Daily life for Nepal's people: poor, diverse

Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-27 13:31:49-04

Nepal is a diverse, impoverished country wedged in the Himalayan Mountains between China and India.

There are more than 100 ethnic groups with the largest comprising just 16 percent of the population. Nepal is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. But its majority religion is Hindu.

About the size of Arkansas, Nepal’s 30 million people have a life expectancy of 67, according to the World Health Organization. Most Nepalese live in rural areas and 4 in 10 can’t read.

“Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line,” said the CIA World Factbook.

Conflict between Nepal’s monarchy and legislature have led to an unstable government, with various political parties and the monarchy taking turns abolishing one another over the past 60 years.

Political unrest and perpetual natural disasters are among the many challenges holding the country back, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Nepal suffers from a “severe” lack of skilled labor and a 46 percent unemployment rate. One-third of its toddlers are underweight, about the same as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan.

More than 70 percent of Nepalese make a living in agriculture. It’s number one industry is tourism — including the draw of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world from sea level.

Nepal is located along a fault line where the Indian subcontinent is slowly colliding with the Eurasian tectonic plate. That million-year collision pushes rock formations upward, birthing 8 of the 10 largest mountains in the world.

That tectonic activity also makes Nepal vulnerable to earthquakes.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.

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