Known by such names as "Rooftop of the World", "Shangri-La", and 'Abode of the Gods', Nepal is nestled in the cradle of the highest mountains on earth. The relatively small country is 800km. (496 miles) long and from 90 to 230 km. (56 to 143 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 can not fail to amaze. There are the flat, chequered plains of the lowland Terai in the south(100m above sea level), where the majority of the country's 20 million people live. Beyond the middle hills with the exotic terraced rice paddies are the Himalaya, which soar to unbelievable heights, with Mt. Everest at 8,848m. The capital city, Kathmandu, lies at 1331m the climate is mild even in winter due to its relatively low latitude.
The people of Nepal have developed through thousands of years of migration from north, south, east and west. It is almost impossible to trace the ethnic evolution of the land. However, this complex society can be divided into the Indo-Aryans who inhabit the south, the mongolian people including the Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung and Magar clans who cultivated the mountainside and the Sherpa groups of which the Sherpas are the best known on the Himalaya. No less than 36 languages and dialects are spoken in Nepal, and similar variations are observed in religious practices. The prevailing religion is Buddhism in the north and Hinduism in the south.
Nepal is a paradise for geologists, anthropologists, geographers and 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 will never be forgotten. Naturally Nepal once is not enough.