Nepal has been inhabited by people for more than 2,500 years, with evidence suggesting tribes of mountain-dwelling people moved to the area from China and other Central Asian regions. Due to a lack of archaeological evidence, little is known about the early periods of history in Nepal, with legend and folklore providing the backdrop to this kingdom of mystery. Ruled early on by the Kirati Dynasty, Nepal continued to be ruled by a succession of dynasties until the Malla Dynasty emerged in the 12th century. During this time, the kingdom expanded rapidly and widely before evolving into small communities with local rule. By the 15th century many temples and palaces had been built in Nepal, some of which are still in existence either as functioning temples or UNESCO World Heritage sites. The kingdom of Nepal was unified by King Shah in 1768, and went on to sign commercial treaties with Britain in 1792 and 1816 after hostilities with the British East India Company.
Nepal held its first elections in 1959, but with the king dissolving parliament and banning political parties soon after, Nepal’s monarchy retained power. After decades of pro-democracy movements, Nepal was finally declared a democratic republic in 2008, with Nepal’s monarchy being removed from power after ruling for more than 240 years. Nepal celebrated its Year of Tourism in 2011, with arrivals increasing year upon year since 2006 due to increased infrastructure, expansion of air travel and the enduring popularity of the Himalayas and mighty Mount Everest.