Nepal is a mountainous and landlocked country lying on the southern slopes of the Himalayas between India and China. Its area is 147,181 sq.km. It is 885 km east to west and 145 to 241 km north to south. The country is divided into three geographical regions.
Himalayan Region: The altitude of this region is above 5,000m. The region encompasses eight of the 14 highest summits of the world crossing over an altitude of 8,000m including Everest, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri etc.
Hilly Region: The region lies between the Himalayan and Terai region soaring up to 4,877m.
Nepal has a composite population stemming from various racial and ethnic communities. It has been a melting pot of diverse linguistic and ethnic groups with population 25 million living in different regions, wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects the people belong to multi-ethnic groups, ranging from the Indo-Aryan to Mongoloid. The Himalayan and central hilly regions are mostly inhabited by the people of the Tibeto-Burman stock while the people inhabiting the Terai lowlands may be grouped under the Indo-Aryan category.
Hinduism and Buddhism constitute two major religions in Nepal. a remarkable feature of Nepal is the religious homogeneity what exists, particularly between the Hindu and Buddhist communities. Apart from the Hindus and Buddhists, Muslim forms the third largest religious group.
Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced back to thousand of years before the birth of Christ. For centuries, the kingdom of Nepal was divided into many principalities (Chaubise States). Kirantas ruled in the east, the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley, while Gurungs and Magars had their domain the mid-west. The Kirantas were said to have ruled their territories from 300 B.C. The country took its present shape only after 1768 A.D. when Prithvi Narayan Shah, king of Gorkha, conquered and united all the tiny states into one kingdom.
There is perhaps no country in the world except Nepal where traditional architecture, painting and sculpture have been well preserved for 1500 years. The exquisite medieval art and architecture of the Kathmandu valley vividly reflects the artistic ingenuity and the religious tradition of the people. To better understand the deep and complex roots of Nepalese culture, it is necessary to visit the monuments and religious shrines.
Nepal’s climate varies with its topography. It ranges from tropical to alpine depending upon the altitude. The Terai region which lies in the tropical southern part of the country, for instance, has a hot & humid climate. The mid-land regions are pleasant almost all year around although winter nights are cool. The northern mountain region, around an altitude above 3353 m has an alpine climate with a considerably lower temperature in winter as can be expected.
Nepal has four major seasons.
- Winter (December-February)
- Spring (March-May)
- Summer (June-August)
- Autumn (September-November) (page Number 2)
Getting to Nepal:
By Air: Kathmandu is served by direct flight to/from Amsterdam, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Vienna, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Karachi, Kolkota, Banglore, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Varanasi, Dhaka, Paro (Bhutan), Lhasa (Tibet) Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai (China) and Osaka (Japan).
The single entry tourist visa can be obtained from the entry points of Nepal or from the Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad by paying US$ 30 for 60 days.
The most popular seasons for traveling to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India are spring (Feb-May) and autumn (Aug-Nov). During the monsoon season (June-Aug) tours and treks are also possible depending on where you are going.
During most of the year light woolens and cottons are sufficient for day wear, with warmer attire necessary in the evenings. Heavy woolen clothing is required during winter months.
Private communication centers and hotels provide ISD, STD, Fax and E-mail services. The STD code for Nepal is 977. Inquiries can be made at 197.
Major towns in Nepal have electricity and the voltage available is 220 volts and 50 cycles. Load shedding is sometimes experienced in Nepal. However, most of the hotels have installed their own generators.
Nepal is 5 hours 45 minutes a head of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and approximately 12 hours and 50 minutes a head of Pacific Time.
Payment can be made in foreign exchange in hotels, travel agencies and airlines. Credit cards such as American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, travel agencies, shops and restaurants.