The history of Nepal has been influenced by its isolated position in the Himalayas and its two neighbors, India and China. Before Nepal’s emergence as a nation in the latter half of the 18th century, the designation ‘Nepal’ was largely applied only to the Kathmandu Valley. Thus up until the unification of the country, Nepal’s history is largely the history of the Kathmandu Valley. References to Nepal in famous Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata, Puranas and also Buddhist and Jain scriptures, establish the country’s antiquity as an independent political and territorial entity. The Vamshavali’s or chronicles, the oldest of which was written during the 14th century, are the only fairly reliable basis for Nepal’s ancient history. The Vamshavali’s mention the rule of several dynasties the Gopalas, the Abhiras and the Kiratas over a stretch of centuries. However, no extant historical evidence has yet authenticated the rule of these legendary dynasties. The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I (C 464-505 A.D.) of the Lichavi dynasty.
The history of Nepal is characterized by its isolated position in the Himalayas and its two dominant neighbors, India and China. Due to the arrival of disparate settler groups from outside through the ages, it is now a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual country. Its population is predominantly Hindu with significant presence of Buddhists, who were in majority at one time in the past. Central Nepal was split in three kingdoms from the 15th to 18th century, when it was unified under the Gorkha monarchy. The national language of Nepal is called ‘Nepali’, a name given – long after unification of Nepal – to the language called Khas Kura.
Nepal experienced a failed struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strife. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year.
Many of the ills of Nepal have been blamed on the royal family of Nepal. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalis voted to oust the monarchy in Nepal. In June 2008, Nepalis ousted the royal household. Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.