Roughly rectangular in shape of Nepal is between China to the north and India to the south. Nepal contains the world’s tallest peaks, while the fertile plains to the south, known as the Terai, lie at almost sea level. In between the plains, which are interspersed with tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, and the high mountains, lie lush hills and valleys. More than 80% of the people live off the land, while tourism, carpets and garments are its main industries.
Nepal’s 27 million people belong to dozens of ethnic groups. If the Newars are indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley, the sturdy Sherpas, known for their climbing skills, inhabit the Everest region. Brahmins and Chhetris are scattered across the hills and valleys while the Tamangs live in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. Also inhabiting the hills are the Gurungs, Limbus, Magars and Rais of the Gurkha fame. The Terai is home to the Maithili, Bhojpuri and Tharu people.
Nepal’s different communities speak different languages and dialects, but Nepali is the national language, and it serves as the lingua franca of its people. In this linguistic diversity, there are six languages - Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang and Nepal Bhasa - which are spoken by more than half a million people as a mother tongue. In the urban areas and places frequented by tourists, people understand Hindi and English.
The majority of the people follow either Hinduism or Buddhism, which since ages past have co-existed in harmony in Nepal. Some of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus are located here, while the Buddha was born in Lumbini, which lies to the southwest of Kathmandu.
Straddling the trans-Himalayan trade routes, Nepal has been exposed to varied cultural influences throughout history. Nepal’s diverse heritage is mainly religious in character. In the Kathmandu Valley, which is a center of cultural excellence, the traditional art, architecture, music, dance and festivals are all expressions of religious devotion. Art consists of scroll paintings, murals, carvings and statues depicting sacred themes. Folk music and dances are linked to the agricultural cycle.
Because of its differing elevation, Nepal offers varied climatic conditions - from the tropical heat in the Terai to the freezing cold in the mountains. In the mid-hills, particularly Kathmandu, the climate is temperate with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures range from a maximum of 37 to a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius in the plains, 28 to 2 degrees in the Kathmandu Valley, and between 16 and -6 degrees in the mountains. From June to August is the rainy season.
Light, loose garments are recommended in spring and summer, while woolens and jackets or similar warm clothing are needed from November to February.
Banks here accept major international currencies as well as the Indian rupee. The Nepalese currency is the rupee (Rs.), which is made up of 100 paisa. The Nepalese rupee comes in denominations of Rs. 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. When traveling outside the major city areas, carry smaller notes. At the time of going to press, the exchange rate was US$ 1 = Rs. 97.
When visiting a temple, always circumambulate it in a clockwise direction. Entrance to some temples is restricted, so look out for such signs. Refrain from touching the images or the offerings, and don’t climb on the statues to pose for photographs. Always ask for permission to photograph or film personal ceremonies. If you have been invited to a Nepalese home, it is customary to take your shoes off before entering the room. Showing affection in public is frowned upon in Nepal.
2% of all the flowering plants in the world 8% of the world's population of birds (more than 865 species) 4% of mammals on earth 11 of the world's 15 families of butterflies (more than 500 species) 600 indigenous plant families 319 species of exotic orchids TOURIST VISA RULES IN NEPAL: Tourists who visit Nepal must hold valid passport and visa.
Tourist entry visa can be obtained for the following duration from Nepal Embassy/ Consulate or Mission offices abroad, or at the following immigration offices upon arrival in Nepal:
|Multiple entry||15 days||US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency|
|Multiple entry||30 days||US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency|
|Multiple entry||90 days||US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency|
Tourist Visa Extension