Thursday, July 23, 2015

Oahu, Honolulu of Hawaii

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oʻahu
Nickname: The Gathering Place
Oahu (1).jpg
Satellite photo of Oʻahu
Map of Hawaii highlighting Oahu.svg
Geography
Location 21°28′N 157°59′WCoordinates: 21°28′N 157°59′W
Area 596.7 sq mi (1,545 km2)
Area rank 3rd largest Hawaiian Island
Highest elevation 4,003 ft (1,220.1 m)
Highest point Kaʻala
Country
United States

Symbols
Flower ʻIlima
Color Melemele (yellow)
Demographics
Population 983,429 (as of 2013)
Density 1,636 /sq mi (631.7 /km2)
Aerial view of Oʻahu with freeways and highways, 3D computer-generated image
Fly-around tour of the island
Oʻahu (pronounced [oˈʔɐhu]) or Oahu /ˈɑːh/, known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands; however, it is home to about two-thirds of the population of the U.S. state of Hawaii, and is the home of Honolulu International Airport. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oʻahu's southeast coast. Including small close-in offshore islands such as Ford Island and the islands in Kaneohe Bay and off the eastern (windward) coast, it has a total land area of 596.7 square miles (1,545.4 km2), making it the 20th largest island in the United States.[1]
In the greatest dimension, this volcanic island is 44 miles (71 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) across. The length of the shoreline is 227 miles (365 km). The island is the result of two separate shield volcanoes: Waiʻanae and Koʻolau, with a broad "valley" or saddle (the central Oʻahu Plain) between them. The highest point is Ka'ala in the Waiʻanae Range, rising to 4,003 feet (1,220 m) above sea level.[2]

Introduction

The island is home to about 976,199 people (approximately 72% of the resident population of the state, with approximately 81% of those living on the "city" side of the island). Oʻahu has for a long time been known as "The Gathering Place". However, the term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself.[3] Ancient Hawaiian tradition attributes the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates that he named the island after a son.
Residents of Oʻahu refer to themselves as "locals" (as done throughout Hawaiʻi), no matter their ancestry.
The city of Honolulu—largest city, state capital, and main deepwater marine port for the State of Hawaiʻi—is located here. As a jurisdictional unit, the entire island of Oʻahu is in the City & County of Honolulu, although as a place name, Honolulu occupies only a portion of the southeast end of the island.
Well-known features found on Oʻahu include Waikīkī, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kāneʻohe Bay, Kailua Bay, North Shore.
Being roughly diamond-shaped, surrounded by ocean and divided by mountain ranges, directions on Oʻahu are not generally described with the compass directions found throughout the world. Locals instead use "ewa" (pronounced "eh-va") to mean toward the western tip of the island, "Diamond Head" to be toward the eastern tip, "mauka" (pronounced "moww-ka") is toward the mountains and "makai" toward the sea.
Locals consider the island to be divided into various areas, which may overlap. The most commonly accepted areas are the "City", "Town" or "Town side", which is the metropolitan area from Halawa to the area below Diamond Head (residents of the island north of the Koʻolau Mountains consider the Town Side to be the entire southern half); "West Oʻahu," which goes from Pearl Harbor to Kapolei, Ewa and may include the Makaha and Waianae areas; the "North Shore" (northwestern coast); the "Windward Side" (northeastern coast); the "East Side" (the eastern portion of the island, including both the Windward Side and the area east of Diamond Head; and "The Valley" or "Central Oʻahu" which runs northwest from Pearl Harbor toward Haleiwa. These terms are somewhat flexible, depending on the area in which the user lives, and are used in a mostly general way. Oahu is also known for having the longest rain shower in history with over 200 days spent with continuous rain. Kaneohe Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii reported 247 straight days with rain from August 27, 1993 to April 30, 1994. The island has many nicknames one of them being "rainbow state." This is because rainbows are a common sight in Hawaii due to the frequent rain showers. The average temperature in Oahu is around 70 to 85 degrees and the island is the warmest in June through October. The weather during the winter is cooler, but still warm with the average temperature of 68-78 degrees.
The Windward side, also called the east side, is known for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Lani Kai meaning "heavenly sea" in Hawaiian, is characterized by the two islands directly in front of Lani Kai beach. Lani Kai Beach is located in a neighborhood within Kailua, on the windward coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This small 1/2 mile beach has been consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world.[4]

History

Pearl Harbor is the home of the largest U.S. Navy fleet in the Pacific. The harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese bringing the United States into World War II.
The 300-year-old Kingdom of Oʻahu was once ruled by the most ancient Aliʻi in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The first great king of Oʻahu was Mailikukahi, the law maker, who was followed by many generation of monarchs. Kualii was the first of the warlike kings and so were his sons. In 1773, the throne fell upon Kahahana, the son of Elani of Ewa. In 1783 Kahekili II, King of Maui, conquered Oʻahu and deposed the reigning family and then made his son Kalanikupule king of Oʻahu. Kamehameha the Great would conquer in the mountain Kalanikupule's force in the Battle of Nuʻuanu. Kamehameha founded the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with the conquest of Oʻahu in 1795. Hawaiʻi would not be unified until the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau surrendered under King Kaumualii in 1810. Kamehameha III moved his capital from Lāhainā, Maui to Honolulu, Oʻahu in 1845. ʻIolani Palace, built later by other members of the royal family, is still standing, and is the only royal palace on American soil.
Oʻahu was apparently the first of the Hawaiian Islands sighted by the crew of HMS Resolution on January 19, 1776 during Captain James Cook's third Pacific expedition. Escorted by HMS Discovery, the expedition was surprised to find high islands this far north in the central Pacific. Oʻahu was not actually visited by Europeans until February 28, 1779 when Captain Charles Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke had taken command of the ship after Capt. Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay (island of Hawaiʻi) on February 14, and was leaving the islands for the North Pacific.
The Imperial Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu on the morning of December 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II. The surprise attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Forces and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed twelve American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and resulted in the deaths of 2,335 American servicemen and 68 civilians (of those, 1,177 were the result of the destruction of the USS Arizona alone).
An earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck the island of Hawai'i and the surrounding islands at 07:07:49 HST on October 15, 2006, causing an island-wide power outage and over $200 million in damage.
Today, Oʻahu has become a tourism and shopping haven. Over five million visitors (mainly from the American mainland and Japan) flock there every year to enjoy the quintessential island holiday experience.

Tourist attractions

Waikīkī Beach is one of the best known beaches in the world.
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near the island's eastern shore
Mokoliʻi island, also known as Chinaman's Hat, offshore of Kualoa Valley

Top beaches

Attractions

Hanauma Bay

In media

Friday, July 3, 2015

Shen Yun Performing Arts

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shen Yun Performing Arts
Dance company
Founded 2006
Headquarters Cuddebackville, New York
Area served
Worldwide
Divisions New York Company, International Company, Touring Company
Website shenyun.com
Shen Yun Performing Arts
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 神韻藝術團
Simplified Chinese 神韵艺术团
Japanese name
Hiragana しんいんげいじゅつだん
Shinjitai 神韻芸術団
Shen Yun Performing Arts, formerly known as Divine Performing Arts, is a performing-arts and entertainment company based in New York.[1] It performs classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dance, and story-based dance,[2] with orchestral accompaniment and solo performers. The Shen Yun website translates the phrase shen yun as "the beauty of divine beings dancing".[3]
Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual discipline,[4][5] with the mission of reviving "the essence of 5000 years of Chinese culture," which it states to have been nearly destroyed by the Chinese government.[6] Performances around the world are hosted by local Falun Dafa Associations.
The group is composed of four performing arts companies: The New York Company, The Touring Company, and the International Company, with of a total of over 200 performers. For seven months a year, Shen Yun Performing Arts tours to over 130 cities across Europe, North America, Oceania, and Asia.[7] Shen Yun's shows have been staged in several leading theaters, including New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,[8] London’s Royal Festival Hall, Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center, Paris' Le Palais de Congrès.[5] The company has performed extensively in Taiwan,[9] but has yet to perform in Mainland China or Hong Kong. The show's acts and production staff are trained at Shen Yun’s headquarters in Cuddebackville, in Orange County, New York.[7]

Contents

History

Expatriate Chinese Falun Gong practitioners living in North America founded Shen Yun in 2006 in New York.[10] The company’s first tour took place in 2007, when the company comprised 90 dancers, musicians, soloists and production staff.[11][12] Shen Yun states that its underlying mission is to "revive the essence of 5000 years of Chinese culture", which it asserts to have been nearly demolished by the Chinese Communist government.[6] Initially the shows were titled "Chinese Spectacular",[4][5] "Holiday Wonders",[13] Chinese New Year Splendor, and "Divine Performing Arts", but now the company performs under the name "Shen Yun." As of 2009, Shen Yun had expanded to three full companies and orchestras that tour the world simultaneously.[11] By the end of the 2010 season, approximately one million people had seen the troupe perform.[7]

Content

Each year, Shen Yun creates original productions lasting 2.5 hours and consisting of approximately 20 vignettes featuring classical Chinese dance and ethnic dance, as well as solo musicians and operatic singing.[7][14] Before each act, bilingual MCs introduce the upcoming performance in Chinese and in local languages.[7][15]

Dance

Each touring company consists of approximately 60 male and female dancers, and large-scale group dance is at the center of Shen Yun productions.[5] The shows mainly feature what is described on the company’s website as "classical Chinese dance" – a comprehensive dance system passed down through thousands of years and which is recognizable in part for its extensive use of acrobatic and tumbling techniques, forms and postures.[12][16]
Shen Yun’s repertoire draws on stories from Chinese history and legends, such as legend of Mulan,[2][17] Journey to the West[18] and Outlaws of the Marsh.[19] It also depicts “the story of Falun Gong today”.[11][20] During the 2010 production, for instance, at least two out of 16 scenes depicted the "persecution and murder of Falun Gong practitioners" in contemporary China, including the beating of a young mother to death, and the jailing of a Falun Gong protester. In addition to classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun also draws inspiration from the spirit of various ethnicities, including Yi, Miao, and Mongolian dance.[21]
Shen Yun describes classical Chinese dance as comprising three core components: bearing (yun), form, and technical skill.[4] Technical skill describes the physical techniques of jumping, flipping, and leaping. Form encompasses the subtle expressive movements and postures that make up Chinese dance. Finally, bearing is described by Shen Yun as referring to the "inner spirit…something resembling cultural DNA or an ethnic flavor" that allows the dancer's emotional state to be conveyed.[22] Because the "bearing" (yun) of classical Chinese dance is related to a society's culture, some of what makes up the distinct Chinese bearing has been "lost in the process" since the cultural changes of the Communist revolution, according to Shen Yun choreographer Vina Lee.[4] Lee relates that dancers must "refine their moral character" in order to "convey the transcendence and spiritual realm that is the very soul of Chinese culture".[23]

Music

Shen Yun dances are accompanied by a Western philharmonic orchestra that integrates several traditional Chinese instruments, including the pipa, suona, dizi, guzheng, and a variety of Chinese percussion instruments.[7][24] There are solo performances featuring Chinese instruments such as the erhu.[4][14] Interspersed between dance sequences are operatic singers performing songs which sometimes invoke spiritual or religious themes, including references to the Falun Gong faith.[7][25] A performance in 2007, for instance, included reference to the Chakravartin, a figure in Buddhism who turns the wheel of Dharma.[26]
The company counts a number of noted musicians among its ranks. Three performers—flutist Ningfang Chen, erhuist Mei Xuan and tenor Guan Guimin—were recipients of the Chinese Ministry of Culture’s “National First Class Performer” awards. Prior to joining Shen Yun, Guan Guimin was well known in China for his work on soundtracks for over 50 movies and television shows.[27][28] Other notable performers include Erhu soloist Xiaochun Qi.[29]

Costume and backdrops

Shen Yun’s dancers perform wearing intricate costumes, often accompanied by a variety of props.[4][7] Some costumes are intended to imitate the dress various ethnicities, while other depict ancient Chinese court dancers, soldiers, or characters from classic stories.[4] Props include colorful handkerchiefs, drums,[4] fans, chopsticks, or silk scarves.[20][30]
Each Shen Yun piece is set against a digitally projected backdrop, usually depicting landscapes such as Mongolian grasslands, imperial courts, ancient villages, temples, or mountains.[7][15][31] Not all the backdrops are static; some contain moving elements that integrate with the performance.[30]

Artists

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nepal (Lapen) :Niboer


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the country. For other uses, see Nepal (disambiguation).
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल
Sanghiya Loktāntrik Ganatantra Nepāl
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी (Sanskrit)
"Mother and Motherland are Greater than Heaven"
Anthem: Sayaun Thunga Phulka
"Made of Hundreds of Flowers"
Menu
0:00
Capital
and largest city
Kathmandu (Nepali: काठमाडौं)
27°42′N 85°19′E
Official languages Nepali
Recognised regional languages
Demonym Nepali, Nepalese, Gurkhas
Government Federal parliamentary republic
 -  President Ram Baran Yadav
 -  Vice President Parmanand Jha
 -  Prime Minister Sushil Koirala
Legislature Constituent Assembly
Unification
 -  Kingdom declared 25 September 1768[1] 
 -  State declared 15 January 2007 
 -  Republic declared 28 May 2008 
Area
 -  Total 147,181 km2 (95th)
56,827 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 2.8
Population
 -  2011 census 26,494,504[2]
 -  Density 180/km2 (62nd)
518/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $62.384 billion[3]
 -  Per capita $2,310 [4]
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $19.921 billion[5]
 -  Per capita $743[5]
Gini (2010) 32.8[6]
medium
HDI (2014) Increase 0.540[7]
low · 145th
Currency Nepalese rupee (NPR)
Time zone NPT (UTC+05:45)

DST not observed
Drives on the left
Calling code +977
ISO 3166 code NP
Internet TLD .np
Nepal (Listeni/nəˈpɔːl/;[8] Nepali: नेपाल [neˈpal]), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal,[9] is a landlocked country located in South Asia. With an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 27 million,[2] Nepal is the world's 93rd largest country by land mass[10] and the 41st most populous country. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by China and to the south, east, and west by 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 city 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 (Nepali: सगरमाथा Sagarmāthā). More than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level are located in Nepal.[11] 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%,[2] and animism 0.4%.[12] 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.[13]
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[1]—until 2008. A decade-long Civil War involving the Communist Party of Nepal, followed by weeks of mass protests by all major political parties, led to the 12-point agreement[14] 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. [15][16][17][18]
Nepal is a developing country with a low income economy, ranking 145th of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014. It continues to struggle with high levels of hunger and poverty. Despite these challenges, the country has been making steady progress, with the government making a commitment to graduate the nation from least developed country status by 2022.[19][20]

Etymology

The name of the country is identical in origin to the name of the Newar people. The terms "Nepāl", "Newār", "Newāl" and "Nepār" are phonetically different forms of the same word, and instances of the various forms appear in texts in different times in history. Nepal is the learned Sanskrit form and Newar is the colloquial Prakrit form.[21] A Sanskrit inscription dated 512 AD found in Tistung, a valley to the west of Kathmandu, contains the phrase "greetings to the Nepals" indicating that the term "Nepal" was used to refer to both the country and the people.[22][23]
The term "Newar" referring to "inhabitant of Nepal" appeared for the first time in an inscription dated 1654 AD in Kathmandu.[24] Italian Jesuit priest Ippolito Desideri (1684–1733) who traveled to Nepal in 1721 wrote that the natives of Nepal are called Newars.[25] It has been suggested that "Nepal" may be a Sanskritization of "Newar", or "Newar" may be a later form of "Nepal".[26] According to another explanation, the words "Newar" and "Newari" are vulgarisms arising from the mutation of P to V, and L to R.[27]
As a result of the phonological process of dropping the last consonant and lengthening the vowel, "Newā" for Newār or Newāl, and "Nepā" for Nepāl are used in ordinary speech.[28][29]
Local legends say that a Hindu sage named "Ne" established himself in the valley of Kathmandu in prehistoric times and that the word "Nepal" came into existence as the place was protected ("pala" in Pali) by the sage "Ne". According to the Skanda Purana, a rishi called "Ne" or "Nemuni" used to live in the Himalayas.[30] In the Pashupati Purana, he is mentioned as a saint and a protector.[31] He is said to have practised meditation at the Bagmati and Kesavati rivers[32] and to have taught there.[33]

History

Main article: History of Nepal
Lumbini, listed as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention

Ancient

Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least eleven thousand years.[34] The oldest population layer is believed to be represented by the Kusunda people.[35]
Nepal is first mentioned in the late Vedic Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭa as a place exporting blankets and in the post-Vedic Atharvashirsha Upanishad.[36] In Samudragupta's Allahabad Pillar it is mentioned as a bordering country. The Skanda Purana has a separate chapter known as "Nepal Mahatmya" that explains in more details about the beauty and power of Nepal.[37] Nepal is also mentioned in Hindu texts such as the Narayana Puja.[36]
Tibeto-Burman-speaking people probably lived in Nepal 2500 years ago.[38] However, there is no archaeologic evidence of the Gopal Bansa or Kirati rulers, only mention by the later Licchavi and Malla eras.[39]
Around 500 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the southern regions of Nepal. From one of these, the Shakya polity, arose a prince who later renounced his status to lead an ascetic life, founded Buddhism, and came to be known as Gautama Buddha (traditionally dated 563–483 BCE).
By 250 BCE, the southern regions came under the influence of the Maurya Empire of North India and Nepal later on became a nominal vassal state under the Gupta Empire in the fourth century CE. Beginning in the third century CE, the Licchavi Kingdom governed the Kathmandu Valley and the region surrounding central Nepal.
There is a quite detailed description of the kingdom of Nepal in the account of the renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk Xuanzang, dating from c. 645 CE.[40][41] Stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley are important sources for the history of Nepal.
The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late eighth century, probably due to the Tibetan Empire, and was followed by a Newar or Thakuri era, from 879 CE (Nepal Sambat 1), although the extent of their control over the present-day country is uncertain.[42] In the eleventh century it seems to have included the Pokhara area. By the late eleventh century, southern Nepal came under the influence of the Chalukya dynasty of South India. Under the Chalukyas, Nepal's religious establishment changed as the kings patronised Hinduism instead of the Buddhism prevailing at that time.

Medieval

Main article: Malla (Nepal)
Former royal palace at Basantapur, Kathmandu
In the early 12th century, leaders emerged in far western Nepal whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix malla ("wrestler"). These kings consolidated their power and ruled over the next 200 years, until the kingdom splintered into two dozen petty states. Another Malla dynasty, beginning with Jayasthiti, emerged in the Kathmandu valley in the late 14th century, and much of central Nepal again came under a unified rule. However, in 1482 the realm was divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

Kingdom of Nepal

Main article: Kingdom of Nepal
In the mid-18th century, Prithvi Narayan Shah, a Gorkha king, set out to put together what would become present-day Nepal. He embarked on his mission after seeking arms and aid from India and buying the neutrality of bordering Indian kingdoms. After several bloody battles and sieges, notably the Battle of Kirtipur, he managed to conquer the Kathmandu Valley in 1769. A detailed account of Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory was written by Father Giuseppe, an eyewitness to the war.[43]
Hindu temples in Patan, capital of one of the three medieval Newar kingdoms
Janaki Mandir, one of the famous temples of Janakpur, Nepal
The Gorkha dominion reached its height when the North Indian territories of the Kumaon and Garhwal Kingdoms in the west to Sikkim in the east came under Nepal rule. At its maximum extent, Greater Nepal extended from the Teesta River in the east, to Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, across the Sutlej in the west as well as further south into the Terai plains and north of the Himalayas than at present. A dispute with Tibet over the control of mountain passes and inner Tingri valleys of Tibet forced the Qing Emperor of China to start the Sino-Nepalese War compelling the Nepalese to retreat and pay heavy reparations to Peking.
Rivalry between Kingdom of Nepal and the East India Company over the annexation of minor states bordering Nepal eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1815–16). At first the British underestimated the Nepalese and were soundly defeated until committing more military resources than they had anticipated needing. They were greatly impressed by the valour and competence of their adversaries. Thus began the reputation of Gurkhas as fierce and ruthless soldiers. The war ended in the Sugauli Treaty, under which Nepal ceded recently captured portions of Sikkim and lands in Terai as well as the right to recruit soldiers. Madhesis, having supported the East India Company during the war, had their lands gifted to Nepalese.[citation needed]
Factionalism inside the royal family led to a period of instability. In 1846 a plot was discovered revealing that the reigning queen had planned to overthrow Jung Bahadur Kunwar, a fast-rising military leader. This led to the Kot massacre; armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country. Jung Bahadur Kunwar emerged victorious and founded the Rana dynasty, later known as Jung Bahadur Rana.
The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British and assisted them during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (and later in both World Wars). Some parts of the Terai region populated with non-Nepalese peoples were gifted to Nepal by the British as a friendly gesture because of her military help to sustain British control in India during the rebellion. In 1923, the United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship that superseded the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.[citation needed]
Nepalese royalty in the 1920s
Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.[44] Nevertheless, debt bondage even involving debtors' children has been a persistent social problem in the Terai. Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[45][46]
In the late 1940s, newly emerging pro-democracy movements and political parties in Nepal were critical of the Rana autocracy. Meanwhile, with the invasion of Tibet by China in the 1950s, India sought to counterbalance the perceived military threat from its northern neighbour by taking pre-emptive steps to assert more influence in Nepal. India sponsored both King Tribhuvan (ruled 1911–55) as Nepal's new ruler in 1951 and a new government, mostly comprising the Nepali Congress, thus terminating Rana hegemony in the kingdom.[citation needed]
After years of power wrangling between the king and the government, King Mahendra (ruled 1955–72) scrapped the democratic experiment in 1959, and a "partyless" Panchayat system was made to govern Nepal until 1989, when the "Jan Andolan" (People's Movement) forced King Birendra (ruled 1972–2001) to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament that took seat in May 1991.[47] In 1991–92, Bhutan expelled roughly 100,000 Bhutanese citizens of Nepali descent, most of whom have been living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal ever since.[48]
In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal started a bid to replace the royal parliamentary system with a people's republic by violent means. This led to the long Nepalese Civil War and more than 12,000 deaths.
On June 1, 2001, there was a massacre in the royal palace. King Birendra, Queen Aiswarya and seven other members of the royal family were killed. The perpetrator was Crown Prince Dipendra, who committed suicide (he died three days later) shortly thereafter. This outburst was alleged to have been Dipendra's response to his parents' refusal to accept his choice of wife. Nevertheless, there is speculation and doubts among Nepalese citizens about who was responsible.[citation needed]
Following the carnage, King Birendra's brother Gyanendra inherited the throne. On February 1, 2005, King Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers to quash the violent Maoist movement,[47] but this initiative was unsuccessful because a stalemate had developed in which the Maoists were firmly entrenched in large expanses of countryside but could not yet dislodge the military from numerous towns and the largest cities. In September 2005, the Maoists declared a three-month unilateral ceasefire to negotiate.[citation needed]
In response to the 2006 democracy movement, King Gyanendra agreed to relinquish sovereign power to the people. On 24 April 2006 the dissolved House of Representatives was reinstated. Using its newly acquired sovereign authority, on 18 May 2006 the House of Representatives unanimously voted to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state, ending its time-honoured official status as a Hindu Kingdom. On 28 December 2007, a bill was passed in parliament to amend Article 159 of the constitution – replacing "Provisions regarding the King" by "Provisions of the Head of the State" – declaring Nepal a federal republic, and thereby abolishing the monarchy.[49] The bill came into force on 28 May 2008.[50]

Republic

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly election held on April 10, 2008, and formed a coalition government which included most of the parties in the CA. Although acts of violence occurred during the pre-electoral period, election observers noted that the elections themselves were markedly peaceful and "well-carried out".[51]
The newly elected Assembly met in Kathmandu on May 28, 2008, and, after a polling of 564 constituent Assembly members, 560 voted to form a new government,[50] with the monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which had four members in the assembly, registering a dissenting note. At that point, it was declared that Nepal had become a secular and inclusive democratic republic,[52][53] with the government announcing a three-day public holiday from May 28–30.[citation needed] The king was thereafter given 15 days to vacate Narayanhity Palace so it could reopen as a public museum.[54]
Nonetheless, political tensions and consequent power-sharing battles have continued in Nepal. In May 2009, the Maoist-led government was toppled and another coalition government with all major political parties barring the Maoists was formed.[55] Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) was made the Prime Minister of the coalition government.[56] In February 2011 the Madhav Kumar Nepal Government was toppled and Jhala Nath Khanal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) was made the Prime Minister.[citation needed][57] In August 2011 the Jhala Nath Khanal Government was toppled and Baburam Bhattarai of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was made the Prime Minister.[58]
The political parties were unable to draft a constitution in the stipulated time.[59] This led to dissolution of the Constituent Assembly to pave way for new elections to strive for a new political mandate. In opposition to the theory of separation of powers, then Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi was made the chairman of the caretaker government. Under Regmi, the nation saw peaceful elections for the constituent assembly. The major forces in the earlier constituent assembly (namely CPN Maoists and Madhesi parties) dropped to distant 3rd and even below.[60][61]
In February 2014, after consensus was reached between the two major parties in the constituent assembly, Sushil Koirala was sworn in as the new prime minister of Nepal.[17][62]
On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal.[63] Two weeks later, on May 12, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit Nepal, killing more than 150 people in Nepal and more than 200 people in total.

Geography

Topographic map of Nepal.
Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (497 mi) long and 200 kilometres (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-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 Plain. They were formed and are fed by three major Himalayan rivers: the Kosi, the Narayani, 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 Sivalik Hills or Churia Range cresting at 700 to 1,000 metres (2,297 to 3,281 ft) marks the limit of the Gangetic Plain, however broad, low valleys called Inner Tarai Valleys (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 metres (2,625 to 13,123 ft) in altitude with progression from subtropical climates below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) to alpine climates above 3,600 metres (11,811 ft). The Lower Himalayan Range reaching 1,500 to 3,000 metres (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 metres (6,562 ft) and very low above 2,500 metres (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 metres (29,029 ft) height Mount Everest (Sagarmāthā in Nepali) on the border with China. Seven other of the world's "eight-thousanders" are in Nepal or on its border with China: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.
Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,937 to 7,874 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,874 to 11,811 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,811 to 14,436 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (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 south-east ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb; so, most climbers prefer to trek to Everest through Nepal.
Highest Mountains in Nepal.[64]