1 - FACTS ABOUT NEPAL
|SURFACE||150 000 km²|
|CAPITAL||Kathmandu (2 millions inhabitants)|
Nepali roupie (100rs = 1 euro)
2 - GEOGRAPHY
According to the modern theory of plate tectonics, the formation of Himalaya is a result of a continental collision between the Indo-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate. About 50 millions years ago this fast moving Indo-Australian plate had completely closed the Thethys Ocean and the plate continues to be driven horizontally below the Tibetan plateau, which forces the plateau to move upward.
For a small country, Nepal has great physical diversity, ranging from the Terai Plain -- the northern rim of the Gangetic Plain situated at about 60 meters above sea level in the south -- to the 8850-meter-high Mount Everest, locally known as Sagarmatha (its Nepali name), in the north.
From the lowland Terai belt, landforms rise in successive hill and mountain ranges, including the stupendous rampart of the towering Himalayas, ultimately reaching the Tibetan Plateau beyond the Inner Himalayas. This rise in elevation is punctuated by valleys situated between mountain ranges. Within this maze of mountains, hills, ridges, and low valleys, elevational (altitudinal) changes resulted in ecological variations.
Nepal commonly is divided into three broad physiographic areas: the Mountain Region, the Hill Region, and the Terai Region. All three parallel each other, from east to west, as continuous ecological belts, occasionally bisected by the country's river systems. These ecological regions were divided by the government into development sectors within the framework of regional development planning.
The Terai Region:
The Terai region begins at the Indian border and includes the northermost part of the Gangeatic Plain. These flat, intensively farmed plains are culturally an extension of northern India.
Traversing these plains north toward the outermost range of foothills called the Siwaliks there is a forested alluvial belt along the base, marshy with springs fed by groundwater percolating down from higher elevations. Beyond the alluvial belt, the Siwaliks rise as high as 1,000 meters, steepest on their southern slopes because of faults. This range is made of poorly consolidated, coarse sediments that quickly absorb rainfall and are unsuited to agriculture, so there is very little population. However just north of the Siwaliks there are a number of "dun" valleys or the Inner terai. Among these are Surkhet, Dang and Deukhuri in western Nepal and the Rapti Valley (Chitwan) in central Nepal. These valleys had significant agricultural potential that was exploited to a limited degree by the Tharu ethnic group who were resistant to malaria. Following eradication of malaria that begain in the 1950s, farmers from the hills settled in these valleys and exploited the agricultural potential to a much greater degree.
A higher range of foothills called the Mahabharat lies north of these valleys or north of the Siwaliks where there are no valleys separating the two ranges. This is where the Terai gives way to the hill region.
Today, the majority of Nepal's population (48%) and most of the cities and towns are found in this region. In terms of both farm and forest lands, it is becoming Nepal's richest economic region. Except for the Siwalik ranges, this is a zone of flat land with abundant water supplies for intensive agriculture, and it has the largest commercially exploitable forests. Furthermore it is better supplied with roads, electricity and other infrastructure than the hills to the north.
The Hill Region: Situated south of the Mountain Region, the Hill Region is mostly between 1,000 and 4,000 meters in altitude. It includes the Kathmandu Valley, the country most fertile and urbanized area and some cities like Pokhara, Gorkha and Jumla. Two major ranges of hills, commonly known as the Mahabharat Lekh and Siwalik Range (or Churia Range), occupy the region. In addition, there are several intermontane valleys. Although the higher elevations (above 2,500 meters) in the region are sparsely populated because of physiographic and climatic difficulties, the lower hills and valleys are densely settled. The hill landscape is both a natural and cultural mosaic, shaped by geological forces and human activity. The hills, sculpted by human hands into a massive complex of terraces, are extensively cultivated. Actually 45% of the Nepal’s population live in these hill regions.
The Mountain Region:The Mountain Region rises immediately north of the hill region and at higher elevations, beginning on the immediate outskirts of the main Himalaya where ridges begin reaching the treeless alpine zone above 3,500 to 4,000 meters elevation, continuing up into the zone of perpetual snow above 5,000 to 5,500 meters. There are about 90 peaks in Nepal over 7,000 meters (22,965') and eight giants exceeding 8,000 meters (26,246'), including earth's highest, Mount Everest at 8,848 meters and third highest, Kangchenjunga at 8,598 meters. Cutting between the various subranges of the Himalaya and north of them are alpine, often semi-arid valleys including Humla, Jumla, Mustang, Manang District and Kumbu that are lightly populated by people with Tibetan affinities called Bhotiya or Bhutia, the famous Sherpas in the Kumbu valley near Mount Everest. Bhote traditionally grazed yaks, grew cold-tolerant crops such as potatoes, barley and millet, and traded across the mountains, e.g. Tibetan salt for rice from lowlands in Nepal and India. Since the 1950s these mountain peoples have also found work as high altitude porters, guides, cooks and other accessories to tourism and alpinism. Bhote language and culture extend north into Tibet proper, with the international border following the Himalayan crest in eastern Nepal. In central and western Nepal the border mostly follows lower (~6,000 meter) ranges tens of kilometers north of the highest peaks, the watershed between the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basin.
Autumn: weather is clear and dry with mild to warm days and cold nights. In the higher altitude the nights drop into freezing temperatures. At this season the views are magnificent.
Winter: beginning December until mid march: This is the coldest time, day time temperatures will be cooler and nights very cold (below 0 degre), days are generally clear but occasional winter storms can bring snow as low as 2500 m. At this season trekking in high altitude is more challenging but on the very classical trails (Everest and Annapurnas) it is much more quiet.
Spring: from mid march until mid may: morning is clear but afternoon clouds build up bring occasional showers. Day is a mix up with warm and rain which displays wildflowers like rhododendrons, it is also the time for rice planting.
Summer (monsoon): trekking is difficult at this time and uncomfortable as the weather is hot and it rains almost every day. The trails become muddy and mountains are obscured by clouds.
At this time it is possible to trek in the Trans-Himalaya regions of Dolpo and Mustang. Because of their geographical situations these regions receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas
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