Nepal

Newars are thought to have lived in the Nepal Valley since the 4th century AD, developing a Hindu-Buddhist culture. The Gorkha 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 Gorkha 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 minister ship 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.