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The Kingdom of Nepal is a landlocked country situated between India and China's Tibetan Autonomous region. Nepal is famous for The Himalayan Mountains which are home to the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest. There is also the Hills region which includes the capital of Katmandu in the middle and the Flat lands of the Terai in the south – these three areas have a total of 50 ethnic groups whose agricultural methods and lifestyles are adapted to suit their respective environments.

Political instability has been a key feature of the Nepali state during the last two decades: Nepal has had 20 governments since the introduction of democracy in 1990 and the country is still emerging from a violent 10-year conflict. The transition to peace and stability is slowly occurring and progress has been made on several social fronts. However, inequality, discrimination and a lack of basic services still makes life difficult for many who were exposed to exploitation and abuse during the conflict period:

  • Thirty-seven per cent of the nation’s 29 million people live in severe poverty, according to UN figures
  • More than half, 55 per cent, live below the international poverty line
  • The literacy rate is only 59% compared to countries like Malaysia and Thailand whose rates are upwards of 90%.

Furthermore, Nepal's economic policy, logistical limitations (due to geography) and an absence of supporting infrastructure have tended to constrain foreign investment, especially in the manufacturing sector.

Sources: Ausaid, World Bank, DFAT, UN Multidimensional Poverty Index

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