Nepal country profile
- 6 October 2015
- From the section Asia
With its ancient culture and the Himalayas as a backdrop, landlocked Nepal was closed to the outside world until the 1950s.
Since then it has been through the creation of a multi-party parliamentary system, a decade-long Maoist insurgency and the abolition of the monarchy.
About three quarters of the country is covered by mountains. It is home to Mount Everest - the world's highest mountain.
Nepal hit the headlines in April 2015 when it was struck by a devastating earthquake, which killed thousands, flattened villages and reduced numerous heritage sites to ruin.
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Population 31 million
Area 147,181 sq km (56,827 sq miles)
Major languages Nepali
Major religions Hinduism, Buddhism
Life expectancy 68 years (men), 70 years (women)
Currency Nepalese rupee
President: Ram Baran Yadav
Mr Yadav became the first president of Nepal in July 2008, nearly two months after the country's constituent assembly voted to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy.
The post of president is mainly ceremonial.
Prime minister: Sushil Koirala
Sushil Koirala, the leader of the Nepali Congress - the country's largest political party - was elected as prime minister by the constituent assembly in February 2014.
Mr Koirala is the sixth head of government since Nepal became a republic on the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, following a peace deal with Maoist rebels in 2006.
Since then, the drafting of a new constitution proved to be the major sticking point in the country's political transition. After its adoption in September 2015, protests in the southern lowlands demanding further regional devolution met with a violent response from the security forces.
Media freedom is restricted by the fact that the media have been the victims of violence, activists say.
There is a small film industry, nicknamed "Kollywood".
Some key dates in Nepal's history:
1768 - Gurkha ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah conquers Kathmandu and lays foundations for unified kingdom.
1814-16 - Anglo-Nepalese War; culminates in treaty which establishes Nepal's current boundaries.
1846 - Nepal falls under sway of hereditary chief ministers known as Ranas, who dominate the monarchy and cut off country from outside world.
1950 - Anti-Rana forces based in India form alliance with monarch.
1951 - End of Rana rule. Sovereignty of crown restored and anti-Rana rebels in Nepalese Congress Party form government.
1960 - King Mahendra seizes control and suspends parliament, constitution and party politics.
1991 - Nepali Congress Party wins first democratic elections.
1995-2006 - Maoist revolt which kills thousands.
2008 - Nepal becomes a republic after abolition of monarchy.
2015 September - New constitution adopted - the first in Asia to specifically protect gay rights.