Part I — Nepal: People & Places
Nestled in the Himalayan Mountains between Tibet, China; and India sits the nation of Nepal. This is a land full of nearly anything you can imagine. From Hindu pagodas and Mount Everest to villages filled with evidence of the 2,500-year-old Nepal culture and history;2 you can find people from around the world, history like nowhere else, and the majestic mountain vistas offered only by the Himalayas.
Nepal has a lengthy history tied to Tibet, China, India, and some influence from the British colonial days.3 According to a Library of Congress article, Nepal has existed as a kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley for some 1,500 years.3
In 1743 modern Nepal rose from the slopes and valleys of the Himalayas valleys under the House of Gorkha led by King Prithvi Narayan Shah.4 King Prithvi desired to unify the many separate kingdoms throughout what is now Nepal. By force he conquered many principalities until he held strategic positions around the Kathmandu Valley. When Kathmandu was captured in 1769, it became the capital of the future Nepal. King Prithvi continued to extend his kingdom until his death in 1775. (Compare to US history, this was one year before independence was declared from Great Britian.) The influence of King Prithvi had brought many ethnically and religiously diverse people together under one national ruler and established guidelines for the nation’s foreign policy for centuries to follow. 4
In the early 19th century, the House of Gorkha came into conflict with the British East India Company and sparked the AngloNepalese War (1814 -16) which proved disastrous for Nepal and reduced the kingdom to its present size.3 Soon after, a period of Nepal’s own politics followed under what is called the Rana Rule. This was the rule of hereditary dictators which began in 1846 and lasted more than a century.3 These dictators used their positions as heads of state and the support of the military to build stability for the country. This provided Nepal with a time for growth but the oppressive dictators greatly inhibited political and economic development by secluding the country from other nations and strictly limiting internal affairs. Continue reading