Nature and relief of Nepal

On the territory of Nepal, two main parts are distinguished: the Himalayas and the foothill plains bordering them from the south – the Terai.

The most elevated part of the country is formed by the Great Himalayas, where the peaks – “eight-thousanders” Chomolungma (8848 m), Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna are located. The Greater Himalayas are sparsely populated, except for the villages scattered across the valleys. The mountain tribes of Nepal and Tibet have long maintained trade links through the passes in the Himalayas. One of these passes was used in the construction of the Kathmandu-Lhasa highway, built by the Chinese in the mid-1970s. Increased demand for fuelwood and overgrazing, coupled with the development of mountaineering and tourism, have contributed to deforestation and pasture degradation in many of Nepal’s highlands. Tourism generated a demand for labor and raw materials, which gradually influenced the geo-ecology and economy of the Himalayan region.

To the south of the Greater Himalayas there is a zone of medium-altitude mountains of the Lesser Himalayas, which are represented by separate multidirectional spurs of more powerful ridges. One of the main ridges, Mahabharat, with heights of up to 3000 m, has a latitudinal strike. The ridges of the Lesser Himalayas are cut by numerous rivers, including the Karnali, Narayani, Gandak and Kosi, which cut deep gorges in the Mahabharata and flow south to the plains along the Ganges in India. Almost 45% of Nepal’s population is concentrated in the valleys of the Lesser Himalayas. Several large fertile valleys (Kathmandu, Pokhara, etc.) are especially densely populated. Forests in the mid-mountain zone have suffered greatly due to their reduction to arable land, from the uncontrolled grazing of livestock and fuel procurement. The degradation of the environment caused the migration of the local population to the cities and the foothill plains, as well as to the cities of India, where approx. 10 million immigrants from Nepal and their descendants.

To the south of the Lesser Himalayas there is a low-mountain zone – the Outer Himalayas (Pre-Himalayas), known as the Sivalik Mountains, or Churiyaghati, with an average altitude of 900 to 1800 m.In this zone, flat-bottomed valleys – dunes, which are important for agriculture, are widespread. The settlement of these areas began 300-400 years ago, when migrants from India began to arrive. Programs for further development of the area led in the 1960s to massive deforestation in order to provide the settlers with land. As a result, only a few small groves remained from the once vast forests. Many villages have undergone reforestation and in some areas the forested area has even increased since the 1950s.

This area, reaching its greatest width, approx. 30 km, is a fertile alluvial plain located at low altitudes. It is rightfully considered the northern continuation of the Gangetic Plain. Terai can be traced for a long distance almost along the entire southern border of Nepal. Their southern part, approx. 16 km, heavily plowed. To the north, at the junction with the forest belt of the Outer Himalayas, the Terai are heavily swampy, and there have long been foci of malaria. Over the past decades, significant advances have been made in the fight against the disease, and many foci of the spread of malaria mosquitoes have been completely eradicated. The green belt of standing forests stretches parallel to the mountain ranges, but savannah or dense thickets of elephant grass up to 4.5 m high are even more typical.