The history of Nepal is characterized by its isolated position in the Himalayas and its two neighbors, India and China. Due to the arrival of disparate settler groups from outside through the ages, it is now a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual country. Its population is predominantly Hindu with significant presence of Buddhists, who were in majority at one time in the past. Central Nepal was split in three kingdoms from the 15th to 18th century, when it was unified under the Gorkha monarchy. The national language of Nepal is called 'Nepali', a name given - long after unification of Nepal - to the language called Khas Kura. Nepal experienced a failed struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strife. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year. Many of the ills of Nepal have been blamed on the royal family of Nepal. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalis voted to oust the monarchy in Nepal. In June 2008, Nepalis ousted the royal household. Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.
The word Nepal is first attested in the Atharvaveda Parisista; it is derived from an older from of Nepa (नेपा:), the name of Kathmandu valley in Nepal Bhasa, the language of Newars, who were the early inhabitants of the valley, long before the unification of Nepal. Nepal Sambat, one of the three main calendars of Nepal has been in use since October 879 CE. Other, folk etymologies include:
"Nepal" may be derived from the Sanskrit nipalaya, which means "at the foot of the mountains" or "abode at the foot", a reference to its location in relation to the Himalayas. Thus, it may be an Eastern equivalent of the European toponym "Piedmont." It has been suggested that the name comes from the Tibetan niyampal, which means "holy land". A third theory suggests that Nepal came from compounding the words NE, which means wool, and PAL, which means a tented house; a long time ago, Nepal used to produce a lot of wool and the houses were used to store the wool - hence the word NE-PAL. The name Nepal is also supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit word "NEP"(नेप), with the suffix "AL" (आल) added to it; though still under controversy, NEP were the people who use to be cow herders - the GOPALS (गोपाल) - who came to the Nepal valley for the first time from the Ganges plain of India. According to Nepali scholar Rishikesh Shaha, the ancient chronicles report that a sage (muni) named Ne became the protector (pāla) of this land and the founder of its first ruling dynasty. The name of the country, Ne-pāla, therefore originally meant the land 'protected by Ne.'
Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living there for at least 9,000 years. It appears that people who were probably of Kirant ethnicity lived in Nepal more than 2,500 years ago. The Kirant are a tribe of jungle and mountain people who migrated from various parts of Central Asia, China and the Himalayas. Legends and Ancient times
Though very little is known about the early history of Nepal, legends and documented references reach back to the first millennium BCE:
The epic Mahabharata mentions the Kiratas among the inhabitants of Nepal. Kirati king Yalambar had the dubious honor of being slain in the battle of the Mahabharata, in which gods and mortals fought alongside each other. Legend credits him with meeting Indra, the lord of heaven, who ventured into the Valley in human guise. It is said that during the battle of Mahabharata, Yalamber went to witness the battle with a view to take the side of the losing party. Lord Krishna, knowing the intention of Yalamber and the strength and unity of the Kiratas, thought that the war would unnecessarily be prolonged if Yalamber sided...