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Nepal (/nəˈpɔːl/; Nepali: नेपाल [neˈpal]), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a federal republic and landlocked country of over 26.4 million people in South Asia. It is bordered by China to the north and India to the south, east and west. It is separated from Bangladesh by a narrow Indian corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal is located in the Himalayas and is home to eight of the world's tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Its southern Madhesh region is fertile and humid. The country has an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi), making it the world's 93rd largest country by area. It is also the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest city.
The first recorded mention of Nepal is found in Vedic Age texts. The era laid the foundations of Hinduism, which is the predominant religion of the Nepalese people. Nepal is also home to Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism- the country's second largest religion. The country also has minorities of Muslims, Kiratans and Christians. It is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official langugage. A monarchy throughout its history, the early modern Kingdom of Nepal led by the Shah dynasty was established in the 18th century, after Prithvi Narayan Shah unified many small kingdoms in the region. The aristocratic Rana dynasty administered Nepal's government as hereditary Prime Ministers until 1951. A multiparty democracy evolved until 1960, when King Mahendra enacted the panchayat system. In 1990, a parliamentary government was permitted by King Birendra. Nepal faced a decade-long Communist Maoist insurgency and mass protests against the authoritarian King Gyanendra in 2005, which led to the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. Its 2nd constituent assembly promulgated a new constitution in 2015.
The Nepalese government works in the framework of a representative democracy with seven federal provinces. Nepal is a developing nation, ranking 145th on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014. The country continues to struggle with a difficult political transition to a republic and high levels of hunger and poverty. Despite these challenges, Nepal has been making steady progress, with the government making a commitment to graduate the nation from least developed country status by 2022. Nepal has friendship treaties with India and the United Kingdom. It is a founding member and hosts the permanent secretariat of SAARC. It is also a member of the United Nations and BIMSTEC. Nepal is strategically important due to its location sandwiched between Asia's great powers India and China. Its economy depends on tourism, handicrafts and garments, carpet making, tea and coffee production, IT services, banking and hydropower.