|Preface Last Updated: 8/10/2005
For centuries the mosaic of Nepal's history and culture was
protected from the forces of change that defined the world's
international relationships. Only after 1951, when borders were
opened to foreigners, did its resources begin to develop to meet the
demands of modern nationhood. The U.S. has played a major part in
assisting this development and continues to influence the course of
progress in a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation.
Politically, Nepal is neutral in most of the world's disputes,
and its foreign policy reflects the position of a small and
landlocked country located between two giants, India and China.
However, Nepal is currently in the midst of a violent nine-year old
Maoist insurgency, which has led to political instability.
Challenges to Nepal's development are formidable and unique given
its high mountains, fast and flooding rivers, undeveloped natural
resources, and its previous isolation.
Impressive changes have occurred nonetheless in the fields of
transportation, communications, education, and commerce. Nepal must
accommodate its enormous geographic and ethnic diversity while
managing economic developments. Its rapidly growing population is
deeply and genuinely attached to ancient customs and traditional
An assignment in Nepal is not only an introduction to a land of
centuries-old cultures relatively untouched in many ways by the
outside world, but also an opportunity to explore ancient kingdoms
in the shadow of the world's highest mountains.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 8/10/2005 2:04 AM
The Kingdom of Nepal is roughly the size and shape of Tennessee,
with an area of about 55,000 square miles. The country is bordered
by China to the north and by India to the south, east, and west.
Nepal's geography is perhaps the most varied and dramatic of any
nation of the world. From the lowlands of the south (about 150 feet
above sea level), the terrain rises in a mere 100 miles to the
dramatic heights of the world's highest mountain range, the
Himalayas. Eight of the world's highest peaks are in Nepal,
including Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) at 29,028, 10 other mountains
above 24,000 feet, and more than 200 peaks over 21,000 feet.
Geographically, the country is divided into three roughly
parallel strips, running east and west. The Terai Region, the
southernmost strip about 15 miles wide, covers about 20% of the
total land area. This extension of the Gangetic Plain of north
India, once noted for its heavy jungle, is still popular for big
game-including tiger, rhinoceros, elephant, wild boar, crocodile,
and river dolphin. The flat open country of the Terai Region blends
into forested hills. Bird watching is a popular pastime in this
area. The central region, sometimes called the "hill area," is about
60 miles wide. It ranges from about 3,000 to 12,000 feet above sea
level, covering about 60% of the land area, and includes the Valley
of Kathmandu with its encircling hills up to 9,000 feet. The
northern region consists of the high mountain area, 12,000 to 29,000
feet, forming the majestic panorama of the perpetually snow-covered
Himalayan Range. The region is about 25 miles wide and accounts for
the remaining 20% of the total land area.
Kathmandu's climate is pleasant. During the fall to winter season
(October-March), temperatures range from 30°F to 75°F. This season
is characterized by morning fog, sunny days, and cold nights. It may
rain occasionally, but Kathmandu has had no snow since 1939.
A temperature range from 40°F to 90°F, with intermittent rain,
warm days, and usually comfortable nights, marks the spring season
(March-May). Near the end of the spring season and before the rainy
season begins, dust gathers heavily throughout the Kathmandu Valley,
causing a haze that obscures the mountains.
The monsoon season begins in June and continues until late
September. Temperatures in the rainy season range from 55°F to 90°F,
and rainfall is from 30 to 60 inches. Rain showers occur almost
Population Last Updated: 8/10/2005 2:07 AM
Nepal's population of 25.3 million (2005 census) is growing at an
annual rate of 2.25%. Forty-nine percent of the population lives in
the Terai Region on 20% of the total land area, and the remaining
51% live in the hills and mountain regions. The Kathmandu Valley,
home to the nation's capital, is growing rapidly and is the most
densely populated area. 1.5 million persons reside within the
Kathmandu Valley region of three districts.
Agriculture absorbs 90% of the economically active workforce and
includes animal husbandry, forestry, and fishing. The remaining
workforce is occupied in business, industrial, and service sectors.
Per capita income is approximately US $300.
Nepal is a multiracial, multilingual country. Major ethnic groups
that make up Nepal include Newar, Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sherpa,
Rai, Limbu, Thakali, and Tibetan. Within the different groups,
people are further differentiated socially by caste or occupational
group. In the hill and Terai regions, people of both Indo-Aryan and
Mongoloid stock can be found, and many are a mixture of the two. The
northern mountain region is inhabited by the Sherpas of
mountaineering fame, as well as by large numbers of Tibetans.
The official language is Nepali, although more than 12 other
languages and many dialects are spoken throughout the country.
Nepali, derived from Sanskrit, is related to the Indian languages of
Hindi and Bengali. The written script (Devnagari) is the same as
Hindi. Nepali is spoken by most Nepalese in the Kathmandu Valley.
The Newars, the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, still
constitute over half of the Valley's population and work as
artisans, business people, professionals, government officials, and
farmers. The old cultural and architectural monuments of the Valley
are almost entirely of Newar origin. The Newars have their own
language, Newari, a Tibeto-Burman language not related to Nepali;
however, most Newars in the Valley also understand Nepali. Many
government and business people speak English.
Most Nepalis profess Hinduism, the official religion. The King is
believed to be a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, the Protector and
Preserver. Religion is important in Nepal, and the Kathmandu Valley
alone has more than 2,700 religious shrines, some more than 2,000
years old. Temples, stupas, and pagodas vary in size and type, with
some of austere simplicity and others of rich architectural beauty.
A significant Buddhist minority lives peacefully with the Hindu
majority, so that Hindu temples are sacred to Buddhists, and
Buddhist shrines are important to the Hindus. Buddhist and Hindu
festivals are occasions for common worship and rejoicing.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 8/10/2005 2:24 AM
For about 100 years, until 1951, Nepal's Government was in the
hands of hereditary Prime Ministers of the Rana family, and the King
was a figurehead without real power. After 1947, the people of
Nepal, in part sparked by India's independence movement, began to
show open resentment to the autocratic Rana rule. Agitation
increased for a government more responsive to changing times.
Relations between King Tribhuvan and the Rana Prime Minister
deteriorated, and in November 1950, the King escaped from his palace
prison and took asylum in India. An armed revolt to overthrow the
Rana regime flared throughout the country, with an armistice being
signed the following February. King Tribhuvan returned amid
rejoicing; non-Ranas for the first time assumed key government
positions. Shortly thereafter, the last Rana Prime Minister
resigned, marking the end of Rana rule.
The late King Mahendra approved a new constitution in February
1959, under which Nepal's first multiparty parliament was elected.
After a brief period of parliamentary rule, the King proclaimed in
December 1960 that the experiment in parliamentary democracy had
failed. He took full personal control of the government, dissolved
the parliament, and banned political parties.
In 1962, the government proclaimed a new constitution, which
established a "partyless panchayat system" of government consisting
of various councils (panchayat) of increasing power, with ultimate
power vested in the King. Subsequently, the constitution has been
amended several times in response to the country's developing
political demands. Following widespread discontent spearheaded by
university students, King Birendra in 1979 ordered a referendum to
decide whether to retain the panchayat system with suitable reforms
or to reintroduce a multiparty system. The panchayat system won a
disputed election by 2.4 million votes to 2.1 million, and the
constitution was amended to establish the direct election of members
of the Rastriya Panchayat (national legislature) and expand freedoms
of speech, publication, and assembly. In 1990, in response to
nationwide agitation for a return to a multiparty system of
government, King Birendra agreed to lift the ban on political
parties; to further revise the constitution and to hold general
According to the constitution, Nepal is a constitutional monarchy
with a parliamentary form of government that is multiethnic,
multilingual, and retains the king in the role of head of state.
Under the constitution, the democratically elected parliament
consists of the House of Representatives (lower house) and the
National Assembly (upper house).
These elections took place in May 1991, constituting the first free
multiparty elections under the new constitution. After the election
of 1994, Nepal saw five successive governments in five years. Three
different Nepali Congress Party Prime Ministers held office from
mid-1999 to mid 2001. In 2002 the Prime Minister dissolved the House
and the King dismissed the elected prime minister. The King
appointed three different Prime Ministers between 2002 and 2005.
Citing a steady deterioration of conditions in the country, King
Gyanendra dismissed the Cabinet and constituted a Council of
Ministers under his chairmanship on February 1, 2005. He stated that
the Council of Ministers (i.e., Cabinet) would try to reactivate
multi-party democracy within three years. As of July 2005, a seven
party coalition was agitating for a return to multi-party democracy.
The international community continues to push for reconciliation
between the political parties and the Palace.
A Maoist-led "people's war" began on February 14, 1996, in the
mid-western region. Almost all of Nepal's 75 districts have
experienced some sort of violence because of this insurgency. More
than 12,000 police, civilians and insurgents have been killed in the
conflict since 1996. Two rounds of peace talks took place in 2001
and 2003, but neither of them proved successful in coming to any
tangible decisions or agreements. The Maoists continue to terrorize
the countryside and engage government security forces outside of the
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:32 AM
Nepal in 1950 had 321 primary schools enrolling about 8,000
students; 11 secondary schools with 1,500 students; and one small
college and a technical school with a combined student body of 250.
At that time the country had no educational facilities for girls,
and the few who were educated were either privately tutored or had
studied in India. Literacy was negligible.
When Rana rule ended, Nepal undertook to establish a system of
universal primary education, greatly supported and developed through
USAID efforts. The most recent statistics, from the 2003 School
Level Educational Statistics of Nepal, indicate that 48%, 15+ years
of the Nepalese adult population is literate (male: 65%; female:
42.5%). Approximately 85% of the Kathmandu Valley population is
literate. The figures reflect the increased importance attached to
education: 27,268 primary schools with 4,025,692 students and
112,360 teachers; 8,249 lower secondary schools with 1,210,059
students and 29,895 teachers; 4,741 secondary schools with 5,746,843
students and 23,297 teachers; and a higher education system of 10
institutes that comprise Tribhuvan University. This university
directly administers and supports 65 campuses, approximately half of
which are outside the Kathmandu Valley. The total number of students
at all university campuses is approximately 120,000. The university
has four research centers: the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS);
the Center for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA); the
Research Center for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST); and the
Center for Educational Reforms, Innovations, and Development (CERID).
The post-1990 period has witnessed the emergence of a multi
university concept. As a result, now there are five universities in
Nepal: Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara
University, Purvanchal University, and Mahendra Sanskrit University.
Moreover, the Higher Secondary Education Board runs 10+2 colleges.
There are more than 1,000-affiliated colleges throughout the
country. In addition to these developments experienced, there has
also been a dramatic change in private sector. Now there are more
than 4,366 schools comprising of 599,000 students and 38,877
teachers (primary, lower secondary, and secondary levels combined)
and one very popular university (Kathmandu University, with
approximately 2500 students) efficiently operated in the private
The rapid expansion within the educational system brought a
severe strains as a result in 1970, the Palace appointed a task
force to redesign the education system, resulting in the National
Education System Plan (NESP) that came into effect in 1971. The
educational structure was reorganized in accordance with the NESP to
broaden the availability of education to the rural areas, extend
educational access to women, and meet manpower requirements. In
1975, primary education was made free (but not compulsory), that
also included the provision for classrooms, teachers, and
educational materials. Private schools are permitted and have been
Under the new plan, Nepal's educational structure is divided into
two levels, the school level and the higher education level. In
fact, it's a four level system: primary (includes pre-school
education also), secondary, higher secondary and tertiary education.
Institutes in each subject of higher education have been established
under the supervision and control of Tribhuvan University. Higher
Secondary Education Board and other universities control education
in their affiliated colleges. There is also a University Grant
Commission, which monitors quality in these universities and
The widespread desire for education puts great pressure on the
government to increase the number of schools and teachers. Quality
varies widely, with higher quality schools located in population
centers; however, intense efforts have been made to equalize
educational opportunity for all. There has been a rapid expansion of
private schools in the Kathmandu Valley, which has had a negative
impact on the government/public schools. Although Nepal is still a
long way from universal education; nevertheless great strides are
In the arts, Nepal, and particularly the Kathmandu Valley, is a
living museum. Pagoda-style architecture may have originated in
Nepal and moved northward to China and Japan. Hundreds of temples
are ornately carved; old Nepalese bronzes are exquisite; and older,
elaborately carved wooden Newari homes reflect the skills of the
Valley woodworkers. The King has established a Royal Nepal Academy,
where traditional Nepalese dance and music performances may be seen.
The Patan Museum, located near Patan Durbar Square, has an exquisite
collection of historical artifacts and art. Occasional exhibitions
of paintings by the country's artists are held at the Nepal
Association of Fine Arts. In the past few years, several galleries
have opened that regularly exhibit local artwork.
Science is in its infancy in Nepal, although most of the
universities have graduate departments in science faculties. In
1983, as a step toward the development of science education, His
Majesty's Government constituted the Royal Nepal Academy of Science
and Technology to promote the study and research of science and
technology. Fulbright and National Science Foundation scholars are
helping to improve science and mathematics education.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:35 AM
Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with 31%
of the population living below the poverty line, 45% urban
unemployment, and little industrialization or private sector growth.
Some progress has been achieved with technical and economic
assistance, principally from India, Germany, Japan, China, the U.S.,
the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. Malaria is under
control in the fertile lowland areas, thereby increasing the
potential for agricultural productivity. Roads, although in poor
condition, link Kathmandu to India and Tibet, and additional roads
are being constructed linking major urban centers. Several
hydroelectric projects have been completed, and more are being
proposed and built. A national and international communications
network, including a satellite earth station, has been completed,
and small industries such as cotton and jute textiles, cement,
cigarettes, and shoes have been operating for years. Commercial
attention is directed at development of Nepal's major economic
resources: hydroelectric power and tourism.
The economy is essentially agrarian. Agriculture provides a 39 %
contribution to the GDP and 76 % in employment, with rice, maize,
wheat and barley as the main food crops and sugarcane, potato, jute,
tobacco and oilseed as the main cash crops. Foreign trade plays a
key role in the economic development of Nepal. Currently, Nepal has
trade agreements with 17 countries and trade relations with about
About half of Nepal's total exports-mainly jute products, pulses,
cardamom, and manufactured goods like vegetable ghee, toilet
products, polyester yarn, readymade garments, and cattle feeds-go to
India, and over half of Nepal's imports come from India-mostly
textiles and other manufactured goods, vehicles and spare parts,
medicines, machinery and parts, cement, chemicals, threads,
electrical equipment. Nepal signed a trade agreement with India in
1996, which effectively placed it in a free trade area with India.
The trade treaty with India was amended in 2002 to put certain items
on a quantitative restriction.
Nepal's main exports to the U.S. and Europe are textiles and
carpets. Tourism is also a major industry contributing roughly 6 %
to the GDP.
WTO membership was conferred to Nepal by the fifth ministerial
meeting held in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003. Nepal submitted
its formal acceptance and ratification of WTO membership on March
24, 2004 and, became the 147th member of the World Trade
Organization on April 23, 2004. In order to fully integrate into the
global trade regime as a WTO member, Nepal is committed to making
certain legal and structural changes. Necessary changes in laws and
regulations need to be in place by December 2006.
Political instability, compounded by the Maoist insurgency, has
caused widespread damage to the Nepalese economy. Increased Maoist
violence has had serious effects on the economy. GDP growth was
approximately 2 % so far in fiscal year 2004/5. Fifteen percent of
total government recurrent expenditure goes to security.
Automobiles Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:38 AM
A personal vehicle is strongly recommended. Nepal is landlocked;
vehicles are shipped by sea to Calcutta, offloaded and containerized
if not so received and transported by truck to Kathmandu. It can
take 3 months to ship a vehicle from the U.S. and about 6 weeks to 3
months to order a car from Japan or India. Toyota, Mitsubishi,
Nissan, Honda, GM, Maruti, Kia, Opel, Fiat, Suzuki, Hyundai and
Subaru are represented in Nepal. If you ship a car from the U.S. or
Japan, consider spare parts (air, gas, and oil filters; fan belts;
and a set of shock absorbers); an extra set of tires (tubeless tires
essentially are impossible to repair in Kathmandu, so add tubes to
tubeless tires before shipping); and air-conditioning (for the dusty
season). If you ship a used vehicle, make sure it is in excellent
condition and has a new or good battery and new tires, since these
are expensive and hard to obtain in Nepal. Current Nepali law
forbids the import of a car more than 7 years old by employees
assigned to diplomatic missions. Used cars imported under this rule
cannot be sold locally and must be exported upon completion of the
employee's tour of duty in Nepal.
Do not bring large American cars; the narrow streets of Kathmandu
and the lack of available spare parts for American cars will cause
frustration and difficulty. Maintenance and high-octane fuel
requirements can be a problem. The Embassy and USAID operate fuel
pumps selling both diesel and gasoline purchased locally. Spare
parts that are available in Nepal are generally expensive due to
high duty rates. Standard transmissions are preferable, as virtually
no service exists for automatic transmissions. Travel outside the
Kathmandu Valley by U.S. Government employees is currently not
permitted; if that changes a four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary
for driving there. Do not bring a vehicle with low ground clearance,
even for local driving within the Valley. A right-hand-drive vehicle
is best for safety reasons, as Nepalis drive on the left in the
British and Japanese manner, but U.S.-style, left-hand-drive
vehicles are permitted and used without serious problems by assigned
employees. Right-hand-drive vehicles enjoy higher resale value.
Foreign-made and purchased vehicles may be shipped to post at U.S.
Government expense. Used cars are occasionally available in
Kathmandu from departing diplomats. Some car suggestions include
Rav4s, Honda CRVs, or Subaru Foresters, all cars with 4-wheel drive
or all-wheel drive, sturdy, compact and ideal for driving on
The Government of Nepal authorizes only one vehicle (automobile
or motorcycle) per employee.
A Nepalese driver's license is required in Nepal and may be obtained
on presentation of a valid U.S. driver's license. U.S. Government
policy requires employees to carry sufficient vehicle liability
insurance. It may be obtained locally at moderate cost.
Comprehensive insurance also is available at reasonable rates. The
GSO supervisor will assist you in obtaining licenses and insurance.
Vehicles brought into Nepal duty free may not be sold without
payment of duty, except to other duty-free persons. As rates of duty
are high, selling vehicles on departure from post is often
difficult. Older vehicles in fair-to-poor condition, or with
automatic transmissions, are particularly difficult to sell,
although cars with automatic transmissions are becoming more
Some employees ride bicycles or motorcycles to work or for
pleasure. Employees should be aware of the hazards of using a
motorcycle or bicycle in Kathmandu due to the chaotic traffic
conditions. A good helmet is necessary if you intend to ride a
bicycle or motorcycle.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:40 AM
The Kathmandu Valley has not only hard-surface roads but also
many dirt roads and jeep tracks. Most streets and roads are narrow
and bumpy with blind corners, and congested with ever-increasing
numbers of pedestrians, porters, carts, cows, goats, dogs, buses,
taxis, trolleys, pedicabs, rickshaws, bicycles, and motorbikes. RSO
recommends against US Mission personnel use of local taxis and other
modes of public transportation in the Kathmandu area. Because the
local taxis and other modes of public transportation are independent
operators, they are not accountable to anyone for the services they
provide and there is no means of lodging a complaint when problems
do occur. Reports also indicate many operators speak little or no
English. Indian and Chinese bicycles are widely used and can be
purchased locally at reasonable cost. Used Western-made mountain
bikes sometimes can be purchased, although many prefer to bring
their own bikes. Air pollution is a problem due to the substantial
increase in motor vehicles and brick factories within the Valley.
Air-filter breathing masks are becoming increasingly popular among
bikers and walkers.
The national road system linking the major towns within Nepal is
improving but still limited, with some of the fewest miles of paved
and improved hard-packed roads compared to population density of any
country in the world (about 10,000 miles in 2004). Most of the
primary internal Nepali destinations such as Pokhara, Biratnagar,
Birgunj, and Janakpur are connected to the capital by paved road.
The East-West Highway provides a good paved road throughout the
Terai, except west of Nepalgunj. Most of the more famous mountain
trekking destinations are accessible only by plane, as are some of
the more remote lowland destinations. Travel by ground transport is
generally not permitted in the current security environment.
It is necessary to go on foot to reach many places in rural
Nepal. Use of porters is a traditional and practical method of
transporting goods to and from many places in the country. Some
USAID project sites are far from landing strips or roads, and the
distances from these places to the project site are measured in
hours or days of walking rather than in miles. Consular cases also
sometimes require significant walking in the countryside.
Kathmandu is connected to the Indian border by two all-weather
roads. Another, mostly fair-weather road, links the capital with
Tibet. Both diplomats and tourists should check the current
regulations regarding travel to Tibet, as they are subject to
frequent change. If you are interested in traveling to Tibet, you
must book a tour through a travel agency in order to get a visa.
Under a diplomatic/official passport, the Chinese government will
not issue you a visa for Tibet-in that case, you must go through a
travel agency on a tour. Mission members also need Indian visas in
advance of travel to India. Visas are available from the Indian
Embassy in Kathmandu.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:41 AM
Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC) has an extensive route
structure within Nepal, encompassing more than 30 airfields
nationwide. RNAC is a government-owned corporation. Numerous private
airlines, including Buddha Air, Cosmic Air, Yeti Air, Gorkha
Airlines, and Sita Air also operate domestic routes. They use
smaller (and newer) planes and frequently offer lower prices for
similar trips. Air travel is the only practical means of
transportation (save walking) to many areas these airlines service.
For domestic routes, RNAC depends on Twin Otter aircraft. Domestic
private airlines offer a one-hour mountain flight from Kathmandu
that provides close up views of the major Himalayan Peaks, including
Nine regional or international airlines serve Kathmandu as of
March 2005. These include RNAC, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Thai
International, Biman Bangladesh, Pakistan International, Druk Air,
Qatar Airline, Gulf Airline, and Austrian Air (seasonal). Kathmandu
enjoys several daily flights to and from New Delhi, daily service to
and from Bangkok, daily service to and from Calcutta. Kathmandu also
is linked to Dhaka, Karachi, and Hong Kong with several flights a
week. Connections for ongoing international flights to Europe and
the U.S. are made generally through Bangkok or the Gulf. Bangkok,
Hong Kong, and Singapore are the gateways for flights to Japan and
the U.S. west coast.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:43 AM
Kathmandu has an automatic telephone exchange, and all Mission
employee housing has telephones. The cost is modest, and service is
generally good, as are long-distance connections within Nepal.
International telephone service is available via satellite, and
direct-dial calls to the U.S. and elsewhere are routine. Another
option for international calls is available for reasonable per
minute charges-in this case, a number is dialed before dialing the
international number. An increasing number of mission personnel are
using various voice-over IP calling options.
Facsimile service in Nepal is available locally in all major
hotels. The Embassy provides official fax capability. The Embassy
fax number is: 977-1-4419963; USAID: 977-1-4272357; PAO:
977-1-4415847; GSO: 977-1-4228674.
To transmit emergency messages, relatives of Department of State
employees should call the Department of State Operations Center, day
or night, telephone (202) 647-1512. Employees of USAID should
contact the USAID Employee Assistance and Benefits Staff, telephone
(202) 663-1413 during normal working house, and the Department of
State Operations Center after hours.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 11/30/1999 6:00 PM
Cellular telephones became available in 1999 but are very expensive.
Internet Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:45 AM
Cellular telephones are issued to direct hires and adult eligible
family members and some essential support staff (Embassy). USAID
distributes cellular telephones to US direct-hires, offshore
Personnel Service Contractors, and spouses. Cellular phones have
become increasingly popular in the past year and are widely
available through Nepal Telephone Communication. Prices are
Internet access and e-mail service is available through local
commercial sources. Rates generally are higher than in the U.S. but
are coming down. Wireless broadband is available with an average
cost of $100/month. Landline plans are also available for an average
of $150/year plus phone minutes.
Internet access is available to mission personnel and family
members in the CLO library.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:47 AM
Use the Department of State pouch for the transmission of all
correspondence, as international mail service is unreliable. No
official or valuable correspondence or packages should be
transmitted via international mail. All pouches (letters and
parcels) now are dispatched to post by air (use the domestic postage
rate to Washington, D.C.). Transit time from the Department to post
for airpouch dispatches averages 2 weeks, twice this long or more
before Christmas. International courier service for letters and
packages is available, and post participates in the Homeward Bound
mailing of outbound packages. No liquids are allowed to be
transported through the pouch.
The proper address for personal correspondence transmitted via
Mr. John E. Doe
6190 Kathmandu Place
Dulles, VA 20189-6190
For official correspondence:
Mr. John E. Doe
Department of State
6190 Kathmandu Place
Washington, DC 20521-6190
The international mailing address is:
Mr. John E. Doe
American Embassy-GPO Box 295
Mr. John E. Doe
Public Diplomacy - PO Box 58
Mr. John Doe
P.O. Box 5653
Radio and TV Last Updated: 8/11/2005 0:48 AM
Kathmandu has 70-channel cable TV service available in many, but
not all, parts of the city. Stations broadcast a mix of English and
Hindi programming. Service accessibility is increasing continuously.
Set-up can be bundled with broadband internet and installed with
reasonable charges and monthly rates, usually about $30 - 45. CNN,
BBC, HBO, ESPN, Cinemax, Star Movies, and Star Sports are among the
English offerings. TV satellite dishes can be purchased locally.
Depending on where you live, you may get different channels provided
by your cable provider.
Cable and local TV broadcasts are on the PAL system. Videotapes
available for rent at the American Mission Association (AMA) are
NTSC. Bring a multi-system TV and VCR /DVD player, as local
equipment is quite expensive. All locally sold DVDs are bootlegs,
and should not be purchased by Mission employees. Radio Nepal
broadcasts in English at certain times daily. Reception of VOA, BBC,
Indian, and Pakistani stations, and some from the Far East, is
sometimes possible with a shortwave radio. BBC also broadcasts in
Nepal on 103 FM.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
8/11/2005 0:50 AM
Several English-language weekly or daily newspapers are published
in Kathmandu. The Rising Nepal, The Himalayan Times , The Kathmandu
Post, Nepali Times and Spotlight are read widely. A total of 450
vernacular newspapers circulate in Nepal. English-language Indian
newspapers also are available, as are international editions of Time
and Newsweek. The international editions of the International Herald
Tribune, USA Today, The Economist, and The Asian Wall Street Journal
can be purchased locally or are available by subscription from
Singapore. You will be able to buy some magazines locally weeks
before they arrive in the pouch.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:26 AM
A Foreign Service nurse practitioner and several locally hired
expatriate nurses staff the Embassy Health Unit, located on the GSO
compound about a mile from the Chancery. The Health Unit also has a
The Health Unit is a full-service facility and performs many
diagnostic studies, including EKG's, biochemistry, bacteriology,
parasitology, and hematology. The technical staff is well trained
and runs an excellent laboratory.
The small but well-stocked pharmacy is not a supply facility and
does not provide routine non-prescription medications or supplies.
You must bring any medications that you or your family members take
regularly (allergy medication, blood pressure medications, insulin,
contraceptives, etc.), as the pharmacy has limited stocks of all
drugs and cannot supply you routinely. It is also strongly
recommended that assigned employees have mail-in prescription
service as part of their personal medical insurance. Children's
medicine is difficult to obtain in Nepal.
If you wear glasses, bring at least two pairs and a copy of your
current prescription. Contact lenses can be worn here, although only
limited local replacements are available. Bring a supply of your own
cleaning solutions; the commissary stocks some saline and cleaning
solutions but perhaps not the brands you prefer. Some brands are
available at local pharmacy shops.
The Health Unit does not supply over-the-counter medicine, but
the commissary stocks very limited supplies of OTCs such as Tylenol,
cold medicine, etc.; however due to shipping charges, prices tend to
be 20-25% more expensive than US-bought OTC drugs. Some regularly
used medicine is available locally. Many people have used
drugstore.com or other online providers with success to order their
Although the Health Unit handles most medical problems, certain
problems may require outside referral, either locally to a Nepali
physician or diagnostic facility, or regionally to the medical
evacuation center in Singapore. Although a number of well trained,
excellent Nepali physicians are in Kathmandu, local hospitals are
poorly equipped and considered inadequate by Western standards.
Therefore, for anything but the gravest emergency, serious medical
problems requiring hospitalization are handled as medical
evacuation; in some cases, this may be to the U.S. Kathmandu is
considered medically inappropriate for obstetrics either routine or
complicated. Evacuation to the U.S. or the regional center (on a
cost-constructive basis) is recommended in the seventh or eighth
month of pregnancy, depending upon the situation.
All new arrivals receive a medical briefing upon arrival at post.
Provide the medical staff at that time, or earlier, with copies of
all medically pertinent documents (physicals, consultations, and
medical records from previous posts or private physicians) for
review and inclusion in your Health Unit file. Only direct hire
staff and family members on orders are eligible to use the Health
Unit. There are several private clinics used by the international
community in Kathmandu with doctors and medical staff trained in
Europe or in the U.S.
Adequate dental health care is available. The clinics operate on
a fee-for-service basis with a fee structure less expensive than
that in the U.S. Orthodontic care is also available.
The Health Center can recommend a local center where ultrasound
can be performed.
Community Health Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:27 AM
The general lack of basic public sanitation and sewage management
poses major health problems in Kathmandu and all parts of Nepal.
This leads to many illnesses within the Nepali community and is,
potentially, a source of disease transmission to the expatriate
community. Understanding the problem, however, and taking necessary
precautionary measures (especially water purification and proper
food handling techniques) helps to ensure personal good health. The
opportunities for outdoor physical activities in this pleasant
climate also contribute to good physical well-being. Air pollution
contributes to respiratory problems in the Kathmandu Valley.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:28 AM
Infectious diseases are a major health problem in Nepal, whether
simple respiratory infections, parasitic bowel infestations, or more
serious medical problems like tuberculosis. Common medical problems
among Americans include respiratory infections, allergies, diarrheal
diseases, and skin diseases. Although some malaria (falciparum and
vivax) still is present in the lowlands (Terai), the government's
malarial control programs have effectively transformed an area that
once was one of the worst malarial areas in the world to one where
people work and play in relative safety from the malarial parasite.
Anti-malarial prophylaxis is still necessary for those living in the
Terai, or those visiting during most of the year. Chloroquine-resistant
strains of falciparum have been identified, and as a result the
first line drug for falciparum is sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.
Chloroquine is still used as the first line drug for vivax malaria.
As Kathmandu is at 4,500 feet, malaria is not a problem in the city
The Health Unit can provide immunizations for all major
infectious diseases occurring in Nepal, but it is best to have your
immunization status current before departing for post. Recommended
vaccinations (in addition to the usual childhood shots such as DPT,
polio, MMR, and HIB) include: rabies, typhoid, meningococcal,
Hepatitis A and B, and Japanese-B Encephalitis.
All water must be filtered and boiled before consumption
(distillation units are provided by the Embassy and USAID). All
fresh vegetables, whether purchased in the local market or grown at
home, must be properly soaked and sterilized using a chlorine bleach
solution. Iodine is not as effective for protection against
parasites and other intestinal agents. Local milk must be boiled
before use. Powdered and long-life milk (UHT) are available locally
and at the commissary.
The many pharmacies in Kathmandu carry a wide range of
pharmaceuticals (most available without prescription), although few
American-manufactured drugs are available. Most drugs are
manufactured by Indian subsidiaries of European or American
pharmaceutical firms and have not passed the rigorous quality
controls of Western-manufactured drugs. Although the Embassy Health
Unit can, and will, supply all pharmaceuticals for specific
illnesses diagnosed and treated by the professional staff, it is
unable to provide medications to individuals taking them long term.
Those individuals should bring at least a year's supply. The
regional medical officer can assist in obtaining refills of
medications by providing prescriptions and a list of reliable
private drugstores in the Metropolitan D.C. area. The commissary
carries a very limited supply of over-the-counter drugstore items,
such as aspirin, Tylenol, cold remedies, hygienic items, and rubbing
alcohol. Bring those brands or items you prefer or arrange for a
supply from the U.S.
Contact the Health Unit should you have questions about any
special health problem or concern, especially as it relates to a
possible posting in Nepal.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:30
There is limited opportunity for paid work but an abundance of
volunteer opportunities available outside the U.S. Mission. The
Mission offers only limited employment opportunities, including a
few Personal Services Agreement (PSA Plus) positions; Community
Liaison Office (CLO) coordinator positions; RSO OMS; GSO Assistant;
Consular Assistants; and a number of seasonal and contract
positions. There also are occasional full-time and substitute
teaching positions available at Lincoln School, the local
international school that uses an American curriculum. These
generally require teacher certification, particularly for full-time
employment, but this is not the case in every instance. Most
salaries are below U.S. levels.
Volunteer work through the Active Women's Organization of Nepal (AWON)
occupies a great deal of time for many spouses. Some people work on
short-term contracts for USAID and other Kathmandu and
regional-based development agencies. Contact the CLO coordinator for
a more detailed list of current opportunities. FAMER is an online
service for overseas employment-all overseas positions held by US
family members in and outside the Mission and currently open
positions family members can apply for can be found on the U.S.
State Department intranet. Summer employment for high school and
college age family members is available, funding permitting.
American Embassy - Kathmandu
Post City Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:31 AM
Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, is situated in a beautiful valley of
about 225 square miles, at an altitude of nearly 4,500 feet at the
confluence of two rivers. The city is completely surrounded by high
hills, and during much of the year, the snow-covered peaks of the
Himalayas can be seen. The Valley was once a lake bed, and the soil
is extremely fertile. Where sufficient water is available, the soil
can produce three or more crops a year.
Kathmandu was originally known as Kantipur or City of Glory. Its
modern name is derived from an important temple, Kastha Mandap
(Wooden Pavillion), built in the heart of the city, reportedly with
the wood of a single tree. Some of the principal landmarks are the
Royal Palace; the Tundikhel, a large parade ground; Durbar Square, a
fascinating collection of intricately carved temples; and many old
Typical Kathmandu houses are of three- or four-story brick
construction, many with ornately carved wood trim. The markets are a
typical South Asian assemblage of people, vegetable stalls, tiny
shops, and free-roaming cattle. There are a number of small
American-style supermarkets used by the mission community.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:34 AM
The American Mission includes the Embassy and USAID. Addresses
and telephone numbers are:
(country code 977, city code 1)
Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu
Tel: 441-1179, 441-0531, Fax: 441-9963
Consular and Public Diplomacy Sections
Yak & Yeti Complex, West Wing Durbar Marg
Tel: 444-5577, Fax: 443-5869
Rabi Bhawan, Kathmandu
Tel: 427-0144, 427-2424, Fax: 427-2357
The Embassy officially opened on August 6, 1959. The American
Embassy direct-hire staff numbers about 49, including the Marine
Security Guard Detachment.
A new Embassy in under construction on the Brahma Cottage site in
central Kathmandu. Completion is anticipated for mid 2007. AID and
most Embassy functions will be collocated at this site. Some support
functions and the recreational facilities will remain at the Phora
The USAID Mission was the first U.S. Government Agency in Nepal,
beginning assistance in 1951. USAID pursues the goal of better
governance for equitable growth through a development program that
supports His Majesty's Government (HMG) of Nepal in several sectors,
to help Nepalese achieve a better life. It has programs in Health
and Family Planning, democracy and governance, promoting peace,
agriculture and natural resources, and hydropower.
The Public Affairs Office operates the American Resource Center.
Two American officers concentrate on public diplomacy. The U.S.
Educational Foundation (USEF) administers an active Fulbright
Program in Nepal.
The Defense Attaché Office (DAO) employs two people. The Office of
Defense Cooperation (ODC) employs four people and administers
military education, training and other Department of Defense
The Marine Security Guard Detachment consists of five marines,
headed by a detachment commander.
The first group of Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Nepal in
October, 1962. Until it was temporarily suspended for security
reasons in 2004, it was one of the oldest Peace Corps programs, with
over 4,500 Volunteers having served in a wide variety of projects,
including teacher training, rural health, nutrition, agriculture
extension, forestry, appropriate technology, urban planning,
drinking water and sanitation engineering, and environmental
The CLO is staffed by one or more coordinators who assist
newcomers in getting acquainted with Kathmandu by organizing
orientation programs and helping with general community problems
that may arise. The coordinator also acts as an employment adviser,
provides security information for family members, assists with
re-entry to the U.S., and maintains a small library of resource
information. CLO also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter titled the
"Yank and Yeti," for the U.S. Mission.
The American Mission Association (AMA) is an employee cooperative
organization administered by a seven-member Board of Governors. The
Board consists of elected American Mission Direct-hires and spouses.
The AMA operates a commissary and recreation facility for the
American Mission Official Community. The recreation facility, better
known as Phora, is comprised of a solar-heated swimming pool, three
tennis courts, a jogging track, a fitness room, a weight room, one
squash court, a full size outdoor basketball court, a large field
used for softball, soccer, etc., a video store and a café.
The fees to join AMA are as follows:
Deposit Monthly Dues
Single $200 $25 Couple 300 35 Family 400 45
The deposit is refundable at the end of tour less a $25/year
capital development fee.
Housing Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:37 AM
Embassy and USAID staff occupy government-leased and -furnished
quarters. Quarters are single-family houses or apartment units.
Housing is assigned based on availability, position grade and family
size. Housing is good and improving, as new houses are built with
better designs and more modern conveniences. The majority of Embassy
and USAID houses comply with seismic standards. The few remaining
older houses are being replaced as they are vacated with newer
houses built to better seismic standards. All housing is equipped
with earthquake alarms and earthquake kits.
The U.S. Government furnishes basic household appliances. Since
central heating is not available and houses are not insulated,
occupied bedrooms and common living areas are equipped with split
A/C and Heating units. Electric space heaters and electric fans are
also provided. All quarters have Western-style bathrooms; some have
a tub, others have showers.
Furnishings Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:40 AM
The Ambassador's residence and the homes of the DCM and USAID
director have representational furnishings and equipment. An
inventory of furniture and furnishings can be provided upon request.
Other U.S. Government-leased quarters are provided the following
basic furnishings and equipment:
Living Room: sofa, loveseat, occasional chairs, armchairs, coffee
table, end tables, table lamps, floor lamps, bookcase, rug, and
Dining Room: dining table, chairs, buffet, china cabinet, rug,
Den: desk and chair, armchair, table lamps, bookcases, rug, and
Bedrooms: queen-sized bed with mattress/box-spring for master
bedroom, twin beds/box-springs in other bedrooms, chest of drawers,
dresser, wardrobe or built-in closet, night tables, lamps, mirror,
rug, and drapes.
Kitchen: refrigerator, freezer, electric and/or gas stove,
microwave oven, water distiller, kitchen cabinets, dishwashers (USAID
Other equipment: oil-filled electric space heaters, electric
fans, transformers, voltage stabilizers, vacuum cleaners, carpet
shampooers (available upon request), water pump, automatic washing
machines and dryers, automatic voltage regulators (Embassy only),
garden chairs/patio furniture, fire extinguishers, and smoke
The quantity of furniture supplied to each home varies with the
size and layout of the house. No facilities exist at post for the
storage of excess household effects (HHE), so employees should not
ship redundant or unnecessary furniture or belongings. Embassy and
USAID houses are equipped with generators of sufficient capacity to
operate essential electrical equipment during city power outages.
Since the U.S. Government provides most basic household
furnishings, ship only a limited amount of personal furniture to
post. HHE and all consumables shipments are surface shipped to ELSO
Antwerp and then sent by air to post. Contact post for detailed
shipping instructions, in particular the size of wooden liftvans to
use so that repacking by ELSO is not necessary.
Do not include items of great value such as antiques, expensive
crystal, or china in HHE shipments because they may get damaged in
transit. Rental pianos are scarce and generally in poor condition,
so bring your own if you intend to use one. Infant furniture is not
provided, except on a loan basis prior to arrival of HHE. Therefore,
include all required items in your shipment.
A limited Welcome Kit of plates/ silverware/glasses/pots and
pans/linens/towels is available on loan until your HHE arrives.
Include basic baby supplies in airfreight as necessary. Some baby
food is available in the commissary but not necessarily in the brand
or type you want. UAB and HHE frequently arrive within weeks of one
another but use the airfreight shipment as your basic lifeline and
the HHE shipment as your longer term support.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:41 AM
Kathmandu's electric power is 220v, 50-cycle, AC. Many kitchens
in Mission houses are wired for both 110v and 220v. Power
fluctuations and failures that can damage electrical appliances
occur often. Automatic voltage regulators are installed in all
Embassy houses to protect equipment. Voltage stabilizers are
provided for U.S. Government-owned equipment, such as refrigerators
or freezers, and additional stabilizers are provided for personal
items, such as stereo and video equipment. Transformers are required
for 110V appliances, and the Embassy has a limited supply. Bring
extra transformers to meet your equipment needs. Transformers
available on the local market are expensive.
As electrical power is 50 cycles, many U.S. appliances with
electric motors such as tape decks (with DC motors) and vacuum
cleaners will not operate properly even with a transformer. Some
60-cycle appliances can be modified to work at 50 cycles. Consult
your owner's manual or a service representative. Other appliances
such as blenders or mixers work acceptably on a 50-cycle current.
Heating appliances such as griddles or coffee makers are not
affected by cycles and will work fine with a transformer.
The municipal water is not potable and must be filtered and
boiled prior to drinking. Houses are equipped with water-distiller
units. Most houses have both a ground-level water storage tank and a
roof-mounted supply tank. Water pressure is low by American
standards, as the water supply is gravity fed. Water shortages occur
during the dry season, and water delivery is available on an
as-needed basis from Mission sources.
Kathmandu is in a seismically active area, so all houses are
equipped with an "earth-quake kit" consisting of drinking water,
blankets, flashlight and batteries, simple digging tools, and other
materials to be used in the event of an emergency. Each house is
also provided with an empty case for employees to fill with their
personal earthquake supplies.
Food Last Updated: 8/11/2005 1:43 AM
The commissary stocks approximately 2,000 items, including food,
beverages, cleaning supplies, and sundries. Limited amounts of
frozen food items such as fish, meat, and vegetables also are
stocked. Commissary goods are expensive by U.S. standards because of
significant transportation costs. The consumables shipment,
therefore, should be used to bring nonperishable grocery products
with you. Some baby food is available, but infant formula is not. A
limited variety of other baby supplies such as diapers and lotions
are available, so bring a good supply of your own preferred
drugstore items. The same holds true for cosmetics, toiletries, and
A variety of fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables is available
locally. Meats include pork, poultry, buffalo, and goat. Beef, fresh
and frozen fish, and seafood from India are sold in Western-oriented
"cold storage" stores. Rice, potatoes, and eggs are plentiful. Fresh
fruits and vegetables are available seasonally. Fruits include
apples, bananas, oranges, tangerines, strawberries, papayas,
mangoes, watermelon, grapes, coconut, pineapple, and grapefruit.
Vegetables include asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower,
carrots, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, onions, eggplant,
various squashes, lettuce, local spinach, and fresh spices. Almost
anything you could want is available in Kathmandu.
Some Mission personnel take advantage of Kathmandu's mild weather
and fertile soil to grow their own produce. Bring or order seeds and
tools for your garden. Experience has shown that seeds selected for
the Washington, D.C., area do well here.
A good selection of canned goods, oils, butter, flour, sugar, and
other baking items is available in the markets, and the commissary
also offers an adequate supply of these items.
Most breads and pastries are made at home, but a number of good
local bakeries are here. Although respectable Indian brands of ice
cream are sold locally and are safe for consumption, many Mission
personnel prefer to bring an ice cream freezer in their HHE and make
their own. The AMA snack bar serves soft ice cream in the summer.
Clothing Last Updated: 8/11/2005 3:32 AM
Summer clothing is worn from April to November. During winter,
woolen clothing and many layers are needed, especially at night.
Good use can be made of stoles, sweaters, slacks, and warm
long-sleeved dresses. By midday it is often warm enough to shed an
outer garment, although at night some choose to wear a heavy winter
coat. Warm sleeping wear is essential during the winter months.
Flannel sheets, down comforters and electric blankets are popular
winter bedtime accessories.
Limited suitable readymade clothing is available in Kathmandu.
Bring a good supply of washable summer and winter clothing to post,
or plan to have suitable clothing custom made. Bring clothing for
tennis, swimming, and hiking. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella
are needed during the monsoon season (June-October).
Black tie or the equivalent is required for the Marine Corps
Ball. You cannot rent formal wear in Kathmandu, but local tailors
can make suitable formal wear using a picture as a guide.
Bring a generous supply of shoes. Unpaved, rough, and muddy
surfaces cause shoes to wear out rapidly. If you intend to hike,
bring a pair of good-quality hiking shoes and socks. Most camping
and hiking equipment is available for rent or purchase in Kathmandu.
Good-quality dress shoes for men and women are hard to find in
Kathmandu, and the larger sizes are impossible to find. Bring a good
supply of children's clothing for warm and cold weather. Include
sweaters, flannel pajamas, and a heavy jacket for winter. Because
children's feet grow quickly, bring at least a 1-year supply of
shoes in the expected sizes. Sneakers are usually available on the
Supplies and Services Last Updated: 8/11/2005 3:59 AM
Kathmandu has several good beauty and barbershops. Excellent
facials and massages are available at reasonable costs.
Dry-cleaning is available. Laundry is almost always is done at home
by domestic help.
Local tailors are frequently used. The results usually are
acceptable after you have found a tailor to your liking. If you plan
to use a local tailor, or to sew for yourself, bring some material
(especially synthetics), patterns (no patterns are available in
Nepal, although experienced tailors can work well from a picture),
shears, zippers, thread, buttons, and a sewing machine. Fabric and
sewing notions are available locally, but quality varies. Woolen and
cotton materials are available in Kathmandu, mostly of Indian and
Chinese manufacture, though some of British origin also are
available. Choice of colors and prints are sometimes limited. Some
readymade clothing is available (usually of Indian, Hong Kong,
Japanese, or Thai manufacture, but sometimes European), but styles
and sizes are limited. Several quality boutiques cater to Western
tastes, and prices in these markets usually are comparable to those
in the U.S.
Both large and small supermarkets carry a variety of local goods
and imported items. You can find almost anything, including sports
equipment and electrical appliances (expensive), cosmetics
(limited), nylons (bring your own), clothing, fabrics, children's
toys, some Christmas decorations (bring your own Christmas tree),
cassette tapes and CDs (all kinds of music, but as usual, quality
varies), and much more.
Since most imported items are more expensive than in the U.S.,
bring enough of those items you use most. If you have children,
bring a supply of small toys/books for them to give as presents at
Kathmandu has a limited number of experienced and trained repair
people; available spare parts for cars, trucks, appliances, radios,
and electronic equipment also are limited.
Local bookstores are reasonably stocked with English-language
books, including recent novels, many of the classics, histories
(mostly regional), travel books and trekking guides, photographic
essays on Nepal, how-to books, folk tales, anthropology, politics,
philosophy, religion, and a growing number of children's books,
games, and puzzles. The Active Women's Organization of Nepal (AWON)
operates a 6,000-volume public library. The CLO maintains a lending
library of paperback books and catalogs.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:42 AM
Domestic employees are commonly employed in Kathmandu. Staff may
include a cook (didi), housekeeper, gardener (mali), nanny, driver
(if you do not wish to risk the local traffic yourself), and day
guard (night guards are provided and funded by the Mission). You may
choose to take over the staff that worked for the previous occupant
of your house or find your own staff. In addition to basic wages
(currently $80-$100/month for an experienced cook, less for
housekeepers, gardeners, or nannies), extras might include uniforms
(usually some form of local dress), a food allowance, a bonus
equivalent to one month's salary before the Dasain holidays (the
largest Hindu celebration of the year, usually in October), medical
expenses, transportation, and various other discretionary benefits.
Be clear up front about what extras you will and will not pay. It is
common for servants to request loans from employers. Employers do
not universally agree and repayment arrangements vary for those that
do. There are some training classes available for household staff.
A file of domestic help is maintained in the CLO office.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:43 AM
Although traditionally religiously tolerant, Nepal is officially
a Hindu state. The law forbids proselytizing and conversion of
Hindus to other religions. Christian missionaries, first admitted in
1950, are involved in medical and educational work.
A full-time ordained minister serves the interdenominational
Protestant community, the Kathmandu International Christian
Fellowship. Sunday worship services, Sunday school classes, and
auxiliary fellowships are available. Roman Catholic Masses are
conducted by American Jesuit and Maryknoll priests at least once
daily and several times on Sunday at various locations in Kathmandu.
Anglican/Episcopalian Holy Communion Services are held about six
times a year at the British Embassy. A small, international Baha'i
community holds regular meetings and conducts children's classes. No
organized Jewish community exists in Kathmandu, and no regular
Jewish services are conducted, but the Israeli Embassy holds
occasional holiday services. There is a mosque in Kathmandu catering
to the Nepali Muslim community. Also there is a large ex-patriot
Buddhist community. Other religious groups do not have formal
facilities, although occasionally ministers of other faiths visit
Kathmandu. Some religious groups gather informally in homes,
depending on members present in Kathmandu.
At Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:45 AM
Lincoln School, a highly reputable, private coeducational day school
founded by USAID in 1954, provides an educational program from
preschool through grade 12 for students of all nationalities.
Enrollment averages 250 students and usually represents more than 30
nationalities. Approximately a third of the students are American
and up to a quarter Nepali or Tibetan.
The school is governed by a nine-member board of directors
elected for 1- or 2-year terms by the Lincoln School Association,
which is made up of parents and faculty. The school is administered
by an American-recruited and trained principal who directs 30 full-
and part-time teachers, 20 Nepalese teaching assistants, and several
native language teachers. Facilities include 25 classrooms, an
auditorium, gymnasium, library/instructional center, 2 computer
labs, music room, outdoor reading areas, and a 2 1/2-acre athletic
field. A recently completed elementary/secondary building provides
excellent classroom facilities and laboratories.
The school year extends from mid August to mid-June. The at-post
educational allowance is sufficient to cover the annual tuition and
transportation fees plus one-time capital development and enrollment
The Lincoln School follows a US curriculum but incorporates an
international perspective recognizing the needs of a diverse student
body. Instruction is in English. Kindergarten is a comprehensive
school preparation program. There is a distinct middle school with
core teachers, which serves as a transition between elementary and
high school. A variety of extracurricular activities also are
offered, either by teacher specialists or regular staff. The high
school students have a typical program with electives in art, music,
drama and technology. Nepal studies, including language and culture,
is offered, and the "Explore Nepal" program offers students in
grades 5 to 12 an opportunity to learn about Nepali culture, art,
explore natural settings, and enhance leadership skills. Students in
all grades bring their lunch from home or order from local
restaurants, as the school does not have a cafeteria.
Lincoln School has an extensive Advanced Placement (AP) academic
program in the high school in English, U.S. and world history, math,
numerous sciences, foreign languages and art. Students who
successfully complete these courses and score a 3 or better on the
final examination receive college credit for their work. Lincoln
School does not offer an International Baccalaureate (IP) diploma.
Kathmandu has a British school, a French school, and a secondary
school partially supported by missionary groups for those who do not
wish to enroll their children in Lincoln School. There also are a
number of preschool or nursery school options available at any time.
Interested parents should contact the CLO for up-to-date information
about such opportunities.
Away From Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:46 AM
Several boarding schools in South Asia have American accreditation.
Post families have also found satisfaction with boarding schools in
Europe and the U.S. Families should contact the CLO, or A/OPR/OS in
Washington, for further information. The away-from-post educational
allowance is sufficient to support a number of options for those who
choose not to bring their students to post.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:47 AM
Several international language schools offer language training in
Nepali, while other embassies and missions sponsor training in
French, German, Japanese, and Chinese. Private instructors give
courses in history and culture, as well as private lessons in music
and Nepali dancing. Lecture programs and cultural tours are provided
on a regular basis by Expatriot Community Service (ECS). Several
American colleges offer study abroad programs in Kathmandu. Contact
the CLO if adult family members are interested in the latter, as
enrollment must be arranged in the U.S. at the home campus.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:48 AM
The year-round pleasant climate of Kathmandu, combined with the
social and cultural climate of an international community, permits a
variety of both indoor and outdoor activities.
Phora Durbar, the American recreation center, offers sports year
round, including swimming from February through December, weather
permitting. Swimming lessons are offered during the summer months.
Lincoln School (during school hours in the spring and fall) uses the
pool as part of its physical education program. Softball, soccer and
other team sports are played in season. Phora Durbar, situated on
several acres of land in the center of town, in addition to swimming
offers three hard-surface tennis courts, an outdoor basketball
court, baseball/softball diamond, indoor gym, squash court, weight
room, and volleyball court. The snack bar serves breakfast and lunch
every day, dinner many evenings, and pastries, popcorn, and other
snacks throughout the day. The facility also houses a video club.
Kathmandu has a few private tennis courts and two golf courses
(bring your own equipment). Golf memberships are expensive.
Private and hotel health club memberships also are available.
Major hotels offer summer "sauna-and-swim" packages to families and
individuals, as well as year-round exercise opportunities.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:50 AM
The Kathmandu Valley is a sightseeing fantasyland, but the dirt
and garbage in the larger towns and cities can interfere with
otherwise pleasurable experiences. Tourists can visit the seven
national museums scattered throughout the Valley, a small national
zoo, botanical gardens, and local art galleries; or wander through
Kathmandu's old city and shop at the colorful markets and experience
the Newari architecture and temples up close. The other two main
cities of the Valley, Patan and Bhaktapur, are marvels of
traditional Newari architecture and were once home to kings of the
Malla Dynasty. For more organized and in-depth cultural queries, ECS
offers lectures, music programs, and hikes through outlying towns
and villages to view places and faces mostly unchanged over the
centuries. On the hills ringing the Valley are many foot trails that
lead to breathtaking views of the Himalayas just north of the
Sightseeing outside of the Valley requires RSO approval; you
might take a trek north, organized by one of the many competent
local agencies, into the middle hills (6,000-10,000 feet) if you
want to meander gently under the Himalayas, or high up into the
mountains themselves. Treks suited to all tastes, abilities, and
incomes are available, many of which you can organize independently
at very little cost. It is an excellent way to experience Nepali
village life. If you plan to trek, it is best to bring your own
camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags, mats, hiking shoes,
rucksacks, canteens). All types of equipment are available for
rental or purchase from the many local shops, but buyers must
remember that in most cases the items were manufactured in the back
room or around the corner and are not brand name goods. Bring your
own shoes, as locally available ones do not last.
If you opt to go south to the warmer jungle climate of Nepal's
Terai, you might visit one of the jungle camps located in the Royal
Chitwan National Park, a Government of Nepal-sponsored wildlife
preserve, where the one-horned rhinoceros co-exists with the Royal
Bengal tiger, the leopard, the elephant, and the tourist. Hunting is
severely restricted. Licenses are required for firearms (see
Firearms and Ammunition). Excellent fishing is available in the
Narayani and Rapti Rivers in the Terai. Permits are not necessary,
but bring your own equipment.
Another choice for adventure sightseeing could take you rafting
gently down one of Nepal's rivers during the winter months or over
some of the wildest white-water routes during the wet months.
Countless local agencies will arrange the rafting/camping trip most
suitable for you.
Nepal's many festivals offer a colorful and lively change of pace
throughout the year and are a delight for the photographer.
Photographic supplies, including black-and-white and color print and
slide film, cameras, and lenses are available in the local
photoshops. One-hour developing services for film and digital photos
are abundant, and many are good quality.
Kathmandu is a gardener's paradise. Things grow quickly here,
even through the winter season when night temperatures occasionally
fall below freezing. If you enjoy a garden, you will have great
personal satisfaction in Kathmandu. Although most households employ
a gardener, you can continue your pursuits (less the heavy work) at
your leisure. Gardening tools are available in Kathmandu but are
Nepali style, so include your favorite trowels and cultivators in
your HHE shipment. Seed catalogs are available, and local seeds are
excellent for local varieties of flowers and vegetables.
Many mission members own personal computers. Several good
computer hardware stores repair and clean equipment and sell paper,
disks, and software, but bring enough parts and extras to fit your
own computer. A number of computer schools offer short-term courses
in programming, spreadsheets, and word processing. Internet and
e-mail is commercially available through local servers.
Entertainment Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:51 AM
Many cuisines are available for those who enjoy dining out,
including Nepali, Tibetan, Indian, Italian, Thai, Malaysian, Korean,
Japanese, Chinese, and American. Quality varies. Prices, except for
liquor, are reasonable. Many restaurants offer live and local
entertainment (traditional dances, instrumentals, and
Nepalese/Indian ghazals). Others offer beautiful garden settings or
views of the Himalayas.
Kathmandu nightlife offers several discotheques, hotel
restaurants with dancing and live entertainment, and the occasional
visiting cultural program. Bars and lounges are also popular among
the expatriot community and tourists. Several casinos offer to
separate you from your money 24/7/365.
Throughout the year, there are a variety of music and film
festivals ranging from jazz, to classical Nepali music, to
independent Indian films to internationally acclaimed movies.
Kathmandu is home to a talented array of musicians who play
traditional tunes and Western sounds.
A recent fad in Kathmandu is dance lessons-classes in salsa,
swing, the tango, etc. are offered in many locations around the
valley. These are wonderful opportunities to meet new people while
learning some new moves.
Most local movie theaters feature Nepali and Hindi language
films. Jai Nepal and Kumari are theaters that have been recently
renovated and screen English and Hindi movies. Some new movies are
released simultaneously with the U.S. release. Video rentals (PAL
system) are available throughout Kathmandu in English, although
quality varies. For home viewing, the AMA rents tapes of feature
Social Activities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:53 AM
Because the Nepalese are so friendly and the international
community is so accessible, it is easy to meet Nepalese and
third-country nationals. A number of diplomatic missions with
resident staffs and a large UN contingent are located in Kathmandu.
The diplomatic missions include Australia, Bangladesh, Britain,
Burma, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India,
Israel, Japan, North and South Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Sri
Lanka, and Thailand. International contacts can be made through the
International Club, membership in which is available to all
duty-free personnel in Nepal, and at such organizations as the
Lions, Rotary Club, Junior Chamber of Commerce, church groups,
Toastmasters, the amateur theater group, and by volunteer work at
hospitals, orphanages, and charitable organizations.
Another place to meet people is at Phora Durbar, the American
Mission Association recreation facilities. Membership includes
third-country diplomats and others with duty-free privileges in
Nepal. The recreation area sponsors community tournaments for
tennis, volleyball, and other games.
Volunteer work through the Active Women's Organization of Nepal (AWON)
is a rewarding way to meet people of all nationalities and to
participate in social development activities in Nepal. The
organization manages a thrift shop, a health clinic for the poor, a
6,000-volume public library, and a girl's scholarship program.
Profits are contributed to local charities.
Parents of Lincoln School students automatically are members of the
Lincoln School Association, which brings parents together for
various school activities throughout the year.
Entertaining at home is a pleasant and often used way to meet
people and see friends in a casual atmosphere. Staff members should
include in their HHE enough inexpensive china, flatware, and
glassware to entertain 8-12 at such get-togethers for brunch, lunch,
cocktails, dinner, buffet, and bridge parties. Officers with
representational responsibilities will need more. Tables and chairs
are available for large functions, but bring linens and glassware.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:00 AM
Kathmandu maintains a fairly heavy schedule of official
functions, both Nepali and foreign. Large cocktail parties or
smaller buffet dinners are the most common form of entertaining.
Dress is most often a business suit or equivalent; few occasions
require formal dress, perhaps one or two per year at most.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:01 AM
The Ambassador, DCM, agency heads, and the Mission's more senior
officers take part in many official social affairs. Other officer
and employee participation is less frequent, although assistance at
some representational functions is expected of all. Good quality
business cards can easily be ordered in Nepal upon your arrival.
Special Information Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:57 AM
Post Orientation Program
When the assignment of new employees is announced, the CLO
immediately provides pre-arrival email attachments regarding the
following: commissary items and services, consumables list, health
information, Phora Durbar Recreation Center, household help survey
results, photos needed for check in, and “what you need to know
before you arrive.”
A social sponsor program acquaints new arrivals with Kathmandu
and the US Mission, before and just after arrival at post. Upon
arrival to post, each new employee receives a welcome packet
containing the following information: Kathmandu map, AWON booklet,
Health and Medical Information Handbook, Power of Attorney form, CLO
services, Regional Security Office Booklet, Guidelines for
Newcomers, Hours of Operation, Telephone lists, USAID Program
summary, commissary services, gardening, religious services,
shopping, restaurants, etc.
A post orientation program organized by the CLO is offered as
needed, usually in the fall, for new employees and adult dependents.
Presentations are offered regarding the various functions of the US
Embassy , USAID, and Public Affairs.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 4:59 AM
The normal route from the U.S. east coast to Kathmandu is over
the North Pole via Tokyo to Bangkok, then to Kathmandu after an
overnight stay caused by airline connections. There are also flights
across the Atlantic that pass through Europe and the Middle East or
UAB/HHE/consumables are routed through ELSO Antwerp and flown to
post (except for USAID, which still surface ships all but UAB
through Calcutta). All personally owned vehicles are surface shipped
through Calcutta and should be containerized to minimize damage en
route. The keys to unaccompanied baggage containers and a detailed
packing list of all shipments should be forwarded separately to the
Embassy GSO or USAID executive officer well in advance of a
shipment's arrival to avoid unnecessary delay and demurrage charges
at the local Customs Office, as Customs officials will not clear
shipments until contents are declared. Shipments of nondiplomatic
personnel are subject to inspection.
Personnel coming to Kathmandu from other posts abroad should
ensure that up-to-date shipping instructions are requested from the
Embassy or USAID prior to initiation of packing. This is necessary
so that proper routing can be determined and appropriate packing and
consignment instructions can be provided to the losing post.
Seafreight shipments, including motor vehicles, should be addressed
Organization (American Embassy, USAID, etc.)
Shaik & Pandit
3/1 Bankshall St.
Calcutta - 700 0001
Airfreight (unaccompanied air baggage) should be addressed as
Every newcomer is provided with a hospitality welcome kit that
includes linens, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, baking pans,
kitchen essentials, baby bedding, and other items (a complete list
is available through GSO).
You may keep your welcome kit until your HHE arrives; therefore,
suggested airfreight (unaccompanied air baggage-UAB) items are:
clothing, bathing suits and athletic attire; alarm clock (spring or
battery operated); toys; electronic items, personal computer, items
required to "feel at home;" etc. You should bring items in your HHE
required to make your house a functioning home. In various sections
of this report suggestions of items to bring have been included.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:21 AM
Customs courtesies usually are accorded all U.S. Government
personnel at the time of arrival. Customs exemptions and privileges
for American personnel are based on the U.S.-Nepal Treaty of 1974;
Nepali law, which incorporates certain articles of the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations; and bilateral agreements for
USAID. No restrictions are levied on the importation of foreign
currency or traveler's checks, and bearers of diplomatic and
official passports normally are exempted from declaring currencies.
The Government of Nepal does not permit the importation of ham
Passage Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:20 AM
A valid visa is required to enter Nepal, but if you are coming
from a place where a visa cannot be obtained, an entry visa will be
issued at the airport in Kathmandu and your status adjusted later.
Bring an up-to-date international immunization card and between 12
and 15 passport-sized photographs for various identification
documents and licenses.
Pets Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:19 AM
Nepal has no quarantine requirements, but Customs does require a
current rabies shot and a health certificate. Get the full range of
inoculations to protect your pets. Veterinary service is available
in Kathmandu with several licensed veterinarians though the quality
and standards are not the same as in the U.S.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:20 AM
Diplomats are permitted to import shotguns, .22 caliber rifles
and air-guns, plus related ammunition, for personal use. The Chief
of Mission must approve any requests to import firearms and
ammunition, and the Government of Nepal must issue an import permit
before such items can be shipped to post. Please contact the General
Services Office in Kathmandu for detailed information on the type
and quantity of firearms and ammunition that can be imported, and
the procedures for obtaining the necessary approvals and permit.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 8/11/2005
The unit of currency is the Nepali rupee, divided into 100 paisa.
One US$ equals approximately seventy rupees, but it can fluctuate
daily. Nepali currency notes are issued in denominations of Rs.
1,000, 500, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1. Nepali coins range
from 5 rupees down to 1 paisa.
The Embassy and USAID cashiers perform accommodation exchange
transactions for American employees and, with the employee's power
of attorney, for their spouses. Maintain a dollar checking account
in a U.S. bank. Phora Durbar has an ATM machine for withdrawals of
Nepal has its own system of weights and measures, but the metric
system is widely used in Kathmandu.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/11/2005
U.S. Government direct-hire and some contract employees are
exempt from paying many local taxes and excises, in accordance with
bilateral agreements and Nepali law and practice, which follows the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges.
Implementation of a value-added tax (VAT) in November 1997 created
new procedures for the reimbursement of paid VAT. Post regulations
concerning resale of personal property/cars imported into Nepal duty
free provide that such sales shall not take place before the last 4
months of an employee's tour of duty. Detailed information is
furnished to all employees on their arrival at post. Sale of
electrical items or vehicles to non-duty-free personnel requires
payment of duty by the purchaser prior to turning over the purchased
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:15 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Anderson, John Gottbert. Nepal (Insight Guides Series). Apa
Productions (HK) LTD: Hong Kong, 1983.
Armington, Stan. Trekking in the Himalayas. Lonely Planet:
Baume, Louis C. Sivalaya. Explorations of the 8,000-Meter Peaks
of the Himalayas. The Mountaineers: Seattle, 1979.
Bezruchka, Stephen. A Guide to Trekking in Nepal. The
Mountaineers: Seattle, 1981.
Downs, Hugh R. Rhythms of a Himalayan Village. Harper and Row:
New York, 1980.
Foreign Area Studies Division. Area Handbook for Nepal. U.S.
Army: Washington, D.C., 1972.
Fleming, Robert L., Jr. and Linda F. Fleming. Kathmandu Valley.
Kodansha International: Tokyo, 1978.
Hagen, Toni. Nepal, the Kingdom of the Himalayas. Kummerly and
Frey: Beme, 1982.
Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard. Viking and Bantam: New
Rose, Leo, Bhuwan Lal Joshi, and Margaret W. Fisher. The Politics
of Nepal: Persistence and Change in an Asian Monarch. Cornell
University Press: Ithaca, 1979.
Rose, Leo, Bhuwan Lal Joshi, and John Scholz. Nepal: Profile of a
Himalayan Kingdom. Westview Press, 1980.
Rowell, Galen. Many People Come Looking, Looking. The
Mountaineers: Seattle, 1980.
Schaller, George. Stones of Silence: Journeys of the Himalayas.
Viking Press: New York, 1980.
Snellgrove, David. Himalayan Pilgrimage. Shambhala Press:
Local Holidays Last Updated: 8/11/2005 5:13 AM
Nepali holidays are frequent and festive. Religious holidays are
celebrated according to the lunar calendar, and dates vary year to
year. Principal Nepali holidays observed by the U.S. Mission are
shown below. Nepali offices, however, are closed more frequently.
Avoid official travel to Nepal during Dasain (usually in early
October), when Government of Nepal offices can be closed for up to 2
weeks. Check with the Embassy before making any travel plans for the
Nepali New Year's Day
Teej Women's Festival
Dasain (2-3 days)
Tihar (2-3 days)
His Majesty's Birthday