Nepal is very mountainous and hilly. Roughly rectangular in shape, about 650 kilometer long and about 200 kilometer wide, Nepal is the third biggest country in South Asia, with an area of 147,181 square kilometer of land. Nepal is a land-locked country, surrounded by India on three sides and by China's Xizang Autonomous Region (Tibet) to the north. It is separated from Bangladesh by an approximately fifteen kilometre - wide strip of India's state of West Bengal, and from Bhutan by the eighty-eight kilometre-wide Indian state of Sikkim. Due to its confined geographical position, Nepal is almost totally dependent on India for transit facilities and access to the sea-that is, the Bay of Bengal. . Despite its small size, Nepal has great physical diversity, ranging from the Terai plain the northern rim of the Gangetic Plain situated at about 300 meters above sea level in the south - to the almost 8,800-meter-high Mount Everest, locally known as Sagarmatha (its Nepali name), in the north. The country is commonly 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. The Mountain region or Parbat is situated at 4,000 meters or more above sea level to the north of the Hill Region. Some of the world's highest peaks are located in this region. The region is sparsely populated, and whatever farming activity exists is mostly confined to the low-lying valleys and the river basins, such as the upper Kali Gandaki Valley. South of the Mountain range is the Hill or Pahar region. With altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 meters, this region includes the Kathmandu valley, the country's most fertile and urbanized area. Two major ranges of hills, commonly known as the Mahabharat Lekh and Siwalik Range (or Churia Range), occupy the region. Although the region is geographically isolated and has little agricultural potential, the region has been historically the political and cultural centre of Nepal. The Kathmandu valley and the lower hill regions are densely populated. South of the Hill region, stretching along the Nepal-India border is the Terai region. It is a lowland tropical and subtropical belt of flat, alluvial land. Commencing at about 300 meters above sea level and rising to about 1,000 meters at the foot of the Siwalik Range, the region is the life line of the country. Rivers rising in the Himalayas emerge in the Terai and continue southward, some of them becoming tributaries of the Ganges in northern India. The region is susceptible to flooding, which occurs regularly with the summer monsoon runoff from the mountains. The fertile soils of the Terai make it the richest economic region, both in terms of farm and forest land. It has become the most coveted internal destination for the land hungry hill peasants. Nearly half of the country's population lives in this region.
According to 2003 estimate, Nepal has a population of 26.5 million with 13:58 million males and 12.88 million females. Since the 1950s, population has been rising at an average rate of more than 2 per cent per annum. The major factor contributing to the increase of population is high birth rate, decline in the infant mortality rates and increase in the average life expectancy. The 2003 estimates put the birth rate of Nepal at 32.46 births per 1000 population, whereas the death rate stands at 9.84 deaths per 1000 population. There is a geographic variation in the population growth. It is observed that the western part of Nepal gained more population as compared to the eastern part both in the mountainous and Terai region. The central part of the Hill region has also recorded the highest growth of population. This trend of population growth started in the 1970s and is likely to continue in future also. The highest densities were recorded in Kathmandu, followed by...
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