Nepal is 147,181 km2 in size bordered by China and India. Nepal extends along the Himalayan range between the latitudes of 26°22′ N and 30°27′ N and longitudes of 80°04′ E and 88°12′ E. The country has three physiographic regions having mountains in the north, hills in the middle, and the Terai in the south bordering India. Approximately 86% of the area is occupied by mountains and hills with the Terai (flat terrain) accounting for the remaining 14% of land. Farmers cultivate crops up to 4200 m with altitude peaking at 8848 m in the north. From a botanical viewpoint, Nepal forms a transition zone between flora of the Western Himalaya and the Eastern Himalaya. The Tibetan Plateau also has unique species from the north and tropical species of the lowland plains from the Gangetic plains of India into Indochina. The Himalayan range contributes to the diversity of taxa and has provided barriers as well as corridors that plants were able to negotiate through during the ice ages (Nepal and Its Plants, 2010).
Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $12.6 billion when accounted for in U.S. dollars (Nepal Microfinance Summit, 2009). Agriculture represents one-third of the GDP. Three-fourths of the population is supported by agriculture. The per-capita income for 2009 was reported at $427 U.S. (World Bank) (U.S. Department of State Diplomacy in Action, 2010). The major supplier of goods is India with Nepal experiencing a trade deficit of $3.89 billion (U.S.) in 2010. Based on national calorie/GNP criteria, ≈55% of the population is below the poverty line of $1.25 (U.S.) per day.
Regarding land, 25% is cultivable, 33% is forested with the balance mountainous and difficult to cultivate. Approximately 90% of Nepalese rely on subsistence agriculture with plants serving a critical role as arable crops, fodder, fruit, vegetables, medicines, etc.
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