Kathmandu (काठमाडौं) is the capital and largest urban agglomerate of Nepal. It is one of the World's least expensive cities and its real estate is among the least expensive in the world. The agglomerate consists of Kathmandu Metropolitan City at its core, and its sister cities Patan, Kirtipur, Thimi, and Bhaktapur. It also includes the recently recognized urban areas of Shankhapur, Karyabinayak, and Champapur.[http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2011/ju… ] Banepa, Dhulikhel, and Panauti are satellite urban areas of Kathmandu located just outside the Kathmandu valley. Kathmandu is also known informally as "KTM" or the "tri-city".[http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.ph… ] According to a census conducted in 2011, Kathmandu metropolis alone has 975,453 inhabitants; and the agglomerate has a population of more than 2.5 million inhabitants.[http://cbs.gov.np/wp-content/uploads/201… Cbs.gov.np. Retrieved November 25, 2013.] The metropolitan city area is 50.67 square kilometres (19.56 sq mi)[http://www.kathmandu.gov.np/index.php?ci… Kathmandu Metropolitan City Council, Government of Nepal. Retrieved December 12, 2009.] and has a population density of 129,250 per km².

The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal. It is surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal's population.

Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjoining areas were known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established.[Slusser, Mary (1982). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Princeton University.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Boo… ] During Rana and Shah eras, British historians called the valley itself "Nepal Proper". Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Central Development Region of Nepal. The Central Region comprises three zones: Bagmati, Narayani, and Janakpur. Kathmandu is located in the Bagmati Zone.[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications… Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US. Retrieved November 23, 2009.]

Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. It is also the nerve center of the country's economy. It has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal, and its economy is focused on tourism, which accounted for 3.8% of Nepal's GDP in 1995–96. Tourism in Kathmandu declined thereafter during a period of political unrest, but since then has improved. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top 10 travel destinations on the rise in the world by TripAdvisor,and ranked first in Asia.[http://www.businessinsider.com/tripadvis… ]

The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Most of Kathmandu's people follow Hinduism and many others follow Buddhism. There are people of other religious beliefs as well, giving Kathmandu a cosmopolitan culture. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in the city. English is understood by Kathmandu's educated residents. The city's literacy rate is 98%. Kathmandu's sister cities (Lalitpur Patan) and Bhaktapur are integral to Kathmandu's cultural heritage, tourism industry, and economy; therefore UNESCO's World Heritage Site lists all three cities' monuments and attractions together under one heading, "Kathmandu Valley-UNESCO World Heritage Site".[http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121… World Heritage- UNESCO.org. Retrieved November 25, 2009.] [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/00… Heritage Homeowner’s Preservation Manual. Unesco, Kathmandu and Bangkok. 2006. Retrieved November 25, 2009.]