History of Nepal

History
The recorded history of Nepal began with the Kiratis, who arrived in Kathmandu in the 7th or 8th century BC from the East. Little is known about them, other than their deftness as sheep farmers and fondness for carrying long knives. It was during this period that Buddhism first came to the country; indeed it is claimed that Buddha and his disciple Ananda visited Kathmandu Valley and stayed for a time in Patan. By 200 AD, Buddhism had waned, and was replaced by Hinduism, brought by the Lichhavis, who invaded from northern India and overthrew the last Kirati king. The Hindus also introduced the caste system (which still continues today) and ushered in a classical age of Nepalese art and architecture.  By 879, the Licchavi era had ended out and was succeeded by the Thakuri dynasty. A grim period of instability and invasion often referred to as the 'Dark Ages' followed, but Kathmandu Valley's strategic location ensured the kingdom's survival and growth. Several centuries later, the Thakuri king, Arideva, founded the Malla dynasty, kick-starting another resurgence of Nepali culture. Despite earthquakes, the odd invasion and feuding between the independent city-states of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, the dynasty flourished, reaching its zenith in the 15th century under Yaksha Malla.

The Shah Dynasty in Nepal
Under the leadership of Prithwi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the kingdom of Ghorkha, a campaign is launched to conquer the Kathmandu Valley to covet the Mallas' wealth.  In 1768 - after 27 years of fighting they triumphed and moved their capital to Kathmandu. From this new base the power of kingdom expanded, borne by a seemingly unstoppable army, until progress was halted in 1792 by a brief and chastening war with Tibet. Further hostilities followed in 1814, this time with the British over a territorial dispute. The Nepalese were eventually put to heel and compelled to sign the 1816 Sugauli Treaty, which surrendered Sikkim and most of Terai (some of the land was eventually restored in return for Nepalese help in quelling the Indian Mutiny of 1857), established Nepal's present eastern and western boundaries and, worst of all, installed a British 'resident' in the country.
The Shah dynasty continued in power during the first half of the 19th century until the ghastly Kot Massacre of 1846 (renowned as Kot- Parba). Taking advantage of the conspiracy and assassinations that had plagued the ruling family, Janga Bahadur seized control by butchering several hundred of the most important men while they assembled in the Kot courtyard. He took the more prestigious title Rana, proclaimed himself prime minister for life, and later made the office hereditary. For the next century, the Ranas and their offspring luxuriated in huge Kathmandu palaces, while the remainder of the population eked out a living in medieval conditions. The Rana's antiquated regime came to an end soon after World War II. In 1948, the British withdrew from India and with them went the Ranas' chief support. Around the same time, a host of insurrectional movements, bent on reshaping the country's polity, emerged. Sporadic fighting spilled onto the streets and the Ranas, at the behest of India, reluctantly agreed to negotiations. King Tribhuvan was anointed ruler in 1951 and struck up a government comprised of Ranas and members of the newly formed Nepali Congress Party.
But the compromise was short-lived. After toying with democratic elections - and feeling none too pleased by the result - King Mahendra (Tribhuvan's son and successor) decided that a 'party less' Panchaayat system would be more appropriate for Nepal. The king selected the prime minister and cabinet and appointed a large proportion of the national assembly, which duly rubber-stamped his policies. Power, of course, remained with only one party - the king's.
Cronyism, corruption and the creaming-off of worthwhile foreign aid into royal coffers continued until 1989. The Nepalese, fed up with years of hardship and suffering under a crippling trade embargo imposed by the Indians, rose up in popular protest called the Jana Andolan or 'People's Movement'. In the ensuing months, detention, torture and violent clashes left hundreds of people dead. It all proved too much for King Birendra, in power since 1972. He dissolved his cabinet, legalized political parties and invited the opposition to form an interim government. The Panchaayat system was finally laid to rest.
The changeover to democracy preceded in an orderly, if leisurely, fashion, and in May 1991 the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal shared most of the votes and seats of members in newly elected parliament. After many years of struggle when the political parties were banned, they finally mustered enough courage to start a people's movement in 1990. With the public rising up against absolute monarchy and demanding democracy, the then ruler King Birendra accepted constitutional reforms and established a multiparty parliament with himself as head of state and the prime minister heading the government. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections. In February 1996, one of the Communist parties (Maoist wing) went underground to wage a people's war against monarchy and the elected government.  

Nepal as Federal Democratic Republic:
Then on June 1, 2001, a horrific tragedy wiped out the entire royal family along with many of their close relatives. With only King Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra and his family surviving, he was crowned the king. King Gyanendra tolerated the elected government for only a short while and then dismissed Parliament to grab absolute power. In April 2006, strikes and street protests in Kathmandu led to a 19-day curfew and the political parties joined forces with the Maoist rebels to bring pressure on the monarch. Eventually, King Gyanendra realized it was futile holding on to power and relented. He agreed to reinstate parliament. But the political parties and a majority of the general public had had enough of dynastic rule and their abuse of power.  On May 28, 2008, a newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240 year-old monarchy. Nepal today has a President as Head of State and a Prime Minister heading the Nepal Government.