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Nepal

british, miles, tibet and gurkhas

NEPAL (ne-par), an independent kingdom of India, on the S. slope of the Himalayas; bounded on the N. by Tibet. on the S. and W. by Bengal, and on the E. by Sikkim; long. 80 6'-88 14' E.; length 500 miles; breadth about 150 miles; area about 54,000 square miles; pop. est. 2,000,000-5,000,000. The N. parts of the State embrace the main range of the HIMALAYAS (q. v.), with its offset spurs, on which stand the great peaks of Everest, Dhawalagiri, etc. On the S. of the State lies thb Terai. The intervening territory consists of mountain ridges, embracing several val leys drained by the Kurnali, Gandak, Kosi, and other rivers. The climate of course varies greatly according to the altitude; the principal valley has a climate like that of southern Europe. The soil is very fertile, in some districts producing three crops in the year. The hillsides are terraced and the land is irrigated. Rice, opium, rape, linseed, to bacco, and various cereals and pulses are the more important products. Sev eral minerals, as copper, iron, sulphur, and others exist, but are little worked. The forests contain valuable timber trees. Nepal has extensive trading re lations with the provinces of British India and with Tibet. The valleys are inhabited by numerous different hill tribes, partly aboriginal, partly of Mon golian or Chinese descent; but the dom inant race are the GURKHAS (q. v.),

whose ancestors came to the Himalayan slopes from Rajputana in the 12th cen tury, though it was not till 1769 that they made themselves masters of Nepal. They rapidly subdued the hill valleys to E. and W. of them, and, after a war with China (1789-1792), on account of Tibet, in which the Gurkhas were worsted, and a period of great internal disorder, Nepal came into conflict with the Indian government. War followcd; in 1815 Sir David Ochterlony defeated the Gurkha armies in the W., and peace was agreed to; but the treaty not hav ing been signed by the King of Nepal, a British force, 33,000 strong, ad vanced in the succeeding year to with in three days' march of Katmandu, and compelled the Gurkhas to sign the treaty. Since that they have ceased their encroachments on British terri tory, and during the mutiny voluntarily sent to the assistance of the British a force which rendered useful service in the reduction of Oudh. The real ruler of the country is the prime minister; Sir Jang Bahadur held this office from 1846 to his death in 1877, and was suc ceeded by his son. But he was slain and supplanted by the head of a rival fac tion in 1885. Capital, Katmandu; pop. about 50,000.