The capital and largest city of Nepal, Kathmandu, occupies much of
the valley located near the center of the country. Nepal is home to much
of the Himalaya mountain range
between Tibet (China) to the north and India to the south. Geological
and fossil evidence indicates that the Kathmandu Valley was covered by a
large lake between approximately 2.8 million and 10,000 years ago.
Paleo-Kathmandu Lake is thought to have drained in phases due to the
drying of the regional climate; continuing mountain building—tectonic
uplift and faulting—in the region; and the formation of an integrated
drainage system, as river channels cut through previous rock ridge dams.
The green, vegetated slopes that ring the Kathmandu metro area (light
gray, image center) include both forest reserves and national parks.
The metropolitan area is relatively flat
compared to the surrounding mountains. Tribhuvan International Airport,
near the eastern margin of the city, is the only international airport
Archeological evidence suggests that the human development of
Kathmandu, together with the nearby “sister cities” of Lalitpur and
Bhaktapur, began almost 2,000 years ago. Today, Kathmandu and its sister
cities form the governmental, cultural, and—as a main access point to
the Himalayas for tourism—economic center of the country.
Astronaut photograph ISS025-E-13115
was acquired on November 9, 2010, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera
using a 400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space
Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 25 crew. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab
to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest
value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely
available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and
cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.