an independent kingdom of India, comprising a portion of the southern slope of the Himalayas, bounded on the N. by Thibet, on the S. and W. by British India, and on the E. by Sikkim, a protected state, is situated in long. 800 15'-880 15' E. It is 500 miles in length by about 100 miles in average breadth, covers an area of 50,000 square miles, and has a population estimated at 2,000,000. The kingdom is separated from the plains of India by the long, narrow strip of land, resembling an English down, but unhealthy, called the Terai, which extends along the whole southern border. North of this, and running parallel with it, is the great forest of Nepaul, from eight to ten miles broad. North of this strip is a tract of hilly country, and above that are two tracts of greater elevation, the first of which may be called mountainous, while the second might appropriately be called Alpine, if it did not comprise among its mountains peaks which, like Mount Everest and Dhawalagiri, attain almost twice the elevation of Mont Blanc. The principal rivers are the Kurnalli, the Rapti, the Gunduk with its great tributaries, and the Sun KIosi. The climate, most unhealthy in the Terai, is healthy and pleasant in the hilly and mountainous districts, suggesting that of Southern Europe. In the Valley of Nepaul — the district surrounding the capital — the heat of Bengal, which is felt in the hollows, may be exchanged for the cold of Russia by ascending the slopes of the hills which enclose it. The soil is extremely rich and fruitful. Barley, millet, rice, maize, wheat, cotton, tobacco, sugar-cane, pine-apple, and various tropical fruits are cultivated. Gold has not been found, but iron and copper mines are worked. The capital of the country is Khatmandu. The inhabitants consist of a variety of races, but the dominant people are the Ghurkas, a tribe of Mongol origin, Hinduis in religion, who conquered the country about the close of the 18th century. Their chief occupation is war. Many Hindus from Chiton settled in Nepaul at the time of the Mohammedan invasion, and some of them have preserved their blood pure to the present time, while others have intermarried with Chinese and Tartars. The Hindus are found chiefly in the west; the east is populated by aboriginal tribes, among which are the Newars, Magars, Gurungs, Jariyas, Dhenwars, Buteas, Mhanjas, and Bhanras. The most important of these are the Newars, who constitute the agriculturists and artisans of the country. They are ingenious and peaceable, though excessively dirty; of middle size and great strength, with round flat faces, small eyes, broad noses, and open countenances. They are Buddhists, but have a priesthood of their own, and reject the Thiibetan model of Buddhism as it prevails among the other aboriginals of Nepaul. They as well as others of the aborigines practice polyandry to some extent. Thirteen dialects are spoken in Nepaul, but only two of the dialects possess any literature, and they are the dialects of the two most prominent tribes — the Newars and Ghurkas.
Of the history of Nepaul little is known until the invasion of the Ghurkas (1768); it seems never to have been subject to the Mogul or any other great Asiatic conquerors. A war in which it became involved with Thibet in 1790 led to hostilities with the emperor of China, who, regarding himself as the protector of the lamas, in 1792 sent an army of 70,000 men against the Nepaulese, and checked the extension of their territory to the northward. A treaty of commerce was concluded with the British in 1792, and from 1802 to 1804 Katmandu was the residence of a representative of the British government. Repeated encroachments of the rajah upon the East India Company's territories led the British to declare war in 1814, and they consequently invaded the country on the western frontier, where their troops met repeated losses, and their commander, Genesis Gillespie, was slain. In the following year, however, the campaign under Sir David Ochterlony was attended with very different results. The victory of Malome, the capitulation of the famous Nepaulese commander Amir Singh, and finally the rapid advance of the victor towards Katmandu, obliged the Nepaulese monarch to make peace, and a treaty in March, 1816. Throughout the mutiny of 1857 the Nepaulese cultivated the friendship of the British, and the prime minister, Jung Bahadtir, defeated the last remnant of the rebels in December 1859. The policy of the government towards foreigners, however, is exceedingly exclusive. Much valuable information concerning the country is contained in the work on Nepaul and Thibet, by B.H. Hodgson, formerly British minister at Katmandu (1874). See also Oliphant, A Journey to Katmandu (1852); Col. Kirkpatrick, Account of the Kingdom of Nepauil (Lond. 1811); Edinburgh Review, July 1840, art. 1; Blackwood's Magazine, 1852, part 2, page 86; 1860, part 1, page 509; and the article Gorkhas in the American Cyclopcedia.