Khagendra Thapa Magar stands just 26.4 inches (67.08 centimetres) tall, according to final measurements taken by Guinness World Records, the Nepalese teenager whose tiny stature has made him a celebrity in his homeland entered the record books as the "world's shortest man" on Thursday as he celebrated his 18th birthday. He snatched the record from 24 year old Edward "Nino" Hernandez from Colombia, who was included in the Guinness Book of Records for the first time just five weeks ago.
"Khagendra Thapa Magar is now officially the shortest man in the world," said head of global records Marco Frigatti at a ceremony in the picturesque Himalayan town of Pokhara in central Nepal, near where Magar grew up.
"We want to congratulate Khagendra Thapa Magar and his family for this feat. This is a big day for Nepal," he added.
Magar's family looked on proudly and a big cheer went up as he was awarded the Guinness World Records certificate. The country's caretaker prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said he was "the pride of our nation.". Magar, the son of a fruit seller from rural Nepal, is the size of a toddler and weighs just 6.5 kilograms (14 pounds). He says he dreams of marrying and travelling the world in his wife's handbag, and has already been named a tourism ambassador for Nepal. His family had previously laid claim to the record, but the teenager needed to reach his 18th birthday before being officially recognised because of the possibility he might grow further. His height was earlier calculated to be 25.8 inches, but was revised by Guinness World Records because he had a slight hunch when standing and measured slightly more lying down.
In Pokhara, a lakeside town popular with tourists, shouts of recognition greeted the teenager wherever he went this week, and Magar's father said his son was enjoying the attention.
"Khagendra may be small, but his size has earned him a big name," Rup Bahadur Thapa Magar told AFP.
"People are always so nice to him. They come up and ask to have their photograph taken with him. It makes us feel that he is loved, and he likes it too. Khagendra is a true blessing from God."
Magar senior, who runs a fruit shop in the family's village in central Nepal, said he did not know what caused his son to stop growing. But reports say that the teenager suffers from primordial dwarfism, a condition that typically reduces life expectancy to as little as 20 years.
"He was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand, and it was very hard to bathe him because he was so small," said his father.
"Sometimes it made us sad when he was growing up because we thought he would never be able to do normal things like ride a bike or drive a car, but now he is so popular, and that has made us happy."
Magar rarely speaks publicly himself, but in a conversation with journalists in Pokhara this week, the teenager said he wanted a remote controlled car for his birthday and that he would rely on his future wife for transport.
"I'm hoping to marry in two years' time, when I am 20," he said. "I'll sit in my wife's handbag and travel the world with her."
Last month, Magar travelled to New York as part of a publicity trip organised by Ripley's Believe It or Not curiosity museum, where he posed alongside a life-sized figure of the tallest man in history ( the 8 foot 11 inch American Robert Wadlow). He also travelled to Italy earlier this year where he met He Pingping of China, who was the world's shortest man until his death in March. The pair appeared together in a television show. Guinness World Records says the shortest man ever is thought to be Gul Mohammed from India, who was said to have measured just 22.5 inches, although this was never independently verified. As his big day approached, Magar's father said the family intended to mark the occasion by sharing a birthday cake with relatives and the dozens of journalists who have gathered in Pokhara.