Nepal - Encounter Culture
On April 25th, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude hit near the capital of Kathmandu, causing widespread devastation and a death toll which as of April 28, 2015, has surpassed 5,000 people. Casualties have been reported in Nepal and adjoining areas of India, China, and Bangladesh.
Within minutes of the earthquake, the Government of India, initiated Operation Maitri (English: Operation Amity), a massive humanitarian mission with the primary objective of conducting relief and rescue operations in Nepal, and also evacuated Indian and foreign citizens from Nepal.
Here’s how you can help:
The Nepal Red Cross Society is the epicenter of the relief efforts and is a direct way to help the people of Nepal. The organization is providing first aid, search and rescue, blood to medical facilities and support to first responders. Here is its online donation link; please note that their website connectivity is on and off, so you might not be able to get through.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is prepping resources from its hubs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The federation is releasing funds from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support vital services including food, shelter, water and sanitation. You can aid their efforts by donating here.
Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country located in South Asia. With an area of 147,181 square kilometers (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 27 million. Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People’s Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. Nepal is separated from Bangladesh by the narrow Indian Siliguri Corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and largest metropolis.
The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmāthā in the Nepali language. More than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level are located in Nepal. The southern Terai region is fertile and humid.
Hinduism is practiced by about 81.3% of Nepalis, the highest percentage of any country. Buddhism is linked historically with Nepal and is practiced by 9% of its people, followed by Islam at 4.4%, Kiratism 3.1%, Christianity 1.4%, and animism 0.4%. A large portion of the population, especially in the hill region, may identify themselves as both Hindu and Buddhist, which can be attributed to the syncretic nature of both faiths in Nepal.
A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768—when Prithvi Narayan Shah unified its many small kingdoms until 2008. A decade-long Civil War involving the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), followed by weeks of mass protests by all major political parties, led to the 12-point agreement of 22 November 2005. The ensuing elections for the 1st Nepalese Constituent Assembly on 28 May 2008 overwhelmingly favored the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a federal multiparty representative democratic republic. Despite continuing political challenges, this framework remains in place, with the 2nd Nepalese Constituent Assembly elected in 2013 in an effort to create a new constitution.
Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometers (497 mi) long and 200 kilometers (124 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 km2 (56,827 sq mi). See List of territories by size for the comparative size of Nepal. It lies between latitudes 26° and 31°N, and longitudes 80° and 89°E.
Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: Mountain, Hill and Terai. These ecological belts run east to west and are vertically intersected by Nepal’s major, north to south flowing river systems.
The southern lowland plains or Terai bordering India are part of the northern rim of the Indo-Gangetic plains. They were formed and are fed by three major Himalayan rivers: the Kosi, theNarayani, and the Karnali as well as smaller rivers rising below the permanent snowline. This region has a subtropical to tropical climate. The outermost range of foothills called Shiwalik or Churia Range cresting at 700 to 1,000 meters (2,297 to 3,281 ft) marks the limit of the Gangetic Plain, however broad, low valleys called Inner Tarai (Bhitri Tarai Uptyaka) lie north of these foothills in several places.
The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 800 to 4,000 meters (2,625 to 13,123 ft) in altitude with progression from subtropical climates below 1,200 meters (3,937 ft) to alpine climates above 3,600 meters (11,811 ft). The Mahabharat Range reaching 1,500 to 3,000 meters (4,921 to 9,843 ft) is the southern limit of this region, with subtropical river valleys and “hills” alternating to the north of this range. Population density is high in valleys but notably less above 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) and very low above 2,500 meters (8,202 ft) where snow occasionally falls in winter.
The Mountain Region (Himal), situated in the Great Himalayan Range, makes up the northern part of Nepal. It contains the highest elevations in the world including 8,848 meters (29,029 ft) height Mount Everest (Sagarmāthā in Nepali) on the border with China. Seven other of the world’s eight thousand meter peaks are in Nepal or on its border with China: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.
Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 meters (3,937 to 7,874 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 meters (7,874 to 11,811 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 meters (11,811 to 14,436 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 meters (14,436 ft).
Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns. In a land once thickly forested, deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems.
Nepal is popular for mountaineering, having some of the highest and most challenging mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Technically, the southeast ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb; so, most climbers prefer to trek to Everest through Nepal.