You know after I made the India video, I got a lot of Nepalese people saying: “You made a mistake. Buddha was not born in India. He was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal.” Too, which many of the Indian subscribers were like: “Yeah, but Buddhist texts say he grew up in Kapilavatsu for the first twenty nine years of his life which is probably in Piprahwa, which is like a half a mile away from the Nepali border.” “Lies! Kapilavatsu is most likely in modern-day Tilaurakot.” “Okay. Well, even if that was true, it was during the Mahajanapada area. Modern-day Nepal wasn’t even established. So does it really count for Nepal?” “Yes. Yes, it does!” Yeah, this is kind of a big deal for them. ♪♪ ♪ It’s time to learn Geography ♪ ♪ NOW!!! ♪ Everybody I’m your host Barb’s. Alright. So what do you know about Nepal? Mount Everest, right? Yep, keep going. Sherpas! Sure, anything else? Sherpas on Mount Everest! And that’s my cue to begin the lesson. Let’s look at some maps now, shall we? ♪ Political Geography ♪ Nepal is often called the “Roof of the world”. About 75% of the entire country is in the highest mountain chain on Earth. This means they have a very interesting civil layout. First of all The country is landlocked located in South Asia, sandwich right in between India and China, locked away predominantly within the Himalayan mountain range. The country is divided into 7 provinces, only 3 of which have actual names, whereas the remaining four are just called “Province” with the corresponding number. Some of these provinces have proposed names, but as of 2019, they are not yet official. Number 4 is skipped because they gave Gandaki a name back in 2018 when it used to be province 4. “Wait, so if 4 is gone now, why don’t they just switch 5 to 4??” Ehh, paper work is hard. Plus it might get a new name soon. Anyway, so why bother… Keep in mind, the province subdivision is relatively new up, until 2015, they actually had 14 zones which even though they were displaced, they are still used today for license plates. The capital, Kathmandu, is located in Province 3, although it is not the capital of the province, Hetauda is. The country’s largest busiest and only International Airport is Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International However, to relieve capacity constraints due to high tourism, work is being done to extend and make three more inner national hubs: Nij-Gadn, Pokhara, and Gautama Buddha Airport. Oh and keep in mind, they have the most dangerous airport in the world at Tenzing Hillary or “Lukla” Airport, in which the runway runs off a cliff. So basically, if you don’t build up enough momentum and become airborne, You free fall to your death! No joking, it’s true. Now here’s the thing: Nepal has always kind of been like the “buffer” between the two giants, India and China. This in return has been both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, in that nobody could really touch them, and therefore they remained one of the few countries that were never colonized. Influenced: Yes. Invaded: Yes. But colonized, No. This in return has made Nepal’s land transport network very unique. Multiple roads enter into Nepal from India and China. But if you want to get to the economic hub, Kathmandu, you have to go into the heart of the mountains, and your options are limited only to a few main highways: Like the HO2 from Raxaul, India, and the HO3 which goes into Zhangmu-Zhen, Tibet, China. If you look closely in the West though, you’ll find Nepal’s only disputed area, the Kalapani territory. Basically, it was a byproduct of the 1962 border war with India and China. Things got messy, and to this day, Nepal claims that the river to the west should be their border but India claims that the ridge line to the east should be theirs. Well, for its worth though, there are tons of cool places to check out in case if you decide to visit. Such as: The Annapurna National History Museum Narayanhiti Palace The city of Pokhara is kind of like the tourism capital The Island jungle resort of Chitwan The Tiger Tops and Elephant Polo field Toothache tree The aircraft’s museum So many religious sites like these temples The Rongbuk monastery and probably the most notable sites being Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and Boudanath stupa. Phew! Yeah, lots of things were built and happened here in the mountains. Mountains make a great fortification against outside forces, especially when they are really tall. Let’s talk more about the mountains, shall we? ♪ Physical Geography ♪ Now, how can I put this simply? Nepal’s physical land makeup is kind of like the share price of Apple Stock in the beginning of the 2000s. You know, it’s like: First of all, Nepal is located right at the start of the Himalayan mountains, the tallest range on Earth which was basically formed by the Indian tectonic plates smashing into the Eurasian plate. The collision is still occurring to this day which means that the Himalayas grow about 2.4 inches or 6.1 centimeters every year. This means that every new person to reach the summit temporarily becomes a world record holder. Obviously, you all know the highest point can be found here too: Mount Everest, or “Sagamatha”, the tallest mountain in the world shared with China at nearly 9,000 meters high. Keep in mind, 8 of the 10 tallest mountains in the world are actually found in Nepal as well. Also keep in mind, due to the tectonic plate convergence, the country is subject to occasional earthquakes. One of the most well-documented ones being a 7.8 magnitude quake with aftershocks hitting the capital destroying ancient sites back in 2015. In addition, it triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest killing 21 people, making it the deadliest in Mount Everest history. The Himalayas are just one of three regions of the country though. Below the Himalayan region lies the Pahad, a lower mountain region in the Green Zone, that generally does not get snow and fosters fertile valleys and rivers. Below this is the final region, the Terai, the lowest point in Nepal located in the greater Gangetic plain that extends into northern India and Bangladesh. The lowest actual point being Kechana Kalan of the Jhapa district. After China, this makes Nepal one of the countries of the widest range of elevations on Earth. This is also where most of the agriculture and produce are grown as it is the most fertile region fed by countless rivers and their tributaries that are sourced by the snowmelt from the Himalayas. The longest of these rivers, the Ghaghara can be found in the west, as well as the largest lake, Rara. Nonetheless, the Bagmati River is very important as it passes through Kathmandu and the Gandak river contains the largest hydroelectric dam, and the Koshi River provides irrigation to much of the valleys in the east. Phew! Mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys, earthquakes, agriculture. It seems like Nature has been playing around with Nepal since day one. All right, so that being said. It’s time for my triple shot of espresso break. It’s time for me to stop talking, but you know who knows a few things? Did somebody say, Noah? HE’S BACK! Now Nepal may have a lot of natural beauty but the problem is they still have a quite a way to go in terms of stabilizing their living index. Today, they are still the heavily agrarian society with about 65% of the workforce employed in agriculture. Only about 20% of the land has been cultivated. About 30% of the GDP is dependent on admittances set from abroad, more than half of the development budget comes from foreign aid. The largest exports are actually textiles, carpets, and clothing Nonetheless, since the 90s, they’ve been really trying hard to exploit the tourism sector and mostly through guide excursions up the many mountains. With Everest being the most expensive one. It’s like this: All right, Ken. You get to go up Everest. But which agency will you choose? Hi, I’m the Western agency that speaks your language and caters to all your Western needs. You’ll even wake up to eggs and toast with coffee in the morning. My minimum rate goes around 45,000 ??. Hi. I’m the local Nepali agency I have a slight accent when I talk and the experience might be a little rough around the edges. But you’ll still get to the peak of Everest! I charge only $25,000. So which one will you choose, Ken? Can I just hire a helicopter for a couple hundred dollars? So far only one person has ever done that and it’s incredibly dangerous. Besides that though, about 40% of the country is forested. They have 9 national parks and 3 wildlife reserves. Nonetheless, the national animal is the cow. No surprise, The country is predominantly Hindu with reveres cows as sacred animals Many people are either vegetarian or only eat chicken and fish. Speaking of which: FOOD! Now there are many different people groups that have their own cuisines in Nepal and they come in all different colors and tastes. Some of the top dishes you guys, Nepali Geograpeeps you’ve suggested include things like: Dhindo Gundruk Daal Bhat Tarkari Thakail Khana set Choila Kachila Chatamari Nepali style pani pani Aloo Chana Laphing And the one dish almost all of you mentioned: Momo dumplings Now these dishes we just mentioned came from the cuisines of the main different people groups you can find here. Nepal is just not “Nepal” without its people. Which brings us to: ♪ Demographics ♪ Thank you Noah, follow him on Instagram. No problem… So you, uh, try to film without Noah last episode, huh? Sorry, Noah, I must Nepal-agize [PUNCH] Now one thing many people don’t seem to know too well is that Nepal is actually a very diverse nation with over 120 ethno-linguistic people groups. First of all The country has about 30 million people, and about 2 million absentee citizens working abroad, mostly male laborers in the Middle East. Of these ethnic groups, the largest one at about 17% are the Chhettri, followed by about 12% Brahman-hill peoples, the Magar at 7%, Tharu at additional 7%, and the rest are made up of the various121 other people groups. They use the Nepali rupee as their currency, which is pegged to the Indian rupee. They use the type C,D and M plug outlets, and they drive on the left side of the road. Now linguistically, how does a country unify 125 different ethno-linguistic people groups? Well for one: The official language of Nepal is Nepali, a cousin of Hindi natively spoken by about 45% of the population. To simplify things though, English is sort of used as like a lingua franca in government offices, businesses and also within the technical medical and engineering scientific community. Now here’s the thing: As mentioned before, the majority of Nepal at about 81% of the country identifies as Hindu. Nonetheless, even though it’s a minority religion, at about 10%, Nepal takes Buddhism very seriously, it kind of started here. Now, of course, since there are so many different people groups, there isn’t really one universal “Nepalese” culture. In general though, most of them can be divided into 7 family groups that cluster into certain regions: You have the mountainous Bhotia, Sherpa and Thakali peoples way up in the northern Himalayan zones Yes, this is where the word “Sherpa” comes from. Then you have the Gurung peoples whom are kind of like the famous body guards of Nepal. Many Gurung are Gurkhas, an elite military trained contingent force that fights for higher. Today, a couple thousand actually worked for the British military. Then there’s the Kiranti, Rai and Limbu peoples of the east. These people are actually culturally close to Sikkim and the Bhutanese people. They speak a similar Tibeto-Burman language. At about three-fifths of the population, the Pahari peoples are actually the largest and most widespread people group inhabiting many of the lowlands. They are known for being heavily agrarian and having wonderfully colorful wool and woven fabrics. The Tamang are made up of about 40 clans scattered in the center and east highlands. They are also Tibeto-Burman and way more Buddhist in culture. They have beautiful gompas or “monasteries” in every main village. Then there’s other people groups like the Tharu people in the south, known for having one of the most famous cuisines in all of Nepal. They’re known for generally being immune to malaria, due to the genetic structure of most Tharu people having Thalassemic blood. Wait, Thala-What? Thalassemic. It’s like a condition that can be inherited and helps prevent against certain diseases like malaria. So is this gonna be like a new segment, like in the Namibia episode where I asked what the definition is and you explained what it is? Possibly yes. And finally, even though they make up only about 5% of the population, the one group that is kind of regarded as like the originals of Nepali national identity might be considered the Newar peoples found in pockets all over, mostly in cities. They are known for being the most politically, economically and socially advanced community in Nepal. In a nutshell, with culture though, in the shortest way I can put it: You kind of see like this interesting Indian-Tibetan influence fusion with Nepal. And here’s random Hannah to explain! Amongst all these groups, certain traditions are shared universally, and most are either rooted in Hinduism or Buddhism or both. The Himalayas are in themselves considered the “Abode of Lord Shiva”, and the Hindu God plays a huge role here Many Nepalese follow a deep-rooted Tantric tradition of Hinduism or Buddhism which allows five animals for ritual sacrifice. Every town has a Jatra, or celebration of main god or goddess, usually follow with a procession of the statue around the town. The 15 day long festival Dashain is celebrated by everyone in the country. It’s a huge deal. Many of you have also mentioned the Kumari, little girls that are worshipped as living goddesses until they hit puberty, and the Kumari changes. And like many other South Asian countries, marriages are usually arranged and celebrated with lavish colourful weddings. And speaking of which, that brings us to History! Thank You Hannah. I’ll take it from here. In the quickest way I can put it: Kathmandu Valley Neolithic age Early records of Nepal mentioned in the Vedic Hindu texts Kirati King period Clans and small kingdoms period This prince guy becomes a Big-shot Vassal states under these empires Mala kingdom state period This dude pieced it all together and what would become modern-day Nepal Anglo-Nepali war Treaty of Sagauli Kot massacre Slavery abolished in 1924 Years of drama between the Royals and the Democratic Experiments Massacre in the royal palace New inherited King steps down, ending Nepal’s title as the last Hindu kingdom in the world Unified communist party wins most seats in the assembly elections Earthquake First female president voted in And here we are today. Now keep in mind, although the ruling party is called the “Communist Party” and they do hold Marxist Leninist tenants in their policy outlook, the country is not classified as a “Communist country”, at least in the traditional unilateral sense but rather a parliamentary republic in which the parliament has power over the head of state, even though the parliament is predominantly part of the Communist Party. But yeah still. It is the only country with a communist majority that is not categorically communist. Weird Anyway, here’s some famous people from Nepal. Historical figures like: Contemporary figures like: And of course, Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as the “Buddha”. Alright Well, that just about does it for the people. Now let’s see what other people like to hang out with Nepal, or at least climb up the mountains, shall we? ♪ Friend Zone ♪ Now Nepal has always kind of had like this very unique position in diplomatic policy. I mean they’re locked away in a very remote and rugged area on the planet Yet hold the key to so many international links For one, even though about 10% of their country is Buddhist, other Buddhist countries like Thailand Myanmar and Cambodia love Nepal. Often people from these countries will take pilgrimage trips to see holy sites, especially in Lumbini. Bhutan is kind of like the only Buddhist country that they kind of have a little beef with. There was controversy over the expulsion of Nepali Lhotshampa residents back in the 90s as it means to preserve their Bhutanese culture. But today, things are somewhat cooled off a bit, but there’s a little bit of eye rolling Now for best friends, Yeah, most Nepalese people will probably say India or China but it’s weird, because they can never have the same two best friends in the same room. China is really trying hard to win over Nepal, and things only got better after the recent Communist Party took over and ended the kingdom rule. Traditionally, Nepal has always had close ties and trade with Tibet. Chinese people love Nepalese art and architecture, tourists flock over in droves, and China has been heavily investing in Nepal’s transport sector with more roadways and even a train line connecting Lhasa to Kathmandu, making it one of the biggest potential engineering project endeavors the country has ever seen. For India, most people will say: “We love Indians but we hate their government” Most foreign activity and trade comes through India and most people can understand Hindi. They love Bollywood films and the shared link through Hinduism has always kept these two very close. Nonetheless, India knows that Nepal depends greatly on them and sometimes when things get a little messy, they initiate economic blockade, which anger them. Usually when this happens, Nepal cozies up with China a little bit more, in which India notices, and they’re like: “Babe, I’m sorry! come back to me! I was just kidding!” Nonetheless, when those two giants are bickering, Nepal kind of likes to run away off to the side and have a secret Romeo and Juliet kind of thing going on with Bangladesh. Many times when they want to go to the ocean, instead of using India’s Kolkata port, they’ll opt Chittagong. Many Nepalese students study here, and the two have signed a four-point agreement on technical cooperation, trade, transit and civil aviation. Nepal even agreed to provide Bangladesh with substantial energy from hydropower. It’s a unique quite interesting alliance that has only blossomed over the years. In conclusion: With Nepal, you get a mountainous, Hindu-Buddhist, unexpectedly kind of communist nation, with the highest point on Earth. But they sure know how to be down to Earth. And speaking of down to Earth, as in low elevation. Stay tuned, The Netherlands is coming up next!