Nepal is a landlocked kingdom located between India and Tibet in the Himalaya Mountains. The country was originally settled over 9,000 years ago and has been ruled by a series of kingdoms ever since. The most famous of these was Siddhartha Gautama, who left his princely life behind to become the Buddha. Modern Nepal came about in the late 18th century, when the Shah family unified the country under one king. Internal strife led to a series of abdications and revolts, which led to more than one king fleeing to India or Tibet. Experiments with democracy were short-lived until 1990, when student demonstrations forced the king’s hand. Since 1994, political power has fluctuated between the country’s congressional and communist parties. On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra reportedly shot and killed his father King Birendra and other members of the royal family before killing himself. This led to peace talks with Maoist insurgents, but also more fighting before a cease-fire was finally adopted in 2003. Democracy came to Nepal in 2006, when the king reinstated parliament, and elections were held. In May 2008, the interim parliament declared Nepal a democratic federal republic, and the king abdicated a month later, in time for the election of the country’s first president. The United Communist Party of Nepal held a majority of the seats in the legislature until a coalition government excluding Maoists took control in May 2009.
Lay of the Land: Like a craggy stone wedged tight between two enormous boulders, the land-locked Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is situated precariously between India to the east, west, and south and Chinese-occupied Tibet to the north. The region is literally the top of the world, the Himalayas being the highest of all mountain ranges, and Nepal’s Mt. Everest towers above all others at 29,028 feet.
Newars, peoples based on a single language and multiple ethnicities, were the first inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. They lived there for approximately 9,000 years sincethe fourth century AD, while people of Kirant ethnicity populated Nepal for 2,500 years.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Nepal in 1947. The first US Ambassador to Nepal was Henry Grady in May 1948, but the Kathmandu Embassy was not opened until 1959. US policy objectives include assisting democratic institutions, peace and stability, and decreasing poverty in order to prevent Nepal from falling under terrorist control or a Maoist takeover.
Notable Nepali Americans
In 2009, US exports to Nepal totaled $31 million while imports amounted to $54.7 million.
US asks Nepali Maoists to end or suspend strike
According to the State Department, Nepal’s human rights conditions have been slightly improving because all parties have joined the government. However, members of Nepal’s security forces committed some human rights abuses during the year, and the Maoists/YCL and members of other small, often ethnically-based armed groups committed numerous grave human rights abuses. Trials for human rights violators, freedom of the press, discrimination, trafficking, and arbitrary arrest continue to hinder Nepal’s human rights record.
Henry F. Grady
Shankar P. Sharma was appointed as the Ambassador of Nepal to the US on August 3, 2009.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service who has served before in Nepal and in neighboring India has been nominated by President Obama to be the next ambassador to Nepal. Peter W. Bodde was nominated on March 2, 2012, and is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.
The son of William and Ingrid Bodde, Peter Bodde was born in October 1954. His father was a Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Fiji, Tuvalu and Tonga (1980-1981) and ambassador to the Marshall Islands (1990-1992). His brother Christopher was also a Foreign Service officer.
Bodde earned his B.A. at the University of Maryland in 1976, and then worked as a commodity industry analyst with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Bodde joined the Foreign Service in 1981, and served early career assignments at the embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 1982 to 1984; as minister counselor for Administrative Affairs at the embassy in New Delhi, India; in Copenhagen, Denmark; Sofia, Bulgaria; at the consulate in Hamburg, Germany; as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Kathmandu, from 1994 to 1997; and in Georgetown, Guyana. He has also served in various State Department positions in Washington, most recently as the director of the management policy in the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation.
From 2002 to 2006, he was consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. From February 2006 to August 2008, he was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Bodde served as ambassador to Malawi from September 2008 to July 2011. He has served as assistant chief of mission for assistance transition in Iraq and coordinator for minority issues at the embassy in Baghdad, since August 2011.
Bodde is married to Tanya Lee Will Bodde, who has also served in the Foreign Service.They have one daughter and one son. Peter Bodde speaks German, Bulgarian and Nepali.