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The ancient city of Kathmandu, capital to the highly elevated country of Nepal, traces its history back almost 2,000 years to the dawn of the first millennium AD. Steeped in both Hindu and Buddhist tradition, the city of Kathmandu was named after a great temple found at the site known as "Kasthamandap," said to have been constructed from the timber of a single tree in the 16th century.
Long before the city's establishment, the Kathmandu Valley was inhabited by the Newar people, ancestors to the modern Newars who continue to live throughout Nepal. The Newars are responsible for many of the unique characteristics that have come to be recognized as symbolic of Nepal, including the pagoda style architecture that was adapted over the centuries from Tibetan and Indian influences. Which in turn (with the help of artisan, Araniko) later influenced Chinese palace designs during the 13th century (under Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, the founder of Yuan dynasty).
During the reign of the Malla Dynasty, who ruled Kathmandu for over 500 years beginning in the 12th century, many of the city's most notable temples and pagodas were constructed. Though the city was often fraught with conflict and turmoil, leading to the destruction of many of the earliest structures, dozens of magnificent examples remain today. In 2006, the collective of monuments within Kathmandu were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, acknowledging the cultural significance of the historic city.
In the present-day, Kathmandu is home to more than one million residents, with an economy supported by the production of local crafts as well as an increasingly large tourist population. As the city continues to grow and modernize, the local government faces a difficult task in dealing with urbanization and pollution issues.