Geography of Nepal


Terrain shapes and bedrock

Topographically, Nepal forms a steep transition between the Himalayas and the northern Indian plains. The height differences are therefore very large and Nepal can accommodate a wide range of landforms and types of habitat. At the border with Tibet rises in the northern Himalayas main chain with some of the highest peaks in the earth, including. According to COUNTRYAAH, Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse I, Manaslu and Annapurna, with altitudes over 8,000 meters above sea level. From these glacier-covered mountains, long glacier tongues extend down into the valleys.

At the southern foot of the Himalayas, an approximately 80 km wide region stretches between 4,300 and 2,500 meters above sea level with some snow-capped peaks, bounded south by the Mahabharat Mountains with their steep cliffs to the south. Large valleys also occur such as the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, which are covered by sediments from ice ages and middle ages. A ledge below the Mahabharat Mountains is completed by the 1,200 m high Churi Ridge with its almost perpendicular slopes. The lowest lying region of Nepal is Tarai, a continuation to the north of the Ganges plain. In its northern part, the plain is moist and swampy.

The bedrock in Nepal is largely made up of sediment masses deposited in the Tethys Sea in Mesozoic times (about 245-65 million years ago) and then converted to metamorphic rocks. Precambrian rocks and tertiary volcanic rocks are also present. Among the many rivers are Kosi, Gandak and Karnali (Gogra), which come from Tibet and have cut deep valleys with falls through the mountain ranges. At Tarais Plains they sometimes cause severe flooding.

Earthquakes in Nepal

Large earthquakes occur regularly in the area as a result of the Indian-Australian continental plate collision with the Eurasian plate (see plate tectonics and earthquake). In 1934 a major earthquake occurred in Indian Bihar (8.1 on the Richter scale). On this occasion, the Kathmandu Valley was hit hard. In 1988, another powerful earthquake (6.8 on the Richter scale) occurred, this time in the India-Nepal border. This one also hit the Kathmandu valley hard. The last major earthquake in the area came on April 25, 2015 and measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.

The epicenter of the quake on April 26 was located 68 km southeast of Pokhara. As the depth of focus was quite close, the damage was extensive. There were also several aftershocks and the human and material damage is considered to be large. The days after the earthquake were reported about 4,000 deceased, later this was revised to just over 7,000, but the information on injured and deceased is very uncertain. In the country’s capital Kathmandu, several culturally protected buildings were demolished and much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. The world heritage of the Kathmandu Valley has also been seriously damaged. The earthquake has also triggered avalanches in the Himalayas, among which several people have died in the base camp at Mount Everest. On May 12, Nepal was hit again by a major earthquake (7.3 on the Richter scale) with epicenter about 75 km northeast of Kathmandu.


According to BRIDGAT, the altitude conditions strongly affect Nepal’s climate, which varies from tropical monsoon climate to mountainous polar climate. In the middle part of the country it is hot and cold temperate. Over 4,800 meters above sea level the temperature is constantly below freezing point and snow is occurring.

Rainfall is plentiful in the eastern part of the Tarai (1,800-1,900 mm per year), while the western parts get 750-875 mm. In the Kathmandu Valley, it averages 10 ° C in January and 26 ° C in July. The rain falls mainly in June – September.

Plant Life

The flora consists of species that are widely distributed in the Himalayas, but the number of endemic species is small. The vegetation is characterized by the large elevation differences but also by the differences in precipitation and temperature. Along the southern side of the mountains there are cultivated plains, but also rich sub-tropical and tropical forests. At higher altitudes, the forest is dominated by the pine Piʹnus roxbuʹrghii and the oaks Queʹrcus incaʹna and Quercus lanuginoʹsa or, as in the east, by Castanoʹpsis and Schiʹma (the family of tea plants).

The central parts of Nepal are densely populated and the landscape culturally influenced, but where native forest remains are found species such as the birch Beʹtula uʹtilis and various horse chestnut, maple, oak and walnut species as well as the conifers Aʹbies spectaʹbilis and Tsuʹga dumoʹsa. Himalayan cedars, which are endemic in the western Himalayas, occur here and there in the valleys.

Further east, the genera such as Lithocaʹrpus (family beech plants), magnolias, holly and Rhododeʹndrons, and many stock plants dominate instead. In the most upland parts, the trees are replaced by lower shrubs and herbs.


Snow leopards, blue sheep and yaks are rare on high plateaus in the Himalayas. Piphars are quite common, and in steeper areas there are himalayatahr (Hemiʹtragus jemlaʹhicus), screw horns and goral, and in the mountain forests further down the cat bear, collar bear and the caveman.

Over 800 bird species have been observed. Birds of prey are common, including lammergeier. In the mountain forests there are, among other things, minivets, sunbirds and many species of singers and timalias.

In the lowlands, the Chitwan National Park is famous for armor and tiger. There are also Indian elephant, gaur, mouth jackets, ax deer and sambar deer as well as mungo, leopard and lip bear. Bird life includes: peacocks, parakeets, beards, rhinoceros, storks and herons. Among the reptiles there are king cobras and palm snakes.

Gavial and Ganges dolphins are rare in the Rapti and Narayani rivers. The rivers also have a very large number of carp fish species.

Nature conservation

In 2010, Nepal had nine national parks, including Chitwan (dry forest and open land with, for example, armor and tiger) and Sagarmatha (Mount Everest).

National Parks

National park Based Area
Bardia 1988 968
Chitwan 1973 932
Khaptad 1984 225
Langtang 1976 1 710
Makalu Barun 1992 1 500
Rara 1976 106
Sagamatha (Mount Everest) 1976 1 148
Shey Phoksundo 1984 3 555
Shivapuri 2002 159