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Nepal, Land and Resources

Nepal covers an area of 147,181 sq km (56,827 sq mi). It is divided into four topographical zones: the Great Himalayas, the Middle Himalayas, the Outer Himalayas, and the Tarai. The highest zone is the Great Himalayas, in northern Nepal. Eight of the ten highest mountains in the world are located either wholly or partially in this area. These include Mount Everest (8,850 m/29,035 ft), Kanchenjunga (8,598 m/28,209 ft), Makalu (8,481 m/27,825 ft), Dhaulagiri (8,172 m/26,811 ft), and Annapurna 1 (8,091 m/26,545 ft).

To the south of the Great Himalayas are the Middle Himalayas, dominated in Nepal by the Mahabharat Range, with peaks averaging less than 3,000 m (9,900 ft). Several rivers run through Nepalís Middle Himalayas including the Seti, Karnali, Bheri, Kali Gandaki, Trisuli, Sun Kosi, Arun, and Tamur. In the Middle Himalayan zone most rivers converge and form four main river systems: the Karnali, Narayani, Gandaki, and Kosi, which traverse the Mahabharat Range through deep gorges, making navigation difficult or impossible.

South of the Middle Himalayas lies the Siwalik Range of the Outer Himalayas, with an average elevation of about 1,000 to 2,000 m (about 3,300 to 6,600 ft). This area of Nepal has a number of flat valleys well suited to agriculture.

The Tarai, a generally flat, fertile lowland, is the southernmost topographic zone in Nepal. Much of this area comprises the northern extension of the Gangetic Plain of India. Rivers rising in the Himalayas emerge in the Tarai and continue southward, some of them becoming tributaries of the Ganges in northern India. The Tarai is susceptible to flooding, which occurs regularly with the summer monsoon runoff from the mountains. The fertile soils of the Tarai make up a major agricultural area where nearly half the countryís population lives.

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