Logo- Goyo TravelInspirational Journeys in Mongolia
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Mongolia Overview / Country Information

Full Name:
Mongolia
Major language:
Mongolian
Population:
2.8 million (UN, 2011)
Major Religion:
Buddhism
Capital:
Ulaanbaatar
International dialling code:
+976
Area:
1.56 million sq km (603,909 sq miles)
Timezone:
GMT+8 hrs
Life Expectancy:
65 years (men), 73 years (women)
Currency:
Togrog (tugrik), abbreviated to MNT or ₮
Geography

Mongolia lies between Russia to the North and China to the South. At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi) - roughly the size of Alaska - Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.8 million people. It is also the world's second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic, and 45% of the population live in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia takes pride in its nomadic roots; as befits this tradition, there are no other major cities in the country -the country's next largest cities, Erdenet and Darhan, only have populations of 100,000 and 80,000 respectively. The highest point in Mongolia is Nayramadlin Orgil (also known as Mt. Khuiten), at 4,374 meters (14,350 feet). The lowest point is Hoh Nuur, at 518 meters (1,700 feet). Inner Mongolia refers to the northern portion of China that borders Outer Mongolia which is the actually country of Mongolia. This division was formed in the 1600's during the expansion of the Qing empire. In 1911 Outer Mongolia declared its independence after the fall of the Qing dynasty.​

Climate

Mongolia has a harsh continental climate, with very little rainfall and wide seasonal temperature variations. Warm, short summers contrast with long, dry and very cold winters. Known as "the land of blue sky", Mongolia usually has about 250 sunny days a year - but the majority of these are between September and May.

In the coldest winter months of December-February, some areas of the country drop to as low as -50°C, with Ulaanbaatar - the coldest and windiest capital in the world - often seeing temperatures of -35°C. In the summer the Gobi basks in 30°C+ temperatures, whilst it's colder the further north you go.

People

The majority of the population of Mongolia are Khalkha Mongols, but minority groups include Kazakh, Dorvod, Bayad, Buriad, Dariganga, Zahchin, Urianhai, Oolld. and Torguud. The largest of these minority groups, Kazakhs make up around 5% percent of the total population. Small numbers of Russians and Chinese permanently live in Mongolia. While relations between Mongols and Russians are generally warm, widespread resentment exists among Mongols for the growing presence of entrepreneurial Chinese in their country.

The nation also has an extremely young population, with over 70 percent of people less than thirty years old, and 30% under the age of 14.

Historically, Mongolia's economy has been based on the sacred 5 animals: sheep, goats, cattle (mainly yak), horses, and camels. From these livestock numerous animal products are harvested, including meat, dairy products, hides, and wool - especially cashmere. Agricultural production takes place in some regions where grains (wheat, barley, oats), animal fodder, potatoes, and other vegetables are grown.

The country is rich in natural resources including coal, copper, gold, fluorspar, and molybdenum, and has prospective areas for oil extraction that are currently being explored. It is the influx of foreign investment and the recent deals with the mining companies Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto, in particular the Oyu Tolgoi site in the South Gobi, that is shaping Mongolia's current boom and economic future.

Mongolia is one of the world's fastest growing economies, driven by this foreign direct investment. It reported a 17% growth rate in 2011, however since then it has had an economic downturn which has driven up unemployment. Forecasts currently show a gradual recovery over the next couple of years. Mongolia has expanded political and financial ties with the US, Japan and the European Union, but its main trading partners are neighbouring Russia and China. The latter is the biggest market for Mongolian exports.

Economy

Historically, Mongolia's economy has been based on the sacred 5 animals: sheep, goats, cattle (mainly yak), horses, and camels. From these livestock numerous animal products are harvested, including meat, dairy products, hides, and wool - especially cashmere. Agricultural production takes place in some regions where grains (wheat, barley, oats), animal fodder, potatoes, and other vegetables are grown.

The country is rich in natural resources including coal, copper, gold, fluorspar, and molybdenum, and has prospective areas for oil extraction that are currently being explored. It is the influx of foreign investment and the recent deals with the mining companies Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto, in particular the Oyu Tolgoi site in the South Gobi, that is shaping Mongolia's current boom and economic future.

Mongolia is one of the world's fastest growing economies, driven by this foreign direct investment. It reported a 17% growth rate in 2011, and 16.7% in the first quarter of 2012. Mongolia has expanded political and financial ties with the US, Japan and the European Union, but its main trading partners are neighbouring Russia and China. The latter is the biggest market for Mongolian exports.

History & Politics

1206-63 - Following unification of the Mongol tribes, Genghis Khan launches a campaign of conquest. His sons and grandsons create the world's biggest land empire.

1267-1368 - Weakened by disunity, the empire implodes. Ming troops oust the Mongols from Dadu - present-day Beijing.

1380 - The Golden Horde is defeated by the Russian Prince Dmitriy Donskoy. Ming troops destroy the Mongol capital, Karakorum.

1636 - The Manchu (Qing) empire conquers the southern Mongols, creating Inner Mongolia.

1691 - The Qing empire offers protection to the northern Mongols, creating Outer Mongolia.

1727 - The Treaty of Kyakhta fixes the western border between the Russian and Manchu empires, confirming Qing dominion over Mongolia and Tuva.

1911 - The Qing dynasty falls and Outer Mongolia declares its independence. Russia and the Republic of China recognise its autonomy.

1919 - The Chinese army occupies Outer Mongolia.

1920 - Mongolian revolutionaries found the Mongolian People's Party and open contact with Bolsheviks in Siberia.

1921 - With Red Army support, Mongolian revolutionaries drive out Chinese and Tsarist forces and install the Mongolian "people's government".

1924 - The People's Party chooses Lenin's "road to socialism bypassing capitalism" and renames itself the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). The Mongolian People's Republic is proclaimed.

1928-32 - "Rightists" who want private enterprise are ousted. "Leftists" who want communes are ousted. A "counter-revolutionary uprising" against the confiscation of monastery property is suppressed.

1937 - Mongolian Prime Minister Genden is arrested in the USSR and shot for spying for Japan. The Minister of War Marshal Demid is poisoned aboard a Trans-Siberian train. Monasteries are destroyed and lamas murdered.

1939 - Mongolian and Soviet troops commanded by General Zhukov defeat an invasion by Japanese and Manchukuo forces in the Battle of Halhyn Gol (Nomonhan).

1939 - "Mongolia's Stalin", interior minister and new Minister of War Choybalsan, is appointed prime minister. Ex-PM Amar is tried in the USSR and shot for spying for Japan.

1945-46 - Yalta conference agrees to preserve the status quo - Soviet control - in Mongolia. Mongolians vote for independence in a UN plebiscite. Mongolia is recognised by the Republic of China.

1949-55 - Relations established with the People's Republic of China. Railway built across Mongolia linking Russia and China.

1952 - Choybalsan dies, and is replaced as prime minister by Tsedenbal, the MPRP general secretary since 1940.

1961-63 - UN Security Council approves Mongolia's UN membership.

1984 - "Mongolia's Brezhnev", party General-Secretary Tsedenbal, head of state since 1974, is forced out of office by the MPRP Politburo.

1990 - Street demonstrations force resignation of the MPRP Politburo. Political parties are legalised. Elections to the Great Hural (parliament) are won by the MPRP, but 19 of the 50 seats in a new standing legislature go to non-communists.

1992 - Mongolia's new constitution gives first place to human rights and freedoms. In the first democratic elections the MPRP wins 71 of the 76 seats in the new single-chamber Great Hural.

1993 - The first direct presidential elections are won by Ochirbat, nominated by the National and Social Democrats.

1997 - MPRP candidate Bagabandi wins presidential election.

2009 - Former Prime Minister and candidate of the opposition Democratic Party, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, wins presidential election, defeating incumbent Nambaryn Enkhbayar by a narrow margin.

2012 - Parliamentary elections. Democratic Party wins most seats and goes on to form a coalition with the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. In August the former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar is sentenced to four years in jail for corruption causing the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party quits coalition in December over the sentencing of its former leader Enkhbayar.

2013 – Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is re-elected as president.

2014 - Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag is dismissed by a parliamentary vote of no confidence and later replaced by Chimed Saikhanbileg during a vote that is boycotted by the opposition Mongolian People's Party

2015 - In January the Mongolian People's Party agrees to form a coalition government with the Democratic Party and the Justice Coalition. In August Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg removes the Mongolian People's Party from the coalition government by dismissing six of its ministers.

Culture

Mongolian culture is largely shaped by the nomadic pastoral lifestyle. This combines with the legacy of Genghis Khan's empire, which is a rallying point for Mongol nationalist pride today. External regional influences also abound - from Tibet, China, and Russia.

Gers, animals, family, buddhism, shamanism and mother nature feature prominently in Mongolian art, music, folklore, daily customs and etiquette. The most traditional of instruments is the morin huur or horse head fiddle. With two strings made from horse hair and a carved horses head it is most often used to accompany singing.

One of the highlights of the Mongolian cultural calendar is the Naadam Festival (Naadam literally translates as 'games'). Although Naadams can be held on varying dates and to celebrate any occasion, anniversary or auspicious event, the main ones are held throughout Mongolia in July. The biggest one is held each year on July 11–13 in Ulaanbaatar, but there are also smaller ones on aimag and sum levels. A Naadam involves horse racing, wrestling, and archery competitions.

For families, the most important festival is Tsagaan Sar ('white month'), which is roughly equivalent to the Chinese New Year and usually falls into January or February. Family members and friends visit each other, exchange presents - very popular presents for all opportunities are the khadag - and eat huge quantities of buuz.

Religion

The main religion is Lamaism, which is the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Until the 16th century, shamanism was the dominant religion in Mongolia. Lamaism was introduced to the populace by the leader Altan Khan (1507–83). In the 18th century, the Manchus further encouraged Lamaism since they preferred Mongol males to become monks rather than warriors.

Paralleling the Stalinist period in the Soviet Union, communists held massive religious purges in the 1930s. More than 700 monasteries were destroyed and thousands of monks were killed.

In the post-socialist period, Buddhism is experiencing a resurgence and young people are again learning Buddhist practices from their elders who still remember them from their own childhoods. Approximately 5 percent of the total Mongolian population are Sunni Muslims, mainly ethnic Kazakhs in the western region. After 1990, Western missionaries arrived in Mongolia and began to proselytize; there may be as many as several thousand Mongolian Christians today.