Nepal

Swagatam

Population: 25,371,000
Capital: Kathmandu; 741,000
Area: 147,181 square kilometers (56,827 square miles)
Language: Nepali, English, many other languages and dialects
Religion: Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim
Currency: Nepalese rupee
Life Expectancy: 59
GDP per Capita: U.S. $1,400
Literacy Percent: 45

Nepal lies between China and India in South Asia. The country ended its long-standing constitutional monarchy in June 2008 when King Gyanendra, who'd come to power in 2001 after the tragic murder of the previous king, abdicated the throne. Nepal's first president was chosen by parliament the following month. This precipitous government transformation came after nearly 20 years of political turmoil, including an often violent Maoist insurgency from 1996 until 2005. Most Nepalese live in the central, hilly region, which embraces the Kathmandu Valley, and in the southern plain known as the Terai.

Source: National Geographic Society