SUMMARY: Nepal, the "Land of Many Wonders" is a unique and singular country in more ways than one. The country is home to the highest place on earth: the majestic Mount Everest in the Himalayas. In the city of Kathmandu, you are bound to find flocks of audacious backpackers making a beeline to hike Everest, while body burnings, monkey burials, and cow worship are common practices. Still run by a monarchy, Nepal is also the only official Hindu kingdom in the world. Though Hinduism envelops the country, hidden Buddhist monasteries rest high up in the Himalayan regions. It's cheap to get around Nepal, so journeying through this mesmerizing land is well worth it.

PROFILE: Full Country Name: Kingdom of Nepal Area: 147,181 sq km Population: 23 million Capital city: Kathmandu (pop 700,000) People: Various ethnic groups, including the Bhotiya (which include the Sherpa), Khas, Kirati, Magar, Newari, Tharu, Tamong and Tibetans Language: Nepali (also called Gurkhali) Religion: 90% Hindu, 5% Buddhist, 3% Muslim Government: Democracy

MONEY & COSTS: Currency: Nepalese rupee Relative cost: Budget Meal: US$ 2-3 Budget Room: US$ 3-10

If you don't mind somewhat shoddy housing and eating a strictly Nepalese diet, you can easily live in Nepal on less than US$10 a day. However, if you prefer to stay in comfortable lodgings, eat in tourist-oriented restaurants, and take the occasional taxi, your living costs are likely to be between US$15 and US$30 a day. Independent treks between village inns average about US$10 and US$15 a day.

TRANSPORTATION: Travel in Nepal is difficult since the roadway system is quite primitive. In fact, some mountain villages are only accessible by air. The mountain land is made up of windy, switchback roads, with some only wide enough for one vehicle. Winter snow avalanches and spring and fall rains can wash out and destroy streets that take months to repair. Sadly, many buses and other vehicles have plummeted down a mountainside. The journey is well worth it though, since Nepal has some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views in the world.

RELIGION: Religion is vital to the Nepalese. Although Hinduism is the official religion, the people tend to worship a mixture of Hindu, Buddhist, and Tantric deities. The remainder of the population is either Muslim, with only a small amount of Christians.

CALL TO MISSIONARIES: The people of Nepal have a simple way of life. In remote mountain villages such as the Dolpo region, the villagers are friendly and receptive to "outsiders." But to reach these locals would demand a strong commitment and love for them. Harsh winter climates, rugged mountainous regions, and primitive conditions definitely make it difficult to minister to the people in these regions. However, they still starve for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.