Geography of Nepal: Himalayas, Hilly, and Terai Region
Get a post about the geography of Nepal. Nepali is divided into three division that is mountain, hills and Terai region. Get facts about the geography of Nepal. Regionalism in Nepal has been created and practiced on two bases: based on geography (natural) and based on administrative regions.
The natural regionalism has divided Nepal into three regions and the administrative regionalism into five political regions. The natural regionalism has been the result of nature itself whereas administrative regionalism was introduced for balanced development in the nation. However, the administrative regionalism has not been able to fulfill its objectives due to several reasons.
How high is Nepal?
Nepal is a small Himalayan Country in the South Asia sandwiched between two giant countries; China and India. Nepal is widely recognized for being one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. Moreover, it is recognized as the land of the World’s tallest mountains, Mt. Everest and land of Lord Buddha.
Nepal does have the world’s 8 tallest mountains among 10 in the world, but people always wonder how high Nepal itself is? Where is Nepal located in the world and what is its geographic position? if you are also wondering about this, then you are about to get your answer. We are here with the geographic information about Nepal including its position, length, altitude, and coordinates.
Geography of Nepal
Nepal has a total area of 147181 square kilometers and stretches over 800 kilometers from east to west and about 90-230 Kilometers from North to the south. It is landlocked on three sides (East, West, and South) of India and by China’s autonomous region (Tibet) to the north. It is located 30 ° 26 ‘north to 30 ° 26’ north latitude and 80 ° 03’ east to 88° 15’ west longitude. Talking about the elevation of Nepal, it starts at 70 m above the sea level and ends with 8848 M above the sea level, which is also the height of Mt. Everest. It has the population of 22 million people
Quick Facts about Geography of Nepal
|Total area||1 ,471,81 square kilometers|
|Landlocked state||By India towards east, west, and south
By China towards North
|Elevation (Height)||Lowest: 70 meter above sea level
Highest: 8848 meters above the sea level
|Rank in the world by area||93rd|
Based on the geography of Nepal, it can be divided into three different regions or belts; Hill, Mountain, and Terai region. Terai region begins from the Indian border and covers all the southernmost part of the flat region. Similarly, Hilly regions (Pahad in Nepali) is mostly average altitude. This belt starts at the Mahabharat Range to a crest between 1500 to 2700 meters above the sea level. Finally, the last region is mountain region which starts after Mountain region as the altitude rises from 3000 meters. Few kilometers extra north, the great Himalaya sharply increase along the Main Central Thrust fault zone beyond the snow line at 5,000 to about 5,500 m (16,400 to 18,000 ft). Over here, around 90 of peaks exceed 7,000 m (23,000 ft) and 8 exceed 8,000 m above the sea level (26,247 ft) including Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha)at 8,848 m (29,029 ft) and Kanchenjunga at 8,598 m above the sea level (28,209 ft).
All in all, though Nepal is a small country, it has varied geographic locations and the altitude varies from place to place. While the lowest valley is 70 m above the sea level, the highest mountain Mt. Everest makes the highest altitude of Nepal to be 8848 m above the sea level.
Geography of Nepal : The Himalayas, Hills and Terai Region
Regionalism in the division of a country into various regions on the basis of geography or population or both. The physical build of Nepal is of extreme diversity. Its surface configuration consists of mainly mountains, hills, plateaus, basins and valleys of varying altitude and magnitude. It also ought to be noted that the variation in landform along a latitudinal direction is far greater than that along longitudinal one.
That the topographic elevation increases from below 100 meters in the terai region on the south to over 8,800 meters in the Himalaya Mountain on the north proves the validity of this statement. It is estimated that about 75% of its land surface is built of varied mountains and hills including river basins and tectonic valleys entrapped in between them. Nepal has been divided into 3 regions and five administrative regions. On the basis of landforms and their elevation, the Kingdom of Nepal can be divided into three broad physiographic divisions each having three sub-units as noted below:—
- Himalayan Region
- Great Himalayas
- Inner Himalayas
- Tibetan Marginal the Himalayas
- Hilly Region
- Mahabharat Leks
- Churia Hills
- Terai Region
- Outer Terai
- Inner Terai
- Bhabar Tract
1. The Himalayan Region
Himalayan region lies in the northern part and is least developed. This Himalayan Mountain situated on the north part of Nepal is the youngest and loftiest fold mountain of the world. Its tremendous height is supposed to be due to subsequent uplifts during later periods of Tertiary Era. This mountain zone encompasses about 25% of the total area of the country.
The height of the mountain runs from about 3,600 m. to 8,848 m. above sea level. Here, snowline occurs at the altitude of about 5,000 m. and the portions above this line are perpetually capped with snow. It is alleged that 4 peaks of over 8,100 m., 13 peaks of over 7,600 m. and 240 peaks of over 6,000 m. are confined to this mountain region. The northern part of Nepal is the Himalayan Region covering around 15% of the total land area of our country. It stretches between 3300 m up to 8848 m. consisting of rocky and snow-clad mountains.
It also possesses a number of gorges, passes, glaciers, waterfalls and fascinating peaks. Out of the highest peaks in the world, eight including Mt. Everest (world’s highest) and Mt Kanchenjunga (world’s third highest) fall in this region.
The Himalayan Mountain extends in an east-west direction for about 850 km. and commands a north-south breadth ranging from 24 Km. to 48 Km. The glaciers formed out of sliding snow have produced several U-shaped valleys and lake basins. Almost all the prominent rivers of Nepal are conceived to have originated out of the melting of glaciers. These rivers and glaciers have greatly molded the original landscape of this mountain zone.
Though stretching the entire length of north Nepal, the Himalayan Mountain is not a single continuous range; for it is carved at its various sections by various antecedent rivers like the Karnali, Gandaki, Kosi, etc. Near the river breaks on or close to the border are located various high passes such as Kodari, Rasuwa, Mustang, Namja and so on. But most of the Himalayan passes, owing to the thick deposit of snow, remain closed during winter months. Trade and communication between Nepal and Tibet are, however, conducted through those passes during other months of the year.
The climate is cold and topography is harsh. It consists of coniferous (lower part) and alpine and tundra (upper part) vegetation. Due to difficult and harsh topography, this region is less developed in terms of infrastructures. Though unsuitable for agriculture and poor in infrastructures, the region has great potential of development: tourism, animal rearing, and horticulture. It is the shelter for 6.7 % of the total population of Nepal, It is sparsely populated with the settlement of 34 people per sqr km. Though not much suitable for agriculture and infrastructural development, the Himalayan Region is suitable for tourism, animal rearing, and horticulture.
The Himalayan Mountain may also be divided into three sub-units as described below:—
2. The Hilly Region
The hilly region lies in the central part of Nepal and is less developed than the Terai but more developed than Himalaya. South of the Himalayan Mountain Region lies the complex zone of hills, valleys, basins and low tablelands of varying altitude and magnitude.
The central geographical region situated north to the Terai is the Hilly Region covering about 68% of the total land area of our country. Its altitude ranges between 600 m to 3299 m. This hilly zone rises from 600m. to 3600m. and varies in breadth from 80 km. to 128 Km. It mainly consists of a sloppy land structure that is made up of the Mahabharat range, valleys, foothills, Tars and river basins. Despite being the largest physical region, it is not so much prospered. It is the most extensive topographic unit representing about 50% of the total land surface of Nepal.
Nevertheless, the valleys and river basins are fertile, developed and densely populated. Some extensive valleys such as Pokhara and Kathmandu are its examples. The Churai Range, though dissected in some parts, runs parallel east to west into the southern part and Mahabharat ranges into the northern part. The climate is mild and soil is semi-fertile. This region is less developed in comparison to the Terai but more developed than the Himalayan. It accommodates the 43 % of the total population and density of people is 186 people per sq km. The deciduous forest grows into the lower part and coniferous into the upper part of the region.
On the basis of general configuration, this hilly region can be divided into three sub-units:
a. Midland of Hilly Region
— Lying between the Himalayan Ranges on the north and the Mahabharat Lek on the south, this midland section comprises of main hills, basins, valleys and low tablelands of varied dimension and elevation. Since its width runs from 64 km. to 80 km., this topographic sub-unit is the most extensive in size and extent. Its hilly ranges attain an altitude running from 900 m. to 1800 m. and extend in diverse directions acting as watersheds for various river basins. Since the hilly ranges are relatively lower in elevation and less rugged in form, they are comparatively more populated than other sub-units of the hilly region.
Most of the large basins and valleys of the midland section are of tectonic origin. Smaller basins are, however, the results of river erosion. These river basins and valleys, being formed of fertile alluvial soils, are very significant for agricultural activities. Low tablelands (tars in Nepali) are, on the other hand, entirely dependent on rain and are, therefore, relatively less productive. Some of the notable tars are such as Palungtar and Salyantar on west and Rumjatar and Tumlingtar in the eastern sector of Nepal.
Major enclosed valleys (Upatyakas in Nepali) such as the Kathmandu and Pokhara Valleys are located in the midland section. The Kathmandu Valley is said to have originated from a tectonic lake formed in a down warp. It disappeared later on due partly to infilling with sediments derived from surrounding ranges and due partly to down cutting of its outlet at Chovar by an outflowing river. It contains lacustrine deposits whose depth after boring at Lagan, Kathmandu runs up to 4000 m. The Pokhara Valley too in Central Nepal is supposed to be a vast lake in the geological past. The present lakes existing in this valley are
conceived to be the remnants of the past lake. The valley is now filled mostly with rock debris of glaciers from Annapurna Himalaya. As such, most deposits in this valley consist of rough conglomerates like those brought by snow and ice-melt water. The parts occupied by limestone beds and consolidated conglomerates have now been cut deep by local rivers and streams.
b. Mahabharat Lek —
South of the midland section occurs the Mahabharat Mountain Range that attains a height ranging from 1500 m. to 3000 m. from sea level. Being parallel to the Himalayas, it also runs the entire length of Nepal; and as such it is also termed as Middle Himalaya. In structure, it is composed of main limestone, sandstone, shale, marble, granite, slate and other metamorphic rocks of varied geological ages. This mountain is rugged in form and has steep face towards the south. Since its elevation is much lower than that of the Himalayas, it is free from permanent snow-cover.
Like the Himalayan Mountain, it is also not a single continuous range. Rather it is broken at several points among which mention may be made of three major breaks— Chisapani (Karnali on the west), Deoghat (Gandaki in the middle) and Chatra (Kosi on the east). It has several spurs extending towards north and south of its east-west trend. The existence of deep and narrow valleys in between massive spurs is one of the major features of this mountain range. It is because very many rivers and streams originating from the springs existing in its various sections have carved out such valleys.
c. Churia Hills—
These are the youngest and lowest ranges running more or less parallel to the Mahabharat Lek on the north. It distinctly runs up to the Kosi River only beyond which it exists in the form of isolated hillocks occurring quite close to the Mahabharat Range in the far eastern sector of the country. These Churia Ranges known in North India as Siwaliks attain an average height of 1200m. above sea level. In fact, its elevation runs from 600 m. on the east near the Kosi River to over 1800m. on the west just north of Kailali District. It reflects that the Churia Ranges grow higher in elevation from east toward the west. It must be due mainly to intense erosion induced by the higher amount of rainfall in the eastern parts of the country.
These Churia Ranges known also as the outer Himalayas were uplifted much later during late Pliocene period, and have no relation, therefore, with the northern ranges in point of the geological structure. These are composed of loose materials like sand, shale, sandstone, pebbles and conglomerate which are less compact than those forming the northern mountain ranges. In form, it has mostly hogback landscape with the steeper slope towards the south. The range is mostly forested and is highly asymmetrical in form as well as in direction. Moreover, it is broken into several detached sections by the rivers flowing down from the northern parts of the country. The detached ranges sweep far north and south in various parts of the country. Those which sweep down far to the southern border bear certain local names such as Dang, Deokhuri, Danduwa and Sumesar and occur in western and central parts of the country.
The hilly region in its totality is no less significant than the Himalayan Mountain Region. Here also, the Mahabharat Lek acts to a great extent as a climatic barrier inasmuch as it also prevents rain bearing monsoons. Besides giving rise to numerous rivers and streams useful for irrigating land and generating water power, it bears mineral deposits of great economic importance. Likewise, the forest-clad Churia Hills prove to be potential reserves of commercial timbers. Finally the broad river basins, valleys and tablelands of the midland section are of great agricultural significance to hill economy.
3. The Terai Region
The southernmost strip of land is flat plain known as the Terai region covering 17% of the _ total land area of Nepal. Its altitude ranges up to 600 m from the sea level. The climate, here, is hot. The fertile and arable soil of the Terai Region has given its identity as ‘granary (breadbasket) of Nepal’ yielding high amount of food crops. The region mainly supports the sub-tropical forest with hard stem, broad leaves, and evergreen tall trees.
It constitutes a broad stretch of level land extending from beyond the Mahakali Rivers on the west to the Mechi River on the east of Nepal. Because of the occurrence of hills and mountains on the north, the general gradient of this level region runs towards the south. On the basis of structure and surface relief, the terai region is relatively far more homogeneous than any other topographic units of the country. This terai region including inner terai basins encompasses approximately 25% of the total land surface of Nepal. It has been formed out of the age-long deposition of sediments carried by various rivers and streams debouching from the northern hilly and mountainous parts of the country.
The Terai Region is more developed than others in terms of infrastructural development. It supports to more population since it is fertile, plain and gets abundant rainfall. For instance, The Terai accommodates 50.3 % of 2,64,94,504 total people of Nepal while population density is 392 persons per sqr km.
Like the northern hills and mountains, even the terai region on the basis of location is popularly divided into three sub-units as (a) Eastern Terai (b) Central Terai and (c) Western Terai. But more significant from the geographic point of view are the three north-south sub-units introduced below:
(a) Terai (Outer or Open Terai) —
It is the vital part of the terai region and represents some 13 % of the total area of Nepal. Its elevation from sea level rises from below 100 m. in the eastern section to the maximum of 300m. in the western one and attains the maximum width of 56 km. It is not quite continuous; for it disappears at places where the Churia Ranges extend up to the border. Its eastern section is relatively much broader than the western one. Though limited in size and extent, this terai section, being composed of fertile alluvium, is of substantial significance from the viewpoint of agricultural production.
(b) Inner Terai —
There exist several synclinal valleys bounded by the Mahabharat Range on the north and the Churia Range on the south. These are of tectonic origin and are known as Inner Terai or Doons. In point of dimension, their east-west length varies from 32 km. to 64 km. Though their average width is reckoned to be 16 km, they are much broader in central and western parts where the Churia Ranges extend up to the border. Their elevation from sea level runs from about 200 m. on the east to 400 m. on the west.
These inner terai basins altogether represent some 8 % of the total area of Nepal. These are basically composed of alluvial soil which grows coarser towards the marginal parts close to the Mahabharat and Churia Ranges. The most widely known inner terai basins from west to east are Dang, Deokhuri, Chitwan, Makawanpur, Sindhuli, and Udaypur. In several physical aspects, they nearly resemble the outer terai plain and prove, therefore, to be potential agricultural areas of Nepal.
(c) Bhabar Tract —
It constitutes a narrow stretch of level land which gradually merges with the outer terai plain on the south and happens to be on the southern foot of the Churia Ranges. It is roughly 200m. high from sea level and represents about 4 % of the total area of the country. This tract is formed of coarser materials like sand, pebbles, conglomerates and rock detritus carried and deposited by the rivers and streams debouching from the Churia Ranges. Since its surface is in this way capped with such loose and coarse materials, water rapidly disappears from the surface; and hence this part of the terai region is of little significance from the standpoint of agricultural production. Almost all parts of this tract are covered since long with sub-tropical evergreen forest.
Facts About Geography Of Nepal
Nepal is a country situated on the Asia Continent. It is between India and China. There is giant China located in the north and India in the three directions West, East and south. The country covers 1,47,181 sq. km area with many geographical diversities. The term “Geography” refers to the science that describes the surface of the earth or specific area and its inhabitants. Similarly, the geography of Nepal refers to the science which deals with distribution, description, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological and cultural feature of the areas of Nepal. On the basis of economic condition, Nepal is a poor country but geographically we can count it as one of the richest countries. Here are some of the amazing geographical facts of Nepal:
- Out of its total area which is 1, 47, 181 sq. km, 92.94% in land and 7.06% of its area are covered with water. It is ranked in 93rd place in terms of area.
- Nepal has been geographically divided into three physical regions: Himalayan region, Hilly region, and Terai Terai is in the south, hilly is in the middle and Himalayan is in the northern part of Nepal and all of these regions have its own unique characteristics.
- The Himalayan region, the northern part of Nepal rises steeply from the north of the hilly region to altitude ranging from about 4000 meters to 8,848 meters from the sea level. The pride of the world “Sagarmatha” (Mt. Everest) which is also known as the highest peak in the world is located in this region.
- Hilly region which is located in the middle of other two regions is situated at the height of 610 to 3300 meters. Churiya and Mahabharata both of these ranges are the part of this region. Churiya range is located in between the height of 610 to 1872m whereas Mahabharat range is located in between the height of 1500 to 3660 meters.
- Terai region which is on the southern border of the country is at the height in between 60 to 610 meters. This region is extended from the Chure range in the north to the border of India in the south. It is also named as the most fertile region of Nepal.
- The geographic coordinate of Nepal is similar to that of Florida. With the height ranging from less than 10 meters to 8000 meters and the rainfall 160 millimeters to 5000 millimeters, Nepal has eight climatic zones.
- Tropical zone which is below 1000 meters experiences frost less than once per decade, subtropical climate zone from 1000 to 2000 meters experience frost up to 53 days per year, temperate climate zone which is from 2000 to 3000 meters has up to 153 annual days of frost, subalpine zone from 3000 to 4000 meters experiences up to 229 days of frost here, alpine zone which is from 4000 to 5000 meters and above 5000 meters the climate becomes nival where there is no human habitation or even seasonal use.
- Talking about the season of Nepal, the period is split into the rainy season from June to September which is due to the moist air from Indian ocean whereas the period from October to June is divided into a dry season due to the cold temperature causing dry air to flow outward.
- Nepal has sensational variation in altitude along this crosscut conclusion in a variety of biomes, from tropical savannas to subtropical broadleaf and coniferous forest in the hill, to temperate broadleaf and coniferous forest in the slope of Himalaya, to montane grassland and shrublands and finally rock and ice at the highest altitude.
- A few years ago, there was a saying among the people that ”green forest are the assets of Nepal” but in this situation, the greenery of Nepal is all gone. Deforestation (excessive use of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives), contaminated water and the huge earthquake of past year has hugely affected the geographical condition of Nepal.
- Nepal has three division of rivers i.e. largest system which flows from east to west and the rivers like Koshi, Mahakali, Gandaki/Narayani comes under this system. The second category rivers rise in the middle hills and Mahabharat range from east to west the Mechi, Kankai, Bagmati that drains the Kathmandu valley and the third category rivers rise in the outermost Siwalik foothills and are mostly seasonal.
- The rivers like Koshi which is also called Sapta Koshi and Gandaki/Narayani has seven Himalaya tributaries. Indrawati, sunn Koshi, Tama Koshi, Dudh Koshi,Liku, Arun, and Tamor the tributaries whereas Daraudi, Seti Gandak, Madi, Kali, Marsyandi, Budhi, and Trisuli are the seven tributaries of Gandaki/Narayani.
- The Gorge of Kali Gandaki located in Himalaya of Nepal named Kali Gandaki gorge is the deepest canyon in the world by measure. It is 5,571 meters or 18,278 feet lower than Annapurna I.
- The lowest point of Nepal is Musaharniya which is in Changsha district at 59-meter height whereas its highest point is Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) which is at the height of 8848 meters.
- The Landsat TM data of 2010 shows that the forest in Nepal has covered 57,538 sq.km of land which is about 39.09% of the total geographical area of Nepal.
- The broadleaved closed and open forest covers 21,200 sq. km of land which is about 14.4% of geographical area size and the needle-leaved open forest covers 8,267 sq. km land which is about 5.62% of the total geographical area of Nepal.
- Nepal comes in number 2nd in terms of water resources as it has a lost of fast flowing rivers which are being used for rafting and some of the rivers are being used also for generating electricity. Nepal has the capability of operating 53,000 MW of electricity which can enlight the whole Asia.
- Besides Sagarmatha, the highest peak in the world there are many are high mountains in Nepal like Kanchenjunga, Lotse, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Makalu… and so on. All of these mountains are above 8000 meters and mostly covered with snow.
- Karnali is the longest river in Nepal which is about 507 kilometers. It lies in the north in the rainshadow of the Himalayas. Karnali has its origin endlessly Himalayan mountains.
- Nepal is a country with full of lakes and rivers as it is rich in water resources. The lakes like Rara, she-Phoksundo, Fewa, Tilicho, Indra Sarowar… are some of the biggest lakes in Nepal. Among these, Rara lake is the largest and deepest lake in Nepal which is located in Karnali zone, Jumla and Mugu district. It has a length of 5.2 km breadth of 2 km and depth of 167 meters.
So These are some Facts About Geography Of Nepal
This is the guest post by S.H. Shrestha.