Nepal is a mountainous landlocked country in South Asia. The Himalayan mountain range runs across Nepal’s northern and western parts with ten of the world highest mountains including mount Everest laying within its borders. With a population of about 28 million, it has an area of 147,181 square km, making it one of the highest population densities of all developing countries. About one-quarter of its population lives below the poverty line. Nepal is socially diverse, with approximately 125 caste and ethnic groups and as many as 123 mother tongue languages spoken. Nepal is bordered by the People’s Republic of China to the north and by India to the south, west and east.
The economy of Nepal is heavily dependent on remittances, which amounts to around 30% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for almost two-thirds of the population but accounting for less than a third of the GDP.
In 2006, a 10-year armed conflict came to an end. Since then, Nepal has gone through lengthy and complex transitions from an absolute monarchy, to a constitutional monarchy and finally, a new constitution in 2015 set a federal structure into place. The new federal system is comprised of seven federal provinces, 77 districts and 753 local governments (municipalities and Gaunpalikas) in principle and provides opportunities for decentralized development benefits and allows service delivery to be more effective and accountable.vi While many social economic challenges lay ahead, there is a newfound optimism in the country for greater stability, inclusion, good governance and sustainable growth.