NI Global Issues for Learners of English > Country profiles > Nepal



Country profile

Nepal flag

Nepal map

location of Nepal

Area of country: 140,800 square kilometers

Information at a Glance


Population: 22.6 million
The Nepalese are descended from Indian, Tibetan & Mongolian migrants.
Nepalese = 53%, Bihari = 18%, Tharu = 5%, Newar = 3%.
Religions: Hindu 86%, Buddhist 8%, Muslim 4% (the main Hindu faith is strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism & animism)


Currency: rupee
GDP per capita: $210
Main exports: woolen carpets & clothes, jute products, animal hides, handicrafts
External debt per capita: $111


Life expectancy: 57 years
Infant mortality: 75 per 1000
Average calories consumed: 89% of calories needed
Safe water: 46% of population has access


Poor! Nepal has very large debts and depends on foreign aid.
It imports almost everything it needs.


Literacy rate: 28% - this is the lowest adult literacy rate in the world.
85% of children attend primary school, but only 46% of boys and 23% of girls attend secondary school.
Languages: official language is Nepali, but about half the population speak their cultural language as their first language.

Income Distribution

The urban economy is improving, but agriculture is failing so the gap is getting wider between the poor in the countryside and the urban elite.


3 regions: the fertile plain; the central plateau (rainforest); the Himalayan Mountains (Mt Everest is on the border of Nepal & Tibet).
Farming: rice, sugarcane, tobacco, juts, cereals.
Sheep, buffaloes.
Problems: deforestation & soil erosion because 90% of Nepal's energy comes from burning wood;
Air & water pollution in the cities - a lack of sewage facilities.


Constitutional monarchy. Nepal got a new, democratic constitution in 1990, and the first election was held in 1991.

Freedom & human rights

Individual rights are protected by the constitution, but
the elections saw some violence.
Torture still exists.

Child labour is a serious problem.

Position of women: equal under the constitution but, in reality, the position of women is poor. Twice as many boys as girls attend secondary school, for example.

Sources: The Economist Intelligence Unit; The World Guide 1999-2000; State of the World's Children 1999, Kathmandu Post & the Rising April-May 1999; NI issue no.317

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Last modified 18 June 2000

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