Nepal is an Asian landlocked country. It is located in the Southern lap of Himalayas. It lies between 26°22′ North to 30°27′ North latitude and 80°4′ East to 88°12′ East longitude. It is bordered by China in the North and India in the South, East and West. Nepal extends for about 885 km East-West along its Himalayan axis and about 193 km North-South.
About 83% of its total land is covered by hills and mountains. Within a distance of about 200 km, the altitude varies from 60 meters from the sea level to the highest peak of the world, Mt. Everest with a height of 8,848 meters above sea level. Nepal has tremendous geographical diversity within a short distance of North to South. It ranges from plains in the South to hills and mountains towards the North. This diversity in landform is unique and one of the characteristics of Nepal. This diversity has created a great diversity in terms of climate, vegetation, wildlife, human activities, etc. Nine types of climates and almost all types of natural vegetations are found here. On the basis of physical features, Nepal is divided into three geographical regions.
1. The Terai Region
The Southern region extending from Mechi to Mahakali with the width of 25 to 32 km is known as Terai region. The Terai region borders India. It occupies about 17% of the total land of Nepal. The average altitude of this region is 60 m to 600 m above sea level. The hilly range towards the North from the Terai region is called Chure range and the other high hills after Chure locating towards the North are called Mahabharat range. The Terai region is further divided into Inner Terai and Outer Terai. The Outer Terai starts from the Southern border of the country and extends up to the foothills of Siwalik or Chure hills. Between the Chure hills and Mahabharat range, there are dun valleys called the Inner Terai.
Dang, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Sindhuli and Udayapur are the districts of Nepal falling in Inner Terai. Terai region is formed by the atluvial soil deposited by the rivers flowing from the North. Thus, most of the food crops and cash crops are produced here. The Terai region is also known as ‘Granary of Nepal’. It is highly populated region with the availability of infrastructures like transportation, irrigation and so on. Evergreen forest is found in this region.
2. The Hilly Region
The region situated to the North of terai with an altitude ranging from 600 m to 3,300 m above sea level known as the Hilly region. This region too extends from Mechi in the Est to Mahakali in the West. The Hilly region occupies about 68% of the total area of Nepal. There are two Ally ranges in this region. The hilly range towards the South of Inner Terai of with the height upto 1,500 m is called Phure range and the hilly ranges towards the North of Inner Terai is called Mahabharat ange, The width of this region is found from 80 km to 130 km. Many perennial rivers originating from the Himalayas have made fertile river basins in this region. There are tile valleys too formed by the rivers. Kathmandu and Pokhara are the two important leys of this region. Deciduous forest is found in its Southern part and coniferous forest in its Northern part.
2. The Mountain Region
The mountain region lies to the North of hilly region ranging from 3,300 m to 8,848 m. The snowline is at 5,000 m and the region above this height remains snow covered and below this snowline snow remains only in winter. This snow capped mountain peaks feed the perennial rivers that drench the land all across the country. There are high mountains and some high mountainous valleys to its North such as Mana Mustang and Dolpo. They are also called Bhot. The human settlement of this region mainly centered in these valleys. The mountain region has occupied about 15% of the to area of Nepal. Mainly alpine forest and grasslands are found in this region.
According to the geologists, there was geosynclinal sea between Angara land (Mid Siberia) and Gondwanaland (Southern India) about 70 million years ago at the beginning of Tertiary period. It was called Tethys Sea. Because of the formation of rocks from the deposition of eroded materials like stone, sand, soil, weeds, etc by the rivers of North and South, there formed various sedimentary rocks.
During the middle of the Tertiary period, Tectonic force came towards the South from the North. When this force was blocked by the Deccan, Indian steady landmass, the rocks formed at the bottom of the sea rose up and the greater Himalayas was formed. After some periods, same type of another force came surging and caused the origin of Mahabharat range. Various valleys, basins, mountain passes also formed at the same time. This has caused great variation in Nepal’s physical features. During the last of Tertiary period, another force came out and caused the formation of Chure range towards the North of Tethys Sea. There was a deposition of rough materials like stone, sand and pebbles. So, it is not that much tight like Himalaya and Mahabharat range.
Even after the formation of all of the three Himalayan, Mahabharat and Chure range, some parts of the Tethys Sea remained as it was before. Then, during the last of Pleistocene period, different materials were deposited by the swift flowing rivers from such hills. After that, the remaining part of the Tethys Sea also filled with sediments and there formed an extensive plain land in the North India and Terai belt of Nepal. As it is the region formed with the sofi materials, it holds specific importance from the geological point of view.
Following are the utilities of Nepalese landform:
- Since the hills of Nepal are stretched East-West, the monsoon wind gets blocked by these hills and causes rainfall in Nepal during summer. If there were no hills in Nepal, the rainfall would not occur and Nepal would remain like desert.
- These hills also block the chilling cold wind blowing from middle Asia during winter. As a result, there is no extreme cold except in Himalayas.
- Because of the presence of Mountain, Hill and Terai in Nepal, all types of climate like cold, warm and hot are found here.
- Since Nepal is a mountainous country, it is rich in water resource, forest, mines, natural beauty, etc which can contribute to the economic development through tourism industries.
- There are various mines in different parts of the mountain region. The mines of copper, coal, iron, zinc, lead, etc are found there.
- There are varieties of natural vegetations and wildlife in various heights in Nepal.
- The Himalayan range and the rivers are serving as natural borders.