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The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is located in the Himalayas of South Asia. The landlocked country is surrounded by China and India, and separated from Bangladesh by only seventeen miles.

Situated between the Tibetan plateau and the subcontinental plains of China and India, Nepal has long served as a resting place for travelers, traders, and pilgrims, although the current state of Nepal didn't emerge until the 18th century.

The earliest known people in the region were the Hindu Kiratis, who came in the 7th century BC, establishing a kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley. In the 6th century BC, Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born near Lumbini. He later embarked on a path of meditation that led him to become known as the Buddha, and the Buddhist religion grew up around him.

It is uncertain just when Hinduism was introduced to Nepal, but it was reasserted in 300 AD, when the Licchavis, from northern India, defeated the Kiratis. Over the centuries, Hinduism supplanted Buddhism as the majority religion in Nepal. Today, more than 80% of the Nepali people adhere to Hinduism. However, there was a great deal of intermingling of Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. Hindus in Nepal have long worshipped at Buddhist temples and vice versa, as the two religions have common roots, and were not always viewed as separate religions. There has traditionally been no religious conflicts between Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal. Fewer than 9% of the Nepali population lists Buddhism as their religion. Other minority religions are Islam, Kiratist, Christian, Sikhism, and Jainism.

A succession of Malla kings came to power in 1200, primarily in the Kathmandu Valley, after having been exiled from India. They remained in power for more than five hundred years, despite dealing with natural disasters and a Muslim invasion. However, after the death of one of the Malla kings in 1482, the Kathmandu Valley was divided up between his three sons, not to be reunited until the mid-1700s.

Beginning in 1744, Prithvi Narayan Shah, ruler of a small kingdom named Gorkha, began taking land in the Kathmandu Valley, unifying the region by 1769, ending Malla rule. Shah moved his capital from Gorkha to Kathmandu and established the Shah dynasty, which continued in some form up until 2008, although the original Shah died six years after unification.

Within that time, however, he had taken eastern Nepal and Sikkim., and and into Kumaon and Garhwal, up to the borders of the Punjab. As he turned toward India, he came under the scrutiny of the British, which led to the first Anglo-Nepali War. Although the British won in two years, they were so impressed with the Gurkha fighting force that they incorporated Gurkha mercenaries into their own army, a practice still in use.

A treaty imposed by the British in 1816 ended Nepal's expansion and established its current boundaries. Britain sent a Resident to Kathmandu to monitor the situation, but did not colonize Nepal.

Following its defeat, Nepal isolated itself from foreign contact from 1816 to 1951, the British residents that the Nepali were forced to accept being the only Westerners permitted within the borders of Nepal during this period.

In 1923, Britain acknowledged Nepal's independence, at which time the kingdom of Gorkha became the kingdom of Nepal.

In 1951, a previous Nepali king was restored to power with assistance from India, and a new government was established. Nepal began the process of reopening its borders and establishing relations with other nations. After a brief flirtation with democracy, power was again placed largely in the hands of the king. Mass arrests, torture, and censorship was common, and members of the opposition party were in and out of prison from 1960 to 1990.

In early 1990, after months of rioting, strikes, and international pressure, Nepal became a democracy. The Communist Party came to power by popular vote.

Within a few years, a more radical Maoist communist group waged war against the elected government, at one point controlling 40% of the country. By 2005, there were thousands of deaths, summary executions, abductions, and reports of torture and child conscription. In 2001, the Crown Prince shot nearly every member of the royal family before shooting himself. He was pronounced king while in a coma, but died two days later.

Today, Nepal is a federal parliamentary democracy, but it is among the ten poorest countries in the world, with high income disparity. Agriculture employs more than 75% of the Nepali workforce, while just under 20% are employed in various service sector industries related to tourism, and just over 5% are employed in industry or crafts.

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