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Geography of Nepal

Nepal is a small country surrounded by two of the largest Countries in the world thus, the geography of Nepal is quite interesting too. China surrounds the north of Nepal and India surrounds the south, east, and west. The total land area of Nepal is 147,181 sq km and the area covered with water is 3,830 sq km. The geographical coordinates are 28°00′N 84°00′E. In general, Nepal falls in the temperate zone north of the Tropic of Cancer. Nepal’s ecological zone run east to west about 800 km along its Himalayan axis. And about 150 to 250 km north to south. Nepal is vertically converged by the river systems.

Nepal is divided into three regions. And they are Terai region, Hilly region, and Himalayan region. The highest point in the country is Mt. Everest (8,848 m) while the lowest point is in the Terai plains of Kechana Kalan in Jhapa (60 m). The Terai region, with a width of ranging 26 to 32 km and altitude ranging from 60 – 305m. Terai occupies about 17 percent of the total land area of the country. The southern lowland Terai continues to the Bhabar belt. Further north, the Siwalik zone (700 – 1,500 m) and the Mahabharat range (1,500 – 2,700 m) give way to the Duns (valleys), such as Trijuga, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Dang, and Surkhet.

The Midlands (600 – 3,500 m), north of the Mahabharat range is where the two beautiful valleys of Kathmandu and Pokhara lies. These valleys are covered in terraced rice fields and surrounded by forested watersheds. The Himalayas (above 3,000 m) comprises mountains, alpine pastures and temperate forests limited by the tree-line (4,000 m) and snow line (5,500 m). Eight of the 14 eight-thousanders of the world lie in Nepal: Sagarmatha or Mount Everest (8,848 m), Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Makalu (8,463 m), Cho Oyu (8,201m), Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), Manaslu (8,163 m) and Annapurna (8,091 m).

The inner Himalayan valley (above 3,600 m) such as Mustang and Dolpa are cold deserts sharing topographical characteristics with the Tibetan plateau. Nepal holds the so-called “waters towers of South Asia” with its 6,000 rivers which are snow-fed or dependent on rain. The perennial rivers include Mahakali, Karnali, Narayani and Koshi rivers originating in the Himalayas. Medium-sized rivers like Babai, West Rapti, Bagmati, Kamla, Kankai and Mechi originate in the Midlands and Mahabharat range. A large number of seasonal streams, mostly originating in Siwaliks, flow across the Terai.

Of 163 wetlands documented, the nine globally recognized Ramsar sites are: Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Beeshazarital (Chitwan), Jagdishpur Reservoir (Kapilvastu) Ghodaghodi Tal (Kailali) in the Terai, and Gokyo (Solukhumbu), Phoksundo (Dolpa), Rara (Mugu) and Mai Pokhari (Ilam) in the mountain region. There are more than 30 natural caves in the country out of which only a few are accessible by road. Maratika Cave (Haleshi) is a pilgrimage site associated with Buddhism and Hinduism. Siddha Cave is near Bimalnagar along the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway. Pokhara is popular for caves namely Bats’ shed, Batulechar, Gupteswar, Patale Chhango. The numerous caves around Lo Manthang in Mustang include Luri and Tashi Kabum which house ancient murals and chhortens dating back to the 13th century.