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Capital: Kathmandu
Language: Nepali
Population: 29.5 million (July 2008 est.). Annual rate of growth of 2.5%.
Ethnic groups: Chettri, Brahmin, Magar, Tharu, Tamang, Newar, Muslim, Kami, Yadav and others (there are more than 100 ethnic groups in Nepal)
Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity
Geography:Nepal is a landlocked and mountainous country, located along the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain range between India and China. The world's highest mountain is on Nepal's northern border.

The country is divided into three geographical regions: rugged, terrain and mountain, hills in the north, bordering China, and the fertile southern plains known as the Terai that lie close to India's border.

Border countries:
China and India
Natural resources: Hydro power, water, lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore, quartz, forests
Agriculture products: Rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, water buffalo meat
Currency & Foreign exchange: Rupee is Nepali currency and it has a fixed exchange rate with Indian currency (Rs 160 equivalent to IRs 100). One US dollar is equivalent to Rs 74.17 (as of November 4, 2009)

Political System
Constitutionally, Nepal is a parliamentary democracy with a largely ceremonial president as Head of State and a Prime Minister as Head of Government. The Prime Minister currently leads a coalition government. Elections for a 601 seat Constituent Assembly cum legislature were held on 10 April 2008. General elections are due to be held in 2010.

Political Situation
A peace agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists was signed in Kathmandu on 21 November 2006 thereby ending 11 years of conflict in Nepal. The two sides agreed a permanent ceasefire, which is being monitored by the UN.
Following the largely peaceful elections on 10 April 2008, a Constituent Assembly was sworn in on 27 May. On 28 May the Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a republic. There were several bombs in Kathmandu in protest at the change to republicanism. In September, the new Maoist-led coalition government finally took office with an agenda to deliver change. On 4 May 2009 the Prime Minister announced his resignation, increasing political uncertainty. On 25 May 2009, a new Prime Minister was sworn in, supported by all parties except the Maoists; the process of government formation continues.

Tensions between political parties in Nepal remain significant, with the potential for violent clashes or extremely disruptive strike action. These clashes have, in some cases, resulted in injuries and deaths of party activists and candidates. Recent political protests by ethnic and religious groups in the Terai and Eastern region have, resulted in localised violence and disruption. Equally, there are other interests groups who use similar tactics to pursue their objections. For example, in January 2008, there were widespread demonstrations in Kathmandu and a number of other cities against government increases in fuel prices. Many of these demonstrations became violent, with tyres burnt and vehicles, including those of foreigners, attacked. The situation in the Terai and Eastern region remains difficult, with political tensions over the region’s demand for significantly increased autonomy and serious problems in delivering law and order. There are a number of militant groups operating in the Terai, as well as the tensions between political parties found in other parts of the country.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 December 2009 03:50 )