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A Brief History of Nepal

Newars are thought to have lived in the Nepal Valley since the 4th century AD, developing a Hindu-Buddhist culture. The Gurkha principality was later established by RAJPUT warriors from India, and in 1769 they conquered lands beyond the present-day borders of Nepal. After incursions into northern India in which the Gurkhas were defeated, Nepal lost part of its territory to British India but retained its independence and enjoyed close ties with the British.It has maintained its close association with India since the latter gained independence in 1947.

Nepal, the world's only Hindu monarchy, was controlled by a hereditary prime ministership until 1951. The nation's first election was held in 1959, but in 1960, King Mahendra dismissed the cabinet, dissolved parliament, and banned political parties. A 1962 constitution created a nonparty panchayat (council) system of government. After a 1980 referendum approved a modified version of the panchayat system, direct parliamentary elections were held in 1981. A dispute with India led to India's closing of most border crossings from March 1989 to July 1990, and the resultant economic crisis fueled demands for political reform. After months of violence, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev dissolved parliament. The opposition formed an interim government in April 1990, and a new constitution creating a constitutional monarchy and a bicameral legislature became effective on Nov. 9, 1990. Multiparty legislative elections held in May 1991 were won by the centrist Nepali Congress party; the Communists became the leading opposition party. Mid-term elections in November 1994, which were called after the government lost a parliamentary vote, resulted in a hung parliament and the communists, who emerged as the single largest party, formed a minority government.

Source: Grolier's Encyclopedia

Nepal: Chronology of Important Events

Period Description
ca. 563 B.C.Buddha born in Lumbini;
ca. A.D.400-750Licchavi kingdom in power in Kathmandu
750-1200"Transitional" kingdom in power in Kathmandu Valley
1100-1484Khasa Mall kings rule in western Nepal
1200-16Arimalla, first monarch of the Malla Dynasty, rules in Kathmandu Valley.
1312Khasa king Ripumalla leads raid in Kathmandu Valley
1345-46Sultan Shams ud-din Ilyas of Bengal leads raid in Kathmandu Valley.
1382-95Jayasthitimalla rules as king of united Malla kingdom in Kathmandu Valley.
1428-82Yakshamalla reigns - height of united Malla kingdom.
1484Malla kingdom divided; three kingdoms of Kathmandu, Bhadgaon, and Patan established.
1559Gorkha kindgom established by Dravya Shah.
1606-33Ram Shah of Gorkha reigns; Gorkha kindgom experiences first expansion.
1743Prithvi Narayan Shah ascends to throne of Gorkha.
1768-90Gorkha conquers Kathmandu and Patan, Bhadgaon, eastern Nepal, and western Nepal.
1775Prithvi Narayan Shah dies, first king of united Nepal.
1814-1816The Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty of Sagauli reduces the territory of Nepal.
1846Jang Bahadur Rana takes over as prime minister and establishes hereditary Rana rule.
1946The Nepali Congress Party is founded.
1947The United States establishes diplomatic relations with Nepal.
1948The country's first constitution, the Government of Nepal Act, is promulgated; Prime Minister Padma Shamsher Rana resigns in the wake of opposition to the new constitution from conservative Ranas; Mohan Shamsher becomes prime minister; constitution is suspended.
1950Ranas are in open conflict with King Tribhuvan implicated in Nepali Congress Party conspiracy against Rana power, seeks and is granted asylum in India; government troops desert to the rebel side; over 140 Ranas join the dissidents. Treaty of Peace and Friendship and Treaty of Trade and Commerce are signed with India.
1951Mohan Shamsher capitulates; King Tribhuvan is restored to the throne; Mohan Shamsher heads new coalition cabinet for 10 months; he is secceeded by Nepali Congress Party leader M.P. Koirala as prime minister;
1952Koirala resigns; king assumes direct rule.
1953Koirala is recalled as prime minister.
1955King Tribhuvan dies and is succeeded by Mahendra; Nepal joins the United Nations; National Police Force is formed; Koirala resigns; Mahendra takes over direct control.
1956Tanka Prasad Acharya is named prime minister; Border treaty with China concluded;
1957Acharya resigns; K.I. Singh becomes prime minister for a few months.
1958USSR opens an embassy at Kathmandu; Subarna Shamsher is named new prime minister.
1959United States opens an embassy at Kathmandu; New constitution is promulgated, superseding Constitution of 1951; First general elections are held; Nepal Congress Party wins absolute majority; Tribhuvan University founded;
1960B.P. Koirala heads first popular government; Koirala's policies are opposed by the king, and Koirala is abruptly dismissed; all political parties are banned; the king takes over direct control of government; Treaty of Peace and Friendship with China is concluded.
1961Kind proclaims guided democracy; Boundary treaty with China renewed.
1962New constitution, third since 1951, establishes panchayat form of government; Land Reorganization Act and Mulki Ain, new legal code, are promulgated; anti-Indian riots erupt in Kathmandu over Indian aid to dissidents.
1963Emergency is eneded; Panchayat elections begin; National Guidance Council is formed; Tulsi Giri is named prime minister;
1965Local government reorganized; Giri resigns; Surya Bahadur Thapa is appointed prime minister;
1969Thapa yields ofice to Kirti Nidhi Bista; Indian military mission withdrawn.
1970Bista resigns; Raj Bhandari becomes interim prime minister.
1971Bista is recalled as prime minister; New trade and transit treaty negotiated with India.
1972Mahedra dies and is succeeded by King Birendra; Development regions are established under National Development Council.
1973Nagendra Prasad Rijal is named prime minister; Singha Durbar, the seat of government, burns down.
1975Rijal resigns; Tulsi Giri is appointed prime minister; King Birendra is crowned; "Go to the Village" campaign is launched.
1976B.P. Koirala returns from India and is arrested; Treaty with India expires and is not renewed.
1977Tulsi Giri resigns as prime minister in the wake of corruption charges; former prime minister Kirti Nidhi Bista is reinstated as prime minister.
1979Following nationwide demonstrations by students, Bista is replaced as prime minister by Surya Bahadur Thapa; king announces referendum on the panchayat form of government.
1980In national referendum people vote for continuance of the panchayat form of government and against the reintroduction of political parties.
1982B.P. Koirala, Nepali Congress Party leader dies.
1983Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa is defeated in the Rastriya Panchayat and is replaced by Lokendra Bahadur Chand.
1986 Second elections to Rastriya Panchayat held; Marich Man Singh Shrestha becomes prime minister.
1989Failure to renegotiate trade and transit treaties with India disrupts economy.
1990Demonstrations for the restoration of democracy; panchayat system is dissolved; interim government made up of various parties and king's representatives formed; new constitution promulgated.
1991Elections to Parliament held; Nepali Congress wins a narrow majority; G.P. Koirala becomes prime minister.President of Nepali Congress and interim prime minister, K.P. Bhattarai, defeated in the polls by the leader of CPN-UML, Madan Bhandari.
1992Local elections held; Nepali Congress wins a majority of the seats.
1993Madan Bhandari killed in a mysterious car crash. Violent demonstrations by communists to overthrow Koirala's government; devastating floods kill hundreds.
1994Prime minister Koirala resigns and calls for new elections afte losing a parliamentary vote due to the abstention of 36 members of his own party. New elections in November results in a hung parliament; CPN-UML, which emerged as the single largest party, formes a minority government.
1995The minority goverment of CPN-UML loses power in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. A coalition government of Nepali Congress, RPP and Sadhvabana is formed.
1997The NC-RPP coalition government loses power resulting in a UML-RPP coalition. This government itself loses power six months later to another NC-RPP coalition. Ganesh Man Singh, who led the 1990 democracy movement dies.
1999The third general elections after restoration of democracy results in Nepali Congress coming back to power with an absolute majority in the House. Krishna P. Bhattarai becomes Prime Minister for the second time.
Sources: The Third World Encyclopedia; Nepal and Bhutan, Country Studies.


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