CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Nepal

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Introduction Nepal
Background: In 1951, the Nepalese monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, has gained traction and is threatening to bring down the regime, especially after a negotiated cease-fire between the Maoists and government forces broke down in August 2003. In 2001, the crown prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, the new king dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet for "incompetence" after they dissolved the parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of the ongoing insurgency. While stopping short of reestablishing parliament, the king in June 2004 reinstated the most recently elected Prime Minister who formed a four-party coalition government, which the king subsequently tasked with paving the way for elections to be held in spring of 2005.

Geography Nepal
Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates: 28 00 N, 84 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 140,800 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km
land: 136,800 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Arkansas
Land boundaries: total: 2,926 km
border countries: China 1,236 km, India 1,690 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south
Terrain: Terai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south, central hill region, rugged Himalayas in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Kanchan Kalan 70 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (1999)
Natural resources: quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore
Land use: arable land: 21.68%
permanent crops: 0.64%
other: 77.68% (2001)
Irrigated land: 11,350 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons
Environment - current issues: deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest - the world's tallest - on the border with China

People Nepal
Population: 27,070,666 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.4% (male 5,500,698; female 5,151,705)
15-64 years: 57% (male 7,912,553; female 7,518,430)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 483,998; female 503,282) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 19.9 years
male: 19.7 years
female: 20 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.23% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 31.96 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 9.66 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 68.77 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 70.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 67.1 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.4 years
male: 59.73 years
female: 59.06 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.29 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.5% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 58,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 2,400 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Nepalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepalese
Ethnic groups: Brahman, Chetri, Newar, Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Tharu, and others (1995)
Religions: Hinduism 86.2%, Buddhism 7.8%, Islam 3.8%, other 2.2%
note: only official Hindu state in the world (1995)
Languages: Nepali (official; spoken by 90% of the population), about a dozen other languages and about 30 major dialects; note - many in government and business also speak English (1995)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45.2%
male: 62.7%
female: 27.6% (2003 est.)

Government Nepal
Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal
Government type: parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Capital: Kathmandu
Administrative divisions: 14 zones (anchal, singular and plural); Bagmati, Bheri, Dhawalagiri, Gandaki, Janakpur, Karnali, Kosi, Lumbini, Mahakali, Mechi, Narayani, Rapti, Sagarmatha, Seti
Independence: 1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah)
National holiday: Birthday of King GYANENDRA, 7 July (1946)
Constitution: 9 November 1990
Legal system: based on Hindu legal concepts and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: King GYANENDRA Bir Bikram Shah (succeeded to the throne 4 June 2001 following the death of his nephew, King DIPENDRA Bir Bikram Shah)
head of government: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur DEUBA (since 3 June 2004); note - Prime Minister THAPA resigned 7 May 2004
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch
note: King BIRENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev died in a bloody shooting at the royal palace on 1 June 2001 that also claimed the lives of most of the royal family; King BIRENDRA's son, Crown Price DIPENDRA, is believed to have been responsible for the shootings before fatally wounding himself; immediately following the shootings and while still clinging to life, DIPENDRA was crowned king; he died three days later and was succeeded by his uncle
Legislative branch:
: bicameral Parliament consists of the National Council (60 seats; 35 appointed by the House of Representatives, 10 by the king, and 15 elected by an electoral college; one-third of the members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (205 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
note: Nepal's Parliament was dissolved on 22 May 2002
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NC 37.3%, CPN/UML 31.6%, NDP 10.4%, NSP 3.2%, Rastriya Jana Morcha 1.4%, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 0.8%, NWPP 0.5%, others 14.8%; seats by party - NC 113, CPN/UML 69, NDP 11, NSP 5, Rastriya Jana Morcha 5, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 1, NWPP 1
elections: House of Representatives - last held 3 and 17 May 1999 (next election NA 2004)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Sarbochha Adalat (chief justice is appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the Constitutional Council; the other judges are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Judicial Council)
Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist-Leninist or CPN/UML [Madhav Kumar NEPAL, general secretary]; National Democratic Party or NDP (also called Rastriya Prajantra Party or RPP) [Surya Bahadur THAPA, chairman]; People's Front Nepal (Rastriya Jana Morcha) [Chitra BAHADUR, chairman]; Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party or NSP [Bhadri Prasad MANDAL, acting party president]; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party or NWPP [Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE, party chairman]; Nepali Congress or NC [Girija Prasad KOIRALA, party president; Sushil KOIRALA, general secretary]; Nepali Congress-Democratic [Sher Bahadur DEUBA, president]; Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal [NA leader]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Maoist guerrilla-based insurgency [Pushpa Kamal DAHAL, also known as PRAHANDA, chairman; Dr. Baburam BHATTARAI, from Communist Party of Nepal/Maoist, chief negotiator]; numerous small, left-leaning student groups in the capital; several small, radical Nepalese antimonarchist groups
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Kedar Bhakta SHRESTHA
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5534
consulate(s) general: New York
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
chancery: 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James F. MORIARTY
embassy: Panipokhari, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 411179
FAX: [977] (1) 419963
Flag description: red with a blue border around the unique shape of two overlapping right triangles; the smaller, upper triangle bears a white stylized moon and the larger, lower triangle bears a white 12-pointed sun

Economy Nepal
Economy - overview: Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with 42% of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population and accounting for 40% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Security concerns in the wake of the Maoist conflict and the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US have led to a decrease in tourism, a key source of foreign exchange. Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, its civil strife, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community's role of funding more than 60% of Nepal's development budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures will likely continue as a major ingredient of growth.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $38.29 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,400 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 40%
industry: 20%
services: 40% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 42% (1995-96)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 29.8% (1995-96)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 36.7 (FY95/96)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.9% (2002 est.)
Labor force: 10 million
note: severe lack of skilled labor (1996 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 81%, industry 3%, services 16%
Unemployment rate: 47% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $665 million
expenditures: $1.1 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (FY99/00 est.)
Agriculture - products: rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat
Industries: tourism, carpet, textile; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarette; cement and brick production
Industrial production growth rate: 8.7% (FY99/00)
Electricity - production: 1.755 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 1.764 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 95 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 227 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 16,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: NA (2001)
Oil - imports: NA (2001)
Exports: $568 million f.o.b., but does not include unrecorded border trade with India (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities: carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain
Exports - partners: India 50.7%, US 26%, Germany 6.6% (2003)
Imports: $1.419 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities: gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer
Imports - partners: India 22.9%, China 13.4%, UAE 12.5%, Singapore 7.1%, Saudi Arabia 5.5%, Kuwait 4.6% (2003)
Debt - external: $2.7 billion (2001)
Economic aid - recipient: $424 million (FY00/01)
Currency: Nepalese rupee (NPR)
Currency code: NPR
Exchange rates: Nepalese rupees per US dollar - 76.1414 (2003), 77.8766 (2002), 74.9492 (2001), 71.0938 (2000), 68.2394 (1999)
Fiscal year: 16 July - 15 July

Communications Nepal
Telephones - main lines in use: 371,800 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 50,400 (2003)
Telephone system: general assessment: poor telephone and telegraph service; fair radiotelephone communication service and mobile cellular telephone network
domestic: NA
international: country code - 977; radiotelephone communications; microwave landline to India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (January 2000)
Radios: 840,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus 9 repeaters) (1998)
Televisions: 130,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .np
Internet hosts: 917 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2000)
Internet users: 80,000 (2002)

Transportation Nepal
Railways: total: 59 km
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2003)
Highways: total: 13,223 km
paved: 4,073 km
unpaved: 9,150 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 46 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 37
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 29 (2004 est.)

Military Nepal
Military branches: Royal Nepalese Army (includes Royal Nepalese Army Air Service), Nepalese Police Force
Military manpower - military age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 6,865,849 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 3,566,576 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 308,776 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $295 million (FY03)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.6% (2003)

This page was last updated on 1 January 2003

This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005