Nepal Population: 29,717,587


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During the late 18th-early 19th centuries, the principality of Gorkha united many of the other principalities and states of the sub-Himalayan region into a Nepali Kingdom. Nepal retained its independence following the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16 and the subsequent peace treaty laid the foundations for two centuries of amicable relations between Britain and Nepal. (The Brigade of Gurkhas continues to serve in the British Army to the present day.) In 1951, the Nepali monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system that brought political parties into the government. That arrangement lasted until 1960, when political parties were again banned, but was reinstated in 1990 with the establishment of a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. An insurgency led by Maoists broke out in 1996. During the ensuing 10-year civil war between Maoist and government forces, the monarchy dissolved the cabinet and parliament and re-assumed absolute power in 2002, after the crown prince massacred the royal family in 2001. A peace accord in 2006 led to the promulgation of an interim constitution in 2007. Following a nationwide Constituent Assembly (CA) election in 2008, the newly formed CA declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, abolished the monarchy, and elected the country's first president. After the CA failed to draft a constitution by a 2012 deadline set by the Supreme Court, then-Prime Minister Baburam BHATTARAI dissolved the CA. Months of negotiations ensued until 2013 when the major political parties agreed to create an interim government headed by then-Chief Justice Khil Raj REGMI with a mandate to hold elections for a new CA. Elections were held in 2013, in which the Nepali Congress won the largest share of seats in the CA and in 2014 formed a coalition government with the second-place Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and with Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil KOIRALA serving as prime minister. Nepal's new constitution came into effect in 2015, at which point the CA became the Parliament. Khagda Prasad Sharma OLI served as the first post-constitution prime minister from 2015 to 2016. OLI resigned ahead of a no-confidence motion against him, and Parliament elected Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) leader Pushpa Kamal DAHAL (aka "Prachanda") prime minister. The constitution provided for a transitional period during which three sets of elections – local, provincial, and national – needed to take place. The first local elections in 20 years occurred in three phases between May and September 2017, and state and federal elections proceeded in two phases in November and December 2017. The parties headed by OLI and DAHAL ran in coalition and swept the parliamentary elections, and OLI, who led the larger of the two parties, was sworn in as prime minister in February 2018. In May 2018, OLI and DAHAL merged their parties - the UML and CPN-M - to establish the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which is now the ruling party in Parliament.

    Landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga - the world's tallest and third tallest mountains - on the borders with China and India respectively
Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates: 28 00 N, 84 00 E
Area: total: 147,181 sq km
land: 143,351 sq km
water: 3,830 sq km

Size comparison: slightly larger than New York state
Land Boundaries: total: 3,159 km border countries (2): China 1389 km, India 1770 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south
Terrain: Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south; central hill region with rugged Himalayas in north
Natural resources: quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore
Land use: agricultural land: 28.8% (2011 est.) arable land: 15.1% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 1.2% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 12.5% (2011 est.) forest: 25.4% (2011 est.)
other: 45.8% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 13,320 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: severe thunderstorms; flooding; landslides; drought and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons
Current Environment Issues: deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); forest degradation; soil erosion; contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); unmanaged solid-waste; wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions
International Environment Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
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Nationality: noun: Nepali (singular and plural)
adjective: Nepali
Ethnic groups: Chhettri 16.6%, Brahman-Hill 12.2%, Magar 7.1%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.8%, Newar 5%, Kami 4.8%, Muslim 4.4%, Yadav 4%, Rai 2.3%, Gurung 2%, Damai/Dholii 1.8%, Thakuri 1.6%, Limbu 1.5%, Sarki 1.4%, Teli 1.4%, Chamar/Harijan/Ram 1.3%, Koiri/Kushwaha 1.2%, other 19% (2011 est.) note: 125 caste/ethnic groups were reported in the 2011 national census
Languages: Nepali (official) 44.6%, Maithali 11.7%, Bhojpuri 6%, Tharu 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Newar 3.2%, Bajjika 3%, Magar 3%, Doteli 3%, Urdu 2.6%, Avadhi 1.9%, Limbu 1.3%, Gurung 1.2%, Baitadeli 1%, other 6.4%, unspecified 0.2% (2011 est.) note: 123 languages reported as mother tongue in 2011 national census; many in government and business also speak English
Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Buddhist 9%, Muslim 4.4%, Kirant 3.1%, Christian 1.4%, other 0.5%, unspecified 0.2% (2011 est.)
Population: 29,717,587 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.54% (male 4,578,768 /female 4,198,913)
15-24 years: 21.52% (male 3,250,614 /female 3,145,807)
25-54 years: 37.18% (male 4,987,071 /female 6,061,616)
55-64 years: 6.42% (male 917,342 /female 991,937)
65 years and over: 5.34% (male 785,893 /female 799,626) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 61.4 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 52.5 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 8.8 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 11.3 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 24.5 years
male: 23.2 years
female: 25.8 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.09% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 19.1 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 5.6 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 19.7% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 3.15% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 1.33 million KATHMANDU (capital) (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth: 20.8 years (2016 est.) note: median age at first birth among women 25-29
Maternal mortality rate: 258 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 26.9 deaths/1,000 live births male: 28.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.3 years male: 70.6 years
female: 72 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.07 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 52.6% (2016/17)
Physicians density: 0.65 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density: 3 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 90.9% of population
rural: 91.8% of population
total: 91.6% of population

urban: 9.1% of population
rural: 8.2% of population
total: 8.4% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 56% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 43.5% of population (2015 est.)
total: 45.8% of population (2015 est.)

urban: 44% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 56.5% of population (2015 est.)
total: 54.2% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 31,000 (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,300 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 4.1% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 27.2% (2016)
Education expenditures: 5.1% of GDP (2017)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
total population: 63.9%
male: 76.4%
female: 53.1% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years male: 12 years female: 13 years (2017)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
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Country name: conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal
local long form: Sanghiya Loktantrik Ganatantra Nepal
local short form: Nepal
etymology: the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas apparently gave their name to the country; the terms "Nepal," "Newar," "Nepar," and "Newal" are phonetically different forms of the same word
Government type: federal parliamentary republic
Capital: name: Kathmandu
geographic coordinates: 27 43 N, 85 19 E
time difference: UTC+5.75 (10.75 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: name derives from the Kasthamandap temple that stood in Durbar Square; in Sanskrit, "kastha" means "wood" and "mandapa" means "pavilion"; the three-story structure was made entirely of wood, without iron nails or supports, and dated to the late 16th century; it collapsed during a 2015 earthquake
Administrative divisions: 7 provinces; Gandaki Pradesh, Karnali Pradesh, Province No. 1, Province No. 2, Province No. 3, Province No. 5, Sudoorpashchim Pradesh
Independence: 1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan SHAH)
National holiday: Constitution Day, 20 September (2015); note - marks the promulgation of Nepal’s constitution in 2015 and replaces the previous 28 May Republic Day as the official national day in Nepal; the Gregorian day fluctuates based on Nepal’s Hindu calendar
Constitution: history: several previous; latest approved by the Second Constituent Assembly 16 September 2015, signed by the president and effective 20 September 2015 amendments: proposed as a bill by either house of the Federal Parliament; bills affecting a state border or powers delegated to a state must be submitted to the affected state assembly; passage of such bills requires a majority vote of that state assembly membership; bills not requiring state assembly consent require at least two-thirds majority vote by the membership of both houses of the Federal Parliament; parts of the constitution on the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty vested in the people cannot be amended; last amended in 2016 (2019) (2017)
Legal system: English common law and Hindu legal concepts; note - new criminal and civil codes came into effect on 17 August 2018
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:

head of government: Prime Minister Khadga Prasad (KP) Sharma OLI (since 15 February 2018); deputy prime ministers Ishwar POKHREL, Upendra YADAV (since 1 June 2018)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister; cabinet dominated by the Nepal Communist Party elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by an electoral college of the Federal Parliament and of the state assemblies for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 13 March 2018 (next to be held in 2023); prime minister indirectly elected by the Federal Parliament

election results: Bidhya Devi BHANDARI reelected president; electoral vote - Bidhya Devi BHANDARI (CPN-UML) 39,275, Kumari Laxmi RAI (NC) 11,730 head of state: President Bidhya Devi BANDHARI (since 29 October 2015); Vice President Nanda Bahadar PUN (since 31 October 2015)
Legislative branch: description: bicameral Federal Parliament consists of: National Assembly (59 seats; 56 members, including at least 3 women, 1 Dalit, 1 member with disabilities, or 1 minority indirectly elected by an electoral college of state and municipal government leaders, and 3 members, including 1 woman, nominated by the president of Nepal on the recommendation of the government; members serve 6-year terms with renewal of one-third of the membership every 2 years) House of Representatives (275 seats; 165 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 110 members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: first election for the National Assembly held on 7 February 2018 (next to be held in 2024) first election for House of Representatives held on 26 November and 7 December 2017 (next to be held in 2022)

election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NCP 42, NC 13, FSFN 2, RJPN 2; composition - men 37, women 22, percent of women 37.3% House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NCP 174, NC 63, RJPN 17, FSFN 16, other 4, independent 1; composition - men 185, women 90, percent of women 32.7%; note - total Federal Parliament percent of women 33.5%
Judicial branch: highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and up to 20 judges) judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, a 5-member, high-level advisory body headed by the prime minister; other judges appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the Judicial Council, a 5-member advisory body headed by the chief justice; the chief justice serves a 6-year term; judges serve until age 65

subordinate courts: High Court; district courts note: Nepal's judiciary was restructured under its 2007 Interim Constitution
Political parties and leaders: the Election Commission of Nepal granted ballot access under the proportional system to 88 political parties for the November-December 2017 House of Representatives election to the Federal Parliament; of these, the following 8 parties won seats: Federal Socialist Forum, Nepal or FSFN [Upendra YADAV] Naya Shakti Party, Nepal [Baburam BHATTARAI] Nepal Communist Party or NCP [Khadga Prasad OLI, Pushpa Kamal DAHAL] Nepali Congress or NC [Sher Bahadur DEUBA] Nepal Mazdoor Kisan Party [Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE] Rastriya Janamorcha [Chitra Bahadur K.C.] Rastriya Janata Party or RJPN [Mahanta THAKUR] Rastriya Prajatantra party or RPP [Kamal THAPA]
National symbol(s): rhododendron blossom; national color: red
National anthem: name: "Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka" (Hundreds of Flowers)
lyrics/music: Pradeep Kumar RAI/Ambar GURUNG

note: adopted 2007; after the abolition of the monarchy in 2006, a new anthem was required because of the previous anthem's praise for the king
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Arjun Kumar KARKI (since 18 May 2015)
chancery: 2730 34th Place NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5534
consulate(s) general:  Chicago (IL), New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Randy BERRY (since 25 October 2018)
embassy: Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, Nepal
mailing address: US Embassy, Maharajgunj Chakrapath, Kathmandu, Nepal 44600
telephone: [977] (1) 423-4000
FAX: [977] (1) 400-7272
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Nepal is among the least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line. Nepal is heavily dependent on remittances, which amount to as much as 30% of 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 GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural products, including pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower, with an estimated 42,000 MW of commercially feasible capacity. Nepal has signed trade and investment agreements with India, China, and other countries, but political uncertainty and a difficult business climate have hampered foreign investment. The United States and Nepal signed a $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact in September 2017 which will expand Nepal’s electricity infrastructure and help maintain transportation infrastructure. Massive earthquakes struck Nepal in early 2015, which damaged or destroyed infrastructure and homes and set back economic development. Although political gridlock and lack of capacity have hindered post-earthquake recovery, government-led reconstruction efforts have progressively picked up speed, although many hard hit areas still have seen little assistance. Additional challenges to Nepal's growth include its landlocked geographic location, inconsistent electricity supply, and underdeveloped transportation infrastructure.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $79.19 billion (2017 est.) $73.39 billion (2016 est.) $72.96 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $24.88 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7.9% (2017 est.) 0.6% (2016 est.) 3.3% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,700 (2017 est.) $2,500 (2016 est.) $2,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 45.4% of GDP (2017 est.) 40.2% of GDP (2016 est.) 44% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 78% (2017 est.) government consumption: 11.7% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 33.8% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 8.7% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 9.8% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -42% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 27% (2017 est.) industry: 13.5% (2017 est.) services: 59.5% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: pulses, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, jute, root crops; milk, water buffalo meat
Industries: tourism, carpets, textiles; small rice, jute, sugar, and oilseed mills; cigarettes, cement and brick production
Industrial production growth rate: 12.4% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 16.81 million (2017 est.) note: severe lack of skilled labor
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 69%
industry: 12%
services: 19% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3% (2017 est.) 3.2% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line: 25.2% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 29.5% (2011)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 32.8 (2010) 47.2 (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: 5.925 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 5.945 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 23.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -0.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 26.4% of GDP (2017 est.) 27.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: 16 July - 15 July
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.5% (2017 est.) 9.9% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$93 million (2017 est.) $1.339 billion (2016 est.)
Exports: $818.7 million (2017 est.) $761.6 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: clothing, pulses, carpets, textiles, juice, jute goods
Exports - partners: India 53.1%, US 11.8%, Turkey 7.2% (2017)
Imports: $10 billion (2017 est.) $8.764 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: petroleum products, machinery and equipment, gold, electrical goods, medicine
Imports - partners: India 70.2%, China 7.5% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $9.091 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $8.506 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $5.849 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $4.321 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $103 million (31 July 2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: n/a
Market value of publicly traded shares: $17.57 billion (31 October 2017 est.) $19.4 billion (31 October 2016 est.) $11.37 billion (31 October 2015 est.)
Exchange rates: Nepalese rupees (NPR) per US dollar - 104 (2017 est.) 107.38 (2016 est.) 107.38 (2015 est.) 102.41 (2014 est.) 99.53 (2013 est.)
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Electricity - production: 4.244 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 4.983 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 2.69 million kWh (FY 2017 est.)
Electricity - imports: 2.175 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 943,100 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 5% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 92% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 3% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 27,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 26,120 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 8.396 million Mt (2017 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 32,120,305
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 109 (July 2016 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: mountainous topography hinders development of telecom infrastructure; fair radiotelephone communication service; 20% of the market share is fixed (wired) broadband, 2% is fixed (wireless) broadband, and 78% is mobile broadband (2019); fixed broadband is low due to limited number of fixed lines and preeminence of the mobile platform; accelerated mobile broadband penetration the last five years; 90% of the population will have access to broadband by 2020 (2018)

domestic: mobile service has been extended to all 75 districts covering 90% of Nepal’s land area; 3G coverage is available in 20 major cities (2019); disparity between high coverage in cities and coverage available in underdeveloped rural regions; fixed-line 3 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular 109 per 100 persons (2018)

international: country code - 977; radiotelephone communications; microwave and fiber landlines to India; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); Nepal, China and Tibet connected across borders with underground and all-dielectric self-supporting (ADSS) fiber-optic cables
Broadcast media: state operates 3 TV stations, as well as national and regional radio stations; 117 television channels are licensed, among those 71 are cable television channels, three are distributed through Direct-To-Home (DTH) system, and four are digital terrestrial; 736 FM radio stations are licensed and at least 314 of those radio stations are community radio stations (2019)
Internet country code: .np
Internet users: total: 5,716,419
percent of population: 19.7% (July 2016 est.)
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Airports: 47 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 11
(2017) over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2017)
under 914 m: 1 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2013)
under 914 m: 29 (2013)
Railways: total 59 km
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2018)
Roadways: total 27,990 km
(2016) paved: 11,890 km (2016)
unpaved: 16,100 km (2016)
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Military branches: Nepal Army (2018)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2018)
Military expenditures: 1.55% of GDP (2017) 1.53% of GDP (2016) 1.54% of GDP (2015) 1.63% of GDP (2014) 1.54% of GDP (2013)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: joint border commission continues to work on contested sections of boundary with India, including the 400 sq km dispute over the source of the Kalapani River; India has instituted a stricter border regime to restrict transit of illegal cross-border activities
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 13,509 (Tibet/China), 6,626 (Bhutan) (2018)
stateless persons: undetermined (2016); note - the UNHCR is working with the Nepali Government to address the large number of individuals lacking citizenship certificates in Nepal; smaller numbers of Bhutanese Hindu refugees of Nepali origin (the Lhotshampa) who were stripped of Bhutanese nationality and forced to flee their country in the late 1980s and early 1990s - and undocumented Tibetan refugees who arrived in Nepal prior to the 1990s - are considered stateless
Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis and hashish for the domestic and international drug markets; transit point for opiates from Southeast Asia to the West
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