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inspiration for this new week

Year 2000 | Nepal

Prithvi Narayan Shah, first king of Nepal, called his realm "a garden for
all types of peope," including some 60 ethnic groups. Few had more influence
than the Newars, who were renowned for their art and architecture. In Bhaktapur,
a Newar (first photo) wears topi and khasto for a morning stroll. Nearby, a child plays
while her mother works in a brick factory. A Newar girl (third photo) visits
Swayambhunath, Nepal's oldest Buddhist stupa.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and Himalayan
nations may suffer most. In Nepal, the condition caused more than
80 percent of curable blindness. The reason the region is so affected is
unknown, but researchers suspect genetics, diet, and the intense ultraviolet
radiation at high altitudes. Lack of eye care is another factor. Nepal has one
ophthalmologist for every 300,000 people.

A family takes rooftop tea above the fray in the heart of Kathmandu.
The once rural valley, home to 1.6 million, is now threatened by
sprawl. Urban populations may double in the next decade.

Nepal has been called an "impossible phantasmagoria"-- a land of
harsh realities infused with the surreal. Like a young Tharu girl perched
on a support post of a traditional longhouse in the remote Dang Valley,
Nepal seems to levitate between East and West, past and future.

Such growth in population has lead to some of the worst smog
in Asia and pushed farmers to fertile lands to the south, beyond
steep hillside terraces like these near the town of Nagarkot.

"I'm goin' to Katmandu!" wailed rocker Bob Seger in the
70's as the city became a magnet for young foreigners looking
for an earthly Shangri-la. The flower children have given way to
adventure travelers in Thamel, the city's tourist quarter. Nearly
half a million tourists visit Nepal each year, fueling the economy.

Year 2000 | Libya
Sign of a devout household, butchered sheep, sacrificed for a Muslim holy
day, intrigue a Moroccan girl in Tripoli's Old quarter.

Grainfields and citrus groves border the Libyan coast, while farther inland
the Sahara covers 90 percent of the country. Oil fields make the nation of
five million people one of Africa's richest states.

Offices and high-rises, the latest stratum of buildings in 2,600-year-old
Tripoli, Libya's capital city, climb above the cramped urban core.

The Old Quarter huddles inside city walls built in the second
century by Romans, who also left behind the noble ruins of
Leptis Magna on the Mediterranean shore.

Preserved since the 12th century, a fortress-like treasury, honeycombed with
vaults, provided the villagers of Kabaw a place to hide grain from desert raiding parties.

Alone with the wind, Berber men, members of a once dominant
pastoral people, prepare for evening prayers in the Nafusah highlands.

A Vietnamese laborer endures the Sahara's sting as he works
in the Al Sharara oil feild.

Photos and excepts: National Geographic | November 2000

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