Nepal’s first experiment with a cabinet style government took place in 1951, after a century of rule under premiers from the same family. From 1959-60, the country also experienced a multi-party political system, before King Mahendra suspended the parliament and assumed the rule in 1962. The king introduced political reforms in 1990 and reinstated a multi-party democracy, installing the monarch as the head of the state. There were several government changes that resulted in political instability.
In 1996, a Maoist insurgency was launched, and by the end of the government's decade-long struggle against the rebels, the parliament was dissolved and the king assumed absolute power. More than 12,000 people were killed during this violent phase, and another 100,000 were displaced. In 2001, the crown prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then committed suicide. The new king, Gyanendra, had his own run-ins with the Nepalese democracy. He dismissed governments and finally imposed a state of emergency in 2005 by imprisoning political leaders and journalists.
The king released the leaders later that year and ended the state of emergency. Mass protests, followed and finally the parliament was reconvened. Negotiations with the Maoists eventually led to an interim constitution. The Maoists leaders joined an interim government in late 2007, stipulating the abolition of the monarchy, which the parliament honored. Elections in April 2008 saw the Maoist party come to power, and a month later, the monarchy was abolished. In July 2008, the parliament elected Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first president. In August 2008, the Nepalese Maoist leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was sworn in as prime minister, though he stepped down only eight months later. In May 2009, Madhav Kumar Nepal became the new prime minister.
Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries but is home to a strong tourist industry. A large percentage of the population depends on agriculture. Aid is key for Nepal’s economy. Nepal depends heavily on its relationship with India, its largest trading partner.
Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Form of Government:
Federal democratic Republic
Year of Independence:
1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah)
Hindu 80.6%, Buddhist 10.7%, Muslim 4.2%, Kirant 3.6%, other 0.9% (2001 census)
147,181 sq km (56,827 sq miles)
Nepali 47.8%, Maithali 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Newar 3.6%, Magar 3.3%, Awadhi 2.4%, other 10%, unspecified 2.5% (2001 census). Note: many in government and business also speak English (2001 est.)
64 years (men), 67 years (women) (2009 est.)
1 Nepalese rupee = 100 paisa
Carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods, grain, pulses
GDP - Per Capita (PPP):
$1,100 (2008 est.)
International Dialing Code: