23 December 2007

An agreement is made for the Kingdom of Nepal to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state.

Kingdom of Nepal

  • नेपाल अधिराज्य
  • Nepal Adhirajya
1768–2008
Anthem: "Shreeman Gambhir" (Nepalese: राष्ट्रिय गान्)
(English: "May Glory Crown You, Courageous Sovereign")
Territory of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1808
Territory of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1808
Territory of the Kingdom of Nepal in 2008
Territory of the Kingdom of Nepal in 2008
Status
CapitalKathmandu
Common languagesNepali (Gorkhali)
Religion
Hinduism
Government
Mahārājādhirāja 
• 1768–1775
Prithvi Narayan Shah Dev (first)
• 2001–2008
(after 2008 as a titular reign)
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (last)
Prime Minister 
• 1799–1804
Damodar Pande (first)
• 2006–2008
Girija Prasad Koirala (last)
Legislature
History 
25 September 1768
1806–1837 and
1843–1845
1799–1804 and
1837–1840
• Rana regime
(under Shah kings)
1846–1953
1990–2008
• Republic
28 May 2008
Currency
ISO 3166 codeNP
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Malla Dynasty
Baise Rajya
Chaubisi Rajya
Gorkha Kingdom
Nepal
Today part ofNepal

The Kingdom of Nepal (Nepali: नेपाल अधिराज्य), also known as the Kingdom of Gorkha or Gorkha Empire (Nepali: गोरखा अधिराज्य) or Asal Hindusthan (Real Land of Hindus),[note 1] was a Hindu kingdom on the Indian subcontinent, formed in 1768, by the unification of Nepal.[5] Founded by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, a Gorkhali monarch of Rajput origin,[6] it existed for 240 years until the abolition of the Nepalese monarchy in 2008. During this period, Nepal was formally under the rule of the Shah dynasty, which exercised varying degrees of power during the kingdom's existence.

After the invasion of Tibet and plundering of Digarcha by Nepali forces under Prince Regent Bahadur Shah in 1792, the Dalai Lama and Chinese Ambans reported to Chinese administration for military support. The Chinese and Tibetan forces under Fuk'anggan attacked Nepal but went for negotiation after failure at Nuwakot.[3] Mulkaji Damodar Pande, who was the most influential among the four Kajis appointed after removal of Bahadur Shah even though Chief Kaji (Mulkaji) was Kirtiman Singh Basnyat,[7] tried to protect king Girvan Yuddha Shah and keep the former king Rana Bahadur Shah away of Nepal. However, on 4 March 1804, the former king came back and took over as Mukhtiyar (premier) and Damodar Pande was then beheaded and killed in Thankot.[8] The 1806 Bhandarkhal massacre instigated upon the death of Rana Bahadur Shah, set forth the rise of authoritative Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa[9] who became the de facto ruler of Nepal from 1806 to 1837.[10] During the early nineteenth century, however, the expansion of the East India Company's rule in India led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–1816), which resulted in Nepal's defeat. Under the Treaty of Sugauli, the kingdom retained its independence, but in exchange for territorial concessions marking the rivers Mechi and Mahakali as the boundary of Nepalese territories.[2] The territory of the kingdom before the Sugauli treaty is sometimes referred to as Greater Nepal. In the political scenario, the death of Mukhtiyar Mathbar Singh ended the Thapa hegemony and set the stage for Kot massacre[11] which resulted in the ascendancy of the Rana dynasty of Khas Rajput (Chhetri) origin and made the office of the Prime Minister of Nepal hereditary in their family for the next century, from 1843 to 1951. Beginning with Jung Bahadur, the first Rana ruler, the Rana dynasty reduced the Shah monarch to a figurehead role. Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[12][13]

In July 1950, the newly independent republic of India signed a friendship treaty in which both nations agreed to respect the other's sovereignty. In November of the same year, India played an important role in supporting King Tribhuhvan, whom the Rana leader Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana had attempted to depose and replace with his infant grandson King Gyanendra. With Indian support for a new government consisting largely of the Nepali Congress, King Tribhuvan ended the Rana regime in 1951.

Unsuccessful attempts were made to implement reforms and adopt a constitution during the 1960s and 1970s. An economic crisis at the end of the 1980s led to a popular movement which brought about parliamentary elections and the adoption of a constitutional monarchy in 1990. The 1990s saw the beginning of the Nepalese Civil War (1996–2006), a conflict between government forces and the insurgent forces of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The situation for the Nepalese monarchy was further destabilised by the 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, in which Crown Prince Dipendra reportedly shot and killed ten people, including his father King Birendra, and was himself mortally wounded by what was allegedly a self-inflicted gunshot.

As a result of the massacre, King Gyanendra returned to the throne. His imposition of direct rule in 2005 provoked a protest movement unifying the Maoist insurgency and pro-democracy activists. He was eventually forced to restore the House of Representatives, which in 2007 adopted an interim constitution greatly restricting the powers of the Nepalese monarchy. Following an election held the next year, the Nepalese Constituent Assembly formally abolished the kingdom in its first session on 28 May 2008, declaring the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in its place.

Until the abolition of the monarchy, Nepal was the world's only country to have Hinduism as its state religion; since becoming a republic the country is now formally a secular state.[14][15]

18th century

Origins

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Nepal (1962-2008)

The country was expanded from the one of the Chaubise principality called the Gorkha Kingdom.[16] The Parbate Brahmins and the ruling Shah dynasty as well as the Chhetri aristocratic clans such as the Pande family, Basnyat family, Thapa dynasty and Kunwar family[17] (later Rana dynasty) among the Gorkhali people trace their ancestry to the Hindu Rajputs and Brahmins of Northern India who entered modern Nepal from the West following Muslim advances. The actual historical process however by which this migration took place and the history of the Gorkhalis' ultimate conquest of Nepal span a couple of centuries and are drastically different from what Chauhan[who?] proposes. More importantly, Chauhan's overall thesis claiming the existence of a Gurkha identity way before the Shahs came to the Nepali hills is not supported by historical evidence available in Nepal. In Nepal the warrior people are not referred to as 'Gurkhas', they are called 'Gorkhalis', meaning the 'inhabitants of Gorkha.' Their famed battle cry is 'Ayo Gorkhali', meaning 'the Gorkhalis have come.'[citation needed]

The etymology of the geographical name 'Gorkha' is indeed related to the Hindu mendicant-saint Gorakhnath. In the village of Gorkha is situated a temple dedicated to Gorakhnath as well as another dedicated to Gorakhkali, a corresponding female deity. The Nepali geographical encyclopedia 'Mechi dekhi Mahakali' (From Mechi to Mahakali) published in B.S. 2013 (1974-75 AD) by the authoritarian Panchayat government to mark the coronation of King Birendra Shah agrees with the association of the name of the place with the saint but does not add any further detail.[18] The facts regarding when the temples were built and the place named after the saint are lost in the sweeping winds of time. We may guess that these developments took place in the early part of the second millennium of the Common Era following the rise of the Nath sect. In fact, the pilgrimage circuit of the sect across the northern Indian sub-continent also spans a major part of present-day Nepal including Kathmandu Valley. The Newars of Medieval Nepal have a couple of important temples and festivals dedicated to the major Nath teachers. Immediately before the rule of Gorkha by the Shahs, Gorkha was inhabited by both Aryan and Mongoloid ethnic groups and ruled by the Khadkas, who were probably of Khas origin. Dravya Shah defeated the Khadkas in 1559 AD and commenced Shah rule over the principality.[18] Prithvi Narayan Shah belonged to the ninth generation of the Shahs in Gorkha. He took the reins of power in 1742 AD.[19]

Expansion

The king's palace on a hill in Gorkha

King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the small principality of Gorkha, initially drafted the Gorkhali Army.[20] The Chief of the Gorkhali Army were drawn from Chhetri noble families of Gorkha such as Pande family, Basnyat family and Thapa dynasty before the rule of the Rana dynasty.[21] However, the first civilian army chief was Kaji Kalu Pande who had significant role in the campaign of Nepal.[20] He was considered as an army head due to the undertaking of duties and responsibilities of the army but not by the formalization of the title.[20]

Battle of Nuwakot

Kaji Vamshidhar "Kalu" Pande; commander of Gorkhali forces at victorious battle of Nuwakot

The first battle by Gorkhali forces united under King Prithvi Narayan Shah was the Battle of Nuwakot. The first army commander was Kaji Kalu Pande of the Pande noble family of Gorkha. Pande put up tactics to attack Nuwakot, a strategic fort of Malla king of Kathmandu, from multiple sides by surprise. On 26 September 1744, Pande with a contingent of soldiers climbed from the northern side of Nuwakot city at Mahamandal. He led the surprise attack with a Gorkhali war cry of "Jai Kali, Jai Gorakhnath, Jai Manakamana".[22] The panicked soldiers of Nuwakot under commander Shankha Mani tried to defend but lost after their commander was killed by the 13-year-old Prince Dal Mardan Shah, brother of the king.[23] The second contingent of Gorkhali forces led by Chautariya Mahoddam Kirti Shah (also a brother of the king) passed Dharampani and faced strong tussle but ultimately won over the defenders.[23] The third part of the forces, led by the king himself, advanced to the fort of Nuwakotgadhi after the capture of Mahamandal. The soldiers panicked by death of their commander fled to Belkot from the Nuwakot fort and Nuwakot was annexed by Gorkha.[23]

Battle of Kirtipur

Gorkhali soldiers preparing war against Kathmandu Valley

Despite his initial resentment that the valley kings were well prepared and the Gorkhalis were not, Kaji Kalu Pande agreed for a battle against the kingdom of Kirtipur in the Kathmandu valley on being insisted by the king. The Gorkhalis had set up a base in Naikap to mount their assaults on Kirtipur. They were armed with swords, bows and arrows and muskets.[24] The two forces fought on the plain of Tyangla Phant in the northwest of Kirtipur. Surapratap Shah, the king's brother, lost his right eye to an arrow while scaling the city wall. The Gorkhali commander Kaji Kalu Pande was surrounded and killed, and the Gorkhali king himself narrowly escaped with his life into the surrounding hills disguised as a saint.[25][26] In 1767, the King Prithvi Narayan Shah sent his army to attack Kirtipur for a third time under the command of Surapratap. In response, the three kings of the valley joined forces and sent their troops to the relief of Kirtipur, but they could not dislodge the Gorkhalis from their positions. A noble of Lalitpur named Danuvanta crossed over to Shah's side and treacherously let the Gorkhalis into the town.[5][27]

Annexation of Makwanpur & Hariharpur

King Digbardhan Sen and his minister Kanak Singh Baniya had already sent their families to safer grounds before the encirclement of their fortress. The Gorkhalis launched an attack on 21 August 1762. The battle lasted for eight hours. King Digbardhan and Kanak Singh escaped to Hariharpurgadhi. Makawanpur was thus annexed by the Gorkhali forces.[23]

After occupying the Makawanpurgadhi fort, the Gorkhali forces started planning for an attack on Hariharpurgadhi, a strategic fort on a mountain ridge of the Mahabharat range south of Kathmandu. It controlled the route to the Kathmandu valley. At the dusk of 4 October 1762, the Gorkhalis launched an attack. The soldiers at Hariharpurgadhi fought valiantly against the Gorkhali forces, but were ultimately forced to vacate the Gadhi (fort) after mid-night. About 500 soldiers of Hariharpur died in the battle.[23] Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal extended his help to kings of Kathmandu valley with his forces to attack the Gorkhali forces. On 20 January 1763, Gorkhali commander Vamsharaj Pande won the battle against Mir Qasim.[28] Similarly, Captain Kinloch of British East India Company also extended his support by sending contingents against Gorkhalis. King Prithvi Narayan sent Kaji Vamsharaj Pande, Naahar Singh Basnyat, Jeeva Shah, Ram Krishna Kunwar and others to defeat the forces of Gurgin Khan at Makwanpur.[29][30]

Conquest of Kathmandu valley and Declaration of Kingdom of Nepal

Sardar Ram Krishna Kunwar, senior military commander of Gorkhali forces

The victory in the Battle of Kirtipur climaxed Shah's two-decade-long effort to take possession of the wealthy Kathmandu valley. After the fall of Kirtipur, Shah took over the cities of Kathmandu and Lalitpur in 1768 and Bhaktapur in 1769, completing his conquest of the valley.[5] In a letter to Ram Krishna Kunwar, King Prithvi Narayan Shah expressed his unhappiness at the death of Kaji Kalu Pande in Kirtipur and thought it was impossible to conquer Kathmandu valley after the death of Kalu Pande.[31] After the annexation of Kathmandu valley, King Prithvi Narayan Shah praised in his letter about the valour and wisdom shown by Kunwar in the annexation of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur (collectively known as Nepal valley at the time).[32] Vamsharaj Pande, Kalu Pande's eldest son, was the commander of the Gorkhali forces who led the attack during the Battle of Bhaktapur on 14 April 1769.[33]

Conquest of the Kirata

Abhiman Singh Basnyat, a military commander and later Mulkaji

King Prithvi Narayan Shah had deployed Sardar Ram Krishna Kunwar to the invasion of Kirata regional areas comprising; Pallo Kirant (Limbuwan), Wallo Kirant and Majh Kirant (Khambuwan).[34] On B.S. 1829 Bhadra 13 (i.e. 29 August 1772), Kunwar crossed the Dudhkoshi river to invade King Karna Sen of the Kirant and Saptari region[32] with fellow commander Abhiman Singh Basnyat.[35] He then crossed the Arun river to reach Chainpur,[36] where he later achieved victory over the Kiratas.[37] King Prithvi Narayan Shah bestowed 22 pairs of Shirpau (special headgear) in appreciation to Ram Krishna Kunwar after his victory over the Kirata region.[37]

Political Conflicts

In 1775, the King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who expanded the Gorkha Kingdom into the Kingdom of Nepal, died in Nuwakot.[38] Swarup Singh Karki, a shrewd Gorkhali courtier from a Chhetri family of eastern Nepal,[39] marched with an army to Nuwakot to confine Prince Bahadur Shah who was then mourning the death of his father.[38] He confined Bahadur Shah and Dal Mardan Shah with the consent from newly reigning King Pratap Singh Shah who was considered to have no distinction of right and wrong.[38] In the annual Pajani (renewal) of that year, Swarup Singh was promoted to the position of Kaji along with Abhiman Singh Basnyat, Amar Singh Thapa and Parashuram Thapa.[38] In Falgun 1832 B.S., he succeeded in exiling Bahadur Shah, Dal Mardan Shah and Guru Gajraj Mishra on three heinous charges.[40] The reign of Pratap Singh Shah was characterized by the constant rivalry between Swarup Singh and Vamsharaj Pande.[41] The document dated B.S. 1833 Bhadra 3 Roj 6 (i.e. Friday, 2 August 1776), shows that he had carried the title of Dewan along with Vamsharaj Pande.[42] King Pratap Singh Shah died on 22 November 1777[43] with his infant son Rana Bahadur Shah succeeding as the King of Nepal.[44] Sarbajit Rana Magar was made a Kaji along with Balbhadra Shah and Vamsharaj Pande[45] while Daljit Shah was chosen as Chief Chautariya.[44][45] Historian Dilli Raman Regmi asserts that Sarbajit was chosen as Mulkaji (equivalent to Prime Minister),[44] while historian Rishikesh Shah asserts that Sarbajit was the head of the Nepalese government only for a short period in 1778.[46] Afterwards, rivalry arose between Prince Bahadur Shah and Queen Rajendra Laxmi. Sarbajit led the followers of the Queen opposed to Sriharsh Pant who led the followers of Bahadur Shah.[47] The group of Bharadars (officers) led by Sarbajit badmouthed Rajendra Laxmi against Bahadur Shah.[48] Rajendra Laxmi succeeded in the confinement of Bahadur Shah with the help of her new minister Sarbajit.[49] Guru Gajraj Mishra came to the rescue of Bahadur Shah on a condition that Bahadur Shah should leave the country.[49][50] Also, his rival Sriharsh Pant was branded outcast and expelled instead of being executed as execution was prohibited for Brahmins.[47]

Prince Bahadur Shah confined his sister-in-law Queen Rajendra Laxmi on the charge of having illicit relation with Sarbajit[51] on 31 August 1778.[43][52][53] Subsequently, Sarbajit was executed inside the palace by Bahadur Shah[54][55] with the help of male servants of the royal palace.[54] Historian Bhadra Ratna Bajracharya asserts that it was actually Chautariya Daljit Shah who led the opposing group against Sarbajit Rana and Rajendra Laxmi.[56] The letter dated B.S. 1835 Bhadra 11 Roj 4 (1778) to Narayan Malla and Vrajabasi Pande asserts the death of Sarbajit under misconduct and the appointment of Bahadur Shah as regent.[43] The death of Sarbajit Rana Magar is considered to have marked the initiation of court conspiracies and massacres in the newly unified Kingdom of Nepal.[50] Historian Baburam Acharya points that the sanctions against Queen Rajendra Laxmi under moral misconduct was a mistake of Bahadur Shah. Similarly, the murder of Sarbajit was condemned by many historians as an act of injustice.[57]

Vamsharaj Pande, once Dewan of Nepal and son of the popular commander Kalu Pande, was beheaded on the allegations of conspiring with Queen Rajendra Laxmi.[58][59] In a special tribunal meeting at Bhandarkhal garden east of Kathmandu Durbar, Swaroop Singh held Vamsharaj liable for letting the King of Parbat, Kirtibam Malla, run away in the battle a year ago.[60] He had a fiery conversation with Vamsharaj before Vamsharaj was declared guilty and was subsequently executed by beheading on the tribunal.[47] Historian Rishikesh Shah and Ganga Karmacharya claim that he was executed on March 1785,[58][59] whereas Bhadra Ratna Bajracharya and Tulsi Ram Vaidya claim that he was executed on 21 April 1785.[60][47] On 2 July 1785, Swaroop Singh's opponent Prince Regent Bahadur Shah was arrested, but on the eleventh day of imprisonment, on 13 July, Singh's only supporter Queen Rajendra Laxmi died.[58][59] Then onwards, Bahadur Shah took over the regency of his nephew King Rana Bahadur Shah[61] and as one of his first orders as the regent, he ordered Swaroop Singh, who was then in Pokhara, to be beheaded there[62][63] on the charges of treason.[64] Singh had gone to Kaski to join Daljit Shah's military campaign of Kaski fearing retaliation of the old courtiers due to his conspiracy against Vamsharaj. He was executed on B.S. 1842 Shrawan 24.[62]

Tibetan conflict

After the death of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Shah dynasty began to expand their kingdom into what is present day North India. Between 1788 and 1791, Nepal invaded Tibet and robbed Tashi Lhunpo Monastery of Shigatse. Tibet sought Chinese help and the Qianlong Emperor of the Chinese Qing Dynasty appointed Fuk'anggan commander-in-chief of the Tibetan campaign. Heavy damages were inflicted on both sides. The Nepali forces retreated step by step back to Nuwakot to stretch Sino-Tibetan forces uncomfortably. Chinese launched uphill attack during the daylight and failed to succeed due to strong counterattack with khukuri at Nuwakot.[3] The Chinese army suffered a major setback when they tried to cross a monsoon-flooded Betrawati, close to the Gorkhali palace in Nuwakot.[65] A stalemate ensued when Fuk'anggan was keen to protect his troops and wanted to negotiate at Nuwakot. The treaty was favouring more to Chinese side where Nepal had to send tributes to the Chinese emperor.[3]

19th century

Dominance of Damodar Pande

Damodar Pande, Mulkaji of Nepal from the Pande aristocratic family

Damodar Pande was appointed as one of the four Kajis by King Rana Bahadur Shah after removal of Chautariya Bahadur Shah in 1794.[7] Pande was the most influential and dominant amongst the court factions inspite of the post of Mulkaji being held by Kirtiman Singh Basnyat.[7] Pandes were the most dominant noble family. Later due to continuous irrational behaviour of King Rana Bahadur Shah, situation of civil war arose where Damodar was the main opposition to the King.[66] He was forced to flee to the British-controlled city of Varanasi in May 1800 after the military parted with influential Kaji Damodar Pande.[67][68] After Queen Rajrajeshwari finally managed to assume the regency on 17 December 1802,[69][70] later in February she appointed Damodar Pande as the Mulkaji.[71]

After Rana Bahadur's reinstatement to power, he ordered Damodar Pande, along with his two eldest sons, who were completely innocent, to be executed on 13 March 1804; similarly some members of his faction were tortured and executed without any due trial, while many others managed to escape to India. Among those who managed to escape to India were Damodar Pande's sons Karbir Pande and Rana Jang Pande.[72][72][73] After Damodar Pande's execution, Ranajit Pande who was his paternal cousin, was appointed Mulkaji along with Bhimsen Thapa as second Kaji, Sher Bahadur Shah as Mul Chautariya and Ranganath Paudel as Raj Guru (Royal Preceptor).[74][75]

Thapa Regime

Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa, founder of Khas Thapa dynasty

Thapa courtiers, who were Khas Kshatriya, rose to power when the King Rana Bahadur Shah was murdered by his half brother Sher Bahadur Shah in 1806.[76] Bhimsen Thapa (1775–1839), the leading Thapa Kaji, taking opportunity of the occasion massacred nearly 55 military and civil officers and catapulting the Thapas into the power.[76] He took the title of Mukhtiyar succeeding Rana Bahadur as the chief authority and his niece Queen Tripurasundari as Queen Regent of junior King Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah.[77]

Anglo-Gurkha War

Territories lost by Nepal after the Treaty of Sugauli

Rivalry between Nepal and the East India Company—over the princely states bordering Nepal and India—eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16). The Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816, ceding large parts of the Nepali territories of the Terai and Sikkim, which accounted to nearly one third of the country, to the British in exchange for Nepalese autonomy. As the territories were not restored to Nepal by the British when freedom was granted to the people of British India, most of these lands later became a part of the Republic of India. Sikkim remained independent, until annexed into India in 1975, when it become the 22nd state of the Republic of India. However, the British returned the authority over some of Nepal's land in the Terai back to Nepal as an act of gratitude for supporting Britain during various Indian uprisings, such as the Sepoy mutiny.

Rana Regime

Maharaja of Kaski and Lamjung and Prime Minister of Nepal Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana and his 8 sons who were one of the most powerful factions of Ranas of Nepal

Factionalism among the royal family led to a period of instability after the war. In 1846, Queen Rajya Lakshmi Devi plotted to overthrow Jang Bahadur Rana, a fast-rising military leader who was presenting a threat to her power. The plot was uncovered and the queen had several hundred princes and chieftains executed after an armed clash between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen. This came to be known as the Kot Massacre. However, Jung Bahadur emerged victorious eventually and founded the Rana dynasty; the monarch was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary, held by the Ranas.

Third Nepalese Tibet War

Jung Bahadur Rana sent forces under his brothers Bam Bahadur Kunwar and Dhir Shamsher Rana to attack Tibet again to achieve complete victory. His forces succeeded on defeating Tibetan forces on two sides. The Tibetan team arrived on January 1856 to sign a treaty. After a month, the Treaty of Thapathali was signed which was more favourable to Nepal.[3]

20th century

Rani (Queen) of Nepal surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting, 1920

Nepal and the British

The Rana regime, a tightly centralized autocracy, pursued a policy of isolating Nepal from external influences. This policy helped Nepal maintain its national independence during the British colonial era, but it also impeded the country's economic development and modernisation. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British and assisted the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and later in both World Wars. At the same time, despite Chinese claims, the British supported Nepalese independence at the beginning of the twentieth century.[78]

In December 1923, Britain and Nepal formally signed a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship superseding the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 and upgrading the British resident in Kathmandu to an envoy. Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.[79]

Democratic reform

Popular dissatisfaction against the family rule of the Ranas had started emerging from among the few educated people, who had studied in various Indian schools and colleges, and also from within the Ranas, many of whom were marginalised within the ruling Rana hierarchy. Many of these Nepalese in exile had actively taken part in the Indian Independence struggle and wanted to liberate Nepal as well from the internal autocratic Rana occupation. The political parties such as the Praja Parishad and Nepali Congress were already formed in exile by leaders such as B.P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Subarna Shamsher Rana, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala and many other patriotic-minded Nepalis who urged the military and popular political movement in Nepal to overthrow the autocratic Rana Regime. Among the prominent martyrs to die for the cause, executed at the hands of the Ranas, were Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha and Dasharath Chand. This turmoil culminated in King Tribhuvan, a direct descendant of Prithvi Narayan Shah, fleeing from his 'palace prison' in 1950, to the newly independent India, touching off an armed revolt against the Rana administration. This eventually ended in the return of the Shah family to power and the appointment of a non-Rana as prime minister. A period of quasi-constitutional rule followed, during which the monarch, assisted by the leaders of fledgling political parties, governed the country. During the 1950s, efforts were made to frame a constitution for Nepal that would establish a representative form of government, based on a British model.

In early 1959, Tribhuvan's son King Mahendra issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress, a moderate socialist group, gained a substantial victory in the election. Its leader, B.P. Koirala, formed a government and served as prime minister. After a period of power wrangling between the king and the elected government, Mahendra dissolved the democratic experiment in 1960.

King Mahendra's new constitution

Declaring the contemporary parliament a failure, King Mahendra in 1960 dismissed the Koirala government, declared that a "partyless" Panchayat system would govern Nepal, and promulgated another new constitution on 16 December 1962.

Subsequently, the Prime Minister, members of parliament and hundreds of democratic activists were arrested. In fact, this trend of arrest of political activists and democratic supporters continued for the entire 30-year period of partyless Panchayat system under King Mahendra and then his son, King Birendra.

The new constitution established a "partyless" system of panchayats (councils), which King Mahendra considered to be a democratic form of government, closer to Nepalese traditions. As a pyramidal structure, progressing from village assemblies to a Rastriya Panchayat (National Parliament), the panchayat system constitutionalised the absolute power of the monarchy and kept the King as head of state with sole authority over all governmental institutions, including the cabinet (council of ministers) and the parliament. One-state-one-language became the national policy, and all other languages suffered at the cost of the official language, Nepali, which was the king's language.

King Mahendra was succeeded by his 27-year-old son, King Birendra, in 1972. Amid student demonstrations and anti-regime activities in 1979, King Birendra called for a national referendum to decide on the nature of Nepal's government: either the continuation of the panchayat system with democratic reforms or the establishment of a multiparty system. The referendum was held in May 1980, and the Panchayat system won a narrow victory. The king carried out the promised reforms, including selection of the prime minister by the Rastriya Panchayat.

End of Panchayat system

There was resentment against the authoritarian regime and the curbs on the freedom of the political parties. There was widespread feeling of the palace being non-representative of the masses, especially when the Marich Man Singh government faced political scandals on charges of misappropriation of funds allotted for the victims of the earthquake in August 1998 or when it reshuffled the cabinet instead of investigating the deaths of the people in a stampede in the national sports complex in a hailstorm. Also the souring of the India-Nepal trade relations affected the popularity of the Singh government.

In April 1987, Nepal had introduced the work permit for Indian workers in three of its districts, and in early 1989, Nepal provided 40% duty concession to Chinese goods and later withdrew duty concessions from Indian goods in such a manner that the Chinese goods became cheaper than the Indian goods. This led to the souring of relations which were already strained over the purchase of Chinese arms by Nepal in 1988. India refused to renew two separate Treaties of Trade and Transit and insisted on a single treaty dealing with the two issues, which was not acceptable to Nepal. A deadlock ensued and the Treaties of Trade and Transit expired on 23 March 1989. The brunt of the closure of the trade and transit points was mainly faced by the lower classes in Nepal due to the restricted supply of consumer goods and petroleum products such as petrol, aviation fuel and kerosene. The industries suffered because of their dependence on India for resources, trade and transit. The Government of Nepal tried to deal with the situation by depending on foreign aid from the US, UK, Australia and China. However, the government's strategy to manage the crisis could not satisfy those people who desired negotiations with India rather than dependence on foreign aid as a solution.[citation needed]

Taking advantage of the uneasiness amongst some people against the government and the strained India-Nepal relations, the Nepali Congress (NC) and the left-wing parties blamed the government for perpetuating the crisis and not taking any serious measures to solve it. In December 1989, the NC tried to utilize B.P. Koirala's anniversary by launching a people's awareness program. The left-wing alliance known as the United Left Front (ULF) extended its support to the NC in its campaign for a party system. On 18–19 January 1990, the NC held a conference in which leaders from various countries and members of the foreign Press were invited. Leaders from India attended the conference; Germany, Japan, Spain, Finland supported the movement; and the Embassies of the US and West Germany were present on the occasion. Inspired by the international support and the democratic movements occurring throughout the world after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1989, the NC and the ULF launched a mass movement on 18 February to end the Panchayat regime, and the installation of an interim government represented by various parties and people.[citation needed]

On 6 April the Marich Man Singh government was dismissed and Lokendra Bahadur Chand became the Prime Minister on the same day. However, the agitating mob was not satisfied with the change of government as they were not against the Singh government per se but against the party-less system. On 16 April the Chand government was also dismissed and a Royal Proclamation was issued the next day which dissolved the National Panchayat, the Panchayat policy and the evaluation committee and the class organizations. Instead, the proclamation declared "functioning of the political parties" and maintained that "all political parties will always keep the national interest uppermost in organizing themselves according to their political ideology."[citation needed]

During this protest many civilians were killed: after the end of the Panchayat rule they were seen as 'undeclared martyrs'. One of those martyrs is Ram Chandra Hamal, member of the Nepali Congress and killed during his imprisonment.[80]

1990 People's Movement

People in rural areas had expected that their interests would be better represented after the adoption of parliamentary democracy in 1990. The Nepali Congress with support of "Alliance of leftist parties" decided to launch a decisive agitational movement, Jana Andolan, which forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections in nearly 50 years. The Nepali Congress won 110 of the 205 seats and formed the first elected government in 32 years.

Civil strife

In 1992, in a situation of economic crisis and chaos, with spiralling prices as a result of implementation of changes in policy of the new Congress government, the radical left stepped up their political agitation. A Joint People's Agitation Committee was set up by the various groups.[81] A general strike was called for 6 April.

Violent incidents began to occur on the evening before of the strike. The Joint People's Agitation Committee had called for a 30-minute 'lights out' in the capital, and violence erupted outside Bir Hospital when activists tried to enforce the 'lights out'. At dawn on 6 April, clashes between strike activists and police, outside a police station in Pulchok (Patan), left two activists dead.

Later in the day, a mass rally of the Agitation Committee at Tundikhel in the capital Kathmandu was attacked by police forces. As a result, riots broke out and the Nepal Telecommunications building was set on fire; police opened fire at the crowd, killing several persons. The Human Rights Organisation of Nepal estimated that 14 persons, including several onlookers, had been killed in police firing.[82]

When promised land reforms failed to appear, people in some districts started to organize to enact their own land reform and to gain some power over their lives in the face of usurious landlords. However, this movement was repressed by the Nepali government, in Operation Romeo and Operation Kilo Sera II, which took the lives of many of the leading activists of the struggle. As a result, many witnesses to this repression became radicalised.

Nepalese Civil War

In February 1996, one of the Maoist parties started a bid to replace the parliamentary monarchy with a people's new democratic republic, through a Maoist revolutionary strategy known as the people's war, which led to the Nepalese Civil War. Led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (better known by his nom de guerre "Prachanda"), the insurgency began in five districts in Nepal: Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Gorkha, and Sindhuli. The Maoists declared the existence of a provisional "people's government" at the district level in several locations.

21st century

Palace massacre

The Narayanhiti Palace where the royal massacre occurred

On 1 June 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra allegedly went on a shooting-spree, assassinating 9 members of the royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, before shooting himself. Due to his survival he temporarily became king before dying of his wounds, after which Prince Gyanendra (Birendra's brother) inherited the throne, according to tradition. The massacre shattered the aura of mythology that still surrounded the Royal Family, exposing their far too human intrigues.

Meanwhile, the Maoist rebellion escalated, and in October 2002 the king temporarily deposed the government and took complete control of it.[83] A week later he reappointed another government, but the country was still very unstable because of the civil war with the Maoists, the various clamouring political factions, the king's attempts to take more control of the government, and worries about the competence of Gyanendra's son and heir, Prince Paras.

Suspension of responsible government

In the face of unstable governments and a Maoist siege on the Kathmandu Valley in August 2004, popular support for the monarchy began to wane. On 1 February 2005, Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and took to exercising his executive powers without ministerial advice, declaring a "state of emergency" to quash the Maoist movement. Politicians were placed under house arrest, phone and internet lines were cut, and freedom of the press was severely curtailed.

2006 democracy movement

The king's new regime made little progress in his stated aim of suppressing the insurgents. The European Union described the municipal elections of February 2006 as "a backward step for democracy", as the major parties boycotted the election and the army forced some candidates to run for office.[84] In April 2006 strikes and street protests in Kathmandu forced the king to reinstate the parliament. A seven-party coalition resumed control of the government and stripped the king of most of his powers. As of 15 January 2007, a unicameral legislature under an interim constitution governed Nepal.

Abolition of the monarchy

The Constituent Assembly came to fruition on 24 December 2007 when it was announced that the monarchy would be abolished in 2008 after the Constituent Assembly elections;[85] and on 28 May 2008, Nepal was declared a Federal Democratic Republic.

Geography

Topographic map of Nepal
The arid and barren Himalayan landscape

The Kingdom of Nepal was of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (500 mi) long and 200 kilometres (125 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi). Nepal was commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Mountain, Hill, and Terai Regions. These ecological belts run east-west and are bisected by Nepal's major river systems. The kingdom was roughly the same size as the U.S. state of Arkansas or the country of England.

The Madhesi Plains bordering India are part of the northern rim of the Indo-Gangetic plains. They were formed and are fed by three major rivers: the Koshi, the Narayani (Gandak River), and the Karnali. This region has a hot, humid climate.

The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 1,000 to 4,000 metres (3,300–13,125 ft) in altitude. Two low mountain ranges, the Mahabharat Lekh and Shiwalik Range (also called the Churia Range) dominate the region. The hilly belt includes the Kathmandu Valley, the country's most fertile and urbanised area. Unlike the valleys Called Inner Tarai (Bhitri Tarai Uptyaka) elevations above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) are sparsely populated.

The Mountain Region contains the highest region in the world. The world's highest mountain, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) at 8,850 metres (29,035 ft) is located on the border with China. Eight more of the world's ten highest mountains are located in Nepal: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu. Deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems.

Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to altitude. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,940 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,900–7,875 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,875–11,800 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,800–14,400 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,400 ft). Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns.

Although Nepal shares no boundary with Bangladesh, the two countries are separated by a narrow strip of land about 21 kilometre (13 mi) wide, called the Chicken's Neck. Efforts are underway to make this area a free-trade zone.

Situated in the Great Himalayan Range in northern part of Nepal, Mount Everest has the highest altitude of any mountain in the world. Technically, the south-east ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb, so most climbers travel to Everest through Nepal. The Annapurna mountain range also lies in Nepal.

Zones, districts, and regions

Nepalese zones

Nepal was divided into 14 zones and 75 districts, grouped into 5 development regions. Each district was headed by a fixed chief district officer responsible for maintaining law and order and coordinating the work of field agencies of the various government ministries. The 14 zones are:

Economy

Terraced farming on the foothills of the Himalayas

Agriculture sustains 76% of the population and accounts for about 39% of the GDP; services comprise 41%, and industry 22%. Nepal remains isolated from the world's major land, air and sea transport routes though air traffic is frequent. Hilly and mountainous terrain in the northern two-thirds of the country has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. There were just over 8,500 km of paved roads, and one 59 km railway line in the south in 2003. There is only one reliable road route from India to the Kathmandu Valley. The only practical seaport of entry for goods bound for Kathmandu is Kolkata in India. Internally, the poor state of development of the road system (22 of 75 administrative districts lack road links) makes volume distribution unrealistic.

Aviation is in a better state, with 48 airports, ten of them with paved runways. There is less than one telephone per 19 people; landline telephone services are not adequate nationwide but concentrated in cities and district headquarters; mobile telephony is in a reasonable state in most parts of the country with increased accessibility and affordability. There were around 175,000 Internet connections in 2005, but after the imposition of the "state of emergency", intermittent losses of service were reported. Uninterrupted Internet connections have resumed after the brief period of confusion as Nepal's second major people's revolution took place to overthrow the King's absolute power.[86]

Its landlocked location and[87] technological backwardness and the long-running civil war have also prevented Nepal from fully developing its economy. The country receives foreign aid from India, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, China, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries. The government's budget is about US$1.153 billion, with expenditures of $1.789bn (FY05/06). The inflation rate has dropped to 2.9% after a period of higher inflation during the 1990s. The Nepali Rupee has been tied to the Indian Rupee at an exchange rate of 1.6 for many years. Since the loosening of exchange rate controls in the early 1990s, the black market for foreign exchange has all but disappeared. A long-standing economic agreement underpins a close relationship with India.

The distribution of wealth among the Nepali is consistent with that in many developed and developing countries: the highest 10% of households control 39.1% of the national wealth and the lowest 10% control only 2.6%.

Nepal's workforce of about 10 million suffers from a severe shortage of skilled labour. Agriculture employs 81% of the workforce, services 16% and manufacturing/craft-based industry 3%. Agricultural produce—mostly grown in the Terai region bordering India—includes rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, milk, and water buffalo meat. Industry mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce, including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. The spectacular landscape and deep, exotic culture of Nepal represents considerable potential for tourism, but growth in this export industry has been stifled by recent political events. The rate of unemployment and underemployment approaches half of the working-age population. Thus many Nepali citizens move to India in search of work, the Gulf countries and Malaysia being new sources of work. Poverty is acute.[88] Nepal receives US$50 million a year through the Gurkha soldiers who serve in the Indian and British armies and are highly esteemed for their skill and bravery. The total remittance value is worth around US$1 billion, including money sent from Persian Gulf and Malaysia, who combined employ around 700,000 Nepali citizens.

Nepal's GDP for the year 2005 is estimated at just over US$39 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 83rd-largest economy in the world. Per-capita income is less than US$300. Nepal's exports of mainly carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods and grain total $822 million. Import commodities of mainly gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products and fertilizer total US$2 bn. India (53.7%), the US (17.4%), and Germany (7.1%) are its main export partners. Nepal's import partners include India (47.5%), the United Arab Emirates (11.2%), China (10.7%), Saudi Arabia (4.9%), and Singapore (4%).[89]

Government and politics

Until 1990, Nepal was an absolute monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.

Nepal's legislature was bicameral consisting of a House of Representatives and a National Council. The House of Representatives consists of 205 members directly elected by the people. The National Council had sixty members, ten nominated by the king, thirty-five elected by the House of Representatives and the remaining fifteen elected by an electoral college made up of chairs of villages and towns. The legislature had a five-year term, but was dissolvable by the king before its term could end. All Nepali citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote.

The executive comprised the King and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet). The leader of the coalition or party securing the maximum seats in an election was appointed as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet was appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Governments in Nepal have tended to be highly unstable; no government has survived for more than two years since 1991, either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch on the recommendation of prime minister according to the constitution.

The movement in April 2006 brought about a change in the nation. The autocratic King was forced to give up power. The dissolved House of Representatives was restored. The House of Representatives formed a government which had successful peace talks with the Maoist Rebels. An interim constitution was promulgated and an interim House of Representatives was formed with Maoist members. The number of seats were also increased to 330. The peace process in Nepal made a giant leap in April 2007, when the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined the interim government of Nepal. The peace process seems to be in jeopardy after Maoists decided to leave coalition government on 18 September 2007, demanding the declaration of a republic before the scheduled constituent assembly.

Kings and Prime Ministers of the Kingdom of Nepal

Kings of Nepal (1768–2008)

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Prithvi Narayan Shah
  • बडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह
(1723-01-07)7 January 1723 – 11 January 1775(1775-01-11) (aged 52)25 September 176811 January 1775Son of Nara Bhupal ShahShahPrithvi Narayan Shah of Nepal
Pratap Singh Shah
  • प्रतापसिंह शाह
(1751-04-16)16 April 1751 – 17 November 1777(1777-11-17) (aged 26)11 January 177517 November 1777Son of Prithvi Narayan ShahShahPratap Singh Shah of Nepal
Rana Bahadur Shah
  • रणबहादुर शाह
(1775-05-25)25 May 1775 – 25 April 1806(1806-04-25) (aged 30)17 November 17778 March 1799
(abdicated)
Son of Pratap Singh ShahShahRana Bahadur Shah of Nepal
Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah
  • गीर्वाणयुद्ध विक्रम शाह
(1797-10-19)19 October 1797 – 20 November 1816(1816-11-20) (aged 19)8 March 179920 November 1816Son of Rana Bahadur ShahShahGirvan Yuddha Bikram Shah of Nepal
Rajendra Bikram Shah
  • राजेन्द्र बिक्रम शाह
(1813-12-03)3 December 1813 – 10 July 1881(1881-07-10) (aged 67)20 November 181612 May 1847
(abdicated)
Son of Girvan Yuddha Bikram ShahShahRajendra Bikram Shah of Nepal
Surendra Bikram Shah
  • सुरेन्द्र बिक्रम शाह
(1829-10-20)20 October 1829 – 17 May 1881(1881-05-17) (aged 51)12 May 184717 May 1881Son of Rajendra Bikram ShahShahSurendra Bikram Shah of Nepal
Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah
  • पृथ्वी वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1875-08-18)18 August 1875 – 11 December 1911(1911-12-11) (aged 36)17 May 188111 December 1911Grandson of Surendra Bikram ShahShahPrithvi Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
(1st reign)
  • त्रिभुवन वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1906-06-30)30 June 1906 – 13 March 1955(1955-03-13) (aged 48)11 December 19117 November 1950
(went into exile)
Son of Prithvi Bir Bikram ShahShahTribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1st reign)
  • ज्ञानेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1947-07-07) 7 July 1947 (age 73)7 November 19507 January 1951
(stepped down)
Grandson of Tribhuvan Bir Bikram ShahShahGyanendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
(2nd reign)
  • त्रिभुवन वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1906-06-30)30 June 1906 – 13 March 1955(1955-03-13) (aged 48)7 January 195113 March 1955Son of Prithvi Bir Bikram ShahShahTribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah
  • महेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1920-06-11)11 June 1920 – 31 January 1972(1972-01-31) (aged 51)14 March 195531 January 1972Son of Tribhuvan Bir Bikram ShahShahMahendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah
  • वीरेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1945-12-28)28 December 1945 – 1 June 2001(2001-06-01) (aged 55)31 January 19721 June 2001
(assassinated)
Son of Mahendra Bir Bikram ShahShahBirendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah[90]
  • दीपेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1971-06-27)27 June 1971 – 4 June 2001(2001-06-04) (aged 29)1 June 20014 June 2001
(declared brain dead)
Son of Birendra Bir Bikram ShahShahDipendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(2nd reign)
  • ज्ञानेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1947-07-07) 7 July 1947 (age 73)4 June 200128 May 2008
(deposed)
Son of Mahendra Bir Bikram ShahShahGyanendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal

Prime Ministers during the Absolute monarchy (1799–1990)

Mulkajis during the Shah expansion era (1799–1806)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
1 Damodar Pande.jpg Damodar Pande
(1752–1804)
1799 1804 Independent

Muktiyars during the Thapa/Pande era (1806–1846)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
Rana Bahadur Shah.jpg Rana Bahadur Shah
(1775–1806)
26 February 1806 26 April 1806 Independent
2 Bhimsen-thapa-painting (cropped).jpg Bhimsen Thapa
(1775–1839)
1806 1837 Independent
3 Ranajang Pande.jpg Rana Jang Pande
(1789–1843)
1st time
1837 1837 Independent
4 Ranganath Paudyal.jpg Ranga Nath Poudyal
(1773–?)
1st time
1837 1838 Independent
5 Puskar Shah.jpg Chautariya Puskhar Shah
(1784–1846)
1838 1839 Independent
(3) Ranajang Pande.jpg Rana Jang Pande
(1789–1843)
2nd time
1839 1840 Independent
(4) Ranganath Paudyal.jpg Ranga Nath Poudyal
(1773–?)
2nd time
1840 1840 Independent
6 Fatteh Jang Shah.jpg Fateh Jung Shah
(1805–1846)
1st time
November 1840 January 1843 Independent
7 Mathabar Simha Thapa.jpg Mathabar Singh Thapa
(1798–1845)
28 November 1843 17 May 1845 Independent
(6) Fatteh Jang Shah.jpg Fateh Jung Shah
(1805–1846)
2nd time
September 1845 14 September 1846 Independent

Prime Ministers during the Rana era (1846–1951)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
8 JungBahadur-gr.jpg Jung Bahadur Rana
(1816–1877)
1st time
15 September 1846 1 August 1856 Independent
9 Bam Bahadur Kunwar.jpg Bam Bahadur Kunwar
(1818–1857)
1 August 1856 25 May 1857 Independent
No image.png Krishna Bahadur Kunwar Rana
(1823–1863)
Acting Prime Minister
25 May 1857 28 June 1857 Independent
(8) JungBahadur-gr.jpg Jung Bahadur Rana
(1816–1877)
2nd time
28 June 1857 25 February 1877 Independent
10 Ranaudip Singh Bahadur Rana.jpg Ranodip Singh Kunwar
(1825–1885)
27 February 1877 22 November 1885 Independent
11 Bir Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1852–1901)
22 November 1885 5 March 1901 Independent
12 Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.jpg Dev Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1862–1914)
5 March 1901 27 June 1901 Independent
13 Chandra Shamsher JB Rana.jpg Chandra Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1863–1929)
27 June 1901 26 November 1929 Independent
14 Bhim Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.jpg Bhim Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana
(1865–1932)
26 November 1929 1 September 1932 Independent
15 Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.jpg Juddha Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1875–1952)
1 September 1932 29 November 1945 Independent
16 Padma Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1882–1961)
29 November 1945 30 April 1948 Independent
17 Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.jpg Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana
(1885–1967)
30 April 1948 12 November 1951 Independent

Prime Ministers during the Transition era (1951–1960)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
18 Matrika Prasad Koirala2.jpg Matrika Prasad Koirala
(1912–1997)
1st time
16 November 1951 14 August 1952 Nepali Congress
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah.jpg Direct rule by King
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
(1906–1955)
14 August 1952 15 June 1953
(18) Matrika Prasad Koirala2.jpg Matrika Prasad Koirala
(1912–1997)
2nd time
15 June 1953 14 April 1955 Rastriya Praja Party
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah.jpg Direct rule by King
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1920–1972)
14 April 1955 27 January 1956
19 Tanka Prasad Acharya (cropped).jpg Tanka Prasad Acharya
(1912–1992)
27 January 1956 26 July 1957 Nepal Praja Parishad
20 No image.png Kunwar Inderjit Singh
(1906–1982)
26 July 1957 15 May 1958 United Democratic Party
21 Subarna Shamsher Rana
(1910–1977)
15 May 1958 27 May 1959 Nepali Congress
22 BP. Koirala.png Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala
(1914–1982)
27 May 1959 26 December 1960 Nepali Congress

Prime Ministers during the Panchayat era (1960–1990)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah.jpg Direct rule by King
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1920–1972)
26 December 1960 2 April 1963
23 No image.png Tulsi Giri
(1926–)
1st time
2 April 1963 23 December 1963 Independent
24 Surya Bahadur Thapa
(1928–2015)
1st time
23 December 1963 26 February 1964 Independent
(23) No image.png Tulsi Giri
(1926–)
2nd time
26 February 1964 26 January 1965 Independent
(24) Surya Bahadur Thapa
(1928–2015)
2nd time
26 January 1965 7 April 1969 Independent
25 No image.png Kirti Nidhi Bista
(1927–2017)
1st time
7 April 1969 13 April 1970 Independent
Gehendra Bahadur Rajbhandari
(1923–1994)
Acting Prime Minister
13 April 1970 14 April 1971 Independent
(25) No image.png Kirti Nidhi Bista
(1927–2017)
2nd time
14 April 1971 16 July 1973 Independent
26 No image.png Nagendra Prasad Rijal
(1927–1994)
1st time
16 July 1973 1 December 1975 Independent
(23) No image.png Tulsi Giri
(1926–)
3rd time
1 December 1975 12 September 1977 Independent
(25) No image.png Kirti Nidhi Bista
(1927–2017)
3rd time
12 September 1977 30 May 1979 Independent
(24) Surya Bahadur Thapa
(1928–2015)
3rd time
30 May 1979 12 July 1983 Independent
27 No image.png Lokendra Bahadur Chand
(1940–)
1st time
12 July 1983 21 March 1986 Independent
(26) No image.png Nagendra Prasad Rijal
(1927–1994)
2nd time
21 March 1986 15 June 1986 Independent
28 No image.png Marich Man Singh Shrestha
(1942–2013)
15 June 1986 6 April 1990 Independent
(27) No image.png Lokendra Bahadur Chand
(1940–)
2nd time
6 April 1990 19 April 1990 Independent

Prime Ministers during the Constitutional monarchy (1990–2008)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office Days
29 Krishna bhattarai.jpg Krishna Prasad Bhattarai
(1924–2011)
1st time
19 April 1990 26 May 1991 402 Nepali Congress
30 Girija Prasad Koirala (cropped).jpg Girija Prasad Koirala
(1925–2010)
1st time
26 May 1991 30 November 1994 1284 Nepali Congress
31 No image.png Man Mohan Adhikari
(1920–1999)
30 November 1994 12 September 1995 286 Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist)
32 Sher bahadur.jpg Sher Bahadur Deuba
(1946–)
1st time
12 September 1995 12 March 1997 547 Nepali Congress
(27) No image.png Lokendra Bahadur Chand
(1940–)
3rd time
12 March 1997 7 October 1997 209 Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Chand)
(24) Surya Bahadur Thapa
(1928–2015)
4th time
7 October 1997 15 April 1998 190 Rastriya Prajatantra Party
(30) Girija Prasad Koirala (cropped).jpg Girija Prasad Koirala
(1925–2010)
2nd time
15 April 1998 31 May 1999 411 Nepali Congress
(29) Krishna bhattarai.jpg Krishna Prasad Bhattarai
(1924–2011)
2nd time
31 May 1999 22 March 2000 296 Nepali Congress
(30) Girija Prasad Koirala (cropped).jpg Girija Prasad Koirala
(1925–2010)
3rd time
22 March 2000 26 July 2001 491 Nepali Congress
(32) Sher bahadur.jpg Sher Bahadur Deuba
(1946–)
2nd time
26 July 2001 4 October 2002 435 Nepali Congress
Gyanendra 01.jpg Direct rule by King
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1947–)
4 October 2002 11 October 2002 7
(27) No image.png Lokendra Bahadur Chand
(1940–)
4th time
11 October 2002 5 June 2003 237 Rastriya Prajatantra Party
(24) Surya Bahadur Thapa
(1928–2015)
5th time
5 June 2003 3 June 2004 364 Rastriya Prajatantra Party
(32) Sher bahadur.jpg Sher Bahadur Deuba
(1946–)
3rd time
3 June 2004 1 February 2005 243 Nepali Congress (Democratic)
Gyanendra 01.jpg Direct rule by King
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1947–)
1 February 2005 25 April 2006 448
(30) Girija Prasad Koirala (cropped).jpg Girija Prasad Koirala
(1925–2010)
4th time
25 April 2006 28 May 2008 764 Nepali Congress

Military and foreign affairs

The outpost of Naamche Bazaar in the Khumbu region close to Mount Everest. The town is built on terraces in what resembles a giant Greek amphitheatre.

Nepal's military consists of the Nepalese Army which includes the Nepalese Army Air Service (the air force unit under it). The Nepalese Police Force is the civilian police and the Armed Police Force Nepal[91] is the paramilitary force. Service is voluntary and the minimum age for enlistment is 18 years. Nepal spends $99.2 million (2004) on its military—1.5% of its GDP. Most of the equipment and arms are supplied by India.[1]

Nepal has close ties with both of its neighbours, India and China. In accordance with a long-standing treaty, Indian and Nepalese citizens may travel to each other's countries without a passport or visa. Nepalese citizens may work in India without legal restriction. Although Nepal and India typically have close ties, from time to time Nepal becomes caught up in the problematic Sino-Indian relationship. India considers Nepal as part of its realm of influence, and views Chinese aid with concern. Some Indians consider Nepal to be part of a greater pan-Indian state, an attitude that has caused Nepalese antagonism towards India. In 2005, after King Gyanendra took over, Nepalese relations with India, the US, and the UK worsened. These three foreign countries were vociferous opponents to the crackdown on civil liberties in Nepal.

Demographics

Nepal has a total population of 27,676,547 as of July 2005, with a growth rate of 2.2%. 39% of the population is up to 14 years old, 57.3% are aged between 15 and 64, and 3.7% above 65. The median age is 20.07 (19.91 for males and 20.24 for females). There are 1,060 males for every 1,000 females. Life expectancy is 59.8 years (60.9 for males and 59.5 for females). Total literacy rate is 53.74% (68.51% for males and 42.49% for females).

Groups are the Brahman-Hill 12.5%, Magar 7%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Newar 5.4%, Kami 3.9%, Yadav 3.9%, other 32.7%, Nepali White 2.8%. Nepali is the national language with 47.8% of the population speaking it as their first language. Other languages include Maithili 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Nepal Bhasa 3.6%, Magar 3.3%, Awadhi 2.4%, other 10%, unspecified 2.5%. Differences between Hindus and Buddhists have been in general very subtle and academic in nature due to the intermingling of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Both share common temples and worship common deities and many of Nepal's Hindus could also be regarded as Buddhists and vice versa.[92] Gurkhas are from Nepal. Buddhism was relatively more common among the Newar. Among the other natives of Nepal, those most influenced by Hinduism were the Magar, Sunwar, Limbu and Rai. Hindu influence is less prominent among the Gurung, Bhutia, and Thakali groups, who employ Buddhist monks for their religious ceremonies.[86][93]

The northern mountains are sparsely populated. A majority of the population live in the central highland despite the migration of a significant section of the population to the fertile Terai belt in recent years. Kathmandu, with a population of around 800,000 (Metropolitan area: 1,5 million) is the largest city in the country.

Culture

A priest wearing a cultural Dhaka topi and Tilak at Kathmandu

Nepalese culture is diverse and it reflects people of different ethnic origins. A typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat, a kind of a lentil soup served with rice and vegetables. However, the Newar community has its own unique cuisine. It consists of non-vegetarian and vegetarian items as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Mustard oil and a host of spices, such as cumin, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger, methi (fenugreek), bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, chili, mustard seeds, vinegar, etc. are used in cooking. The cuisine served in the festivals is considered as the best diet cuisine.

Folklore is an integral part of Nepalese society. Traditional stories are rooted in the reality of day-to-day life—tales of love, affection, battles, and demons and ghosts; they reflect and explain local lifestyles, cultures and belief systems. Many Nepalese folktales are enacted in dance and music. The Newar community is very rich in cultural diversity. Most of the festivals observed in the Kthmandu valley are in the Newar community. The Newars are also well known for their music and dance. The Newar Music consists mainly of percussion instruments. Wind instruments such as flutes and similar instruments are also used. String instruments are very rare. There are songs pertaining to particular seasons and festivals. Paahan chare music is most probably the fastest played music whereas the Dapa the slowest. The dhimay music are the loudest ones. There are certain musical instruments such as Dhimay and Bhusya which are played as instrumental only and are not accompanied with songs. The Newar Dance can be broadly classified as masked dance and dance without the use of masks. The most representative of Newari dance is Lakhey dance. Almost all the settlements of Newar have Lakhey dance at least once a year. Almost all of these Lakhey dances are held in the Goonlaa month. So, they are called Goonlaa Lakhey. However, the most famous Lakhey dance is the Majipa Lakhey dance. It is performed by the Ranjitkars of Kathmandu. The dance takes place for a week during the week containing the full moon of Yenlaa month. The Lakhey are considered as the saviors of children. Likewise, in hills people enjoy their own kind of music, playing saarangi (string instrument), madal and flute. They also have many popular folk songs like lok geet and lok dohari.

The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months. Saturday is the official weekly holiday. Main holidays include the National Day (birthday of the king) 28 December, Prithvi Jayanti, (11 January), and Martyr's Day (18 February) and a mix of Hindu and Buddhist festivals such as dashai in autumn, and tihar late autumn. During tihar, the Newar community celebrates its New Year as per local calendar (Nepal Sambat).

Most houses in rural Nepal are made up of a tight bamboo framework with mud and cow-dung walls. These dwellings remain cool in summers and retain warmth in winters. Dwellings in higher latitudes are mostly timber based.

References

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Books

Sources

Notes

  1. ^ King Prithvi Narayan Shah self proclaimed the newly unified Kingdom of Nepal as Asal Hindustan ("Real Land of Hindus") due to North India being ruled by the Islamic Mughal rulers. The self proclamation was done to enforce Hindu social code Dharmashastra over his reign and refer to his country as being inhabitable for Hindus. He also referred Northern India as Mughlan (Country of Mughals) and called the region infiltrated by Muslim foreigners.[4]

Further reading

Garzilli, Enrica, "A Sanskrit Letter Written by Sylvain Lévi in 1923 to Hemarāja Śarmā Along With Some Hitherto Unknown Biographical Notes (Cultural Nationalism and Internationalism in the First Half of the 21st Cent.: Famous Indologists Write to the Raj Guru of Nepal – no. 1), in Commemorative Volume for 30 Years of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. Journal of the Nepal Research Centre, XII (2001), Kathmandu, ed. by A. Wezler in collaboration with H. Haffner, A. Michaels, B. Kölver, M. R. Pant and D. Jackson, pp. 115–149.

  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Strage a palazzo, movimento dei Maoisti e crisi di governabilità in Nepal", in Asia Major 2002, pp. 143–160.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Il nuovo Stato del Nepal: il difficile cammino dalla monarchia assoluta alla democrazia", in Asia Major 2005-2006, pp. 229–251.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Il Nepal da monarchia a stato federale", in Asia Major 2008, pp. 163–181.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "La fine dell'isolamento del Nepal, la costruzione della sua identità politica e delle sue alleanze regionali" in ISPI: Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionali, CVII (Nov. 2008), pp. 1–7;
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Le elezioni dell'Assemblea Costituente e i primi mesi di governo della Repubblica Democratica Federale del Nepal", in Asia Maior 2010, pp. 115–126.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Nepal, la difficile costruzione della nazione: un paese senza Costituzione e un parlamento senza primo ministro", in Asia Maior 2011, pp. 161–171.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "The Interplay between Gender, Religion and Politics, and the New Violence against Women in Nepal", in J. Dragsbæk Schmidt and T. Roedel Berg (eds.), Gender, Social Change and the Media: Perspective from Nepal, University of Aalborg and Rawat Publications, Aalborg-Jaipur: 2012, pp. 27–91.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Nepal, stallo politico e lentezze nella realizzazione del processo di pace e di riconciliazione", in Asia Maior 2012, pp. 213–222.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "A Sanskrit Letter Written by Sylvain Lévy in 1925 to Hemarāja Śarmā along with Some Hitherto Unknown Biographical Notes (Cultural Nationalism and Internationalism in the First Half of the 20th Century – Famous Indologists write to the Raj Guru of Nepal – No. 2)", in History of Indological Studies. Papers of the 12th World Sanskrit Conference Vol. 11.2, ed. by K. Karttunen, P. Koskikallio and A. Parpola, Motilal Banarsidass and University of Helsinki, Delhi 2015, pp. 17–53.
  • Garzilli, Enrica, "Nepal 2013-2014: Breaking the Political Impasse", in Asia Maior 2014, pp. 87–98.
  • Wright, Daniel, History of Nepal. New Delhi-Madras, Asian Educational Services, 1990

  • Coordinates: 27°42′N 85°19′E / 27.700°N 85.317°E / 27.700; 85.317

    23 December 1972

    The survivors of the Andes flight disaster are rescued after 73 days, having reportedly survived by cannibalism.

    was a chartered flight that crashed on a glacier at an elevation of 3,570 metres in the remote Andes. Among the 45 people on board, 28 survived the initial crash. Facing starvation and death, the survivors reluctantly resorted to cannibalism. After 72 days on the glacier, 16 people were rescued.

    The flight carrying 19 members of a rugby team, family, supporters, and friends originated in Montevideo, Uruguay and was headed for Santiago, Chile. While crossing the Andes, the inexperienced co-pilot who was in command mistakenly believed they had reached Curicó, Chile, despite instrument readings indicating otherwise. He turned north and began to descend towards what he thought was Pudahuel Airport. Instead, the aircraft struck the mountain, shearing off both wings and the rear of the fuselage. The forward part of the fuselage careened down a steep slope like a toboggan and came to rest on a glacier. Three crew members and more than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash, and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injuries.

    On the tenth day after the crash, the survivors learned from a transistor radio that the search had been called off. Faced with starvation and death, those still alive agreed that should they die, the others might consume their bodies in order to live. With no choice, the survivors ate the bodies of their dead friends. Seventeen days after the crash, 27 remained alive when an avalanche filled the rear of the broken fuselage they were using as shelter, killing eight more survivors. The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions. They decided that a few of the strongest people would hike out to seek rescue. Passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, lacking mountaineering gear of any kind, climbed from the glacier at 3,570 metres to the 4,670 metres peak blocking their way west. Over 10 days they trekked about 38 miles seeking help. The first person they saw was Chilean arriero Sergio Catalán, who gave them food and then rode for ten hours to alert authorities. The story of the passengers’ survival after 72 days drew international attention. The remaining 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.

    The survivors were concerned about what the public and family members of the dead might think about their acts of eating the dead. There was an initial public backlash, but after they explained the pact the survivors made to sacrifice their flesh if they died to help the others survive, the outcry diminished and the families were more understanding. The incident was later known as the Andes flight disaster and, in the Hispanic world, as El Milagro de los Andes.

    Members of the amateur Old Christians Club rugby union team from Montevideo, Uruguay, were scheduled to play a match against the Old Boys Club, an English rugby team in Santiago, Chile. Club president Daniel Juan chartered an Uruguayan Air Force twin turboprop Fairchild FH-227D to fly the team over the Andes to Santiago. The aircraft carried 40 passengers and 5 crew members. Colonel Julio César Ferradas was an experienced Air Force pilot who had a total of 5,117 flying hours. He was accompanied by co-pilot Lieutenant-Colonel Dante Héctor Lagurara. There were 10 extra seats and the team members invited a few friends and family members to accompany them. When someone cancelled at the last minute, Graziela Mariana bought the seat so she could attend her oldest daughter’s wedding.

    The aircraft departed Carrasco International Airport on 12 October 1972, but a storm front over the Andes forced them to stop overnight in Mendoza, Argentina. Although there is a direct route from Mendoza to Santiago 200 kilometres to the west, the high mountains require flight levels of 25,000 to 26,000 feet, very close to the FH-227D’s maximum operational ceiling of 28,000 feet. Given that the FH-227 aircraft was fully loaded, this route would have required the pilot to very carefully calculate fuel consumption and to avoid the mountains. Instead, it was customary for this type of aircraft to fly a longer 600 kilometres, 90-minute U-shaped route from Mendoza south to Malargüe using the A7 airway. From there aircraft flew west via the G-17 airway, crossing Planchón Pass, to the Chilean town of Curicó, and from there north to Santiago.

    The weather on 13 October also affected the flight. On that morning, conditions over the Andes had not improved but changes were expected by the early afternoon. The pilot waited and took off at 2:18 PM on Friday 13 October from Mendoza. He flew south from Mendoza towards Malargüe at flight level 180. Lagurara radioed the Malargüe airport with their position and told them they would reach 2,515 metres high Planchón Pass at 3:21 PM. The pass is the hand-off point for air traffic control from one side of the Andes to the other. At the pass, controllers in Mendoza transfer flight tracking to Pudahuel air traffic control in Santiago, Chile. Once across the mountains in Chile, south of Curicó, aircraft turn north and initiate descent into Pudahuel Airport in Santiago.

    Cause of the crash
    Pilot Ferradas had flown across the Andes 29 times. On this flight he was training co-pilot Lagurara, who was pilot in command. As they flew through the Andes, clouds obscured the mountains. The aircraft FAU 571 was only four years old and had only 792 airframe hours. The aircraft was regarded by some pilots as underpowered, and had been nicknamed by them as the “lead-sled.”

    Given the cloud cover, the pilots were flying under instrument meteorological conditions at an altitude of 18,000 feet, and could not visually confirm their location. While some reports state the pilot incorrectly estimated his position using dead reckoning, the pilot was relying on radio navigation. The aircraft’s VOR/DME instrument displayed to the pilot a digital reading of the distance to the next radio beacon in Curicó. At Planchón Pass, the aircraft still had to travel 60–70 kilometres to reach Curicó. Inexplicably, at 3:21 PM, shortly after transiting the pass, Lagurara contacted Santiago and notified air controllers that he expected to reach Curicó a minute later. The flight time from the pass to Curicó is normally eleven minutes, but only three minutes later the pilot told Santiago that they were passing Curicó and turning north. He requested permission from air traffic control to descend. The controller in Santiago, unaware the flight was still over the Andes, authorized him to descend to 11,500 feet. Later analysis of their flight path found the pilot had not only turned too early, but turned on a heading of 014 degrees, when he should have turned to 030 degrees.

    As the aircraft descended, severe turbulence tossed the aircraft up and down. Nando Parrado recalled hitting a downdraft causing the plane to drop several hundred feet and out of the clouds. The rugby players joked about the turbulence at first, until some passengers saw that the aircraft was very close to the mountain. “That was probably the moment when the pilots saw the black ridge rising dead ahead.”

    Roberto Canessa later said he thought the pilot turned north too soon, and began the descent to Santiago, Chile while the aircraft was still high in the Andes. Then, “he began to climb, until the plane was nearly vertical and it began to stall and shake.” The aircraft ground collision alarm sounded, alarming all of the passengers.

    The pilot applied maximum power in an attempt to gain altitude. Witness accounts and evidence at the scene indicated the plane struck the mountain either two or three times. The pilot was able to bring the aircraft nose over the ridge but at 3:34 pm, the lower part of the tail cone may have clipped the ridge at 4,200 metres. The next collision severed the right wing. Some evidence indicates it was thrown back with such force that it tore off the vertical stabilizer and the tail cone. When the tail cone was detached, it took with it the rear portion of the fuselage, including two rows of seats in the rear section of the passenger cabin, the galley, baggage hold, vertical stabilizer, and horizontal stabilizers, leaving a gaping hole in the rear of the fuselage. Three passengers, the navigator, and the steward were lost with the tail section.
    The aircraft continued forward for a few more seconds when the left wing struck an outcropping at 4,400 meters, tearing off the wing. One of the propellers sliced through the fuselage as the wing it was attached to was severed. Two passengers were sucked out of the rear of the open fuselage. The front portion of the fuselage flew straight through the air before sliding down the steep slope at 350 kilometres per hour like a high speed toboggan for about 725 metres before colliding with a snow bank. The impact against the snow bank crushed the cockpit and the two pilots inside, killing Ferradas.

    The official investigation concluded that the crash was caused by controlled flight into terrain due to pilot error.

    23 December 1893

    The opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is first performed.

    Hansel and Gretel is an opera by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who described it as a Märchenoper. The libretto was written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel“. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the “Abendsegen”.

    Hansel-und-Gretel 680The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hansel and Gretel”. After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.

    Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in Hoftheater in Weimar on December 23rd 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss. It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.

    Hansel and Gretel was first conducted in Weimar by Richard Strauss in 1893, followed by its Hamburg premiere on September 25th, 1894, conducted by Gustav Mahler. Its first performance outside Germany was in Basel, Switzerland, on November 16th 1894. The first performance in England was in London on December 26th, 1894, at Daly’s Theatre and its first United States performance was on October 8th, 1895 in New York. The first performance in Australia was on April 6th, 1907, at the Princess’s Theatre, Melbourne.

    Hansel and Gretel

    In English-speaking countries Hansel and Gretel is most often performed in English. The longtime standard English translation was by Constance Bache. In the United States the opera was often performed in a translation by Norman Kelley written for the Metropolitan Opera‘s 1967 production by Nathaniel Merrill and Robert O’Hearn. In 1987 a darkly comic new production with English translation by David Pountney was created for the English National Opera in London. Since 2007, the Met has performed the work in a production, using Pountney’s translation, originally created for the Welsh National Opera.

    23 December 1972

    The survivors of the Andes flight disaster are rescued after 73 days. They reportedly survived by cannibalism.

    Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family and associates, that crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972, in an incident known as the Andes flight disaster and, in the Hispanic world and South America, as the Miracle of the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes). More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.

    The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the bodies of dead passengers that had been preserved in the snow. Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash when passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, after a 10-day trek across the Andes, found Chilean arriero Sergio Catalán,[1] who gave them food and then alerted the authorities to the existence of the other survivors.