People and facts

People and facts

People and facts


From the bustling streets of the capital to the small lodges along the stunning trekking routes in the mountains, Nepalese people are always welcoming, friendly, and willing to help foreigners to get around.

There is this story about a European man who hiked down the Poon hill trek. He got hypoglycemic because of his well-known diabetes and a few episodes of diarrhoea the evening before, and so he fainted in front of his travel companions that stood ready with biscuits and snack bars. After getting his consciousness back he was too tired to walk when an old villager passed by in flip flops offering his help. He carried(!) the man on his back down to the foot of the hill where a four-wheeler was waiting. This was performed with flip flops on his feet and a big smile on his face. That is the spirit of the people of Nepal.

Ethnic groups

There are many different and interesting ethnic groups in Nepal. They can have a different language, caste, or ethnic identity as well as their traditions and distinctive attires. They are a product of both colonial and state-building eras. Most of them still follow their common culture and endogamy.

As an example, the “Newar people” are the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and the creators of its historic heritage and civilization. Their language is Tibeto-Burman but they share many cultural traits with the Indo-Nepalese. Another example is the most populous caste or ethnic community, “Chhetri”. The most prominent feature of their society has been the ruling Shah Dynasty between 1768 to 2008. The Chetri and the Hill Brahmins together with the Newar people have dominated the civil service, the judiciary, and upper ranks of the army throughout the Shah regime.


“There are more Gods than people, more temples than houses, and as many festivals as days of the year”

Nepal defines itself as a Hindu nation and the people follow the Bikram Sambat (Hindu calendar). But the notion of religion in Nepal is more fluid than in other countries. It is common for many Hindus to, simultaneously with their Hindu traditions, also worship Buddhist and sometimes even Christian deities. Their festivals and religious celebrations are a central part of all communities within the country and the Nepali people build their social networks through them. In Kathmandu, you can witness stupas, temples, mosques and churches all situated in the same location. We believe that this represents the deep roots of social and religious harmony among the Nepali people.


Nepal is sandwiched between two of the world’s most powerful nations on earth, India and China. So, of course, its history has been influenced by its two neighbours. Still now, both China and India compete for influence in Nepal. However, it stands independent to this day. The geographical position with jungles and swamps in the south and high mountains in the north could also have contributed to its defense. However, Nepal has long prospered from its location as a resting place for traders, travellers and pilgrims.

It is believed that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least eleven thousand years. There are many legends and records of ancient dynasties. Many of them start in the Kathmandu Valley. Records mention the Gopalas and Mahishapalas are believed to have been the earliest rulers with their capital at Matatirtha, the southwest corner of the Kathmandu Valley. From the 7th or 8th Century B.C. the Kirantis are said to have ruled the valley. Their famous King Yalumber is said to have been mentioned in the epic, ‘Mahabharat’. Around 300 A.D. the Lichhavis arrived from northern India, to what is now Nepal, overthrowing the Kirantis. The Lichhavis brought art and architecture to the valley, among them is Changu Narayan- one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but the golden age of creativity arrived in 1200 A.D with the Mallas. During their 550 year rule, the Mallas built numerous temples and splendid palaces with picturesque squares. The society and the cities became well organized; religious festivals were introduced and literature, music and art were encouraged.

After the death of Yaksha Malla, the valley was divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu (Kantipur), Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and Patan (Lalitpur). Around this time, Nepal, as we know it today, was divided into about 46 independent principalities. One among these was the kingdom of Gorkha.

The Gorkha King named Prithvi Narayan Shah embarked on a conquering mission that led to the defeat of all the kingdoms in the Kathmandu valley by 1769. Prithvi Narayan Shah established the Kingdom of Nepal and moved his capital to Kathmandu. He achieved the unification of Nepal so the modern state of Nepal could emerge. The Shah dynasty ruled from 1769 to 2008. The country was never colonized but served as a buffer state between Imperial China and Colonial India.

During the mid-19th Century, Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power relegating the Shah king to mere figureheads. He started a hereditary reign of the Rana Prime Ministers that lasted for 104 years.

The Ranas were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s with support from the-then monarch of Nepal, King Tribhuvan Shah. Soon after the overthrow of the Ranas, King Tribhuvan was reinstated as the Head of the State.

In early 1959, Tribhuvan’s son King Mahendra Shah issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress Party was victorious and their leader, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala formed a government and served as prime minister. But already by 1960, King Mahendra had changed his mind and dissolved Parliament, dismissing the first democratic government.

After many years of struggle when the political parties were banned, a People’s Movement started in 1990. Paving way for democracy, the then-King Birendra accepted constitutional reforms and established a multiparty parliament with King as the Head of State and an executive Prime Minister. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections. In February 1996, the Maoist parties declared a People’s War against the monarchy and the elected government.

Then on the 1st of June 2001, a horrific tragedy wiped out the entire royal family including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya with many of their closest relatives. With only King Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra and his family surviving, he has crowned the king. King Gyanendra abided by the elected government for some time and then dismissed the elected Parliament to wield absolute power.

In April 2006, another People’s Movement was launched jointly by the democratic parties focusing most energy on Kathmandu which led to a 19-day curfew. Eventually, King Gyanendra relinquished his power and reinstated the Parliament.

On November 21, 2006, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chairman Prachanda signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), committing to democracy and peace for the progress of the country and people. Elections were held in the same year. The negotiated end to the civil war forced King Gyanendra to abdicate in 2008. A Constituent Assembly (CA) election was held on April 10, 2008, and On May 28 the newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal the Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-year-old Shah Dynasty and the reign of the world’s last Hindu monarchy. Nepal today has a President as Head of State and a Prime Minister heading the Government. However, due to political disagreements on some of the contentious issues like federal provinces and form of government, the first CA could not accomplish the historic task to agree on a new constitution and there was natural termination of the CA’s mandate in 2012. The election of CA II was held in November 2013 and in its first meeting, leaders of political parties set the timeline of 1 year to complete the task of writing the new constitution.

In April and May, 2015 catastrophic earthquakes shook the country. Nepal was devastated by the quakes, which killed 9,000, injured 22,000, and displaced 3.5 million. The earthquakes also destroyed priceless centuries-old temples and other religious sites. This terrible experience created a sense of urgency among political parties to expedite the constitution-writing so that a political process would come to a meaningful conclusion and the country diverted all its focus on post-disaster reconstruction.

After weeks of zeroing in on the most contentious issues, political parties sorted them out paving the way to finalize the constitution. The new constitution of Nepal was promulgated through an overwhelming majority of the votes of CA members on September 20, 2015. It is now a federal state with three levels of government: federal, provincial and local. With this historic achievement, the decades-long dream of the Nepali people to have a constitution made through an elected representative body has now been realized. As per the provisions of the new constitution, elections for the new President, Prime Ministers and some other State positions have been successfully held. The last parliamentary and provincial assembly election was held in two phases on 26 November and 7 December 2017 (2074 BS)


Interesting Facts

  • Nepal is a landlocked republic in South Asia between China in the north and India in the south.
  • Nepal has the second largest hydropower resource in the world.
  • Nepal has 8 of the world’s tallest mountains, including the world highest Mount Everest standing 8848 meters high.
  • Nepal holds the highest lake on the earth (Tilicho 4800 meters).
  • The highest valley on earth (Arun Valley) is in Nepal.
  • Nepal has the deepest gorges on earth (1200 meters) in Kaligandaki.
  • Nepal holds the tallest grassland in the world in Chitwan.
  • The national flower of Nepal is the Rhododendron. Nepal comprises 6% of the world’s rhododendron species.
  • Nepal has more than 900 species of birds, which account for 8.9% of the total species of birds all around the world.
  • Nepal has 4.2 % of the world’s butterfly species.
  • Nepal has 3.96 % of the world’s mammal species.
  • The population of Nepal is estimated to be 29 million (2016).
  • Percentage of ethnic groups; Chhetri 16%, Hill Brahmin (Bahun) 12%, Magar 7%, Tharu 7%, Tamang 6%, Newar 5 %, Rai and other groups 47%.
  • Nepalese Cuisine; Nepalese loves their Dhal Bhat (rice, lentils, and curry) every day, twice a day! We heartily recommend you take part in this delicious dish while you’re in the country. Note that vegetarians can easily find many options for food in Nepal.
  • When Nepalese stop for a quick bite they have “momo”, a dumpling filled with meat or vegetables.
  • It is unusual for Nepali couples to touch in public (some younger couples in Kathmandu will hold hands, but even that is not very common). However, friends of the same gender will often link arms or hold hands on the street.
  • Religion in Nepal; 81% Hindu, 9% Buddhist, 4% Muslim, 3% Kirat Mundhum, 1,4% Christian, and 0,9% followers of other religions.
  • With 81 % of Hindus, Nepal still has the highest proportion of Hindus in the world
  • Nepal has the only living Goddesses in the world, the Kumaris. Prepubescent girls are considered to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy, and incarnations of a Hindu goddess. A Kumari is worshipped by Nepali Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Hindus do not consume beef or wear leather products since the cow is a sacred animal. One should absolutely not wear leather products to temples or other sacred spaces.
  • The highest sign of respect among Hindus in Nepal is to touch the respected person’s feet.
  • The Bikram Sambhat (Nepali calendar/Hindu calendar) is 67 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar and the Nepali new year is celebrated in mid-April.
  • In the middle of the first millennium BCE, Siddhartha Gautama (Lord Buddha), the founder of Buddhism, was born in southern Nepal.
  • Nepal is mentioned in the Hindu epic of Ramayana and in the epic of Mahabharata.
  • The style of Pagoda that you see in i.e Durbar Square, was introduced in China and beyond, by the Nepali architecture Arniko in the 12th century.
  • Nepal does not have an independent day as it was never colonized by any superpowers of the world.
  • The world-famous warriors, the Gurkhas, are from Nepal