Situated in the lap of the Himalayas, Nepal offers sublime beauty and is a land of dreams for many visitors. The land of Mt. Everest, Lord Buddha and so much natural wilderness always welcomes and fascinates visitors with its unique features and mysterious attractions, all situated close to one another. This small country encapsulates the most diverse geo-topographical, cultural, socio-ethnic and biological varieties on earth. Those who have already visited Nepal wish to return and those who have heard or read about Nepal plan to visit.
Geographically, land locked Nepal is sandwiched between China and India at 26°12′ – 30°27′ N and 80°40′ – 88°12′ E, has a size of 147,181 sq.km and a population of around 28 million. Kathmandu is its capital city. The altitudes vary from 65m to 8,848m at the top of the world’s highest mountain peak, the Mt. Everest. Nepal comprises eight of the world’s highest mountain peaks above 8,000m, large fertile lands in the Terai, deep gorges (among them the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali-Gandaki), fountain springs, as well as swift and roaring rivers which tumble down directly from the Himalayas. The climate varies from sub-tropical in the lowlands to arctic at higher Himalayan regions.
UNESCO has identified eight cultural heritage sites in Nepal, namely Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Changunarayan and Lumbini, the first seven of which are located in the Kathmandu valley, as well as two natural heritage sites, namely Sagarmatha National Park (also known as Mt. Everest National Park) and Chitwan National Park.
Buddhists along with Muslims and Christians live in harmony celebrating their festivals like Dashain – Tihar, Chad, Buddha Purnima, Loshars, Eid, Christmas etc. respectively. More than 100 different ethnic groups speak their various languages and follow their cultural practices and rituals.
Nepal is also rich in biological diversity. For example, more than 6000 flowering plants, 470 lichens and 300 orchids can be found in Nepal as well as more than 660 species of butterflies, 185 species of fish, 195 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals and 885 species of birds, the latter being about 9% of the worldwide number of species. Endemic species bird, Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) only found in Nepal. Himalayan Field Mouse (Apodemusgurkha) and the Csorba’s Mouse-eared Bat (Myotiscsorbai). Laliguras (Rhododendron arboreum) and Himalayan Monal (Lophophorusimpejanus) are the national flower and bird respectively. Some of the charismatic and flagship species that are found in Nepal arethe Bengal Tiger, the One-horned Rhinoceros, the Asiatic Wild Elephant, the Gangetic Dolphin, the Snow Leopard, the Bengal Florican, the Red-headed Vulture, the Giant Hornbill, the Sarus Crane, the Rock Python, and the Ghariyal.