Economy of Nepal
An isolated, agrarian society until the mid-20th century, Nepal entered the modern era in 1951 without schools, hospitals, roads, telecommunications, electric power, industry, or civil service. The country has, however, made progress toward sustainable economic growth since the 1950s and is committed to a program of economic liberalization.
Nepal has used a series of five-year plans in an attempt to make progress in economic development. It completed its ninth economic development plan in 2002; its currency has been made convertible, and 17 state enterprises have been privatized. Foreign aid to Nepal accounts for more than half of the development budget. Government priorities over the years have been the development of transportation and communication facilities, agriculture, and industry. Since 1975, improved government administration and rural development efforts have been emphasized.
Agriculture remains Nepal's principal economic activity, employing 70% of the population and providing 37% of GDP. Only about 20% of the total area is cultivable; another 33% is forested; most of the rest is mountainous. Rice and wheat are the main food crops. The lowland Terai region produces an agricultural surplus, part of which supplies the food-deficient hill areas.
GDP is heavily dependent on remittances of foreign workers. Subsequently, economic development in social services and infrastructure in Nepal has not made dramatic progress. A countrywide primary education system is under development, and Tribhuvan University has several campuses. Please see Education in Nepal for further details. Although eradication efforts continue, malaria had been controlled in the fertile but previously uninhabitable Terai region in the south. Kathmandu is linked to India and nearby hill regions by road and an expanding highway network. The capital was almost out of fuel and transport of supplies caused by a crippling general strike in southern Nepal on February 17, 2008.
Major towns are connected to the capital by telephone and domestic air services. The export-oriented carpet and garment industries have grown rapidly in recent years and together now account for approximately 70% of merchandise exports. Import and Export
Nepal's merchandise trade balance has improved somewhat since 2000 with the growth of the carpet and garment industries. In the fiscal year 2000-2001, exports posted a greater increase (14%) than imports (4.5%), helping bring the trade deficit down by 4% from the previous year to $749 million. The annual monsoon rain, or lack of it, strongly influences economic growth. From 1996 to 1999, real GDP growth averaged less than 4%. The growth rate recovered in 1999, rising to 6% before slipping slightly in 2001 to 5.5%.Resources
Progress has been made in exploiting Nepal's natural resources, tourism and hydroelectricity. With eight of the world's 10 highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest at 8,848 m.
Although steep mountain terrain makes exploitation difficult, mineral surveys have found small deposits of limestone, magnesite, zinc, copper, iron, mica, lead, and cobalt.
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