Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia lying on the southern side of the Himalaya mountain range, bordered by China and India. Nepal is about 800km long from nortwest to southeast and has a total area of 147181 sq. km. Its terrain is mostly mountaineous, with only the narrow southern strip consisting of plains. The mountainous north contains eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including the highest, Mount Everest.
The Kathmandu valley has been settled for at least 9000 years. The first recorded history dates back to 1000 BC, when a number of small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the region. Much of Nepal was first unified by the late 14th century, although for a short time only. Nepal was unified again in 1768 and maintained its independence even when the British colonised India. In 2008 Nepal became a parliamentary republic. Nepal is an ethnically diverse country with almost 30 million inhabitants and 92 spoken languages. With a GDP per capita of just USD 400 the economy is very underdeveloped. The impressive natural landscape and the rich cultural heritage of Nepal give it a considerable tourism potential, but the development in this sector has been hampered by the years of civil war through which the country went. The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu.
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