Nepal is small landlocked country (147181 Sq. Km) surrounded by China from the north and India from the south east and west respectively. Its capital Kathmandu was synonymous to Nepal in middle age. The country is divided into five development regions, 14 zones and 75 districts. Geographically, Nepal is divided into three regions the mountains, the hills and terai or the southern plains. Altitude ranges from 61 meters above to Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Nepal is renowned in the world as the country of Mt. Everest and the birth place of Buddha. It is rich in different of natural resources and cultural heritage. The country is a preferred destination for tourists all around the world.
There are 10 places in Nepal that have been declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the Kathmandu valley, there are 7 World Heritage site within the radius of 28 KM. These sites include three palace squares in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur; Swayambhunath Stupa, Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupati Temple in Kathmandu; and Changunarayan Temple in Bhaktapur. The remaining 3 World heritage sites are outside the Kathamndu valley. These sites include Lumbini area in Rupandehi; Chitwan National park in Terai and Sagarmatha National Park in Everest Region.
Covered in mystery and legends, there are many conflicting theories on Nepal’s origin. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, Nepal was known by the name of Satyavati during the Hindu golden era of Satya; Tapovan in the second era of tantra; and Muktisopan in the third era of Dwapar. It was during the fourth Hindu era of kali the country was known as Nepal.
According to the oral history, the first rulers of the country were the Kirats, though there is a general lack of documented archeological evidences to support the case. The Kirats were apparently displaced by the Lichhavi’s whose rule is proved by the troves of archeological findings, including stone tablet engravings, coins and sculptures. They were superseded by the Malls from the late 9th century whose rule lasted until they were vanquished by the army of king Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1768. According to the Nepali history, the period before 880 is known as Lichhavi Era, while the period between 880 and 1768 is known as the Medieval Era. Kings of the Thakuri and Malla clans had ruled Nepal after the Lichhavis.
The country was united under the central rule from the Kathmandu valley during the Licchhavi Era. But during the medieval era, the country was disintrigated into dozens of minor kindgdoms by the Mallas. There were twenty two principalities, collectively known as the “Baise Rajya” in the western most karnali region, while the near western Gandaki region was ruled by the twenty four princely states known collectively as the “Chaubise Rajya”. These states along with the three major city states in the Kathmandu valley were engaged in perpetual war, their borders remain constant. By the late eighteenth century, the existence of many small kingdoms within such a small area raised the risk of foreign domination. The colonial British, who were consolidating their grip on India at that time, had set their eyes on the strategically placed regions. During this crucial time a small kingdom of Gorkha started unification campaign to bring these states under one nation.
It is said Gorkhas king NaraBhupal Shah started the campaign little earlier than 1740, but it was his son king Prithivi Narayan Shah who lunched the campaign in eastern. The king also considered as the builder of the nation made a huge contribution to the unification campaign. Shah died living his unification drive unfinished; his successor continued the work. Queen mother Rajendra Laxmi Shah, prince Bhahadur shah and King Rana Bahadur Shah also made a significant contribution, aided by thousands of brave commanders and soldiers. The rule of the Shah dynasty in Nepal lasted for 240 years, until its last monarch King Gyanendra Shah who was dethroned by the people’s movement in 2006. Nepal was declared a republic on May 30, 2008.