Ilam district is one of 14 districts of Province No. 1 of eastern Nepal. It is a Hill district and covers 1,703 km2 (658 sq mi). The 2011 census counted 290,254 population. The municipality of Ilam is the district headquarters, about 600 km (370 mi) from Kathmandu.

This district attracts many researchers who come to study rare birds and red panda. Ilam stretches from the Terai belt to the upper hilly belt of this Himalayan nation.

The name of this district is derived from the Limbu language in which “IL” means twisted and “Lam” means road. It was one of the ten self-ruling states of Limbuwan before the reunification of Nepal. Its ruler King Hangshu Phuba Lingdom of Lingdom dynasty ruled Ilam as a confederate state of Limbuwan until 1813 AD.

The treaty between the other Limbuwan states and the King of Gorkha (Gorkha-Limbuwan Treaty of 1774 AD) and the conflict of Gorkha and Sikkim led to the unification of this district with Gorkha. It was the last of the ten kingdoms of Limbuwan to be reunified into Nepal. The King of Gorkha gave the ruler of this district full autonomy to rule and the right of Korat. Ilam was an independent Limbu kingdom until 1813 CE/1869 BS.

This district is today one of the most developed places in Nepal. Its ILAM TEA is very famous and is exported to many parts of Europe. The main source of income in this district is tea, cardamom, milk, ginger, potato, orlon, and broom production on a large scale.

This place also has religious importance. The Devi temples have a great importance attached to them and many people come here just for pilgrimage.

The major attraction of this district is the nine-cornered Mai Pokhari lake. Also known as the abode of the goddess many tourists, as well as Nepalese people, come to visit this place. Similarly, Gajurmukhi is also the religious spot for pilgrimages from Nepal and India. Mai river and its four tributaries also emerge in this district. The famous Mane Bhanjyang (Mane pass) connects Ilam with Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India.

Climate Zone Elevation Range % of Area
Lower Tropical below 300 meters (1,000 ft) 15.5%
Upper Tropical 300 to 1,000 meters
1,000 to 3,300 ft.
Subtropical 1,000 to 2,000 meters
3,300 to 6,600 ft.
Temperate 2,000 to 3,000 meters
6,400 to 9,800 ft.
Subalpine 3,000 to 4,000 meters
9,800 to 13,100 ft.


At the time of the 2011 Nepal census, Ilam District had a population of 290,254. Of these, 42.8% spoke Nepali, 14.3% Limbu, 8.3% Bantawa, 8.3% Rai , 6.0% Tamang, 4.6% Magar, 2.1% Gurung, 2.1% Newari, 1.2% Sherpa, 1.0% Chamling, 1.0% Sunuwar, 0.9% Lepcha, 0.6% Kulung, 0.5% Yakkha and 0.5% Sampang as their first language.

45.7% of the population in the district spoke Nepali, 1.5% Rai, 1.4% Bantawa, 1.3% Limbu and 0.5% English as their second language.

Ilam: The Municipality of this District

Ilam is one of four urban municipalities of Ilam District, which lies in the Mahabharata hilly range of Province No. 1, eastern Nepal. Ilam also acts as the headquarters of this District. Being the largest producer region for Nepali tea, its tea farms comprise a major tourist attraction in Province No. 1. Ilam is also famous for its natural scenery and landscapes as well as its diverse agricultural economy which specializes in horticultural crop production.

Antu Pond, reflecting the colour of its surroundings. The total area of the municipality is 173.32 square kilometres (66.92 sq mi) and the total population is 48,536 as per the 2011 Nepal census. The municipality is divided into 12 wards. The 74-kilometre section of Mechi highway connects this district with the east-west highway and subsequently, with the provincial capital of Biratnagar.

Tea production in this district (as Nepal tea) started as early as 1863 when the Chinese government offered then Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana tea saplings that were then planted in Ilam. In 1868, the Ilam tea factory was established, and tea plantations covered over 135 acres of land. In 2010, the tea factory was privatized and is currently not under operation. However, tea production continues in Ilam in other forms. Many local people get employment from this.

In 2010, the total tea production of Nepal is 16.23 million kilograms per annum; a majority of this amount is produced in this district itself As well as the organic tea transport the foreign country

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