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Nepal Land And People Essay, Research Paper
This paper will make and attempt to analyze the people and land of Nepal. More specifically it will examine the people of the Kathmandu Valley. This paper will show the relationship between the land and the population and how they have affected one another.
First lets look at the general physical aspects of the entire nation of Nepal and then narrow it down to the characteristics of the valley. Seventy-five percent of Nepal is covered in mountains, some of the most rugged terrain in the world. The Himalayas and its foothills are what cover most of the nation. These mountains rise to heights greater than 29,000 feet making it naturally isolated and difficult to habitate. Less than one quarter of Nepal is covered in forests which makes timber a valuable commodity. The Kathmandu Valley is a lofty but flat basin which is enclosed by the Mahabharat Range. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 feet and it has a width of up to ten miles and a length of twenty to forty miles. It sits on land that was formerly covered by lakes and was formed by the deposition of fluvial material brought down by the rivers and glaciers from the enclosing ranges between 1,600,000 and 10,000 years ago. The area is drained by the Baghmati River which flows south across the valley and cuts a deep gorge. Although the Baghmati River is strong, many of the smaller rivers of the areas dry up for parts of the year. The gorge exposes layers of water bearing strata of permeable rock, sand and gravel. There are also a few remnant lakes left on the valley. The valley was once forested but much of the land has now been cleared. The average temperature of the area is fifty degrees farenheight and with lows of dropping to twenty-seven degrees and highs reaching up to ninety degrees. The average rainfall is fifty-five inches a year. These are the temperatures of the Kathmandu Valley, the temperatures and conditions would be much different at the higher elevations in the mountains.
In the Kathmandu Valley is where there is the most habitable land area. In Nepal the population is eighty-five percent rural, and the urban population is all within this valley. This valley is naturally isolated making resource in the area limited to scarce. People have to do many different things to scratch a meager existence out of the land. As I said before the Valley was once covered in forest, but now most of the forest has been removed by the area’s population. The forest was removed for the timber, which is used for building and more often for fuel and energy. It is also has been deforested to clear area for agriculture. Often slash and burn tactics are used, or the trees are pulled out by their roots, which removes the topsoil and makes the ground very difficult to farm on anyway. Once the topsoil is removed, it will never again replenish itself. The isolated environment has forced the people to destroy their forest for fuel and agriculture. The physicality of the region has also made people search for new resources to pool for their needs. Now that forests have become scarce people have begun to rely on water for energy. They are using glacial flow for hydroelectricity. The energy created is used and partially stored and sold, hopefully saving what remains of the battered and burnt woodlands. The rugged terrain has also made travel difficult, which is why the area must be so self-sufficient.
The people of Katmandu Valley have also influenced their local geography in many ways. If you look at the ridges bordering the valley, you will see terracing reaching sometimes to the peaks. This terracing is used obviously for farming and to make the mountains more livable. It also helps prevent mudslides. While this action may prevent action mudslides, other human actions have created mudslides. The deforestation of the area has made the soil unstable and very prone to mudslides during the region’s thaw. The population’s effect on the local environment is very detrimental. Not only have they cut down most of the area’s trees, but they have made the rivers undrinkable by dumping their wastes into them, most of the water they drink is from the thaw of the glaciers.
This paper has shown that the people of the Kathmandu Valley have been affected greatly by the local geography. Their energy use has been greatly influenced due to its scarcity and they have made themselves self-sufficient due to the isolation created by the immense mountain ranges. This paper has also shown that the people have had a direct affect on the local environment. The land has been terraced to create more land for farming and living. Also the forest area has been decreased at a dramatic rate. The people have polluted the rivers and found a way to live by drinking the glacier water and also used the water for electricity. The people of Nepal’s lives have a very close relationship with the land and its resources.
Shrestha, Nanda R. Landlessness and Migration in Nepal. Bouldor: Westview Press 1990.
Thompson, William. “Heavy Hands on the Land.” National Geographic, November 1988. Volume 174, Issue 5
Bullock, Michael. Where the Gods are Mountains. New York: Reynal and Company, 1988.
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