Nepal occupies a landlocked area of 143,350 square kilometres along the southern slopes of the Himalayas in south Asia. It is divided into three natural east-west geographical zones. Along the southern border with India is the Terai/Ganges River plain. In the centre are hills, which rise to 2,700 metres, and fertile valleys, of which the Kathmandu Valley is the largest. In the north, the glaciated Himalayas contains eight of the world's 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest (Sagarmatha, Napali), the world's tallest at 8,850 metres. The Himalayas are cut by three principal river systems, the Karnali, Kosi and Gandak.
Nepal has a climate that ranges from subtropical with warm summers and mild winters in the southern lowlands, to alpine with cool summers and severe winters in the mountains. Most land above 3,300 metres is permanently frozen. The wet monsoonal season (June to September) affects the whole country, often flooding the southern plains. The average annual rainfall ranges from 1,778 millimetres in the east to 899 millimetres in the west. The average temperature ranges in the capital, Kathmandu, are from 2 to 20 °C in January to 20 to 29 °C in July.
The rich river valleys and plains of the southern and central areas are suffering from population pressures – depletion of forest cover for crops, fuel, and fodder, contributing to erosion and flooding. Small mineral deposits are present but the steep mountain terrain currently makes mining difficult.
Wildlife in Nepal includes the Bengal tiger, snow leopard, gaur, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and deer but these are threatened by habitat degeneration and poaching. There are over 6,500 species of trees, shrubs and wildflowers, including rhododendrons.
The Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mount Everest and the Chitwan National Park, are both World Heritage listed areas.
Nepal has a total population of 29,959,364, 82% of whom live in rural areas. Urbanisation, however, has increased the population density in the central hills and Kathmandu.