Nepal Information

Nepal's history is closely related to its geographical location, separating the fertile plains of India from the desert-like plateau of Tibet. Its position between Indian and China meant the country was able at times to play the role of intermediary - a canny trader between two great powers - while at other times it faced the threat of invasion. Internally, its history was just as dynamic, with city-states in the hills vying with each other for power until one powerful king, Prithivi Narayan Shah, overran them all. That history is very visible today with the three great towns of the Kathmandu valley - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur - still bearing witness to their days as fiercely competitive mediaeval mini-kingdoms. Indeed, in Nepal it's often possible to suspend belief and mentally roll the clock right back to the mediaeval era.

Behind the old temples and places of the Kathmandu Valley, above and beyond the hills that surrounding the valley, another kingdom' rises skyward. The abode of snows' which is what Himalaya means in Sanskrit, is a natural kingdom' and a magnet to mountaineers from all above the world. You don't have to be Sherpa or Hillary in order for you to get in amongst these great mountains. With a touch of enterprises and a modicum of fitness most travelers can walk the trails that lead into the road less heights of the Himalaya. In Nepal one trek is rarely enough, and many visitors soon find themselves planning to return. Fascinating old town, magnificent temples and great walking are not all Nepal has to offer. Many visitors come to Nepal expecting to find these things but also discover how outstanding friendly the Nepalese are.

Geography

In two of the three dimensions, length and breadth, Nepal is just another small country. In the third, height, it's number one in the world. Nepal starches from north-west to south-east about 800 km and varies in width from around 90 km to 230 km. This gives it a total area of just 147,181 sq. km according to the official figures.

Within that small area, however, is the greatest range of altitude to be seen on this earth - starting with the Terai, only 100m or so above sea level, and finishing at the top of Mt. Everest (8848m), the highest point on earth.

Often a visitor's overriding goal is to see the mountains, especially Everest and Annapurna. However, to exclude the people, flowers, birds and wildlife from the experience is to miss the essence of the country regions, or natural zones: the plains in the south, four mountain ranges, and the valley lying between them. The lowlands with their fertile soils, and the southern slopes of the mountains with sunny exposures, allow for cultivation and are the main inhabited regions.

Climate

Nepal has four distinct seasons. Spring from March to May, is warm with rain showers. Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season when the hills turn lush and green. Autumn, from September to November, is cool with clear skies and is the most popular season for trekking. In winter, from December to February, it is cold at night, with fog in the early morning.

Because Nepal is quite far south in Latitude (same as Miami), the weather is warmer and winter is much milder at lower elevations. The monsoon is determined by the Bay of Bengal. It is hot during the monsoon with rain almost everyday. During this season, trekking in most of Nepal is difficult and uncomfortable, the trails being muddy and infested with leeches. It usually does not rain for more that one or two days during the entire autumn and the winter season. In the winter, the mountains are covered with snow including some high hills. Mt. Everest itself is a huge black rock during the trekking season, which becomes snow-covered only during the winter.

Population

Nepal's population currently stands at around 23 million (1998 estimate). Every year population increases by nearly 600,000. The largest city is Kathmandu, the capital, with more than 700,000 people. In the mountains the rate of increase is lower than in Terai, but this is because many people are migrating in search of land and work. Despite extremely high rates of infant morality, the life expectancy is only a horrifying 54 years, the overall annual rate of population increase is a rapid 2.6%. Family planning is primary importance, but most people continue to regard children as a blessing. A child is seen as a vital and fulfilling part of the parents' life, an extra worker and someone to care for them in old age, not just an extra stomach. Women have an average of more than four children each.

People

Like the geography, the population of Nepal extremely diverse and highly complex. Simplistically, Nepal is the meeting point for the Indo-Aryan people of Indian with the Tibeto-Burman of the Himalaya, but this gives little hint of the dynamic ethnic mosaic that has developed and continues to change to this day. In a south-north direction, as you move from the plains to the mountains, the ethnic map can be roughly divided into layers: the Terai, the midlands or Pahad zone, and the Himalaya. Each zone is dominated by characteristic ethnic groups whose agriculture and lifestyles are adapted to suit the physical constraints of their environment. In the Himalayan zone, the people are Monologian of Tibetan descent. They are know as bhote in Nepali. In the east of the midlands zone, one find Kirati people known as Rai, Limbu groups. They speak Tibeto-Burman Language. In the Terai zone, after the eradication of malaria in the 1950s the only people to live in the valley were Tharus of Hindu overtones.

Anthropologists divide the people of Nepal into about 50 ethnic groups or castes with their own culture and traditions. Everyone is proud of their heritage. Many people use the name of their ethnic group, caste or clan as their surname. The caste system has many occupational castes such as Brahmins (Hindu Priests), Chhetri (farmers in the hills and soldiers), Newar (the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley), Thakali, Gurung, Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Magar, Sherpa, Manangi, Tharu etc.


Entry Procedure & Visa:

All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid Visa, Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulate abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. Visa can be extended at the department of immigration, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu (telephone number 223590).

Children under 10 years need not pay any Visa fee. Two passport size photos are essential. The Visa fee is US $ 30 for single entry and US$ 50 for multiple entries.

Business Visa (with multiple entry) can be obtained from the department of immigration for the period of one year or five years upon the recommendation of the ministry of Industry by paying the equivalent of US$ 100 and US $ 250 respectively in Nepalese currency for the foreign investors.

Currency regulation:

The unit of the Nepalese currency is Rupee. One Nepalese Rupees is made of 100 paisa. Nepalese Rupee notes some in RS 1, 2, 5,10,20,25,50,100,500,1000.
Foreign Visitors other than the Indian national are required to pay their hotel bills and air tickets in foreign currency. However the other payments must always be made in Nepalese currency, which can be bought at foreign currency exchange counter at the airport. The foreign currency also can be exchanged in hotel, different bank counter & authorized foreign exchange dealers.

The rate of exchange of the foreign currencies is determined by the Nepal Rastra Bank & is announced in the press daily.

The Current rate is US $ 1=Rupees 78, Euro 1=Rupees 88.42 update of May 26, 2004.

 

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