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Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Land Area: 147,181 sq km
Population: 29.3 million (2010 actual- EIU)
Capital City: Kathmandu
Religion: Hinduism, Buddhism
Language: Nepali (official), English, regional languages and dialects
Currency: Nepalese rupee NRs)
Exchange Rate: NRs73.58 : US$1 (average for 2011)
|National government||Coalition led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), CPN (UML), and supported by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPN (M).|
|Last election||April 2008|
|Head of State||President Ram Baran Yadav|
|Head of Government||Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai|
|Key Ministers||Deputy Prime Minister - Narayan Kaji Shrestha
Defence - Biyaya Gachchhadar
Defence – Biyaya Gachchhadar
Finance – Barshaman Pun
Foreign Affairs - Narayan Kaji Shrestha
|Main political parties||Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist); Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist); Nepali Congress.|
|GDP||US$18.3billion (2011 actual, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU))|
|GDP per capita||US$524 (2010, World Bank)|
|Real GDP growth||3.5% (2011 actual, EIU)|
|Exports||US$837.4 million (2009 actual, EIU)|
|Imports||US$-4,265.5 million (2009 actual, EIU)|
|Main exports||Textiles, zinc sheet (corrugated iron), thread, polyester yarn|
|Consumer inflation||9.2% (average for 2011, EIU)|
|NZ Exports (FOB)||NZ$12.9 million (for the year ending June 2011)|
|Main Exports||Wool (94%), dairy (3%), live animals (2%)|
|NZ Imports (CIF)||NZ$1.6 million (for the year ending June 2011)|
|Main Imports||Aircraft parts (53%), carpet and rugs (13%), clothes (12%)|
New Zealand has a strong historical connection with Nepal through the legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Nepal’s modern history began in the mid-18th century when King Prithvi Narayan Shah assumed the throne of Kathmandu. By the mid-19th century the Rana family had gained political control from the Shah monarchs. The Rana prime ministers pursued a policy of cooperation with the British colonial authorities in India.
In 1959 Nepal’s first constitution was promulgated. The first democratic election held the same year was won by the Nepali Congress (NC) party. However, in 1960 the King dismissed the government and inaugurated personal rule through a partyless Panchayat council system. Limited democratic reforms were only instituted in 1990.
In 1996 Nepali Maoists began a decade-long insurgency against the ruling monarchists. After numerous failed cease-fires, a peace process was initiated in 2006. The Nepali monarchy was formally abolished following elections in April 2008.
The political situation in Nepal remains fragile. A new Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai, of the UCPN (Maoist), was elected in August 2011 following the resignation of Jhala Nath Khanal of the CPN (Unified Marxist-Leninist) who was elected six months earlier.
Political uncertainty persists while a permanent constitution is being drafted. Progress has been made on the rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants and their integration into the national army, and an agreement reached between the main political parties on a reintegration and rehabilitation plan.
New Zealand's relations with Nepal are warm and friendly. The High Commissioner in New Delhi is accredited as Ambassador to Nepal. New Zealand has an Honorary Consul in Kathmandu.
Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand High Commissioner to India and Ambassador to Nepal from 1985 to 1989, had a longstanding involvement with Nepal. His achievements, from the 1953 ascent of Mt Everest with Nepali partner Tenzing Norgay to the development work of his Himalayan Trust organisation, forms an enduring legacy that is highly regarded in Nepal. The Hillary connection is a very positive element in the bilateral relationship, and Lady Hillary is the Nepali Honorary Consul in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Government makes annual contributions to the Himalayan Trust. 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of Khumjung School which opened in 1961 and is the first school built by Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust. The Government established the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship in 2008 to facilitate visits to New Zealand by young leaders from India and Nepal who have the potential to influence the political, academic, business and cultural fields in their countries. There are currently 12 postgraduate students from Nepal studying in New Zealand under the New Zealand Development Scholarship Scheme.
The New Zealand Aid Programme supports two development initiatives in Nepal through the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF):
The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Nepal [external link].