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The Federal Republic of Nepal

Contrasts. In two worlds.

The democratic federal republic of Nepal is a country between two worlds. Modern, open and ambitious on the one hand; on the other hand it is still shaped by the influence of the caste system that makes it appear limiting and sometimes reactionary.

The recent political developments have brought dramatic change: during the past 20 years Nepal has changed from an absolutist monarchy to a democratic federal republic. On 28 May 2008 the republic was established, on 28 August 2011 the current prime minister was elected. It is expected that the new constitution will be adopted in 2012.

In this environment, the Nepalese caste system seems to be a limiting constant: For almost 2000 years it has divided the population into acceptable higher caste members and “untouchables”. This is an anachronism that seems to contradict the country’s current political evolution.

Thus, Nepal is a nation unlike any other on the Asian continent – it has its own specific characteristics: contrasts in two worlds. These characteristics make it worthwhile for visitors to form their own view of the current situation and future developments.

Join us on the next pages to find out more about the country and the people who live here.

Culture shock Kathmandu

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Most well-traveled westerners arrive in Kathmandu on a long-haul flight - and are immediately taken with all their senses by this wonderful country. The lively capital showered you with smells, sounds and colors. Everywhere it is teeming with people, on the street corner there is a small temple, there is a small shop to the left of you. Beware, the pavement is torn open here and right next to it is a street vendor selling his fruit! Watch out, get out of the way, there's a rickshaw driver around the corner!

Kathmandu is a good place to take yourself to the limit of overstimulation. And a good place to see peaceful village life in a quiet back alley or to marvel at the impressive Swayambunath temple complex, where Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist beliefs are practiced side by side.

Buckled up well? Here we go!

The traffic in Nepal cannot be compared with European conditions. In the cities there are three-wheeled bicycle rickshaws, motorbikes that sometimes have space for a whole small family, cars, pedestrians, small trucks, here a large pothole, there the road is being repaired.

At least for western eyes it is a wild mess and you hold your breath time and time again and hope that an accident will be avoided. That's usually how it is - you keep eye contact and consider each other. A miracle that no more happens!

Public buses, trucks, tourist buses, cars and motorcycles drive overland - as far as nothing unusual. But the buses are also loaded on the roof with suitcases, cardboard boxes and woven baskets. Some travelers have made themselves comfortable on the bus roof, another is standing in the open door of the moving bus, which is already overcrowded inside. The trucks are painted in bright colors, and the picture of the Hindu god Shiva looks at you on the driver's door.

Simple wooden crates with petrol cans often serve as petrol stations for motorbikes. You get from place to place - and you can't stop being amazed.

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Discover Nepal:

open doors together


Nepal is best known for its mountains - countless six- to eight-thousanders shape the impressive Himalayan landscape covered in snow. For leisure hikers, too, there are easy tours at the "medium" altitude of two to three thousand meters without any major degrees of difficulty. A good level of fitness and sure-footedness are sufficient to explore the beauty of the mountains on foot.

In addition to this trekking and hiking paradise , Nepal has much more to offer: original cities like Bhaktapur, whose car-free city center invites you to stroll and linger; Pilgrimage sites of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, where you can experience the faith that is lived up close; the Terai, the lowlands on the border with India, where rhinos and crocodiles live in a tropical climate.

But the heart of the country is certainly the people who live in Nepal - different ethnic groups that make this small country, which appears so wedged on the world map between its big neighbors India and China, something very special. These people, who always warmly welcome travelers and are happy to greet them, were the main impetus for DENK eV DENK eV would like to get closer to them and open doors together with them.
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