Driving Directions Nepal

NEPAL is a constitutional monarchy with the Chinese autonomous region of Tibet lying on its northern, long side and sur­rounded by India on its other three sides to the west, south, and east.

The kingdom divided into three topographical bands running in a northwesterly to the southeasterly direction: the high Himalayas which extend along the northern border with Tibet, the more modest ranges of the Himalayas and a narrow band of lower-lying land called the Tarai.

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The high Himalayas are the greatest of these bands, extending along the northern border with Tibet. The scale of the mountains is immense, with average heights above 4,560 meters or 15,000 feet. Eight of the world’s highest peaks are located in Nepal or along its borders, includ­ing the greatest and most famous of all, Mount Everest (8,848 meters or 29,028 feet). South of these high mountains lies a band of the more modest ranges of the Himalayas, including the Siwaliks and the Mahabharat Lekh, where the average heights are in the region of 2,584 meters or 8,500 feet.

These give way southwards to the narrow band of lower-lying land called the Tarai. This extends across Nepal’s southern border into India to form the upper reaches of the plain of the Ganges river system.

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Most rivers in Nepal flow southwards to join the Ganges river system. The second area of lower ground is the basin, formed by a river valley in the lower Himalayas, where the kingdom’s capital, and largest city, Kathmandu, is situated. Most of the population of about 21 million people live in or around Kathmandu or the Tarai region.

In the lower parts of Nepal, the climate is warm to hot in summer with monsoon-type rains, while winter is cold and dry. Spring and autumn are mild with some rainfall. Temperatures are cool in the Himalayas throughout the year, with plenty of snowfall.

Nepal is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries. Most Nepalese employed in agriculture, which is the mainstay of the economy. Cultivatable land in Nepal, amounting to about 17 percent of the total area, is found only in the Tarai and the Kathmandu Basin. The principal food crops are rice, wheat, millet and corn, and also vegetables, including potatoes, fruit, and sugar beet. Non-food crops are also grown, especially cotton, jute, and tobacco. Livestock animals include cattle, yak, sheep, goats, and poultry. Animals are used for work and transport as well as being a source of meat.

Forestry is also an important industry in Nepal and provides raw materials for the pulp and paper industry and export. However, estimated that 40 percent of the natural forests clothing the lower mountain slopes removed during the second half of the 20th century. This overexploitation has led to erosion of the hillsides in some areas and poses an environmental problem for Nepal.

Some mineral deposits such as copper, iron ore, mica, and ochre exist but, because of the country’s inaccessible terrain, have not been completely charted. However, with Indian and Chinese aid, roads have been built from the north and south to Kathmandu. The construction of hydroelectric power schemes is underway, although at a high cost. Nepal’s main exports are carpets, foodstuffs, clothing, and leather goods, with the two principal sources of foreign revenue being tourism and Gurkha soldiers’ foreign earnings.

Nepal has long been a popular destination for adventurous young people from the West. Still, it now attracts thousands of visitors each year, many of whom belong to trekking and climbing expeditions. Although the visitors bring in much-needed foreign currency, a lot of rubbish left by each expedition, and since most rubbish does not rot quickly in the rarefied air and cold temperatures of the mountains, it often remains in ugly piles next to the trekking trails and camps.

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