The kingdom is located in one of the most mountainous areas in the world, a feature that contributes to its isolation. Mountains dominate the landscape of Nepal. These physical barriers have isolated the country and made it difficult to exploit its natural resources. Of the ten highest mountains in the world, nine – including Mount Everest (8,850 m), the highest – are located in whole or in part in the interior of the country.
Nepal has an area of 147,181 km². It can be divided into three parallel strips from northwest to southeast. The closest to China is the Great Himalayas, where elevations exceed 4,570 m in altitude. The Mahabharat and Churia Himalayan ranges dominate the second strip, with an average elevation of 2,500 m.
The third and southernmost of the regions is the Tarai (Terai), an area of plains, ponds, and forests; its alluvial soils are fertile, unlike those of most high desert regions. Similar to the Tarai (Terai), the only considerable plain is the Kathmandu Valley, a basin in the center of the country.
The main rivers of Nepal generally flow from north to south and discharge their waters into the Ganges River. The three most prominent rivers that cross the country are the Karnal, the Kosi and the Narayani. It does not have considerable lakes.
According to bridgat, the altitude is the main conditioner of the climate of Nepal; in the high mountain ranges the temperatures are very low throughout the year, while in the Tarai (Terai) and in the Kathmandu valley the summers are hot and rainy and the winters are cold. The highest temperatures occur from late spring to mid-summer. The highest heights are always covered with snow.
Forests occupy 24.7% of the country’s surface. In the Tarai (Terai) there are extensive forests of noble wood and bamboo trees in areas that have not been deforested for cultivation. On the lower slopes of the mountains, wildflowers grow among the pines and oaks. Fir trees and bushes predominate in the higher regions and at altitudes above 3,660 m only small plants grow.
Of the animals that live in the Tarai (Terai), tigers, leopards, deer and elephants that inhabit the humid areas stand out. The highest areas are populated by wild goats and sheep, as well as wolves.
Due to the inaccessibility of the Nepalese territory it has not been possible to fully explore the mineral wealth of the country. However, deposits of mica, copper, iron ore, ocher, lignite, and cobalt are known to exist.
Nepal has a population of 28,287,147 residents (2007), with a density of 184 residents / km². Life expectancy at birth is 60.9 years. Most of the population is concentrated in the Kathmandu and Tarai (Terai) regions. The mountainous areas in the north are sparsely populated.
1880: 2 million. 1900: 3.6 mill. 1911, census: 5,639,100 ha. 1920, census: 5,574,800 ha. 1930, census: 5,533,000 ha. 1942, census: 6,284,000 ha. 1971, census: 11,556,000 ha. 1981, census: 15,022,100 ha. 1991, census: 18,491,100 ha. 2001, census: 23,077,800 ha.
Life expectancy of the total population: 53.63 years. Men: 53.35 years. Women: 53.93 years.
Population (thousands), 2003, under 18 11,710 Population (thousands), 2003, under 5 3688 Annual population growth rate (%), 1970-90 2.2 Annual population growth rate (%), 1990- 2003 2.3 Crude death rate, 1970 22 Crude death rate, 2003 10 Crude birth rate, 1970 42 Crude birth rate, 2003 33 Life expectancy, 1970 42 Life expectancy, 2003 60 Total fertility rate, 2003 4.2 Population urban population (%), 2003 15 Annual rate of urban population growth (%), 1970-90 6.3 Annual rate of urban population growth (%), 1990-2003 6.3
Problems: Its mountainous topography leaves much of rural Nepal isolated, due to the lack of roads and markets. Difficult access to many of the country’s rural areas has been an impediment to effective and sustainable development efforts. Agricultural productivity is low, with arable land increasingly fragmented and whose fertility is declining. Endemic rural poverty and food insecurity are critical problems, especially among the tribal population living in remote rural areas. In these areas the outreach contact is quite limited. Another crucial problem is the overpopulation of the small mountain kingdom (currently, the population of Nepal is estimated to be approximately 19 million).
The indigenous population of Nepal is made up of two main groups: the numerically dominant Indonepalese, whose ancestors came to the country from the south, and the Tibetan, whose ancestors entered Nepal from the north. The two groups have intermingled. Ethnic Tibetan groups include the Sherpas, who are known for being guides and porters on climbing expeditions, and the Gurung, traditional soldiers.
The official language of the country is Nepali, an Indo-European language spoken by about half of the residents of Nepal. It belongs to the same family as Hindi. At least 30 other languages are also used. Hinduism is the official religion of Nepal and is professed by the majority of the population. The Hinduism practiced by the Nepalese has elements of Buddhism, which is also a prominent religion in the country.