Landlocked between India and China, the Nepalese border contains 8 of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world. Famous for its breathtaking topography, Nepal holds sanctity for many outdoor-adventure enthusiasts. The Himalayas contribute to the remoteness and inaccessibility in the region that have helped shape the history and cultural ways of the people who live among them.
Visitors to Nepal enthusiastically recognize the Nepalese for their kindness and generosity despite the considerable poverty and hardship prevalent there. The Nepalese are diverse--made up of many ethnic and language groups. Amongst a majority of practicing Hindus, there are also sizable numbers of Buddhists, Muslims and other indigenous religious groups. Amongst the Nepalese, 80 percent live rurally and an almost equal number survive by subsistence agriculture.
Agriculture is the foundation of Nepal’s economy, accounting for about one-third of the GDP. The majority of industrial activity involves the processing of agricultural products, such as pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Nepal has considerable potential to make use of hydropower (with an estimated 42,000 MW of feasible capacity). Political instability in Nepal has hindered investment and development. Over the last several decades’, governance in Nepal has been consistently challenged and unstable. No government since 1991 has held power for more then 24 months. In 1990, Nepal shifted from an absolute to parliamentary monarchy, and, in 2007, abolished the monarchy in favor of becoming a federal republic. A decade long civil war and major political related causalities have resulted in social trauma. Additional challenges to Nepal's growth include its landlocked location, geographic complexity, and its susceptibility to natural disaster.
Nepal is what the UN defines as a Least Developed Country (LDC) and its markers of development have remained well below the Asian average. With a GDP per capita (PPP/capita) at $1,200 (2010 est.), Nepal ranks 22nd from the bottom out of 227 countries. These statistics are reflected in low levels of literacy, short life expectancy, high infant mortality, as well as poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Over 85% of Nepalese have no access to healthcare.
There are many generous, hardworking, and resourceful Nepalese working with local and international organizations and initiatives to build community capacity. Check out Nepal’s small scale community innovation projects, which work towards improved education and community schools, food security, agricultural commercialization, eco-tourism, safe drinking water supplies, herbal processing, marketing, handicraft development, small irrigation, micro-hydro, forest management, bio-fuel, wind energy, and pasture management.