Nepal the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal,[10] is a federal republic and landlocked country of over 26.4 million people in South Asia.[5] It is bordered by China to the north and India to the south, east and west. It is separated from Bangladesh by a narrow Indian corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal is located in the Himalayas and is home to eight of the world's tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Its southern Madhesh region is fertile and humid.[11] The country has an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi), making it the world's 93rd largest country by area.[12] It is also the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest city. The first recorded mention of Nepal is found in Vedic Age texts. The era laid the foundations of Hinduism, which is the predominant religion of the Nepalese people. Nepal is also home to Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism- the country's second largest religion. The country also has minorities of Muslims, Kiratans and Christians. It is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official langugage. A monarchy throughout its history, the early modern Kingdom of Nepal led by the Shah dynasty was established in the 18th century, after Prithvi Narayan Shah unified many small kingdoms in the region. The aristocratic Rana dynasty administered Nepal's government as hereditary Prime Ministers until 1951. A multiparty democracy evolved until 1960, when King Mahendra enacted the panchayat system. In 1990, a parliamentary government was permitted by King Birendra. Nepal faced a decade-long Communist Maoist insurgency and mass protests against the authoritarian King Gyanendra in 2005, which led to the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. Its 2nd constituent assembly promulgated a new constitution in 2015. The Nepalese government works in the framework of a representative democracy with seven federal provinces. Nepal is a developing nation, ranking 145th on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014. The country continues to struggle with a difficult political transition to a republic and high levels of hunger and poverty. Despite these challenges, Nepal has been making steady progress, with the government making a commitment to graduate the nation from least developed country status by 2022.[13][14] Nepal has friendship treaties with India and the United Kingdom.[15] It is a founding member and hosts the permanent secretariat of SAARC. It is also a member of the United Nations and BIMSTEC. Nepal is strategically important due to its location sandwiched between Asia's great powers India and China. Its economy depends on tourism, handicrafts and garments, carpet making, tea and coffee production, IT services, banking and hydropower. Contents [hide] 1 Etymology 2 History 2.1 Ancient 2.2 Medieval 2.3 Kingdom of Nepal (1768–2008) 2.4 Republic (2008) 3 Geography 3.1 Climate 3.2 Geology 3.3 Environment 4 Politics 4.1 Constitution 4.2 Government 4.2.1 Executive Federal executive Provincial executive 4.2.2 Legislative Federal legislature The House of Representatives The National Assembly Provincial legislature 4.2.3 Judiciary 4.3 Foreign relations 4.4 Military 4.5 Subdivisions 5 Economy 6 Infrastructure 6.1 Energy 6.2 Transport 6.3 Communications 6.4 Education 6.5 Health 6.6 Community forestry 7 Crime and law enforcement 8 Demographics 8.1 Languages 8.2 Religion 8.3 Largest cities 9 Culture 9.1 Holidays and festivals 9.2 Cuisine 9.3 Sports 10 See also 11 References 12 Further reading 13 External links Etymology Local legends say that a Hindu sage named "Ne" established himself in the valley of Kathmandu in prehistoric times and that the word "Nepal" came into existence as the place was protected ("pala" in Pali) by the sage "Ne". It is mentioned in Vedic texts that this region was called Nepal centuries ago. According to the Skanda Purana, a rishi called "Ne" or "Nemuni" used to live in the Himalayas.[16] In the Pashupati Purana, he is mentioned as a saint and a protector.[17] He is said to have practised meditation at the Bagmati and Kesavati rivers[18] and to have taught there.[19] The name of the country is also identical in origin to the name of the Newar people. The terms "Nepāl", "Newār", "Newāl" and "Nepār" are phonetically different forms of the same word, and instances of the various forms appear in texts in different times in history. Nepal is the learned Sanskrit form and Newar is the colloquial Prakrit form.[20] A Sanskrit inscription dated 512 CE found in Tistung, a valley to the west of Kathmandu, contains the phrase "greetings to the Nepals" indicating that the term "Nepal" was used to refer to both the country and the people.[21][22] It has been suggested that "Nepal" may be a Sanskritization of "Newar", or "Newar" may be a later form of "Nepal".[23] According to another explanation, the words "Newar" and "Newari" are vulgarisms arising from the mutation of P to V, and L to R.[24] History Main article: History of Nepal Lumbini, listed as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention Ancient Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least eleven thousand years.[25] The oldest population layer is believed to be represented by the Kusunda people.[26] Nepal is first mentioned in the late Vedic Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭa as a place exporting blankets and in the post-Vedic Atharvashirsha Upanishad.[27] In Samudragupta's Allahabad Pillar it is mentioned as a bordering country. The Skanda Purana has a separate chapter known as "Nepal Mahatmya" that explains in more details about the beauty and power of Nepal.[28] Nepal is also mentioned in Hindu texts such as the Narayana Puja.[27] Tibeto-Burman-speaking people probably lived in Nepal 2500 years ago.[29] However, there is no archaeologic evidence of the Gopal Bansa or Kirati rulers, only mention by the later Licchavi and Malla eras.[30] Around 500 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the southern regions of Nepal. From one of these, the Shakya polity, arose a prince who later renounced his status to lead an ascetic life, founded Buddhism, and came to be known as Gautama Buddha (traditionally dated 563–483 BCE). By 250 BCE, the southern regions came under the influence of the Maurya Empire of North India and parts of Nepal later on became a nominal vassal state under the Gupta Empire in the fourth century CE. Beginning in the third century CE, the Licchavi Kingdom governed the Kathmandu Valley and the region surrounding central Nepal. There is a quite detailed description of the kingdom of Nepal in the account of the renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk Xuanzang, dating from c. 645 CE.[31][32] Stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley are important sources for the history of Nepal. The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late eighth century, probably due to the Tibetan Empire, and was followed by a Newar or Thakuri era, from 879 CE (Nepal Sambat 1), although the extent of their control over the present-day country is uncertain.[33] In the eleventh century it seems to have included the Pokhara area. By the late eleventh century, southern Nepal came under the influence of the Chalukya dynasty of South India. Under the Chalukyas, Nepal's religious establishment changed as the kings patronised Hinduism instead of the Buddhism prevailing at that time. Medieval Main article: Malla (Nepal) Former royal palace at Basantapur, Kathmandu In the early 12th century, leaders emerged in far western Nepal whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix malla ("wrestler"). These kings consolidated their power and ruled over the next 200 years, until the kingdom splintered into two dozen petty states. Another Malla dynasty beginning with Jayasthiti emerged in the Kathmandu valley in the late 14th century, and much of central Nepal again came under a unified rule. In 1482 the realm was divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Kingdom of Nepal (1768–2008) Main article: Kingdom of Nepal Sino-Nepalese War The Nepali queen and her ladies in the 1920s The Old Parliament Building in Kathmandu Elvis Presley with King Mahendra and Queen Ratna of Nepal in 1960 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first persons to summit Mt Everest in Nepal in 1953 Israeli leader David Ben Gurion and Prime Minister B. P. Koirala (right), leader of the Nepali Congress The 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, which saw the death of King Birendra and his family, was a major turning point in modern Nepal's history In the mid-18th century, Prithvi Narayan Shah, a Gorkha king, set out to put together what would become present-day Nepal. He embarked on his mission by securing the neutrality of the bordering mountain kingdoms. After several bloody battles and sieges, notably the Battle of Kirtipur, he managed to conquer the Kathmandu Valley in 1769. A detailed account of Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory was written by Father Giuseppe, an eyewitness to the war.[34] The Gorkha dominion reached its height when the North Indian territories of the Kumaon and Garhwal Kingdoms in the west to Sikkim in the east came under Nepal rule. At its maximum extent, Greater Nepal extended from the Teesta River in the east, to Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, across the Sutlej in the west as well as further south into the Terai plains and north of the Himalayas than at present. A dispute with Tibet over the control of mountain passes and inner Tingri valleys of Tibet forced the Qing Emperor of China to start the Sino-Nepali War compelling the Nepali to retreat and pay heavy reparations to Peking. Rivalry between Kingdom of Nepal and the East India Company over the annexation of minor states bordering Nepal eventually led to the Anglo-Nepali War (1815–16). At first the British underestimated the Nepali and were soundly defeated until committing more military resources than they had anticipated needing. They were greatly impressed by the valour and competence of their adversaries. Thus began the reputation of Gurkhas as fierce and ruthless soldiers. The war ended in the Sugauli Treaty, under which Nepal ceded recently captured portions of Sikkim and lands in Terai as well as the right to recruit soldiers. Madhesis, having supported the East India Company during the war, had their lands gifted to Nepali.[35] Factionalism inside the royal family led to a period of instability. In 1846 a plot was discovered revealing that the reigning queen had planned to overthrow Jung Bahadur Kunwar, a fast-rising military leader. This led to the Kot massacre; armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country. Jung Bahadur Kunwar emerged victorious and founded the Rana dynasty, later known as Jung Bahadur Rana. The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British and assisted them during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (and later in both World Wars). Some parts of the Terai region populated with non-Nepali peoples were gifted to Nepal by the British as a friendly gesture because of her military help to sustain British control in India during the rebellion. In 1923, the United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship that superseded the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.[36] Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.[37] Nevertheless, debt bondage even involving debtors' children has been a persistent social problem in the Terai. Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[38][39] In the late 1940s, newly emerging pro-democracy movements and political parties in Nepal were critical of the Rana autocracy. Meanwhile, with the invasion of Tibet by China in the 1950s, India sought to counterbalance the perceived military threat from its northern neighbour by taking pre-emptive steps to assert more influence in Nepal. India sponsored both King Tribhuvan (ruled 1911–55) as Nepal's new ruler in 1951 and a new government, mostly comprising the Nepali Congress, thus terminating Rana hegemony in the kingdom.[40] After years of power wrangling between the king and the government, King Mahendra (ruled 1955–72) scrapped the democratic experiment in 1959, and a "partyless" Panchayat system was made to govern Nepal until 1989, when the "Jan Andolan" (People's Movement) forced King Birendra (ruled 1972–2001) to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament that took seat in May 1991.[41] In 1991–92, Bhutan expelled roughly 100,000 Bhutanese citizens of Nepali descent, most of whom have been living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal ever since.[42] In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal started a bid to replace the royal parliamentary system with a people's republic by violent means. This led to the long Nepali Civil War and more than 12,000 deaths. On June 1, 2001, there was a massacre in the royal palace. King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and seven other members of the royal family were killed. The perpetrator was Crown Prince Dipendra, who committed suicide (he died three days later) shortly thereafter. This outburst was alleged to have been Dipendra's response to his parents' refusal to accept his choice of wife. Nevertheless, there is speculation and doubts among Nepali citizens about who was responsible. Following the carnage, King Birendra's brother Gyanendra inherited the throne. On February 1, 2005, King Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers to quash the violent Maoist movement,[41] but this initiative was unsuccessful because a stalemate had developed in which the Maoists were firmly entrenched in large expanses of countryside but could not yet dislodge the military from numerous towns and the largest cities. In September 2005, the Maoists declared a three-month unilateral ceasefire to negotiate. In response to the 2006 democracy movement, King Gyanendra agreed to relinquish sovereign power to the people. On 24 April 2006 the dissolved House of Representatives was reinstated. Using its newly acquired sovereign authority, on 18 May 2006 the House of Representatives unanimously voted to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state, ending its time-honoured official status as a Hindu Kingdom. On 28 December 2007, a bill was passed in parliament to amend Article 159 of the constitution – replacing "Provisions regarding the King" by "Provisions of the Head of the State" – declaring Nepal a federal republic, and thereby abolishing the monarchy.[43] The bill came into force on 28 May 2008.[44] Republic (2008) The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly election held on April 10, 2008, and formed a coalition government which included most of the parties in the CA. Although acts of violence occurred during the pre-electoral period, election observers noted that the elections themselves were markedly peaceful and "well-carried out".[45] Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, the first President of Nepal The newly elected Assembly met in Kathmandu on May 28, 2008, and, after a polling of 564 constituent Assembly members, 560 voted to form a new government,[44] with the monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which had four members in the assembly, registering a dissenting note. At that point, it was declared that Nepal had become a secular and inclusive democratic republic,[46][47] with the government announcing a three-day public holiday from May 28–30. The king was thereafter given 15 days to vacate Narayanhity Palace so it could reopen as a public museum.[48] Nonetheless, political tensions and consequent power-sharing battles have continued in Nepal. In May 2009, the Maoist-led government was toppled and another coalition government with all major political parties barring the Maoists was formed.[49] Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) was made the Prime Minister of the coalition government.[50] In February 2011 the Madhav Kumar Nepal Government was toppled and Jhala Nath Khanal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) was made the Prime Minister.[51] In August 2011 the Jhala Nath Khanal Government was toppled and Baburam Bhattarai of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was made the Prime Minister.[52] The political parties were unable to draft a constitution in the stipulated time.[53] This led to dissolution of the Constituent Assembly to pave way for new elections to strive for a new political mandate. In opposition to the theory of separation of powers, then Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi was made the chairman of the caretaker government. Under Regmi, the nation saw peaceful elections for the constituent assembly. The major forces in the earlier constituent assembly (namely CPN Maoists and Madhesi parties) dropped to distant 3rd and even below.[54][55] In February 2014, after consensus was reached between the two major parties in the constituent assembly, Sushil Koirala was sworn in as the new prime minister of Nepal.[56][57] In September 20, 2015, a new constitution, the "Constitution of Nepal 2015" (Nepali: नेपालको संविधान २०७२) was announced by President Ram Baran Yadav in the constituent assembly. The constituent assembly was transformed into a legislative parliament by the then-chairman of that assembly. The new constitution of Nepal has changed Nepal practically into a federal democratic republic by making 7 unnamed states. On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal.[58] Two weeks later, on May 12, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit Nepal, killing more than 150 people in Nepal and more than 200 people in total. In October 2015, Bidhya Devi Bhandari was nominated as the first female president.[59] Geography Main article: Geography of Nepal A map of Nepal. A topographic map of Nepal. Nepal map of Köppen climate classification. Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (497 mi) long and 200 kilometres (124 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 km2 (56,827 sq mi). See List of territories by size for the comparative size of Nepal. It lies between latitudes 26° and 31°N, and longitudes 80° and 89°E. Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: Mountain, Hill and Terai. These ecological belts run east-west and are vertically intersected by Nepal's major, north to south flowing river systems. The southern lowland plains or Terai bordering India are part of the northern rim of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. They were formed and are fed by three major Himalayan rivers: the Kosi, the Narayani, and the Karnali as well as smaller rivers rising below the permanent snowline. This region has a subtropical to tropical climate. The outermost range of foothills called Sivalik Hills or Churia Range cresting at 700 to 1,000 metres (2,297 to 3,281 ft) marks the limit of the Gangetic Plain, however broad, low valleys called Inner Tarai Valleys (Bhitri Tarai Uptyaka) lie north of these foothills in several places. The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 800 to 4,000 metres (2,625 to 13,123 ft) in altitude with progression from subtropical climates below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) to alpine climates above 3,600 metres (11,811 ft). The Lower Himalayan Range reaching 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,921 to 9,843 ft) is the southern limit of this region, with subtropical river valleys and "hills" alternating to the north of this range. Population density is high in valleys but notably less above 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) and very low above 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) where snow occasionally falls in winter. The Mountain Region (Himal), situated in the Great Himalayan Range, makes up the northern part of Nepal. It contains the highest elevations in the world including 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) height Mount Everest (Sagarmāthā in Nepali) on the border with China. Seven other of the world's "eight-thousanders" are in Nepal or on its border with China: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu. Climate Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,937 to 7,874 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,874 to 11,811 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,811 to 14,436 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,436 ft). Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns. In a land once thickly forested, deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems. Nepal is popular for mountaineering, having some of the highest and most challenging mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Technically, the south-east ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb; so, most climbers prefer to trek to Everest through Nepal. The highest Mountains in Nepal.[60] Mountain Height Section Location Mount Everest (Highest) 8,848 m 29,029 ft Khumbu Mahalangur Khumjung VDC, Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha Zone ( Nepal China Border) Kangchenjunga (3rd highest) 8,586 m 28,169 ft Northern Kanchenjunga Lelep VDC / Yamphudin VDC, Taplejung District, Mechi Zone ( Nepal Sikkim Border) Lhotse (4th highest) 8,516 m 27,940 ft Everest Group Khumjung VDC, Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha Zone ( Nepal China Border) Makalu (5th highest) 8,462 m 27,762 ft Makalu Mahalangur Makalu VDC, Sankhuwasabha District, Kosi Zone ( Nepal China Border) Cho Oyu (6th highest) 8,201 m 26,906 ft Khumbu Mahalangur Khumjung VDC, Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha Zone ( Nepal China Border) Dhaulagiri (7th highest) 8,167 m 26,795 ft Dhaulagiri Mudi VDC / Kuinemangale VDC, Myagdi District, Dhawalagiri Zone Manaslu (8th highest) 8,156 m 26,759 ft Mansiri Samagaun VDC, Gorkha District / Dharapani VDC, Manang District, Gandaki Zone Annapurna (10th highest) 8,091 m 26,545 ft Annapurna Ghandruk VDC, Kaski District, Gandaki Zone / Narchyang VDC, Myagdi District, Dhawalagiri Zone Geology Main article: Geology of Nepal The collision between the Indian subcontinent and Eurasia, which started in Paleogene time and continues today, produced the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Nepal lies completely within this collision zone, occupying the central sector of the Himalayan arc, nearly one third of the 2,400 km (1,500 mi)-long Himalayas.[61][62][63][64][65][66] The Indian plate continues to move north relative to Asia at the rate of approximately 50 mm (2.0 in) per year.[67] This is approximately twice the speed at which human fingernails grow, which is very fast given the size of the blocks of Earth's crust involved.[original research?] As the strong Indian continental crust subducts beneath the relatively weak Tibetan crust, it pushes up the Himalayan Mountains. This collision zone has accommodated huge amounts of crustal shortening as the rock sequences slide one over another. Based on a study published in 2014, of the Main Frontal Thrust, on average a great earthquake occurs every 750 ± 140 and 870 ± 350 years in the east Nepal region.[68] A study from 2015 found a 700-year delay between earthquakes in the region. The study also suggests, that because of tectonic stress transfer, the earthquake from 1934 in Nepal and the 2015 earthquake are connected - following a historic earthquake pattern.[69] Erosion of the Himalayas is a very important source of sediment, which flows via several great rivers: the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra River systems to the Indian Ocean.[70] Environment The dramatic differences in elevation found in Nepal result in a variety of biomes, from tropical savannas along the Indian border, to subtropical broadleaf and coniferous forests in the Hill Region, to temperate broadleaf and coniferous forests on the slopes of the Himalaya, to montane grasslands and shrublands and rock and ice at the highest elevations. At the lowest elevations is the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion. These form a mosaic with the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, which occur from 500 to 1,000 metres (1,600 to 3,300 ft) and include the Inner Terai Valleys. Himalayan subtropical pine forests occur between 1,000 and 2,000 metres (3,300 and 6,600 ft). Above these elevations, the biogeography of Nepal is generally divided from east to west by the Gandaki River. Ecoregions to the east tend to receive more precipitation and to be more species-rich. Those to the west are drier with fewer species. From 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,900 to 9,800 ft), are temperate broadleaf forests: the eastern and western Himalayan broadleaf forests. From 3,000 to 4,000 metres (9,800 to 13,100 ft) are the eastern and western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. To 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) are the eastern and western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Landscapes and Climates of Nepal View of Khartuwa village from Thakuri village of Sitalpati, Shankhuwasabha, eastern Nepal. NASA Landsat-7 Image of Nepal. Nepal shares its boundaries with India and China The Annapurna range of the Himalayas. Phoksundo Lake. Kali Gandaki Gorge is one of the deepest gorges on earth. Marshyangdi Valley – There are many such valleys in the Himalaya created by glacier flows. Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, lies on the Nepal-China border Wind erosion in Kalopani. A field in Terai. Phulchowki Hill. Hills view of Ghorahi, Dang View of mountains Politics Main article: Politics of Nepal Bidya bhandaRi.jpg KP Oli.jpeg Bidhya Devi Bhandari President since 2015 Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli Prime Minister since 2015 Nepal has seen rapid political changes during the last two decades. Up until 1990, Nepal was a monarchy under executive control of the King. Faced with a communist movement against absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to a large-scale political reform by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government. Nepal's legislature was bicameral, consisting of a House of Representatives called the Pratinidhi Sabha and a National Council called the Rastriya Sabha. The House of Representatives consisted of 205 members directly elected by the people. The National Council had 60 members: ten nominated by the king, 35 elected by the House of Representatives, and the remaining 15 elected by an electoral college made up of chairs of villages and towns. The legislature had a five-year term but was dissolvable by the king before its term could end. All Nepali citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote. The executive comprised the King and the Council of Ministers (the cabinet). The leader of the coalition or party securing the maximum seats in an election was appointed as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet was appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Governments in Nepal tended to be highly unstable, falling either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch, on the recommendation of the prime minister, according to the constitution; no government has survived for more than two years since 1991. The movement in April 2006 brought about a change in the nation's governance: an interim constitution was promulgated, with the King giving up power, and an interim House of Representatives was formed with Maoist members after the new government held peace talks with the Maoist rebels. The number of parliamentary seats was also increased to 330. In April 2007, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined the interim government of Nepal. In December 2007, the interim parliament passed a bill making Nepal a federal republic, with a president as head of state. Elections for the constitutional assembly were held on 10 April 2008; the Maoist party led the results but did not achieve a simple majority of seats.[71] The new parliament adopted the 2007 bill at its first meeting by an overwhelming majority, and King Gyanendra was given 15 days to leave the Royal Palace in central Kathmandu. He left on 11 June.[72] On 26 June 2008, the prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who had served as Acting Head of State since January 2007, announced that he would resign on the election of the country's first president by the Constituent Assembly. The first round of voting, on 19 July 2008, saw Parmanand Jha win election as Nepali vice-president, but neither of the contenders for president received the required 298 votes and a second round was held two days later. Ram Baran Yadav of the Nepali Congress party defeated Maoist-backed Ram Raja Prasad Singh with 308 of the 590 votes cast.[73] Koirala submitted his resignation to the new president after Yadav's swearing-in ceremony on 23 July 2008. On 15 August 2008, Maoist leader Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal) was elected Prime Minister of Nepal, the first since the country's transition from a monarchy to a republic. On 4 May 2009, Dahal resigned over on-going conflicts with regard to the sacking of the Army chief. Since Dahal's resignation, the country has been in a serious political deadlock with one of the big issues being the proposed integration of the former Maoist combatants, also known as the People's Liberation Army, into the national security forces.[74] After Dahal, Jhala Nath Khanal of CPN (UML) was elected the Prime Minister. Khanal was forced to step down as he could not succeed in carrying forward the Peace Process and the constitution writing. On August 2011, Maoist Babu Ram Bhattarai became third Prime Minister after the election of constituent assembly.[75] On 24 May 2012, Nepals's Deputy PM Krishna Sitaula resigned. [76] On 27 May 2012, the country's Constituent Assembly failed to meet the deadline for writing a new constitution for the country. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announced that new elections will be held on 22 November 2012. "We have no other option but to go back to the people and elect a new assembly to write the constitution," he said in a nationally televised speech. One of the main obstacles has been disagreement over whether the states which will be created will be based on ethnicity.[77] Nepal is one of the few countries in Asia to abolish the death penalty[78] and the first country in Asia to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. The decision was based on a seven-person government committee study, and enacted through Supreme Court's ruling November 2008. The ruling granted full rights for LGBT individuals, including the right to marry[79] and now can get citizenship as a third gender rather than male or female as authorized by Nepal's Supreme Court in 2007.[80] Constitution Nepal is governed according to the Constitution of Nepal, which came into effect on September 20, 2015, replacing the Interim Constitution of 2007. The Constitution was drafted by the Second Constituent Assembly following the failure of the First Constituent Assembly to produce a constitution in its mandated period. The constitution is the fundamental law of Nepal. It defines Nepal as having multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural characteristics with common aspirations of people living in diverse geographical regions, and being committed to and united by a bond of allegiance to national independence, territorial integrity, national interest and prosperity of Nepal, all the Nepali people collectively constitute the nation. Government Entrance to Singha Durbar, the seat of the Nepalese government in Kathmandu The Constitution of Nepal has defined three organs of the government.[81] Executive The form of governance of Nepal shall be a multi-party, competitive, federal democratic republican parliamentary system based on plurality. Federal executive The executive power of Nepal shall rest with the Council of Ministers in accordance with the Constitution and law.The President shall appoint the parliamentary party leader of the political party with the majority in the House of Representatives as a Prime Minister, and a Council of Ministers shall be formed in his/her chairmanship Provincial executive The executive power of the Province shall, pursuant to the Constitution and laws, be vested in the Council of Ministers of the Province. Provided that the executive power of the Province shall be exercised by the Provincial Head in case of absence of the Provincial Executive in a State of Emergency or enforcement of Federal rule. Every province shall have a Provincial Head as the representative of the Federal government. The President shall appoint a Provincial Head for every province. The Provincial Head shall exercise the rights and duties as specified in the constitution or laws. The Provincial Head shall appoint the leader of the parliamentary party with majority in the Provincial Assembly as the Chief Minister and the Provincial Council of Ministers shall be formed under the chairpersonship of the Chief Minister. Legislative Federal legislature There shall be a Legislature, called Federal Parliament, consisting of two Houses, namely the House of Representatives and the National Assembly. The House of Representatives Except when dissolved earlier, the term of House of Representatives shall be five years. The House of Representatives shall consist of 275 members as follows: 165 members elected through the first-past-the-post electoral system consisting of one member from each of the one hundred and sixty five electoral constituencies formed by dividing Nepal into 165 constituencies based on geography, and population. 110 elected from proportional representation electoral system where voters vote for parties, while treating the whole country as a single electoral constituency. The National Assembly National Assembly shall be a permanent house. The tenure of members of National Assembly shall be six years. The National Assembly shall consist of two 59 members as follows: 56 members elected from an Electoral College comprising members of Provincial Assembly and chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of Village councils and Mayors and Deputy Mayors of Municipal councils, with different weights of votes for each, with eight members from each province, including at least three women, one Dalit, one person with disability or minority; 3 members, including at least one woman, to be nominated by the President on the recommendation of Government of Nepal. Provincial legislature There shall be a unicameral legislature in a province which shall be called the Provincial Assembly. Every Provincial Assembly shall consist of the following number of members: Members equal to double the number of members to be elected through the first-past-the-post (FPTP) election system to the House of Representatives from the concerned province, The number of members to be elected through the Proportional Representation (PR) election system equal to the number equivalent to the remaining forty per cent when the number of members from FPTP is regarded as sixty per cent. Judiciary Powers relating to justice in Nepal shall be exercised by courts and other judicial institutions in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, other laws and recognized principles of justice. There shall be the following courts in Nepal: Supreme Court High Courts District Courts Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Nepal Embassy of Nepal in Washington, D.C. Nepal has close ties with both of its neighbors, India and China. In accordance with a long-standing treaty, Indian and Nepali citizens may travel to each other's countries without a passport or visa. Nepali citizens may work in India without legal restriction. The Indian Army maintains seven Gorkha regiments consisting of Gorkha troops recruited mostly from Nepal. However, in the years since the Government of Nepal has been dominated by socialists, and India's government has been controlled by more right-wing parties, India has been remilitarizing the "porous" Indo-Nepali border to stifle the flow of Islamist groups.[82] Nepal established relations with the People's Republic of China on 1 August 1955, and relations since have been based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Nepal has aided China in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and China has provided economic assistance for Nepali infrastructure. Both countries have cooperated to host the 2008 Summer Olympics summit of Mt. Everest.[83] Nepal has assisted in curbing anti-China protests from the Tibetan diaspora.[84] Military Main article: Nepalese Armed Forces Gurkha Memorial, London Nepal's military consists of the Nepali Army, which includes the Nepali Army Air Service. The Nepali Police Force is the civilian police and the Armed Police Force Nepal[85] is the paramilitary force. Service is voluntary and the minimum age for enlistment is 18 years. Nepal spends $99.2 million (2004) on its military—1.5% of its GDP. Much of the equipment and arms are imported from India. Consequently, the US provided M16s, M4s and other Colt weapons to combat communist (Maoist) insurgents. The standard-issue battle rifle of the Nepali army is the Colt M16.[86] In the new regulations by Nepali Army, female soldiers have been barred from participating in combat situations and fighting in the frontlines of war. However, they are allowed to be a part of the army in sections like intelligence, headquarters, signals and operations.[87] Subdivisions Main article: List of provinces of Nepal The administrative subdivisions of Nepal (provinces and districts). As of 20 September 2015 Nepal is divided into 7 provinces and 75 districts. Province No. 1 1. Taplejung District 2. Panchthar District 3. Ilam District 4. Sankhuwasabha District 5. Terhathum District 6. Dhankuta District 7. Bhojpur District 8. Khotang District 9. Solukhumbu District 10. Okhaldhunga District 11. Udayapur District 12. Jhapa District 13. Morang District 14. Sunsari District Province No. 2 1. Saptari District 2. Siraha District 3. Dhanusha District 4. Mahottari District 5. Sarlahi District 6. Rautahat District 7. Bara District 8. Parsa District Province No. 3 1. Dolakha District 2. Ramechhap District 3. Sindhuli District 4. Kavrepalanchowk District 5. Sindhupalchowk District 6. Rasuwa District 7. Nuwakot District 8. Dhading District 9. Chitwan District 10. Makwanpur District 11. Bhaktapur District 12. Lalitpur District 13. Kathmandu District Province No. 4 1. Gorkha District 2. Lamjung District 3. Tanahu District 4. Kaski District 5. Manang District 6. Mustang District 7. Parbat District 8. Syangja District 9. Myagdi District 10. Baglung District 11. Nawalparasi District (east of Bardaghat Susta) Province No. 5 1. Nawalparasi District (west of Bardaghat Susta) 2. Rupandehi District 3. Kapilbastu District 4. Palpa District 5. Arghakhanchi District 6. Gulmi District 7. Rukum District (eastern part) 8. Rolpa District 9. Pyuthan District 10. Dang District 11. Banke District 12. Bardiya District Province No. 6 1. Rukum (Western part) 2. Salyan District 3. Dolpa District 4. Jumla District 5. Mugu District 6. Humla District 7. Kalikot District 8. Jajarkot District 9. Dailekh District 10. Surkhet District Province No. 7 1. Bajura District 2. Bajhang District 3. Doti District 4. Achham District 5. Darchula District 6. Baitadi District 7. Dadeldhura District 8. Kanchanpur District 9. Kailali District Economy Main article: Economy of Nepal A proportional representation of Nepal's exports. Visitors at the Kathmandu Durbar Terraced rice farming in Nepal Tribhuvan International Airport. Tourism is a key part of the national economy, with Nepal receiving approx. 800,000 foreign visitors each year.[88] Nepal's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012 was estimated at over $17.921 billion (adjusted to nominal GDP).[6] In 2010, agriculture accounted for 36.1%, services comprised 48.5%, and industry 15.4% of Nepal's GDP.[89] While agriculture and industry are contracting, the contribution by the service sector is increasing.[89][90] Agriculture employs 76% of the workforce, services 18% and manufacturing and craft-based industry 6%. Agricultural produce – mostly grown in the Terai region bordering India – includes tea, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, milk, and water buffalo meat. Industry mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce, including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Its workforce of about 10 million suffers from a severe shortage of skilled labor. Nepal's economic growth continues to be adversely affected by the political uncertainty. Nevertheless, real GDP growth was estimated to increase to almost 5 percent for 2011–2012. This is an improvement from the 3.5 percent GDP growth in 2010–2011 and would be the second-highest growth rate in the post-conflict era.[91] Sources of growth include agriculture, construction, financial and other services. The contribution of growth by consumption fueled by remittances has declined since 2010/2011. While remittance growth slowed to 11 percent (in Nepali Rupee terms) in 2010/2011, it has since increased to 37 percent. R