Known by such names as 'Rooftop of the World', 'Shangri-La', and abode of the Gods' is nestled in the cradle of the highest mountains on earth. The relatively small country is 800 km. (479 miles) long and from 90 to 220 km. (96 to 137 miles) wide, about the size of Austria and Switzerland combined. Squeezed between China on the north and India on the east, west and south, this land is diverse in culture, climate and terrain.
A daytime flight into Nepal cannot fail to amaze. There are the flat, checkered plains of the lowland Terai in the south, where the majority of the county's 20 million people live with an elevation just 100 meters above the sea level. Then, the middle hills area with the exotic, terraced rice paddies. Beyond which the Himalaya soar to unbelievable heights, including Mt. Everest at 8,848 meter (29,000 feet) the highest point of the earth. Despite the high elevations (Kathmandu. the capital is 1331 meters; (4368 ft.) the climate is mild owing to its relatively low latitude, comparable to that of Florida and Kuwait. The Kathmandu winters are frosty but mild with no snowfall and in the mountain villages potatoes are grown at over 13,00 feet and barreled even higher.
The people of Nepal are bit as diverse as the climate and terrain. Thousands of years of migration from north, south, east and west have made if nearly impossible to trace the ethnic evolution of the land. For the most part, this complex society can be divided into Indo-Aryan. Mongolian and Tibetan groups. Generally speaking, the Indo-Aryans, predominantly Hindu, inhabit the south while the Mongolian people including, the Rai. Limbu, Tarnang. Gurung and Magar clans opened up the mountainside for cultivation. The famous Sherpas are best known of the. Tibetan groups inhabiting the high mountain areas of the north. No fewer than 36 languages and dialects are 2- spoken in Nepal. And himalayan variations are observed in religious l) raefices. The prevailing pattern is Buddhism in the north and Hinduism in the south, but animist and humanistic rites have survived and are currently on the increase in some areas as people are showing an in dependence from the powerful Brahmin and Chhettri Hindu dominance.
Nepal where truth is no less colorful than fiction is a paradise for geologists, anthropologists, and geographers and just about anyone with an adventurous streak. Whether venturing into the lowland jungle for a safari, the high mountain passes of the Himalaya, or a tour of the thriving Kathmandu valley. Nepal is an experience that never be forgotten.