Nepal - History and economy
Nepal is a multiethnic Asian country located between Tibet and India. The country has experienced several decades of an uneasy political situation. Economic development is slow, despite international aid from Germany. Main export items are textiles, woollen carpets and ready-made textiles.
Nepal is a country in South Asia bordering to the east by Tibet and with India in other directions. The north of this 147.181 km² country holds the Himalayas range and the renowned Mount Everest. The capital is Kathmandu. In Nepal, there are approximately 25 million people who belong to a variety of ethnic groups. The national language is Nepali, which speak only about 48% of the population as their mother tongue. The religion of most residents is Hinduism while one-sixth of the population is Buddhist.
Nepal becomes an independent state for the first time in 1768, when the Ghurkhas in Kathmandu valley and in parts of India establish a Hindu Kingdom. By mid 19th Century, the Shah kings are deposed by the Rana family, which introduces a hereditary Prime Minister office for itself. About a hundred years later, in 1951, with Indian help, the Kingdom is rebuilt. The following years see a number of policy changes, until finally, in 1990, a democratic constitution is adopted. At that point, Nepal is a constitutional monarchy with frequently changing coalitions and minority governments. In 1996, however, begins the Communist Party vs. Nepalese Maoist civil war. Only in 2006, after years of conflict, are peace negotiations initiated. After the massacre of the royal family on 1 June 2001, the only surviving brother of King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev ascends the throne. He tries to grab more power for himself, but is forced to reinstate the dissolved parliament again in 2006. A transitional constitution is in force since early 2007.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Due to the ongoing political upheaval, Nepal's economic development is hindered. The economic policy is development-oriented and pursues the strengthening of the market economy. Efforts to liberalize and privatize are however hampered by bureaucracy and high regulatory social standards. Future growth potential primarily lies in the use of hydropower and tourism.
Most workers are employed in the agricultural sector and operate in a barter economy. The share of manufacturing industry in the gross domestic product is approximately 10%. The competition of India, a weak domestic market, and the lack of access to the sea, obstruct the country's growth. The production of primarily low-value products takes place for the most part in home offices. The largest share of exports consists of woollen carpets, ready-made garments, and cashmere shawls.
Relations with Germany
Since the mid-20th Century, diplomatic relations exist between the two countries. In addition, Germany is one of Nepal's most important sales markets for carpets and textile products. Since 1996, an investment agreement is in force. The German-Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kathmandu is committed to the commercial interests of Nepal. In addition, Nepal is a priority country of German development aid. Moreover, contacts have also been established to foster cultural exchanges. Thus, a cultural agreement is in place since 1992 and a there is Goethe Centre in Kathmandu. The Friedrich-Ebert Foundation and Deustche Welle endeavour for cooperation. Finally, DFG supports scientific research projects in cooperation with Nepal.
Foreign Office: Country and travel information Nepal (March 2007)
Country Information Pages (LIS) of inWent: Nepal (as of April 2007)