The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा) in Nepali. It contains more than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level. The southern Terai region is fertile and humid. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha, is located in this region. Lumbini is one of the holiest places of one of the world's great religions, and its remains contain important evidence about the nature of Buddhist pilgrimage centres from as early as the 3rd century BC.
Hinduism is practiced by about 81.3% of Nepalis, making it the country with the highest percentage of Hindus. Buddhism is linked historically with Nepal and is practiced by 16%, Kirat 5.1%, Islam by 4.4%, Christianity 1.4%, and animism 0.4%. A large section of the population, especially in hill region, even though they follow Hindu customs, may identify themselves as both Hindu as well as Buddhists which can be attributed to the syncretic nature of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal.
A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768, when Prithvi Narayan Shah unified its many small kingdoms, until 2008; a decade-long Civil War involving the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (now known as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)) and several weeks of mass protests by all major political parties led to the 12-point agreement of 22 November 2005. The ensuing elections for the constituent assembly on 28 May 2008 overwhelmingly favored the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a federal multiparty representative democratic republic.
In recent developments, the political parties of Nepal agreed on forming an interim government under the leadership of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi in order to hold Constituent Assembly elections by 19 November 2013 to end the political deadlock. The second election for the constituent assembly was held successfully and Sushil Koirala was appointed the new prime minister. In 2014, Nepal has ranked the 145th place on the Human Development Index (HDI) and despite several challenges, Nepal has been making steady progress and the Government of Nepal have made commitment to help the nation to graduate towards one of the more developed nations by 2022.
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