400 US-dollars (est 2003)

GDP by sector: Agriculture: 40 p.c, Industry: 20 p.c, Services: 40 p.c (ets. 2002)

Population below poverty line: 42 p.c (est 1995-96)

Economy: Agriculture provides a livelihood for over 80 p.c of the population. Agricultural products: Corn, Barley, Water Buffaloe meat, Fruit, Jute, Medicinal Herbs, Pepper, Potatoes, Rice, Sugar Cane, Timber, Tobacco, Wheat.

Industries: Agriculture, Cement, Cigarettes, Forestry, Garments, Jute Spinning, Sugar Milling, Textiles, Tourism.

Exports: 568 million US-dollars (est. 2002), not including unrecorded border trade with India. Commodities: Carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, rice, sugar, timber.

Administration: The Parliament has two legislative chambers – the House of Representatives and the National Council (the upper house). The House of Representatives consists of 205 members, popularly elected to five-year terms. The 60 members of the National Council hold six-year terms; 10 are nominated by the king, 35 are elected by the House of Representatives (of which three must be women), and 15 are selected by an electoral college.

The constitution of 1990 gives the House of Representatives considerably more power than the National Council.

Nepal elections 2008Political situation: The unexpected victory of the Maoist rebels in Nepal's elections on April 10, 2008, surprised the former rebels themselves, baffled political observers and stunned the international community.
The general expectation was that the rebels would trail behind the country's two largest political parties, the Nepali Congress, and the mainstream-left, the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist.

But both the parties were left far behind the Maoists who won half the seats chosen by the first-past-the-post system and gained about 30% of the votes for seats given by proportional representation.

The full election results shown to the right (source: Nepalnews.com, May 4, 2008).
 

Other important political leaders:
Madhav Kumar Nepal, Sahana Pradham and Bam Dev Gautam, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) – CPN/UML
Gajendra Narayan Singh (NSP)
Pushpa Kamal Dahal (”Comrade” Prachanda) (CPN-Maoist) – Prime Minister 15 August 2008 – 4 May 2009.
 

Recent history: The World’s only officially proclaimed Hindu kingdom was till the middle of the 18th Centrury split into several princely states. But in 1768 the country was united under the leadership of the gurkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah. During the period1846-1951 the Nepalese kings were not in real control of the country as the power had been taken over by the hereditary Prime minister family of Rana, which held complete control of the government.

In 1950 King Tribhuvan began a plot to overthrow the Rana family and when it was discovered, he fled to India. After which an armed revolt led by the Nepali Congress began. The order was, though, quickly restored by India. But in 1951 Bisweswore Prasad Koirala became the first non-Rana Prime Minister for more than 100 years, in 1959 the first free elections were held and a new constitution inaugurated.

However, in December 1960 King Mahendra banned all political parties and suspended the constitution. In 1962 a new constitution was established which set up a non-party council known as the Rashtriya Panchayat. In 1972 King Mahendra died and was succeeded by Prince Birendra. In May 1980 a referendum was held to give the people a choice between a reformed version of the existing system or a multiparty based system, which resulted in the return of the Rashtriya Panchayat.
Following riots and demonstrations led by a popular movement for democracy in 1990 the king finally was forced to announce a new constitution which would allow for a multi-party system of government. The power of the king was reduced. In May 1991 the Nepali Congress Party won general elections and Girija Prasad Koirala was elected Prime Minister. During the 1990´s the internal politics of Nepal has remained unstable, with a several succession of new governments.
King Birendra was killed in a massacre on the Royal family at 1 June, 2001. His son, crown prince Dipendra, was declared nw king even though he was also severely hurt. Dipendra died two days later, and was succeded by his uncle, Birendras younger brother, Gyanendra.
Relations with Bhutan deteriorated in the beginning of the 90s after allegations that the Nepalese government was supporting pro-democracy activists there, and the stream of ethnic nepalese refugees. And inside Nepal a Maoist guerrilla-based insurgency has in recent years plagued the country.

An armed maoist-inspired rebellion went on in large parts of the country for 10 years, by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal (generally known as ”Comrade” Prachanda) . The rebellion had its centre in the four western districts of Rukum, Rolpa, Salyan and Jajarkot, but spread all over the country.
 A peace agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists was signed in Kathmandu on 21 November 2006 thereby ending 11 years of conflict in Nepal. The two sides agreed a permanent ceasefire, which is being monitored by the UN.
Following the largely peaceful elections on 10 April 2008, a Constituent Assembly was sworn in. On 28 May the Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a republic. 
Tensions between political parties in Nepal remain significant, with the potential for violent clashes or extremely disruptive strike action. These clashes have, in some cases, resulted in injuries and deaths of party activists and candidates. Recent political protests by ethnic and religious groups in the Terai and Eastern region have, resulted in localised violence and disruption. Equally, there are other interests groups who use similar tactics to pursue their objections. For example, in January 2008, there were widespread demonstrations in Kathmandu and a number of other cities against government increases in fuel prices. Many of these demonstrations became violent, with tyres burnt and vehicles, including those of foreigners, attacked. The situation in the Terai and Eastern region remains difficult, with political tensions over the region’s demand for significantly increased autonomy and serious problems in delivering law and order. There are a number of militant groups operating in the Terai, as well as the tensions between political parties found in other parts of the country. More information by Wikipedia.

More information on Nepal

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Nepal
 

Government of Nepal Directory.
 

Nepal – general data of the country, ”Populstat” website by Jan Lahmeyer, Utrecht University, Netherlands
 

Nepal WWW Virtual Library
 

BBC News Country Profile Nepal
 

The Human Development Report 2009 data on Nepal
 

UN Nepal Information Platform is the virtual home of the United Nations in Nepal. It contains lots of information on humanitarian and development issues, regularly updated with the latest news, studies, reports and assessments relevant to Nepal. The web site has been developed and maintained by OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Library of Congress, USA, offers through its Country Studies Web site detailed Information on all Aspects of Countries round the Globe. Look for Nepal. Information contained in the Country Studies On-Line is not copyrighted and thus is available for free and unrestricted use by researchers. As a courtesy, however, appropriate credit should be given to the series. Unfortunately, though, the information on Nepal is not updated since September 1991.
 

World Bank Group/Nepal: Data reports, statistics, projects etc, for Nepal
 

CIA – The World Factbook: Nepal
 

Governments on the WWW: Nepal
 

Nepal Research – a website on Nepal and Himalayan Studies by Lhakpa Doma Salaka-Pinasa Sherpa and Karl-Heinz Kraemer
 

Timeline Nepal. Chronological historical facts on Nepal, by BBC South Asia
 

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice on safety aspects on travelling to Nepal 

The Swedish Government’s Division for Democratic Issues, based at the Ministry of Justice, regularly publishes reports about the human rights situation in countries all over the World. Read the 2010 Report on the Human Rights Situation in Nepal (in Swedish only).