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Preface Last Updated: 8/10/2005 1:59 AM

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 attitudes.

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 daily.

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 elections.

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 Kathmandu Valley.

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 sector.

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 expanding rapidly.

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 colleges.
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 being made.

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 108 countries.

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 Kathmandu streets.

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 popular.

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 Mount Everest.

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 reasonable.

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 pouch is:
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
Pani Pokhari
Kathmandu, Nepal

Public Diplomacy:
Mr. John E. Doe
Public Diplomacy - PO Box 58
Kathmandu, Nepal
Mr. John Doe

Kalimati Durbar
P.O. Box 5653
Kathmandu, Nepal

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 laboratory technician.

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 or other online providers with success to order their favorite OTCs.

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 or valley.

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 AM

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 palaces.

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)
American Embassy
Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu
Tel: 441-1179, 441-0531, Fax: 441-9963

Consular and Public Diplomacy Sections
Yak & Yeti Complex, West Wing Durbar Marg
Kathmandu, Nepal
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 site.

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 programs.

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 conservation.

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 draperies;

Dining Room: dining table, chairs, buffet, china cabinet, rug, and draperies;

Den: desk and chair, armchair, table lamps, bookcases, rug, and draperies;

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 only); and

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 detectors.

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 sundry medicines.

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 local market.

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 birthday parties.

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.


Dependent Education

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 fees.

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 Valley.

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 films.

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.

Official Functions

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 India.

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 as follows:

Organization (American Embassy, USAID, etc.)
American Embassy
Kathmandu, Nepal
Notify Party:
Shaik & Pandit
3/1 Bankshall St.
Calcutta - 700 0001

Airfreight (unaccompanied air baggage) should be addressed as follows:
Kathmandu, Nepal
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 radios.

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 5:16 AM

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 Nepali rupees.

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 5:18 AM

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 items.

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 unofficial publications.

Anderson, John Gottbert. Nepal (Insight Guides Series). Apa Productions (HK) LTD: Hong Kong, 1983.

Armington, Stan. Trekking in the Himalayas. Lonely Planet: Victoria, 1979.

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 York, 1978.

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: Boulder, 1982.

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 early fall.

Prithbi Jayanti

Basanta Panchami

Democracy Day
February 18

Shiva Ratri

Nepali New Year's Day

Buddha Jayanti

Teej Women's Festival



Dasain (2-3 days)

Tihar (2-3 days)

Constitution Day

His Majesty's Birthday

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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