nepal-flagNepal can be found on the map in southern Asia between the 26th and 30th degree latitude and the 80th and 88th degree longitude and has a surface area of 147.181 square kilometeters, from which approximately 143.000 square kilometers is land area and the rest (around 4000 square kilometers) are lakes and waterways. Nepal lies between Tibet in the north and India in the south.

To the north and in the east lie the largest part of the Himalaya mountain range where Mount Everest is to be found, the highest point on Earth, with it´s peak of 8848 meters, and which sits together with 7 more of the highest peaks on this planet. Nepal is, after Tibet, the highest lying country of the world where over 40% of the land is located at an elevation of over 3000 meters.

Nepal is ethnically and culturally a mosaic of minorities. In a census carried out in 2001 over 100 different different ethnic groups and casts were revealed to which over 124 different languages and dialects could be attributed. The majority of the Nepalese population live, up until today, on the land and many are from farming communities. The percentage of the total population living in towns and cities is only 15% and now, as before, is one of the smallest worldwide. With the exception of Kathmandu, the rest of the population centers lack resources, and therefore local government is difficult to implement.

In Nepal, there exists a big difference in prosperity between those people living on the land and those living in the towns and cities. More than half of the 26,5 million Nepalese cannot read or write. 70% of the population are dominated by the Brahmic controlled cast system and are not recognised as having equal rights. From the 26,5 million Nepalese nearly 40% live below the poverty level, the average monthly income of around 18 € (Euros).

The widespread corruption within the police force and in local government does not improve the trust of the people in the current administration and therefore they do not expect help from that quarter. Legal remedies, such as the Civil Rights Act from 1963, which forbids all forms of discrimination, in particular cast discrimination (punishable as a criminal offence), is not implemented very consequently in everyday life.

The discrimination and exploitation of minorities, lower casts and those without cast, women and children is still, despite the protection of the Constitution, widespread, and is one reason for the warlike situation in many parts of the country. International protest, amongst others by Amnesty International, has recently resulted in a more violent approach by the Nepalese police towards homosexuals and transvestites. Alone in Nepal, over 20.000 girls between the ages of 8 and 18 are sold annually. They wind up in the sex trade, the majority of them in Indian brothels.

As a result of the topographical structure of the countryside Nepal only has a limited road system of around 10.000 kilometers of prepared tared roads and around 7.100 kilometers of unprepared roads. The most important East-West connection is also part of the Asian Highway 2; the only road connection to China is the Araniko Highway which goes from Kathmandu to the Chinese-Nepalese Friendship Bridge. The most important method of transport is on foot. Therefore a huge network of pathways crisscrosses the country. Rivers and ravines are crossed by hanging bridges. The transport of goods is carried out mainly by porters, who carry their wares along narrow and often high mountain passes.

Source: Compilation from the entry in Wikipedia

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