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.
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 has a diverse ancient cultural heritage. The name 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 southern Nepal. The main minorities are Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, Kiratans and Christians. The Nepalese are also known as Gurkhas. They have been reputed for their valour in World War I and World War II.
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. Nepal is one of the few Asian countries which was never colonized. Following the Anglo-Nepalese War and the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816, Nepal became an ally of the British Empire. A multiparty democracy evolved from 1951 to 1960, when King Mahendra enacted the panchayat system. In 1990, parliamentary government was restored 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. Today, the main political blocs in Nepal are communists, social democrats and Hindu nationalists.
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. It is also important for its hydropower potential.