The kingdom of nepal adopted a cabinet system of government in 1951 after dispensing with a hereditary monarchy. Since 1996, however, Nepal has been threatened with political unrest resulting from a Maoist insurgency and a drug-motivated murder-suicide among members of the royal family in 2001.

At least 13,000 Nepalese have died in continuing political strife. In 2005, the new king dissolved the existing government and declared a state of emergency. The following spring, some 300,000 Nepalese took to the streets to protest the king's usurpation of governmental power, forcing the monarch to agree to reinstate Parliament, offering hope for Nepal's future.

The landlocked country is surrounded by China and India. Southern Nepal is made up of a flat river plain known as tarai, which gives way to ...

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