Nepal General Information
Language: Nepali (official) & 20 other languages divided into numerous dialects. Derived from Sanskrit, Nepali is related to the Indian language, Hindi, and is spoken by about 90 percent of the population in either native or second language fluency. Many Nepalese in government and business also speak English.
Time Zone: 5 hrs 45 min ahead of GMT
Currency: 1 Nepalese Rupee (NR) divided into 100 paise Exchange Rate: 74.5 NR = 1 US Dollar
International Calling Code: 977 + city codes (Kathmandu 1, Pokhara 61)
National Calendar: The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months: Baisakh, Jestha, Asadh, Shrawan, Bhadra, Aswin, Kartik, Marga, Poush, Phalgun, Chaitra. Saturday is the official weekly holiday.
National Motto: "The Motherland Is Worth More than the Kingdom of Heaven."
National Bird: Danphe
National Flower: the spectacular rhododendron 'gras' in Nepali
Area Total: 140,800 km2, Area Land: 136,800 km2
arable land: 17%
permanent pastures: 15%
forests and woodland: 42%
Geography: landlocked; strategic location between India and Chinese-occupied Tibet; extremely diverse terrain ranging from fertile plains and broad valleys to containing eight of the world's ten highest peaks.
Climate: Nepal has a climate that ranges from subtropical summers with mild winters in the southern lowlands to an alpine climate with cool summers as well as severe winters in the mountains. Average annual precipitation decreases from 1,778 mm (70 inches) in the east to 899 mm (35 inches) in the west.
Ethnic Groups: Among the earliest inhabitants were the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharus in the southern Terai region. The Indo-Nepalese migrated from India and are ancestors of the Brahman and Chetri caste groups, which account for nearly 80% of the population. The Tibeto-Nepalese account for the remainder and trace their origins to central Asia and Tibet, including the Gurungs, Magars and Tamang in the west, Rais and Limbus in the east, and Sherpas and Bhotias in the north.
Religion: 90% Hindu (official state religion) 5% Buddhist, 3% Muslim, 2% Other (Christian, indigenous & animistic practices) While Nepal is the only Hindu country in the world, Hinduism has synthesized with Buddhism in Nepal. As a result, Buddhist and Hindu shrines and festivals are respected and celebrated by all.
Population: 23,200,000 (2001 census)
Population growth rate: 2.27% (2001 census)
Kathmandu Valley Population Growth: 6%+ (2001 census)
Birth rate: 33.83 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Death rate: 10.41 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 75.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total: 57.84 years
Male: 58.3 years, female: 57.35 years (2000 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.68 children born/woman (2000 est.)
Sex Distribution: 49.5% male, 50.5% female (2001 census)
Distribution: 15% Urban, 85% Rural (2001 census)
Note: refugee issue over the presence in Nepal of approximately 96,500 Bhutanese refugees, 90% of whom are in 7 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps.
GDP: $US 27.2 billion
Rank: 77 / 191 countries (2000)
'Real' GDP per capita: $1,101 Rank: 159 / 191 (2000)
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with nearly half of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population and accounting for 40% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco and grain. Production of textiles and carpets has expanded recently and accounted for about 80% of foreign exchange earnings in the past three years. Apart from agricultural land and forests, exploitable natural resources are mica, hydropower and tourism. Agricultural production is growing by about five percent on average as compared with annual population growth of 2.5%. Since May 1991, the government has been moving forward with economic reforms particularly those that encourage trade and foreign investment.
The government has also been cutting expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries and laying off civil servants. More recently, however, political instability—five different governments over the past few years—has hampered Kathmandu’s ability to forge consensus to implement key economic reforms. Nepal has considerable scope for accelerating economic growth by exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors remain poor due to the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community funds more than 60% of the development budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures. Remittances from Nepalese working abroad, nearly $1 billion in 1997, continue to be a significant source of foreign exchange.
Economic Performance: Nepal experienced positive upswings in most economic sectors during the past fiscal year of 1999/2000, growth of just under 11%, and projected to achieve a growth rate of six% in 2000/01. Much of this growth was spawned by the growth in the agriculture sector. Inflation declined in the first half of 1999/2000 reaching 2% in Dec 2000 as food prices stabilized.
Currency in Nepal
The currency of Nepal is called Nepalese Rupee in English or Nepali Rupayiaah in Nepalese language. It is different from the various other Rupees that are prevalent in the Indian sub-continents such as Indian Rupee, Pakistani Rupee or Sri Lankan Rupee. The Nepalese Rupee has a photo of its Excellency printed on it or minted in case of coins. The smallest unit of a Rupee is called Paise. 1 Paise is equal to 100th part of 1 Rupee. The coins are generally in 5 denominations, 10 Paise, 25 Paise, 50 Paise, 1 Rupee and 2 Rupees.
The currency notes are of various denominations. The smallest denomination is 1 Rupee note. Apart from that, you have 2 Rupees, 5 Rupees, 10 Rupees, 20 Rupees, 25 Rupees, 50 Rupees, 100 Rupees, 500 Rupees and 1000 Rupees currency notes. The Nepalese currency is universally recognized and can be converted in any currency. It is a fully convertible currency. This can be done at money-exchanges.
There are lots of money-exchange centers in Nepal. This includes both Government affiliated and private operated ones. You can find money-exchangers in every corner of big cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhra. In smaller towns too, there are solitary money exchangers. Try to deal with the government affiliated ones if you don't know the nuances of money exchanging but if you have done the minutes then it is better to deal with private operators. Of course it is not bad if you save a couple of Dollars.