The central Himalayan kingdom of Nepal (Nepal Adhirajya), bounded on three sides by India and the other by Tibet, is inextricably linked with its larger neighbors. Little is known of its prehistory, but in the earliest centuries of the Christian era, a population thought to be descended from northerners is subjugated by the Indian Licchavis dynasty.
India is the source of the strands of monastic Buddhism and Hindu kingship that intertwine in the Newar culture of the Kathmandu Valley principalities. Repeated Indian migrations—of monks, Rajasthani princes, and Maithili fleeing the Islamic invasions of India—reinforce Hindu influence throughout medieval Nepal during the Malla dynasty.
Not until the eighteenth century is Nepal expanded to its present extent by the conquests of its national hero, Prithvi Narayan. The national identity he forges is based squarely on ancient traditions of Hinduism and monarchy. The century-long autocratic rule of the prime ministerial dynasty known as the Ranas is similarly steeped in ancient traditions; Nepal's modernization only begins after their overthrow in 1951.
Nepal's traditional isolation from foreigners is partly geographical and partly self-imposed. The geopolitical reality of colonial rule in India leads Nepal in the mid-nineteenth century to ally itself with Great Britain, a policy decision with enormous repercussions.
During the twentieth century Nepal dispatches many thousands of Gurkha soldiers to fight in the British and Indian armies in two world wars. Postwar Indian independence, new international organizations, the pressing need for modernization, and a difficult transition from absolute monarchy to a modern parliamentary democracy dominate Nepalese history during the last half of the century.
c. 563B.C.?: Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, a member of the Sakya clan, is born at Lumbini in the Terai, the flat strip of Nepal that borders India.
500B.C.: About this time significant immigration of Indo-Aryan Khasa peoples into western Nepal pushes the indigenous TibetoBurman Kirata people into the eastern Terai. The economy of both kingdoms is based on trade.
3d centuryB.C.: Buddhism, established in Kathmandu Valley, introduces elements that