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Nepal is a small monarchy with a population of 27 million, wedged between India and China facing a Maoist insurgency. Its King, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (brother of the prior King), assumed office when the Crown Prince on June 1, 2001 killed his parents the then King and Queen, himself, and seven other members of the royal family, in revenge for their failure to approval of the woman he wanted to marry. The King recently unilaterrally dissolve the elected legislature and appointed his own cabinet instead because he was dissatisfied with the progress being made against the Maoist insurgency. About 10,000 people have died in the insurgency since 1996.

Most Nepalese are Hindus (about 86%) although there are Buddhist and Muslim minorities (8% and 4% respectively). A dozen different languages are spoken in this mountainous country.

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