Nepal, officially known, according to its Interim Constitution, as the State of Nepal (previously known as Kingdom of Nepal) (Nepali: नेपाल [neˈpaːl] ) is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. It is bordered by Tibet to the north and by India (Bihar, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal) to the south, east and west.
For a small territory, the Nepali landscape is uncommonly diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. Eight of the world's ten highest mountains are in Nepal, including Mount Everest. The country is famous for: tourism, trekking, hiking, camping, mountain biking, national wildlife parks, jungle safaris, river rafting, sport fishing, and its many beautiful temples and places of worship.
Kathmandu is the capital and largest city. Other main cities include Dharan, Thimi, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Lalitpur (Patan), Bhaktapur. other main towns includes Birendranagar, Bharatpur, Nepal, Siddhartanagar (Bhairahawa), Birganj (Birgunj), Butwal, Janakpur, Nepalganj (Nepalgunj), Hetauda, Damak, Dhangadhi, and Mahendranagar.
After a long and rich history, during which the region splintered and coalesced under a variety of absolute rulers, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy in 1990. However, the monarchy retained many important and ill-defined powers. This arrangement was marked by increasing instability, both in the parliament and, since 1996, in large swathes of the country that have been fought over by Maoist insurgents. The Maoists, alienated from mainstream political parties, went underground and started a guerrilla war against both monarchy and mainstream political parties. They have sought to overthrow feudal institutions, including the monarchy, and establish a Maoist state.
This led to the Nepali Civil War in which more than 15,000 people have died. After the intra-party conflict within the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) on the issue of continuation of state of emergency to deal with Maoist insurgents, then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba recommended the king for the dissolution of lower house seeking a fresh mandate in 2002. The king accepted his recommendation and dissolved the house as per the constitution. Later on, Deuba recommended the king for the postponement of the parliamentary election on the pretext of insecurity due to the Maoist insurgency. Then the king sacked Deuba in 2002 on the grounds of not able to hold elections and started ruling through prime ministers appointed by him. He then unilaterally declared a state of emergency early in 2005 and assumed all executive powers.
Following the 2006 democracy movement, the king agreed to relinquish the sovereign power back to the people and reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives on April 24, 2006. Using its newly acquired sovereign authority, on May 18, 2006, the newly resumed House of Representatives unanimously passed a motion to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state. As of September, 2006, a complete rewrite of the constitution was still expected to happen in the near future.
As of July 2007, many of Nepal's new political leaders, including the former Maoist rebels, now want the monarchy abolished. The king has already lost his powers as head of state and head of the army and the government has decided to stop paying all allowances.