Nepal (/nəˈpɔːl/; Nepali: नेपाल[neˈpal]), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia with a population of 26.4 million. It is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official language. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest city. Modern Nepal is a secular parliamentary republic. Its economy depends on tourism, handicrafts, garments, carpets, tea, coffee, IT services, banking and hydropower.
Nepal 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 ten 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.
Nepal is first recorded in texts from the Vedic Age, the era that founded Hinduism, the country's predominant religion. Nepal was the world's last Hindu monarchy. Siddharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini in the country's Rupandehi District. Buddhism is the country's second largest religion, with Tibetan Buddhism being the chief sect. The country also has minorities of Muslims, Kiratans and Christians.
Established in the 18th century, the early modern Kingdom of Nepal was led by the Shah dynasty, after Prithvi Narayan Shah unified many principalities in the region. The Rana dynasty administered Nepal's government as hereditary Prime Ministers until 1951. A multiparty democracy evolved until King Mahendra enacted the panchayat system in 1960. 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 struggles with the transition from a monarchy to a republic. It also suffers from high levels of hunger and poverty. Despite these challenges, Nepal is making steady progress, with the government declaring its commitment to elevate the nation from least developed country status in 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 between Asia's great powers, China and India.