Nepal, Kingdom on the Roof of the World
Nepal is a small but populous country of approximately 28 million located in the northern portion of the Indian subcontinent between India and China. Its capital is Kathmandu, which has a population of 800,000. Nepal is a land of many climates and varied topography, ranging from humid lowland plains in the south bordering India to the icy reaches of the Himalayan Mountains. Eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains are in Nepal, including the tallest of all, Mount Everest. Nepal’s renowned Sherpa mountain guides are essential when doing any serious mountain climbing in the upper Himalayas. The most famous of the Sherpas was Tenzing Norgay, who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful climb to Everest’s summit in 1953.
Nepal has a long and colorful history that is reflected in its vibrant and colorful culture. In the modern era, Nepal formed a close friendship with the United Kingdom and provided soldiers to fight for the UK. Known as Ghurkas and renowned for their deadly skills with traditional wickedly curved Kukri knives, 100,000 fought for Britain in the First World War and were (and still are) stationed in hot spots around the world. For example, the Singapore Police Force’s Gurkha Contingent (GC) has been the city-state’s top internal security force since 1949.
Nepal is a very poor nation and the majority of its people survive through subsistence agriculture. This is complicated by the rugged nature of the land, and deforestation has increased the severity of flooding in the steep mountain valleys. International tourism has increased in recent decades, assisted by improvements in transportation infrastructure and the eagerness of Nepal’s people and government to establish a viable tourist industry.