Nepal is a country of breathtaking beauty and diversity of cultures like no other place on earth. Truly “the roof of the world”, here are 71 interesting facts about Nepal covering its history, culture, people, economy, the Himalayas, earthquakes, poverty, Kathmandu, flora and fauna and more…
Facts about Nepal’s History
Fact 1. Nepal’s ancient history began in the Kathmandu Valley and over the centuries its boundaries grew to include tracts of what today are neighboring countries such as India and China. It prospered as a crossroad resting place for two trade routes. As such, it became a cultural mixing pot.
Fact 2. The Sakya royal family’s Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in the 6th century BC near Lumbini, today considered a sacred sight. He grew to embark on a path of contemplative thought and meditation that led him to enlightenment as the Buddha.
Fact 3. The Hindu Kiratis, a Mongoloid people, are recorded by history as the first known rulers of the Kathmandu Valley in the 7th or 8th century BC. People from northern India overthrew the Kiratis in AD 300 and the country became predominantly Hindu. They ushered in an age of more prosperous trade and cultural brilliance.
Fact 4. Nepal experienced a ‘dark age’ of which little is known from the late 600s until 1200. Both Tibet and Kashmir invaded the country in the 700s but its strategic location ensured the kingdom’s survival and growth. The credit for founding Kantipur (what is today’s Kathmandu) goes to King Gunakamadeva in approximately the 10th century.
Fact 5. During the 9th century a new lunar calendar, the Bikram Sambhat, was introduced that is still used today. It is approximately 67 years, eight and a half months ahead of the Gregorian calendar Americans use. On it Nepal’s New Year is in mid-April.
Fact 6. The age of the Malla kings was a golden one architecturally. The 15th century architect Arniko traveled to Lhasa and Beijing with the design for the pagoda, and forever changed the look of Asia’s religious temples. A 1255 earthquake killed a third of Nepal’s population during the reign of the Mallas as well.
Fact 7. Through all its history of border expansion and contraction, Nepal has never been colonized and ruled by foreigners. Therefore, Nepal celebrates no Independence Day.
Fact 8. Nepal’s renowned Gurkha soldiers always successfully protected their country. Their motto is, “Better to die than be a coward.” The British were so impressed with their fighting ability during the Indian wars; they have been an integral salaried part of the British Army since 1815.
Fact 9. Nepal’s ignominious defeat by the Chinese during an expansion attempt ended with the 1816 Sugauli Treaty, which established Nepal’s current boundaries. In humiliation Nepal cut itself off from all foreign contact for more than one hundred years. They reopened their borders in 1951.
Facts about Geography, the Himalayas, Flora and Fauna
Fact 10. After struggling from a constitutional monarchy with a multiparty democracy to Maoist extremists to Royal assassinations to the present day, Nepal presently is led by an elected president and parliament.
Fact 11. The approximately 70 million year old Himalaya mountain range in Asia separates the Tibetan Plateau from the Indian subcontinent and is spread across five countries: Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Pakistan. It is the youngest mountain range in the world. The word “Himalaya” means “abode of snow” in Sanskrit. They are the home of the god Shiva, according to Hindu mythology.
Fact 12. The three major river systems of the Asian continent (the Ganga- Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, and the Indus) all have the Himalayas as their beginning source. That’s because the Himalayas are the world’s third largest depository of snow and ice (after the two polar regions), with around 15,000 glaciers containing about 3,000 cubic miles of water.
Fact 13. The most mountainous part of Nepal in the north contains eight of the earth’s ten tallest mountains, including its most famous, Mount Everest. Mount Everest stands above all others at 8,848 meters (5.5 miles) above sea level. It is called Sagarmatha (“Forehead of the Sky”) by the Sherpas.
Fact 14. Many explorers and climbers were killed during their attempts to climb to the top of the peak before someone was successful. On May 29, 1953, British explorer Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay were the first to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest and thus permanently entered the history books.
Fact 15. Twenty five years later, Reinhold Messner of Italy and Peter Habeler of Austria became the first to reach the summit without using supplemental oxygen, quite a feat in that thin atmosphere. Messner climbed Everest again in 1980.
Fact 16. The Himalayas are home to the highest lake on earth (Tilicho at 4,800 meters/3 miles) and the deepest lake on earth (Shey Phoksundo). They are also home to eight of the top ten tallest mountains on earth in addition to Mount Everest. The zone around it is the Sagarmantha National Park, established in 1976 as a protected area.
Fact 17. The Himalayan peak furthest east is Nameha Barwa and the one furthest west is Nanga Parbat.
Fact 18. Nepal is geologically alive. The Indo Australian plate under Nepal is still moving and will travel 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) into Asia in the next 10 million years.
Fact 19. Nepal’s variation in altitudes is extreme. It boasts the highest valley in the world (Arun) as well as the deepest gorge (Kaligandaki), with altitudes ranging from a scant 59 meters to Everest’s world topping 8,848 meters. Chitwan is the world’s tallest grassland.
Fact 20. With the variation in altitudes comes a variation in climates. Traveling from the south to the north, in a span of only 100 kilometers you will go from a hot tropical conditions to bone chilling arctic-level cold. The good news is that Nepal is definitely a four seasons destination.
Fact 21. Nepal’s Kaligandaki River is older than the Himalayas and is the major ecological dividing line between the western and eastern Himalayas.
Fact 22. In Nepal grow 5,980 flowering plant species including two percent of the world’s orchids (more than 360 species), six percent of the world’s rhododendron species (and it’s Nepal’s national flower), and 250 species endemic to Nepal (and not found growing anywhere else on earth).This is one of the reasons Nepal is known as the Amazon of Asia.
Fact 23. With almost 870 different species of birds, Nepal has more than the continents of North Africa and Europe combined. They are home to eight percent of the bird species of the world.
Fact 24. Nepal is also home to over 650 different species of butterflies as well as the world’s largest moth (the Atlas moth) and some of its largest wild honeybees.
Fact 25. Nepal’s endangered species include the beautiful snow leopard, the red panda, and the one horned rhino.
Facts about Nepal’s Culture
Fact 26. Nepal has never experienced any ethnic or religious clashes and riots. No blood has ever been spilled in the name of religion in the country. Instead, they are home to over 80 ethnic groups and their people speak 123 different languages.
Fact 27. The people of Nepal greet each other with their palms placed together. They bow their foreheads and say “Namaste” as is done in neighboring India. This literally means, “I salute the God in you.”
Fact 28. Nepal worships the only living goddesses in the world. Called Kumaris (which literally translated means virgins); these pre-pubescent girls are selected as children and considered to be earthly manifestations of divine female energy. They are incarnations of the goddess Taleju and live in temples, are worshipped by Buddhists and Hindus alike and driven in chariots during festivals. They retire upon achieving puberty.
Fact 29. The last Hindu country in the world, Nepal was declared secular by its parliament in 2006. It still has the world’s highest proportion of Hindus today among its people. Cows are considered sacred and it is illegal to kill one in Nepal; it is their national animal as well.
Fact 30. Nepal has four properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. Two are cultural: Kathmandu Valley (1979) and Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (1997); and two are natural: Chitwan National Park (1984) and Sagarmatha National Park (1979).
Fact 31. Nepal’s national flag is the only one in the world that isn’t a rectangle or a square. It has two triangles; the top with a moon and the bottom with a sun. The triangles represent not only the Himalayas but Nepal’s two major religions-Hinduism and Buddhism. Though the current design was made in 1962, the basic design has been used for over 2,000 years in the country.
Fact 32. A popular and quickly made food dish is the Momo. They are flour and water dumplings filled with a variety of ingredients: meat, chicken, and/or vegetables (either fried or steamed) that are delicious and served with a dipping sauce.
Fact 33. The national dish is Dal-bhat-tarkari, which means dal (lentils), bhat (rice), and a tarkari (vegetable). Many Nepali families eat it daily. A typical meal could be a green salad (cucumber and carrot), rice, mustard greens, potatoes, chicken gravy, ghee, black lentils and mutton curry.
Fact 34. The Elephant polo game was originated in Meghauli, Nepal. Nepal’s Tiger Tops is elephant polo’s headquarters and the site of the World Elephant Polo Championships.
Fact 35. Touching anything with your feet is considered offensive in Nepal. Never step over a person or any of another person’s body parts. The left hand must not be used for eating in Nepal. The Nepali also consider the head to be sacred, so don’t touch anyone else’s.
Fact 36. Mostly from the mountainous eastern part of Nepal, the Sherpas are an ethnic group frequently employed as porters for mountain expeditions as, due to their upbringing and genetics, they don’t suffer the effects of altitude. Today it has become common to call all porters Sherpas.
Nepali People and Economy
Fact 37. Mount Everest has become a major source of revenue from foreign sources for the Nepalese Government, through special permits for climbers to the business the base camps bring in.
Fact 38. Half the population of Nepal survives on around one dollar per person per day, as Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Fact 39. Lumbini International Airport was developed to promote tourism in the area of Buddha’s birthplace. Many Buddhist monks from China, Tibet and Japan travel here annually. Similarly, Pashupati Temple is visited by many Indian neighbors and is a great prospect for its economic and religious value. The temple complex itself is a grand and splendid vision for visitors, with its ponds, various temples and wandering monkeys.
Fact 40. Nepal’s national airline lacks enough planes to fly to any airports out of Asia. Flying into Nepal is very expensive.
Fact 41. Nepal excels as an arena for adventure and extreme sport tourism. Choices include paragliding, bungee jumping, high altitude marathons, and mountain biking, white-water rafting, kayaking and, of course, mountaineering.
Fact 42. Although Nepal has fresh water rivers and over 6,000 lakes generating hydro-electric power, the demand is so much greater than production that everyone must live without electricity for a large part of every day. The “load shedding” on average currently is 8.28 hour daily. Worse, winter is the season when demand rises to its highest level while supplies fall to their lowest.
Fact 43. With all that fresh water available, water supply for the towns is problematic. The infrastructure can produce around 180 million liters a day in Kathmandu while the average demand is over 350 million liters daily. Generally water is only supplied for two and a half hours a day on four days a week. People commonly have their own reserve tanks in which to store water for times of shortages.
Fact 44. The people of Nepal are conservative in this developing country and public displays of affection are not only discouraged, they are illegal. Kissing in public will get you arrested.
Fact 45. Conservation efforts are not only increasing the population of endangered animals; they are saving them for increased tourism and business for this developing nation. Of Nepal’s total landmass, more than 19 percent is Protected Area or National Park today. Nepal has saved the Blackbuck, increased the tiger and one horned rhino populations, and brought back the Gharial and wild buffalo populations to viable numbers.
Fact 46. The Nepalese government returns half of all income from tourism to the communities located near wildlife reserves.
Nepal facts for Kids
Fact 47. The Yeti is said to live and has been spotted in the Himalayas in Nepal. It is a mysterious creature akin to North America’s Big Foot and has been reported by many who have hiked secluded paths in these mountains. Sir Edmund Hillary himself led a 1958 expedition to find the Yeti, with no success.
Fact 48. The Karnali River is Nepal’s longest.
Fact 49. Nepal has one of the largest concentrations of Royal Bengal Tigers (after Bangladesh and India) and the second largest one of one-horned rhinos on earth. West Nepal is home to the largest herd of Swamp deer on earth.
Fact 50. One of the world’s best habitats for beautiful endangered Snow Leopards is in Nepal.
Fact 51. Turn a map of Nepal clockwise 90 degrees and it is literally the same as Portugal‘s map. Remember that fact for pop quizzes and trivia contests.
Facts about Nepal’s 2015 Earthquake
Fact 52. The 2015 Nepal earthquake occurred on 11:56 am local time on April 25th. It had a magnitude of 7.9 and was of violent intensity. Its epicenter was at Barpak, east of Kathmandu, and its hypocenter was at a shallow depth of around eight kilometers (five miles).
Fact 53. The earthquake killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 21,000. Nearly 3.5 million people were left homeless. There were 58 fatalities in surrounding countries. The quake triggered avalanches on Mount Everest that killed 21 and injured at least 120 more.
Fact 54. After the earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015, some parts of the city of Kathmandu were vertically lifted by about three feet which caused severe damage to different buildings in the city. Among them was the UNESCO-recognized historic Dharahara Tower which was reduced to rubble, trapping at least 50 people beneath it.
Fact 55. Aftershocks continued at 15 to 20 minute intervals immediately after the original quake. An aftershock measuring 6.6 occurred one hour after it. The following day one reached a 6.7 magnitude and the risk of landslides continued throughout both days. There were 38 aftershocks in those days with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.
Fact 56. Seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley saw centuries-old building destroyed. These included buildings at the Pata Durbar Square, the Kathmandu Square, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the Boudhanath stupa, the Swayambhunath Stupa, and the change Narayan.
Fact 57. With an epicenter between Kathmandu and Mt. Everest, a major aftershock struck Nepal on May 12th at 12:50 local time, killing 200 and injuring over 2,500 more people. At that time, over 6,000 people were still being treated for injuring from the first quake and aftershocks.
Fact 58. Geologists had known and warned of the possibility of a major earthquake for decades. One government official scoffed and said it couldn’t happen because Nepal had already had an earthquake.
Fact 59. The USGS determined the cause of the earthquake to be a release of built-up stress or a sudden thrust along a major fault line where the Indian Plate is diving slowly beneath the Eurasian Plate. In only 30 seconds, Kathmandu shifted three meters (ten feet) to the south.
Fact 60. Nepal has suffered long range, continuing disasters from this initial physical one. The drop off in tourism, debt burdens, disease, drains on the health care system, crimes like human trafficking, and damage from the following monsoon season are some examples. In the chaos of the aftermath, homeless women, girls and child were kidnapped by human traffickers and efforts are underway to eradicate the practice.
Fact 61. The international community sent an outpouring of aid and assistance in the days, weeks and months following the disaster. In all 57 countries, three international aid agencies and numerous private charities stepped up to help.
Fact 62. Before it was Kathmandu, the city was Kantipur, meaning “City of Glory”.
Fact 63. In ancient times the Kathmandu Valley was actually a huge lake full of floating lotuses. Geologists have scientifically proven this is true.
Fact 64. Kathmandu today is known as the world’s living cultural museum. It was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1979 for consisting of around 130 significant pilgrimage and monument sites.
Fact 65. Kathmandu is home to more than half of Nepal’s population.
Fact 66. The name of this city comes from the Kaasthanmandap temple built in 1596. Located in what was the Basantapur Durbar Square, it is also known as Maru Satal.
Fact 67. The Newari were the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. They are considered to be the direct descendants of the racial and ethnic group who have resided for two millennia here in the valley.
Fact 68. Kathmandu was in the center of the historic trade route between India and Tibet. This caused a fusion of architecture, religions, artists and traditions in Kathmandu and created its great diversity.
Fact 69. Kathmandu is chosen as the back drop of many movies and TV series because of its beautiful ancient monuments and temples. It is not unusual to see some celebrity around the city of Kathmandu.
Fact 70. Freak Street is a street in Kathmandu famous for the large number of hippies residing here in the 1960s and 1970s. Here you could come to see the freaks doing drugs and smoking cannabis.
Fact 71. Kathmandu’s motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’.
With an ancient history, great bio-diversity, a melding of cultures and proud and friendly people, Nepal is a fascinating country to visit. Visit and discover 71 interesting facts about Nepal for yourself.
Nepal facts – country at a glance
|National anthem||"Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka" (Hundreds of Flowers)|
|National anthem tune|
|National symbols||rhododendron blossom; national color: red|
|Area||147,181 sq km|
|Borders||China and India|
|Religion||Hindu 81.3%, Buddhist 9%, Muslim 4.4%, Kirant 3.1%, Christian 1.4%, other 0.5%, unspecifed 0.2% (2011 est.)|
|Life expectancy||67.86 years (2016)|
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|GDP - per capita PPP (estimate 2015)||$2,500 (2015 est.)|
|Terrain||Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south; central hill region with rugged Himalayas in north|
|Natural resources||phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower, arable land|
|Government type||federal parliamentary republic|
|Industries||tourism, carpets, textiles; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarettes, cement and brick production|
|Exports||$924.2 million (2015 est.)|
clothing, pulses, carpets, textiles, juice, jute goods
|Imports||$8.56 billion (2015 est.)|
petroleum products, machinery and equipment, gold, electrical goods, medicine
|Currency||Nepalese Rupee (NPR)|
|Birth rate||20.64 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Death rate||6.56 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Sex ratio||0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Drives on the||Left|
|Internet users||5.547 million|
percent of population: 17.6% (July 2015 est.)
|Internet country code||.np|
|Time Zone||NPT (UTC+05:45)|