Climbing For Christ


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Gary Fallesen

Country: Nepal

Sun rising behind Mount Everest, left, with Nuptse to the right.
(Photo by Jim Nowlin, Mission: Nepal 2008)

Location: Southern Asia between China and India. Area: 147,181 square kilometers (slightly larger than Arkansas). Terrain: Central hill region and Himalayan mountains in the north. Highest point: Mount Everest (8850 meters).

Population: 28.5 million (July 2009 estimate). Life expectancy: 65.46 years.

Katmandu. (Photo by Jim Nowlin, Mission: Nepal 2008)

Government: Nepal is a federal democratic republic. The country has been independent since 1768. Katmandu is the nation's capital. It is 10¾ hours ahead of Eastern U.S. Standard Time.

Ethnic: Chhettri 15.5 percent, Brahman-Hill 12.5 percent, Magar 7 percent, Tharu 6.6 percent, Tamang 5.5 percent, Newar 5.4 percent, Muslim 4.2 percent, Kami 3.9 percent, Yadav 3.9 percent, other 32.7 percent, unspecified 2.8 percent (2001 census).

Religion: Hindu 80.6 percent, Buddhist 10.7 percent, Muslim 4.2 percent, Kirant 3.6 percent, other 0.9 percent (2001 census). Note: Nepal is the only official Hindu state in the world.

Languages: Nepali 47.8 percent, Maithali 12.1 percent, Bhojpuri 7.4 percent, Tharu Dagaura/Rana 5.8 percent, Tamang (5.1 percent), Newar 3.6 percent, Magar 3.3 percent, Awadhi 2.4 percent, other 10 percent, unspecified 2.5 percent (2001 census). Note: Many in government and business also speak English.

Economy: Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for three-fourths of the population and accounting for about one-third of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural products, including pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Average annual income: $1,100 (2008 estimate), ranking 210 out of 229 countries.

People: Newar

People: Newar (also known as Newah and Nepal Bhasa). Location: Scattered throughout Nepal, but primarily located in the Katmandu Valley.

Population: 1.6 million.

Ethnic tree: South Asian Peoples. People cluster: Nepali-Pahari.

Language: Nepali.

Religion: Nearly 84 percent Hindu with 15.3 percent Buddhist and 0.82 Christian.

Folklore: Newar Hindus worship a multitude of gods, including: Braham, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer. They believe in the existence of demons, hostile spirits, ghosts, and witches. Traditional practices include digu dya rituals in which frogs are fed after rice planting. Cremation grounds, cross roads, and large stones are thought to be favorite haunting places. Diseases are believed to be caused by the ill will of the “mother goddess,” witchcraft or evil spirits. Treatments include reciting incantations, making offerings to the gods, and using herbs and other medicines.

Economy: Katmandu Valley is located on the India-Tibet trade route and most Newar are skillful merchants and traders. Others have found government jobs and a few are farmers.

Overview: Most Newar settlements are built on elevated ground surrounded by farmland. The settlements consist of rows of three-story brick buildings that stand on narrow lanes. These settlements have ornate Buddhist and Hindu temples, which are the biggest tourist attraction in Nepal after Mount Everest.

Climbing: Approximately 80,000 people apply each year for trekking permits. Sixty percent of them are headed for the Annapurna region, 17 percent to the Everest region, 13 percent to the Langtang region, and 10 percent to the rest of the country.

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