Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Seeking truth about Nepal from facts

Posted by n3wday on June 19, 2008

This information originally appeared in the CIA World Factbook

Background

In 1951, the Nepalese monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, gained traction and threatened to bring down the regime, especially after a negotiated cease-fire between the Maoists and government forces broke down in August 2003. In 2001, the crown prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, the new king dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet for “incompetence” after they dissolved the parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of the ongoing insurgency. While stopping short of reestablishing parliament, the king in June 2004 reinstated the most recently elected prime minister who formed a four-party coalition government. Citing dissatisfaction with the government’s lack of progress in addressing the Maoist insurgency and corruption, the king in February 2005 dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency, imprisoned party leaders, and assumed power. The king’s government subsequently released party leaders and officially ended the state of emergency in May 2005, but the monarch retained absolute power until April 2006. After nearly three weeks of mass protests organized by the seven-party opposition and the Maoists, the king allowed parliament to reconvene in April 2006. Following a November 2006 peace accord between the government and the Maoists, an interim constitution was promulgated and the Maoists were allowed to enter parliament in January 2007. The peace accord calls for the creation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly elections, twice delayed, were held 10 April 2008. The Assembly will meet for the first time on 28 May 2008.

Location:
Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates:
28 00 N, 84 00 E

Map references:
Asia

Area:
total: 147,181 sq km
land: 143,181 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km

Area – comparative:
Slightly larger than Arkansas

Land boundaries:
total: 2,926 km
border countries: China 1,236 km, India 1,690 km

Coastline:
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

Climate:
varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south

Terrain:
Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south, central hill region, rugged Himalayas in north

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Kanchan Kalan 70 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m

Natural resources:
quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore

Land use:
arable land: 16.07%
permanent crops: 0.85%
other: 83.08% (2005)

Irrigated land:
11,700 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
210.2 cu km (1999)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 10.18 cu km/yr (3%/1%/96%)
per capita: 375 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:
severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons

Environment – current issues:
deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography – note:
landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga – the world’s tallest and third tallest – on the borders with China and India respectively

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