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Mongolia
Monggol ulus.svg
Монгол улс
Mongol uls
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem"Монгол улсын төрийн дуулал"
National anthem of Mongolia
Capital
(and largest city)
Ulan Bator
47°55′N 106°53′E / 47.917°N 106.883°E / 47.917; 106.883
Official language(s) Mongolian
Demonym Mongolian[1]
Government Semi-presidential republic
 -  President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
 -  Prime Minister Sükhbaataryn Batbold
Formation
 -  Formation of the Mongol Empire 1206 
 -  Independence declared (from Qing Dynasty) December 29, 1911 
Area
 -  Total 1,564,115.75 km2 (19th)
603,909 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.43[2]
Population
 -  December 2009 estimate 2 736 800[3] (140th)
 -  2000 census 2,407,500[4] 
 -  Density 1.75/km2 (236th)
5.03/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 (preliminary) estimate
 -  Total $8.4 billion[5] (115)
 -  Per capita $3,400[6] (160th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $5.243 billion[7] 
 -  Per capita $1,975[7] 
Gini (2002) 32.8 (medium
HDI (2007) 0.727[8] (medium) (115th)
Currency Tögrög (MNT)
Time zone (UTC+7 to +8[9][10])
Date formats yyyy.mm.dd (CE)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .mn
Calling code 976

Mongolia (pronounced /mɒŋˈɡoʊliə/; Mongolian: About this sound Монгол улс , literally Mongol country/nation, Monggol ulus.svg ) is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and the People's Republic of China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest city, is home to about 38% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic.

The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the Gökturks, and others. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols returned to their earlier patterns. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. At the end of the 17th century, most of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence, but had to struggle until 1921 to firmly establish de-facto independence from the Republic of China, and until 1945 to gain international recognition.

As a consequence, it came under strong Russian and Soviet influence: In 1924, the Mongolian People's Republic was declared, and Mongolian politics began to follow the same patterns as Soviet politics of the time. After the breakdown of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own Democratic Revolution in early 1990, which led to a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and the (rather rough) transition to a market economy.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.9 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. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state's citizens are of the Mongol ethnicity, though Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west. About 20% of the population live on less than US$1.25 per day.[11]

Contents

History

Prehistory

Cave paintings

Important prehistoric sites are the Paleolithic cave drawings of the Khoid Tsenkheriin Agui (Northern Cave of Blue) in Khovd Province,[12] and the Tsagaan Agui (White Cave) in Bayankhongor Province[13]. A Neolithic farming settlement has been found in Dornod Province. Contemporary findings from western Mongolia include only temporary encampments of hunters and fishers. The population during the Copper Age has been described as paleomongolid in the east of what is now Mongolia, and as europid in the west.[12]

In the second millennium B.C, during the bronze age, western Mongolia was under the influence of the Karasuk culture. Deer stones and the omnipresent keregsürens (small kurgans) probably are from this era; other theories date the deer stones as 7th or 8th centuries BCE. A vast iron-age burial complex from the 5th-3rd century, later also used by the Xiongnu, has been unearthed near Ulaangom.[12] Before the 20th century, some scholars assumed that the Scythians descended from the Mongolic people.[14] The Scythian community inhabited western Mongolia in the 5-6th century. The mummy of a Scythian warrior, which is believed to be about 2,500 years old was a 30-to-40 year-old man with blond hair, and was found in the Altai, Mongolia.[15]

Early history

Xiongnu located in modern day Mongolia

Mongolia, since prehistoric times, has been inhabited by nomads who, from time to time, formed great confederations that rose to prominence. The first of these, the Xiongnu, were brought together to form a confederation by Modu Shanyu in 209 BC. Soon they emerged as the greatest threat to the Qin Dynasty, forcing the latter to construct the Great Wall of China, itself being guarded by up to almost 300,000 soldiers during marshal Meng Tian's tenure, as a means of defense against the destructive Xiongnu raids.

After the decline of the Xiongnu, the Rouran, a close relative of the Mongols, came to power before being defeated by the Göktürks, who then dominated Mongolia for centuries. During the 7th and 8th centuries, they were succeeded by Uyghurs and then by the Khitans and Jurchens. By the 10th century, the country was divided into numerous tribes linked through transient alliances and involved in the old patterns of internal strife.

Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire and its divisions

In the chaos of the late 12th century, a chieftain named Temüjin finally succeeded in uniting the Mongol tribes between Manchuria and the Altai Mountains. In 1206, he took the title Genghis Khan, and waged a series of military campaigns - renowned for their brutality and ferocity - sweeping through much of Asia, and forming the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Under his successors it stretched from present-day Poland in the west to Korea in the east, and from Siberia in the north to the Gulf of Oman and Vietnam in the south, covering some 33,000,000 square kilometres (13,000,000 sq mi),[16] (22% of Earth's total land area) and having a population of over 100 million people.

After Genghis Khan's death, the empire was subdivided into four kingdoms or Khanates which eventually became quasi-independent after Möngke's death in 1259. One of the khanates, the "Great Khaanate", consisting of the Mongol homeland and China, became the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan. He set up his capital in present day Beijing but after more than a century of power, the Yuan was replaced by the Ming Dynasty in 1368, with the Mongol court fleeing to the north. As the Ming armies pursued the Mongols into their homeland, they successfully sacked and destroyed the Mongol capital Karakorum among other cities, wiping out the cultural progress that was achieved during the imperial period and thus throwing Mongolia back to anarchy.

Post-Imperial period

Altan Khan, of the Tümed, a grandson of Batumöngke founder of Hohhot

The next centuries were marked by violent power struggles between various factions, notably the Genghisids and the non-Genghisid Oirads and numerous Chinese invasions (like the five expeditions led by the Yongle Emperor). In the early 15th century, the Oirads under Esen Tayisi gained the upper hand, and even raided China in 1449 in a conflict over Esen's right to pay tribute, capturing the Chinese emperor in the process. However, Esen was murdered in 1454, and the Borjigids recovered.

Batumongke Dayan Khan and his khatun Mandukhai reunited the entire Mongols in the early 16th century. In the mid-16th century, Altan Khan of the Tümed, a grandson of Batumöngke - but no legitimate Khan himself - became powerful. He founded Hohhot in 1557 and his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1578 sparked the second introduction of Tibetan Buddhism to Mongolia. Abtai Khan of the Khalkha converted to buddhism and founded the Erdene Zuu monastery in 1585. His grandson Zanabazar became the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu in 1640.

Under the Qing

The last Mongol Khan was Ligden Khan in the early 17th century. He got into conflicts with the Manchu over the looting of Chinese cities, and managed to alienate most Mongol tribes. He died in 1634 on his way to Tibet, in an attempt to evade the Manchu and destroy the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism. By 1636, most Inner Mongolian tribes had submitted to the Manchu. The Khalkha eventually submitted to the Qing in 1691, thus bringing all but the west of today's Mongolia under Beijing's rule. After several wars, the Dzungars were virtually annihilated in 1757–58.[17]

Until 1911, the Manchu maintained control of Mongolia with a series of alliances and intermarriages, as well as military and economic measures. Ambans, Manchu "high officials", were installed in Khüree, Uliastai, and Khovd, and the country was subdivided into ever more feudal and ecclesiastical fiefdoms. Over the course of the 19th century, the feudal lords attached more importance to representation and less importance to the responsibilities towards their subjects. The behaviour of Mongolia's nobility, together with the usurious practices of the Chinese traders and the collection of imperial taxes in silver instead of animals, resulted in poverty becoming ever more rampant.

Independence

With the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Mongolia under the Bogd Khaan declared independence in 1911. However, the equally newly established Republic of China claimed Mongolia as part of its own territory. The area controlled by the Bogd Khaan was approximately that of the former Outer Mongolia. The 49 hoshuns of Inner Mongolia as well as the Mongolians of the Alashan and Qinghai regions expressed their willingness to join the new country, but to no avail. In 1919, after the October Revolution in Russia, Chinese troops led by Xu Shuzheng occupied Mongolia.

However, as a result of the Russian Civil War, the White Russian adventurer Baron Ungern led his troops into Mongolia in October 1920, defeating the Chinese in Niislel Khüree (Ulaanbaatar) in early February 1921. In order to eliminate the threat posed by Ungern, Bolshevik Russia decided to support the establishment of a communist Mongolian government and army. This Mongolian army took the Mongolian part of Kyakhta from the Chinese on March 18, 1921, and on July 6 Russian and Mongolian troops arrived in Khüree. Mongolia's independence was declared once again on July 11, 1921.[18] These events led to Mongolia's close alignment with the Soviet Union over the next seven decades.

Mongolian People's Republic

Damdin Sükhbaatar, ca 1920-1922

In 1924, after the death of the religious leader and king Bogd Khan, a Mongolian People's Republic was proclaimed with support from the Soviet Union.

In 1928, Khorloogiin Choibalsan rose to power. He instituted collectivisation of livestock, the destruction of Buddhist monasteries and the Mongolia's enemies of the people persecution resulting in the murder of monks and other people. In Mongolia during the 1920s, approximately one third of the male population were monks. By the beginning of the 20th century about 750 monasteries were functioning in Mongolia.[19] The Stalinist purges in Mongolia beginning in 1937, affected the Republic as it left more than 30,000 people dead. Japanese imperialism became even more alarming after the invasion of neighboring Manchuria in 1931. During the Soviet-Japanese Border War of 1939, the Soviet Union successfully defended Mongolia against Japanese expansionism.

In August 1945 Mongolian forces also took part in the Soviet Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in Inner Mongolia. The Soviet threat of seizing parts of Inner Mongolia[citation needed] induced China to recognize Outer Mongolia's independence, provided that a referendum was held. The referendum took place on October 20, 1945, with (according to official numbers) 100% of the electorate voting for independence. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, both countries confirmed their mutual recognition on October 6, 1949.

In January 26, 1952, Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal took power. In 1956 and again in 1962, Choibalsan's personality cult was condemned at the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee plenums. Mongolia continued to align itself closely with the Soviet Union, especially after the Sino-Soviet split of the late 1950s. In the 1980s, an estimated 55,000 Soviet troops were based in Mongolia. While Tsedenbal was visiting Moscow in August 1984, his severe illness prompted the parliament to announce his retirement and replace him with Jambyn Batmönkh.

Democratic revolution

The introduction of perestroika and glasnost in the USSR by Mikhail Gorbachev strongly influenced Mongolian politics leading to the peaceful Democratic Revolution and the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy. A new constitution was introduced in 1992, and the "People's Republic" was dropped from the country's name. The transition to market economy was often rocky, the early 1990s saw high inflation and food shortages. The first election wins for non-communist parties came in 1993 (presidential elections) and 1996 (parliamentary elections).

Government and politics

Sukhbaatar Square in front of the Saaral Ordon that houses the offices of the prime minister and president among others

Mongolia is a parliamentary republic. The parliament is elected by the people and in turn elects the government. The president is elected directly. Mongolia's constitution guarantees full freedom of expression, religion, and others. Mongolia has a number of political parties, the biggest ones being the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and the Democratic Party (DP).

The MPRP formed the government of the country from 1921 to 1996 (until 1990 in a one-party system) and from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2006, it was part of a coalition with the DP and two other parties, and since 2006 it has been the dominant party in two other coalitions. Both changes of government after 2004 were initiated by the MPRP. The DP was the dominant force in the ruling coalition between 1996 and 2000, and also an approximately equal partner with the MPRP in the 2004-2006 coalition. The MPRP won the last round of parliamentary elections, held in June 2008.

President

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj

Mongolia's president has a largely symbolic role, but can block the Parliament's decisions, who can then overrule the veto by a two-thirds majority. Mongolia's constitution provides three requirements for taking office as president; the candidate must be a native-born Mongolian, be at least 45 years of age, and have resided in Mongolia for five years prior to taking office. The president is also required to formally resign his or her party membership. The current president is Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, a former two-time prime minister and member of the Democratic Party was elected as president on May 24, 2009 and inaugurated on June 18.

The State Great Khural

State Great Khural chamber in session

Mongolia uses a unicameral parliamentary system in which the president has a symbolic role and the government chosen by the legislature exercises executive power. The legislative arm, the State Great Khural, has one chamber with 76 seats and is chaired by the speaker of the house. It elects its members every four years by general elections. The State Great Khural is powerful in the Mongolian government with the president being largely symbolic and the prime minister being confirmed from the parliament.

Prime Minister and the Cabinet

The Prime Minister of Mongolia is elected by the State Great Khural. The current prime minister is Sükhbaataryn Batbold who assumed the office on 29 October 2009. The deputy prime minister is Norovyn Altankhuyag. There are ministers of each department (finance, defense, labor, agriculture, etc.) and those offices constitute the prime minister's cabinet.

The cabinet is nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the president and confirmed by the State Great Khural.

Foreign relations and military

Mongolia maintains positive relations and has diplomatic missions with many countries such as Russia, the People's Republic of China, North and South Korea, Japan, and the United States. The government has focused a great deal on encouraging foreign investments and trade. Mongolia supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and has sent several successive contingents of 103 to 180 troops each to Iraq. About 130 troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan. 200 Mongolian troops are serving in Sierra Leone on a UN mandate to protect the UN's special court set up there, and in July 2009, Mongolia decided to send a battalion to Chad in support of MINURCAT[20].

From 2005 to 2006, about 40 troops were deployed with the Belgian and Luxembourgish contingent in Kosovo. On November 21, 2005, George W. Bush became the first-ever sitting U.S. President to visit Mongolia.[21] In 2004, under the Bulgarian chairmanship, The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), invited Mongolia as its newest Asian Partner.

Mongolia has embassies in Almaty, Ankara, Bangkok, Berlin, Beijing, Brussels, Budapest, Cairo, Canberra, Warsaw, Washington, D.C., Vienna, Vientiane, Havana, Delhi, Kuwait City, London, Moscow, Ottawa, Paris, Prague, Pyongyang, Seoul, Sofia, Stockholm, Tokyo, Hanoi, and Singapore, a consulate in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude, and diplomatic missions to the United Nations in New York City and in Geneva.[22]

Geography and climate

The southern portion of Mongolia is taken up by the Gobi Desert, while the northern and western portions are mountainous
Mongolian landscape
Typical steppe landscape of Mongolia with winding rivers
A Khulan (Mongolian Wild Ass) on a hill in the Gobi of Mongolia at sunset.

At 1,564,116 km2[23] (603,909 mi²), Mongolia is the world's 19th-largest country (after Iran). It is significantly larger than the next-largest country, Peru.

The geography of Mongolia is varied with the Gobi Desert to the south and with cold and mountainous regions to the north and west. Much of Mongolia consists of steppes. The highest point in Mongolia is the Khüiten Peak in the Tavan bogd massif in the far west at 4,374 m (14,350 ft). The basin of the lake Uvs Nuur, shared with Tuva Republic in Russia, is a natural World Heritage Site. Most of the country is hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter, with January averages dropping as low as -30°C (-22°F).[24]

The country is also subject to occasional harsh climatic conditions known as zud. Ulan Bator has the lowest average temperature of any national capital in the world. Mongolia is high, cold, and windy. It has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers, during which most of its annual precipitation falls. The country averages 257 cloudless days a year, and it is usually at the center of a region of high atmospheric pressure. Precipitation is highest in the north (average of 20 to 35 centimeters per year) and lowest in the south, which receives 10 to 20 centimeters annually. The extreme south is the Gobi, some regions of which receive no precipitation at all in most years.

The name "Gobi" is a Mongol term for a desert steppe, which usually refers to a category of arid rangeland with insufficient vegetation to support marmots but with enough to support camels. Mongols distinguish Gobi from desert proper, although the distinction is not always apparent to outsiders unfamiliar with the Mongolian landscape. Gobi rangelands are fragile and are easily destroyed by overgrazing, which results in expansion of the true desert, a stony waste where not even Bactrian camels can survive.

Administrative divisions

Mongolia is divided into 21 aimags (provinces), which are in turn divided into 315 sums (districts). The capital Ulan Bator is administrated separately as a khot (municipality) with provincial status. The aimags are:

Economy

Capital Ulan Bator is the hub of most domestic and international trade and relations

Mongolia's economy is centered on agriculture and mining. Mongolia has rich mineral resources, and copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold account for a large part of industrial production.

There are currently over 30,000 independent businesses in Mongolia, chiefly centered around the capital city[citation needed]. The majority of the population outside urban areas participate in subsistence herding; livestock typically consists of sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and Bactrian camels. Agricultural crops include wheat, barley, potato, vegetables, tomato, watermelon, sea-buckthorn and fodder crops. GDP per capita in 2006 was $2,100.[25]

Although GDP has risen steadily since 2002 at the rate of 7.5% in an official 2006 estimate, the state is still working to overcome a sizable trade deficit. A massive ($11 billion) foreign debt to Russia was settled by the Mongolian government in 2004 with a $250 million payment. Despite growth, the proportion of the population below the poverty line is estimated to be 35.6% in 1998, 36.1% in 2002–2003, 32.2% in 2006,[26] and both the unemployment rate and inflation rate are relatively high at 3.2% and 6.0%, respectively (in 2006) Mongolia's largest trading partner is China. As of 2006, 68.4% of Mongolia's exports went to China, and China supplied 29.8% of Mongolia's imports.[27]

The Mongolian Stock Exchange, established in 1991 in Ulan Bator, is the world's smallest stock exchange by market capitalisation.[28][29]

Industrial sector

Industry currently accounts for 21.4% of GDP, approximately equal to the weight of the agriculture sector (20.4%). These industries include construction materials, mining (coal, copper, molybdenum, fluorspar, tin, tungsten, and gold), oil, food and beverages, processing of animal products, and cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing. The industrial production growth rate is estimated to be 4.1% in 2002. Mining is continuing to rise as a major industry of Mongolia as evidenced by number of Chinese, Russian and Canadian firms opening and starting mining business in Mongolia.[25] Domestic food production, especially packaged food production has been increasingly coming up with speed with investments from foreign companies.

Science and technology

Some technology companies from nearby countries, such as South Korea and the People's Republic of China, have started to open offices in Mongolia. Those companies have tended to focus on software development rather than hardware production[citation needed]. A number of telecommunications companies and internet service providers have been established resulting in greater competition in the internet and phone market, especially in cell phones like Mobicom Corporation and Magicnet, that are the largest cellphone and ISP operators in Mongolia respectively.

Service sector

An open-air market in Tsetserleg. Open-air markets are a common place for trade in Mongolia

After the transition shocks of the early 1990s, Mongolian domestic production has picked up again. According to the CIA World Factbook, in 2003, the service sector accounted for 58% of the GDP, with 29% of the labor force of 1.488 million involved.

Foreign investment from other countries (including China, Japan, South Korea, Germany[citation needed] and Russia) has helped to add more paved roads. The most important is a 1000 km north-south road leading from the Russian border at Sükhbaatar to the Chinese border at Zamyn-Üüd. There are several air transport companies in Mongolia, including MIAT, Aero Mongolia, and Eznis Airways.

Petroleum products are mainly (80%) imported from Russia, which makes Mongolia vulnerable to supply side shocks. This is one strong example of the influence of Mongolia's neighbors on its economy.

Transportation

Train in Zamyn-Üüd station in Dornogovi aimag

The Trans-Mongolian Railway is the main rail link between Mongolia and its neighbors. It begins at the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia at the town of Ulan Ude, crosses into Mongolia, runs through Ulaanbaatar, then passes into China at Erenhot where it joins the Chinese railway system. A separate railroad link connects the eastern city of Choibalsan with the Trans-Siberian Railway; however, that link is closed to passengers after the Mongolian town of Chuluunkhoroot.[30]

Mongolia has a number of domestic airports. The only international airport is the Chinggis Khaan International Airport near Ulaanbaatar. Direct flight connections exist between Mongolia and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and Germany. MIAT is Mongolia's largest carrier in Mongolia and provides both domestic[citation needed] and international flights.

Most overland roads in Mongolia are only gravel roads or simple cross-country tracks. There are paved roads from Ulaanbaatar to the Russian and Chinese border, and from Darkhan to Bulgan. Some road construction projects are currently underway, for example construction of the east-west so-called "Millennium Road".

Demographics

Apartment complexes in Bayangol district in Ulaanbaatar
In settlements, many families live in yurt quarters

Mongolia's total population as of July 2007 is estimated by U.S. Census Bureau[31] at 2,951,786 people ranking at around 138th in the world in terms of population. But the U.S. Department of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs uses the U.N. estimations[32] instead of the U.S. Census Bureau estimations. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division[33] estimates Mongolia's total population (mid. 2007) as 2,629,000 (11% less than the U.S. Census Bureau figure). UN estimates resemble those made by the Mongolian National Statistical Office (2,612,900, end of June 2007). Mongolia's population growth rate is estimated at 1.2% (2007 est.).[33] About 59% of the total population is under age 30, 27% of whom are under 14. This relatively young and growing population has placed strains on Mongolia's economy.

Since the end of socialism, Mongolia has experienced a decline of total fertility rate (children per woman) that is steeper than in any other country in the world, according to recent UN estimations:[33] in 1970-1975, fertility was estimated to be 7.33 children per woman, but 2005-2010 prospects are 1.87 (4 times less).

Mongolia has become more urbanized. About 40% of the population lives in Ulaanbaatar, and in 2002 a further 23% lived in Darkhan, Erdenet, the aimag centers and sum-level permanent settlements.[34] Another share of the population lives in the sum centers. In 2002, about 30% of all households in Mongolia lived from breeding lifestock.[35] Most herders in Mongolia follow a pattern of nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralism.

Ethnic Mongols account for about 85% of the population and consist of Khalkha and other groups, all distinguished primarily by dialects of the Mongol language. The Khalkha make up 90% of the ethnic Mongol population. The remaining 10% include Buryats, Durbet Mongols and others in the north and Dariganga Mongols in the east. Turkic peoples (Kazakhs, Tuvans, and Chantuu (Uzbek) constitute 7% of Mongolia's population, and the rest are Tungusic peoples, Chinese,[36] and Russians.[37] Most, but not all, Russians left the country following the withdrawal of economic aid and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Languages

The official language of Mongolia is Khalkha Mongolian, and is spoken by 90% of the population. A variety of different dialects are spoken across the country. These dialects are included in the Mongolic languages. Mongolic is frequently included in the Altaic languages, a group of languages named after the Altay Mountains that also includes the Turkic and Tungusic languages.

Today, Mongolian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, although in the past it was written using the Mongolian script. An official reintroduction of the old script was planned for 1994, but has not yet taken place for various reasons.[38]

In the west of the country, the Kazakh and Tuvan languages, among others, are also spoken. The Russian language is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, though English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language.[citation needed] Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.[39] Interest in Chinese, as the language of the other neighbouring power, has been growing. Japanese is also popular among the younger people. A number of older educated Mongolians speak some German, as they studied in the former East Germany, while a few speak other languages from the former Eastern Bloc. Besides that, many younger Mongolians are fluent in the Western European languages as they study or work in foreign countries including Germany, France and Italy.

Deaf people in Mongolia use Mongolian Sign Language.

Religion

A Buddhist monastery in Tsetserleg
Christian church in Ulaanbaatar

According to the CIA World Factbook[40] and the U.S. Department of State[41], 50% of Mongolia's population follow the Tibetan Buddhism, 40% are listed as having no religion, 6% are Shamanist, Baha'i and Christian, and 4% are Muslim.

Various forms of Tengriism and Shamanism have been widely practiced throughout the history of what is now modern day Mongolia, as such beliefs were common among nomadic people in Asian history. Such beliefs gradually gave way to Tibetan Buddhism, but Shamanism has left a mark on Mongolian religious culture, and continues to be practiced. Amongst the Mongol elite of the Mongol Empire, Islam was generally favored over other religions, as three of the four major khanates adopted Islam.[42]

Throughout much of the 20th century, the communist government ensured that the religious practices of the Mongolian people were largely repressed. Khorloogiin Choibalsan complied with the orders of Joseph Stalin, destroying almost all of Mongolia's over 700 Buddhist monasteries and killing thousands of monks. The number of Buddhist monks dropped from 100,000 in 1924 to 110 in 1990.[43]

The fall of communism in 1991 restored the legality of public religious practice, and Tibetan Buddhism, which had been the predominant religion in the region before the rise of communism, again rose to become the most widely practiced religion in Mongolia. The end of religious repression in the 1990s also allowed for other religions, such as Islam, Baha'i Faith and Christianity, to spread in the country. According to the Christian missionary group Barnabas Fund, the number of Christians grew from just four in 1989 to around 40,000 as of 2008.[citation needed]

See also: Buddhism in Mongolia, Islam in Mongolia and Christianity in Mongolia

Education

During the state socialist period, education was one of the areas of significant achievement in Mongolia. Illiteracy was virtually eliminated, in part through the use of seasonal boarding schools for children of nomadic families. Funding to these boarding schools was cut in the 1990s, contributing to slightly increased illiteracy.

Primary and secondary education formerly lasted 10 years, but was expanded to 11 years. Since the 2008-2009 school year, new first graders are using the 12 year system. As such, full transition to the 12-year system will not happen until the 2019-2020 school year, when the current first graders graduate.[44]

Mongolian national universities are all spin-offs from the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.

The broad liberalization of the 1990s led to a boom in private institutions of higher education, although many of these establishments have difficulty living up to their name of "college" or "university".[citation needed]

Health

Since 1990, key health indicators like life expectancy and infant and child mortality have steadily improved, both due to social changes and to improvement in the health sector. However, serious problems remain, especially in the countryside.[45]

Average childbirth (fertility rate) is around 2.25[31] - 1.87[33] per woman (2007) and average life expectancy is 67[31]-68[33] years. Infant mortality is at 1.9%[46]-4%[47] and child mortality is at 4.3%.[48]

The health sector comprises 17 specialized hospitals and centers, 4 regional diagnostic and treatment centers, 9 district and 21 aimag general hospitals, 323 soum hospitals, 18 feldsher posts, 233 family group practices, and 536 private hospitals and 57 drug supply companies/pharmacies. In 2002 the total number of health workers was 33273, of which 6823 were doctors, 788 pharmacists, 7802-nurses and 14091 mid-level personnel. At present, there are 27.7 physicians and 75.7 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants.

Culture

Riders during Naadam festival

The main festival is Naadam, which has been organised for centuries, consists of three Mongolian traditional sports, archery, horse-racing (over long stretches of open country, not the short racing around a track practiced in the West), and wrestling. Nowadays it is held on July 11 to July 13 in the honour of the anniversaries of the National Democratic Revolution and foundation of the Great Mongol State. Another very popular activity called Shagaa is the "flicking" of sheep ankle bones at a target several feet away, using a flicking motion of the finger to send the small bone flying at targets and trying to knock the target bones off the platform. This contest at Naadam is very popular and develops a serious audience among older Mongolians. In Mongolia, the khoomei (or throat singing), style of music is popular, particularly in parts of Western Mongolia.

The ornate symbol in the leftmost bar of the national flag is a Buddhist icon called Soyombo. It represents the sun, moon, stars, and heavens per standard cosmological symbology abstracted from that seen in traditional thangka paintings.

Sports and recreation

Naadam is the largest summer celebration

Mongolia's Naadam festival takes place over three days in the summer and includes horse racing, archery, and Mongolian wrestling. These three sports, traditionally recognized as the three primary masculine activities, are the most widely watched and practiced sports throughout the country.

Horse riding is especially central to Mongolian culture. The long-distance races that are showcased during Naadam festivals are one aspect of this, as is the popularity of trick riding. One example of trick riding is the legend that the Mongolian military hero Damdin Sükhbaatar scattered coins on the ground and then picked them up while riding a horse at full gallop.

Other sports such as table tennis, basketball, and soccer are increasingly getting popular. More Mongolian table tennis players are competing internationally.

Wrestling is the most popular of all Mongol sports. It is the highlight of the Three Manly Games of Naadam. Historians claim that Mongol-style wrestling originated some seven thousand years ago. Hundreds of wrestlers from different cities and aimags around the country take part in the national wrestling competition.

Mongolian wrestling is a common sport

There are no weight categories or age limits. Each wrestler has his own attendant herald. The aim of the sport is to knock one's opponent off balance and throw him down, making him touch the ground with his elbow and knee.

The winners are honored with ancient titles: the winner of the fifth round gets the honorary title of nachin (falcon), of the seventh and eighth rounds zaan (elephant), and of the tenth and eleventh rounds arslan (lion). The wrestler who becomes the absolute champion is awarded the title of avarga (Titan). Every subsequent victory at the national Naadam-festival will add an epithet to the avarga title, like "Invincible Titan to be remembered by all". Beginning in 2003, the Mongolian parliament adopted a new law on Naadam, making amendments to some of the wrestling titles. The titles of iarudi and Khartsaga (Hawk) were added to the existing above-mentioned rules.

The traditional wrestling costume includes an open-fronted jacket, tied around the waist with a string. This is said to have come into use after the champion of a wrestling competition many years ago was discovered to be a woman. The jacket was introduced to ensure that only men could compete.

International sports

Mongolia's traditional wrestlers have made the transition to Japanese sumo wrestling with great success. Asashōryū Akinori was the first Mongolian to be promoted to the top sumo rank of yokozuna in 2003 and was followed by his countryman Hakuhō Shō in 2007.

Naidangiin Tüvshinbayar won Mongolia's first ever Olympic gold medal in the men's 100-kilogram class of judo.[49]

Football is also played in Mongolia. The Mongolia national football team began playing again in the 1990s; it has yet to qualify for a major tournament. The Mongolia Premier League is the top domestic competition.

Several Mongolian women have excelled in pistol shooting: Otryadyn Gündegmaa is a silver medalist of the 2008 Olympic Games, Munkhbayar Dorjsuren is a double world champion and Olympic bronze medal winner (now representing Germany), while Tsogbadrakhyn Mönkhzul is, as of May 2007, ranked third in the world in the 25 m Pistol event.[50]

Architecture

A yurt (ger) in front of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains
Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery has many Buddhist architecture temples

The traditional Mongolian dwelling is known as a yurt (Mongolian: ger). According to Mongolian artist and art critic N. Chultem, yurts and tents were the basis for development of the traditional Mongolian architecture. In the 16th and 17th centuries, lamaseries were built throughout the country. Many of them started as yurt-temples. When they needed to be enlarged to accommodate the growing number of worshippers, the Mongolian architects used structures with 6 and 12 angles with pyramidal roofs to approximate to the round shape of a yurt. Further enlargement led to a quadratic shape of the temples. The roofs were made in the shape of marquees.[51] The trellis walls, roof poles and layers of felt were replaced by stone, brick, beams and planks, and became permanent.[52]

Chultem distinguished three styles in traditional Mongolian architecture: Mongolian, Tibetan and Chinese as well as combinations of the three. Among the first quadratic temples was Batu-Tsagaan (1654) designed by Zanabazar. An example of the yurt-style architecture is the lamasery Dashi-Choiling in Ulan Bator. The temple Lavrin (18th century) in the Erdene Zuu lamasery was built in the Tibetan tradition. An example of a temple built in the Chinese tradition is the lamasery Choijing Lamiin Sume (1904), which is a museum today. The quadratic temple Tsogchin in lamasery Gandan in Ulan Bator is a combination of the Mongolian and Chinese tradition. The temple of Maitreya (disassembled in 1938) is an example of the Tibeto-Mongolian architecture.[51] Dashi-Choiling monastery has commenced a project to restore the temple and the 80 feet (24 m) sculpture of Maitreya.

Music

Musician playing the traditional Mongolian musical instrument Morin Khuur

The music of Mongolia is strongly influenced by nature, nomadism, shamanism, and also Tibetan Buddhism. The traditional music includes a variety of instruments, famously the morin khuur, and also the singing styles like the urtyn duu ("long song"), and throat-singing (khoomei). The "tsam" is danced to keep away evil spirits and it was seen the reminiscences of shamaning.

Popular music

The first rock band of Mongolia was Soyol Erdene, founded in the 1960s. Their Beatles-like manner was severely criticised by the Communist censorship. It was followed by Mungunhurhree, Ineemseglel, Urgoo, etc., carving out the path for the genre in the harsh environment of Communist ideology. Mungunhurhree and Haranga were to become the pioneers in the Mongolia's heavy rock music. Haranga approached its zenith in the late 1980s and 1990s.

The leader of Haranga, famous guitarist Enh-Manlai, generously helped the growth of their following generations of rockers. Among the followers of Haranga was the band Hurd. In the early 1990s, group Har-Chono put the beginning for Mongolia's folk-rock, merging elements of the Mongolian traditional "long song" into the genre.

By that time, the environment for development of artistic thought had become largely liberal thanks to the new democratic society in the country. The 1990s saw development of rap, techno, hip-hop and also boy bands and girl bands flourish at the turn of the millennium.

Media

Mongolian media interviewing the opposition Mongolian Green Party. The media has gained significant freedoms since democratic reforms initiated in the 1990s.

Mongolian press began in 1920 with close ties to the Soviet Union under the Mongolian Communist Party, with the establishment of the Unen ("Truth") newspaper similar to the Soviet Pravda.[53] Until reforms in the 1990s, the government had strict control of the media and oversaw all publishing, in which no independent media was allowed.[53] The dissolution of the Soviet Union had a significant impact on Mongolia, where the one-party state grew into a multi-party democracy, and with that, media freedoms came to the forefront.

A new law on press freedom, drafted with help from international NGOs on August 28, 1998 and enacted on January 1, 1999, paved the way for media reforms.[54] The Mongolian media currently consists of around 300 print and broadcasting outlets.[55]

Since 2006, the media environment has been improving with the government debating a new Freedom of Information Act, and the removal of any affiliation of media outlets with the government.[56][57] Market reforms have led to an increasing number of people working in the media year on year, along with students at journalism schools.[56] In its 2008 report, Reporters Without Borders classified the media environment as 93rd out of 173, with 1st being most free.[58]

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace[5] Global Peace Index[59] 89 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 115 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 120 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 117 out of 133

See also

References

  1. ^ "Mongol" is often used almost synonymously, but is usually not understood to include minorities like Kazakhs or Tuvans.
  2. ^ Official landuse balanse data (2007)
  3. ^ Social and economic situation of Mongolia (As of the preliminary result of 2009)
  4. ^ Mongolian National Statistical Office Yearbook 2002
  5. ^ Human Development Report 2009[1]
  6. ^ The World Fact Book[2]
  7. ^ a b "Mongolia". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=948&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=38&pr.y=16. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  8. ^ "Human Development Report 2009. Human development index trends: Table G". The United Nations. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2009_EN_Complete.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  9. ^ ""Mongolia Standard Time is GMT (UTC) +8, some areas of Mongolia use GMT (UTC) + 7"". Time Temperature.com. http://www.timetemperature.com/asia/mongolia_time_zone.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  10. ^ ""The Mongolian government has chosen not to move to Summer Time"". World Time Zone.com. http://www.worldtimezone.com/dst_news/dst_news_mongolia01.html. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  11. ^ http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDI_2008_EN_Tables.pdf
  12. ^ a b c Eleanora Novgorodova, Archäologische Funde, Ausgrabungsstätten und Skulpturen, in Mongolen (catalogue), pp. 14-20
  13. ^ P. Jeffrey Brantingham, Steven L. Kuhn, Kristopher W. Kerry-The early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe, p.207
  14. ^ The Mysterious Scythians Burst Into History[3]
  15. ^ Archeological Sensation-Ancient Mummy Found in Mongolia[4]
  16. ^ http://www.hostkingdom.net/earthrul.html
  17. ^ Kazakhstan to c. 1700 ce. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  18. ^ Thomas E. Ewing, "Russia, China, and the Origins of the Mongolian People's Republic, 1911-1921: A Reappraisal", in: The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 399, 414, 415, 417, 421
  19. ^ Mongolia: The Bhudda and the Khan. Orient Magazine.
  20. ^ Ban Ki-Moon on press conference in Ulaanbaatar, July 27th, 2009
  21. ^ "President George W. Bush Visits Mongolia". US embassy in Mongolia, 2005. http://mongolia.usembassy.gov/potus_visit.html. 
  22. ^ Ulanbator
  23. ^ CIA World Factbook countries by area
  24. ^ "Republic of Mongolia" (PDF). 2004. http://www.imcg.net/gpd/asia/mongolia.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  25. ^ a b CIA World Factbook: Mongolia
  26. ^ Statistical Yearbook of Mongolia 2006, National Statistical Office, Ulaanbaatar, 2007
  27. ^ Morris Rossabi, Beijing's growing politico-economic leverage over Ulaanbaatar, The Jamestown Foundation, 2005-05-05, (retrieved 2007-05-29)
  28. ^ Jeffs, Luke (2007-02-12). "Mongolia earns a sporting chance with fledgling operation". Dow Jones Financial News Online. http://www.efinancialnews.com/content/1047180747. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  29. ^ Cheng, Patricia (2006-09-19). "Mongolian bourse seeks foreign investment". International Herald-Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/19/bloomberg/bxmongol.php. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  30. ^ Lonely Planet Mongolia: Choibalsan transport
  31. ^ a b c U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base
  32. ^ U.S. Department of State. Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Background Note:Mongolia
  33. ^ a b c d e World Population Prospects The 2006 Revision Highlights
  34. ^ National Statistical Office: Statistical Yearbook 2002, p. 39. "Villages" in this case refers to settlements that are not part of a sum, see p. 37
  35. ^ National Statistical Office: Statistical Yearbook 2002, pp. 43, 151
  36. ^ Second wave of Chinese invasion. The Sydney Morning Herald. August 13, 2007.
  37. ^ Mongolia - Ethnic and Linguistic Groups. Source: U.S. Library of Congress.
  38. ^ Lonely Planet: Mongolian, 2008
  39. ^ Han, Jae-hyuck (2006-05-05). "Today in Mongolia: Everyone can speak a few words of Korean". Office of the President, Republic of Korea. http://english.president.go.kr/cwd/en/archive/archive_view.php?meta_id=en_dip_2006&category=164&id=923b8c655856408486c7764f. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  40. ^ CIA Factbook - Mongolia
  41. ^ Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs - Mongolia
  42. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana, By Grolier Incorporated, pg. 680
  43. ^ Mongolia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  44. ^ Olloo.mn(Mongolian)
  45. ^ The National Statistical Office of Mongolia: Goal 4 - Reduce Child Mortality
  46. ^ National Ministry of Health Yearbook 2006
  47. ^ UNICEF - At a glance: Mongolia
  48. ^ UBPost: Child Mortality Rate Has Decreased, UNICEF Says
  49. ^ Mark Bixler (2008-08-15). "Mongolia wins first-ever gold medal". CNN.com/world sport. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SPORT/08/15/mongolia.medal/index.html. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  50. ^ "World ranking: 25 m Pistol Women". International Shooting Sport Federation. 2007-05-29. http://www.issf-shooting.org/update/worldranking.asp?mode=allbyevent&event=SP. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  51. ^ a b Искусство Монголии. Moscow. 1984. 
  52. ^ "Cultural Heritage of Mongolia". Indiana University. http://www.indiana.edu/~mongsoc/mong/heritage.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  53. ^ a b Mongolia media, Press reference.
  54. ^ Bruun, O. & Odgaard, O. Mongolia in Transition: Old Patterns, New Challenges. Routledge, 1996. ISBN 978-0-7007-0441-5.
  55. ^ Country Profile: Mongolia, BBC.
  56. ^ a b Banerjee, I. & Logan, S. Asian Communication Handbook 2008. AMIC, 2008. ISBN 978-981-4136-10-5.
  57. ^ Macrory, P. F. J., Appleton P. A. & Plummer, M. G. The World Trade Organization: Legal, Economic and Political Analysis. Springer, 2005. ISBN 978-0-387-22685-9.
  58. ^ 2008 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders.
  59. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/home.php. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

Further reading

External links

Government
General information
Travel


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Mongolia
noframe
Location
Flag
Image:mg-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Ulaanbaatar
Government Parliamentary Democracy
Currency Togrog/Tugrik (MNT)
Area total: 1.565 million km2
water: 9,600 km2
land: 1,555,400 km2
Population 2,791,272 (July 2006 est.)
Language Khalkha Mongol 90%, Turkic, Russian (1999)
Religion Tibetan Buddhist (Vajrayana) 96%, Muslim (primarily in the southwest), Shamanism, and Christian 4% (1998)
Calling Code +976
Internet TLD .mn
Time Zone UTC +7 to +8

Mongolia[1] is a landlocked country located between China and Russia. It is a vast emptiness that links land and sky, and is one of the last few places on the planet where nomadic life is still a living tradition. The Republic of Mongolia consists of historic Outer Mongolia, the province of Inner Mongolia is geographically separate and located to the south in China.

Understand

With only 2.9 people per square mile, Mongolia has the lowest population density of any independent country, and it is this vast and majestic emptiness that is the country's enduring appeal, bringing the traveler, as it does, into a close communion with nature and its nomadic inhabitants. Mongolia is entirely landlocked, sandwiched between China and Russia. The country is nicknamed the "Land of Blue Skies," and with good reason. There is said to be about 250 sunny days throughout each year. The weather is bitterly cold during the winter, dropping down to -40º Celsius (-40º F) in some parts. With many types of terrain--from desert to verdant mountains--the weather during the summer varies from region to region, but is generally hot. Outside of the Gobi desert, this time of year is marked with many rains in some areas, and it can become quite cool at night.
For several letters, the ISO 9 standard transliteration of Cyrillic is not widely used and there is no consensus either in Mongolia nor in Wikitravel. Specially, the same Cyrillic letter "х" is transliterated "h" or "kh", the letter "ө" is transliterated "ô", "ö", "o" or "u", but Latin "o" is also the transliteration of the Cyrillic "о", and Latin "u" is also the transliteration of Cyrillic "у" and "ү" (the latter should be transliterated "ù" according to ISO 9, but this is rarely done). So, if you can't find a name as you wrote it, try other spellings.

History

Recorded history of Ancient Mongolia dates back to third century BC when the Huns (Xiongnu) came to power among many other nomadic tribes.

Due to illiteracy and nomadic lifestyle, little was recorded by Huns of themselves except they first appear in Chinese history as Barbarians against whom the walls were built which later became known as Great Wall of China.

There have been several Empires in Mongolia after the Hun Nu. For example: A Turkish Empire around 650AD with its capital approximately 110km north of Har Horin (Kharkhorum). Also the Uighur Empire with its capital Har Bulgas (Khar Bulgas or Xar Bulgas) also near Har Horin. The Khitans who controlled North China around 1000AD as the Liao Dynasty had an administrative center (Har Bukh) 120km to the northeast. The Government of Turkey has been promoting some Turkish Empire monuments and there is a museum full of artifacts at the Bilge Khaan site.

The struggle for mere existence and power over other tribes kept going till the time of Genghis Khan, or Chinggis Khan as he is known in Mongolia. When he came to power and united these warring tribes under the Great Mongol Empire in 1206, he was proclaimed as Genghis Khan (Chingis Haan) of all Mongol tribes.

If you are really into the history, try The Secret History of the Mongols by Professor Onon. Every Mongolian reads the book in the modern Mongolian language. This is probably the oldest book in Mongolian. There are vivid similarities with the Bible in literary style, wording and story telling. It is speculated that the author could have been a Christian or at least was very knowledgeable about the Bible. According to Hugh Kemp, Qadag (pp 85-90, Steppe by Step) is the most likely candidate for authorship of Secret History of the Mongols. He writes about the history of ancient Mongolia and connects the modern reality with the ancient world. Even though his book is about the history of Christianity in Mongolia, he covers much more in a very interesting way. His book will help you to see the picture of ancient Mongolia from the height of 21st century. The "History of Mongolia" by B. Baabar is a good source for the Modern History of Mongolia.

On the trail of Marco Polo covers some travel through the Mongol Empire in the time of Genghis' grandson, Kublai Khan.

People

Mongolia is more than twice as big as Texas and even bigger than Alaska. Its area is 1.6 million square kilometers (618,000 square miles), four times the size of Japan and almost double that of Eastern Europe.

This makes Mongolia the sixth-largest country in Asia and 18th in the world, but the population is only 2727966 (as of 09.November.2009), which makes Mongolia one of the least densely populated areas in Asia.

If you consider that 40% of the population lives in the capital city of Ulan Bator or Ulaanbaatar that leaves lots of room for you to travel in the outback. Of course, Gobi is even less dense.

Almost another 40% of population are scattered all over Mongolia with their 56 million head of sheep, goats, cattle, horses and camels. There are 21 provinces, called aimag. Each aimag has a central city or town and about 15-22 sub-provinces called soum, so you will know which aimag and which soum you are in.

70% of Mongolia is under the age of 35. The gender ratio is close to 1:1. Ethnicity: 84% Khalkha Mongols, 6% Kazakhs and 10% other groups.

More than 50% will say they are Buddhists which is very much mixed with Shamanism, close to 10% will claim to be Christians of all forms and 4% follow Islam, the remainders will say that they are atheists.

There is an excellent book on Mongolian Christianity by Hugh Kemp called Steppe by Step. It is an eye-opener for anyone who is interested in Mongolian Christianity.

Naadam festival celebrations.
Naadam festival celebrations.

Mongolia is home to the "three manly sports": wrestling, horse racing, and archery, and these are same three sporting events that take place every year at the Naadam festival.

Naadam is the National Holiday of Mongolia celebrated on July 11-13. During these days all of Mongolia watch or listen to the whole event which takes place in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar through Mongolia's National Television and Radio. Many other smaller Naadam festivals take place in different aimags (provinces) around the country throughout the month of July, and it is at these Naadam festivals that you are able to get a much closer look at the action.

It is believed that Naadam celebrations started with the rise of the Great Mongolian Empire as Chinggis (a.k.a. Genghis) Khan's strategy to keep his warriors strictly fit. After the fall of the empire, the contests were held during religious festivals, and since the communist revolution it was celebrated on its anniversary.

The legend says that in old times a woman dressed like man won wrestling competition once. That is why open chest and long sleeve wrestling costumes, called "zodog", meant to show that every participant is male. Wrestlers wear short trunks, "shuudag", and Mongolian boots, "gutal". The yellow stripes on tales of wrestlers' hats will indicate the number of times the wrestler became a champion in Naadam.

Only Naadam gives official titles to the wrestlers. Mongolia wrestling tournaments have 9 or 10 rounds depending on the number of 512 or 1024 wrestlers registered for the competition that year. If the wrestler wins 5 rounds, he will be awarded title "Nachin" (bird), 6 rounds - Hartsaga (hawk), 7 rounds - Zaan (elephant), 8 rounds - Garuda, 9 rounds - Arslan (lion) and 10 - Avarga (Titan).

In 2006, Zaan (Elephant) Sumyabazar won 9 rounds that made him Garuda but that year 1024 wrestlers had 10 rounds which he won all. This entitled him to Avarga. Or Arslan (Lion) must win 2 in a row to become Avarga (Titan). The titles are for life. If Avarga (Titan) keeps winning at Naadam more and more attributes will be added to his title.

There is no weight categories in Mongolian Wrestling tournaments but there is a time limit of 30 minutes, if the wrestlers can not overthrow each other, referees use lots for better position which often settles the match. One who falls or his body touches the ground loses the match.

Mongolia Wrestling matches are attended by seconds whose role is to assist their wrestlers in all matters and to encourage them to win by spanking on their butts. They also sing praise songs and titles to the leading wrestlers of both wings, west and east, after 5 and 7 rounds. The referees monitor the rules but the people and the fans are the final judges. They will speak and spread the word of mouth about who is who till the next year.

Climate

The ideal Mongolia travel season starts in May and hits its highest peak in July, during the Naadam holiday, and in August when the weather is most favorable for traveling. This is the best time if you like the culture and can bear the crowds of other tourists. It is not a good time if you want to get away from your busy lifestyle because you will experience traffic, busy schedules, waiting in lines, etc.

September is also a very good time to visit, and October is not too late to travel to Mongolia. It is still warm during the days but a bit chilly during the nights. In the fall Mongolia is not very crowded, and this is time for late-comers and last-minute, unplanned trips. You will get to sightsee, enjoy the culture, and taste mare's milk, a bitter and at first somewhat unpleasant drink, throughout the country.

For visitors not afraid of cold or fermented mare's milk, traveling to Mongolia from November till the Lunar New Year is still an option. Winter tourism is a developing area of the Mongolian tourism industry.

The most rewarding experience will be visiting the nomads, as this is the time when you will experience their culture first-hand during "Tsagaan Sar" or the traditional (Lunar) New Year celebration.

Travellers will have the opportunity to watch lots of cultural activities: singing, dancing, wrestling, and winter horse racing.

Mongolia is known to have 250-260 sunny days throughout the year, so you will need good UV protection. During winter, protect your eyes, and during summer, protect your skin.

Regions

The country can be categorized into five distinct regions based on culture and geography. These regions are further divided into 21 provinces and one special municipality.

Mongolia regions
Mongolia regions
Central Mongolia
includes Ulaanbaatar and the popular tourist region of Arkhangai
Eastern Mongolia
Gobi
a mostly desert region in southern Mongolia
Northern Mongolia
Western Mongolia
home of Lake Uvs Nuur
  • Ulaanbaatar - the capital and starting point for most travel in this country.
  • Erdenet - Mongolia's second largest city and home to one of the world's biggest copper mines and a famous carpet factory
  • Hovd - A historic city at the crossroads of traditional Mongol and Kazakh culture.
  • Mörön - Capital of Hövsgöl province.
  • Ölgii - a town in Mongolia's far western corner - capital of Bayan-Ölgii province.
  • Tsetserleg - the capital of Arkhangai province.
  • Ulaangom - the capital of Uvs province
  • Uliastai- the capital of Zavhan province
  • Ondorkhaan- the capital of Khentii province

Get in

There are four border crossings open to foreigners, three by the Russian border and one near the small town of Erlian on the border with China.

To stay in the country a visa is required. The process for getting a thirty day visa is relatively painless, requiring a simple form and a small fee at your local Mongolian embassy. Longer visas are available, but require an invitation letter from a Mongolian company. These can sometimes be arranged through tour companies. Also, it is possible to acquire an expedited visa in a matter of hours at the Mongolian consulate in Erlian, though there is a steep $50 US fee for this service. A similar service is available in the Mongolian consulate in the Russian city of Irkutsk.

As of September 2008, a visa is required for everyone not a citizen of the following countries:

  • USA, Kazakhstan, - visa not needed for a visit not exceeding three months. Any stay past one month, however, must be noted upon arrival.
  • Cuba, Israel, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Thailand - visa not needed for a visit not exceeding one month.
  • Philippines - visa not needed for a visit not exceeding three weeks.
  • Singapore - visa not needed for a visit not exceeding two weeks.
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Republic of Korea -those with diplomatic passports need no visa for a visit not exceeding one month.
  • India - requirement of Mongolian visa without visa fee .
  • Hong Kong - visa not needed for a visit not exceeding 14 days (ID cards are accepted to indicate residence in Hong Kong).

For more then 30 days tourist visa you will need invitation letter [2]

The Embassy of Mongolia website [3] is useful for updates.

The Embassy of Mongolia's China website [4] you will need if you are applying for your Mongolian visa in China. You can print off the application form from this website, although the consulate does have them.

By plane

There are a few places with flights into the capital, Ulaanbaatar. From Europe, there are irregular and infrequent services from Berlin, London (Gatwick) and Moscow. Check with your local Mongolian Embassy too. There are almost daily flights from Seoul on Korean Air as well as other flights through Beijing. It is also possible to fly to Ulaanbaatar through Tokyo's Narita Airport. Don't buy a non-refundable or unchangeable ticket if you are going to Mongolia, because flights don't always actually happen. You can also fly in from Beijing, with Miat Mongolian airlines being the cheapest, then Air China after that. Once you are in the country you can also fly to all the province capitals. Plane flights between the capitals may be hard to find though.

By train

The Trans-Mongolian Line of the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway links Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar with Moscow, Russia and Beijing, China.

There is a small water boiler at the end of each train car which dispenses free hot water, so it's a good idea to stock up on instant noodles and tea for the trip. Also, don't expect to encounter any English-speaking staff on the train or in the stations.

From Russia

The Trans-Siberian train crosses the Russia/Mongolia border at the town of Naushki, Russia.

  • Those interested in saving money can book one way elektrichka (regional train) tickets from Irkutsk or Ulan Ude to Naushki. In Naushki, one can spend the night in the recently (June 2009) renovated train resting rooms (komnati otdiha) for $.50USD per hour. From there, it is possible to take a marshrutka to the land border crossing town of Kiahta, Russia. Walking across the border is prohibited, but travelers have no problems arranging for Mongolia bound cars to take them across the border, either for a small fee or for free. Upon crossing into Mongolia it is relatively easy to hitchhike, taxi, or bus to Sukhbaator or UB, as all southbound traffic is headed towards those cities.
  • From the West, from Russia, it is possible to cross at the land border in Tsagaannuur. There are daily petrol and wheat-carrying Russian Kamaz trucks headed to Olgii and it is possible to hitchhike to Tsagaannuur or even Olgii. Regular buses and marshrutkas also operate from the border, though service is unpredictable due to the lack of a schedule.

From China

Trans Mongolian Railway

2nd class (hard sleeper) costs about $200US (Aug 2009) from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. The ride takes almost 30 hours, but you are given a berth in a sleeper-car. The train leaves twice per week from Beijing. Currently, as of Aug 2009, tickets cannot be purchased from the Beijing station. Instead you will be directed to the China International Tour Service (CITS) office at 2nd floor of the Beijing International Hotel (10 min. walk north of the station).

Local Trains

Beijing to the border: If the Beijing - Ulaanbaatar train is sold out, as seems to be common, or you need a more frequent option, you can make your way from Beijing to the border at Erlian by local train as described below, and then on to Ulaanbaatar by bus and train.

Trains run daily from Beijing to Jining (Inner Mongolia) or Hohhot. You can change there for a train to the border town of Erlian near the Mongolian-Chinese border. The K89 leaves Beijing in the morning and arrives at Jining in the evening. Jining has many hotels near the train station and has karaoke bars to keep you entertained while you wait. From Jining to Erlian there is a slow train that leaves in the morning, passes the great wall multiple times, and arrives in the early evening. For up to date train times and costs see China Guide. Note that this will take a night longer than getting the sleeper bus as described in "By Bus".

Crossing the border

Be wary of scams at the border where people in uniform will attempt to sell you "required travel insurance." There is no such thing and you can safely ignore them.

You should then cross the border from Erlian in China to Zamiin-Uud in Mongolia as described in Erlian to and from Mongolia.

From the border to Ulaanbaatar

Once you have crossed the border, you will need to get from Zamiin-Uud to Ulaanbaatar as described in Zamiin-Uud get in.

To China

From Ulaanbaatar there are several options.

Firstly, the International train. Tickets at the International ticket office located across the street from the train station. The ticket office is on the second floor in the VIP lounge.

The second option is to get on the Hohhot international train and transfer at Erlian or Jining (Inner Mongolia), see the travel agency located on the 1st (ground) floor of the International ticket office for details.

The third option is to take the daily train to Zamiin-Uud, Mongolia at the border and take a bus or jeep to China. You can then go to the bus or train station in Erlian, China.

By bus

From Beijing to Erlian by bus costs 180 RMB and takes 12hrs. Several buses leave different bus stations in Beijing bound for Erlian:

  • Liuliqiao long-distance bus station (六里桥客运主枢纽 or lìu lǐ qiáo kè yùn zhǔ shū nǐu), phone 010-83831716, address: A1, Liuliqiao Nan Li, Fengtai District. Departure at 16:30. These are supposed to run every day, but may not. You can phone at 10:00 on the morning of departure to see if the bus is running and to reserve a place.
  • Muxiyuan long-distance bus station ( 木樨园才华长途汽车站 ), phone 010-67267149, location: go to Liujiayao Metro Station and get a cab. Departs 17:00.
  • Lizeqiao long-distance bus station ( 丽泽桥长途汽车站 ), phone ( 丽泽桥长途汽车站 ) Address 中国, 北京市丰台区北京市丰台区西三环丽泽桥东 010-63403408, address 中国, 北京市丰台区北京市丰台区西三环丽泽桥东. Location is difficult to get to. Departs 17:00.

Once you've got to Erlian you should then follow the Crossing the border and From the border to Ulaanbaatar steps above.

Should you be travelling at a busy time (i.e. around Naadam on the 11th/12th July) and want to be sure of getting tickets for the last leg of the trip in Mongolia, you could take one of the packages from the guesthouses in Beijing. These cost around 570 RMB (July 2009). They include will include a taxi to the coach station in Beijing, Beijing to Erlian by sleeper coach, a bed in the hotel in the bus station for a few hours, a bus from Erlian to Zamyn-Uud across the border, then soft sleeper overnight from Zamyn-Uud to Ulaanbaatar. Purchased separately the tickets cost about 360 RMB. The Saga guesthouse in Beijing sells these, and although they insist til they're blue in the face the train is hard sleeper it's actually soft sleeper!

By thumb

The road stops at the border town of Zamyn-Uud and gives way to an open desert, with tracks going in various directions but generally heading north toward the capital city. Hitchhiking in Mongolia is not easy and a little bit of money can be expected. There is an average of one car every hour heading into the desert. Expect a bumpy road with not much to see -- but this is the real Mongolian steppe.

Get around

Outside of the capital, there are few paved roads. The easiest way to travel long distance is using AeroMongolia, a subsidiary airline owned by the government which replaced all domestic operations by the national air carrier MIAT, after that airline's propeller aircraft were grounded and scrapped. AeroMongolia uses newer, Russian built aircraft and is generally safe. Air travel in Mongolia involves a two-tier price structure, with the costs for foreigners being significantly higher than for locals.

For the budget conscious, Russian Jeeps and 4wd Mini-buses act as a public transport system. About 45,000 tugrik pays for the all-day trip from UB to Tsetserleg (the regional capital of Arkhangai). Note that this involves being crammed into a Jeep with about nine locals (some of whom may be drunk) and spending the entire day racing over very bumpy dirt trails.

Traveling by local bus is also an option, though these buses tend only to connect the provincial capital with UB, and it is quite difficult to find any public transportation linking one provincial capital with another.

The train can be a good option, the local trains stop at many small stations in the countryside. For example, there is the small town of Batsumber, located about 34km north of Ulaanbaatar (as the crow flies) longer on the train. Take your camping gear and hike to the mountains about 10km east of the town. There are two streams flowing west out of the mountains, hike and camp along the streams. There is a small restaurant, and food shops in the town.

It is also possible to charter a Jeep and driver for private use. Prices are typically negotiated by the kilometer. While far more expensive than sharing a ride with the locals, this means of transport is considerably more convenient and allows you to visit more remote sites. It can also be quite convenient to hire a guide, during the length of your stay. Doing so can allow you to travel without worrying about taxi drivers wanting to overcharge up to 10X just for being a foreigner. In the cities, taxis should charge about 500 Mongolian Togrogs per km (Apr 2009). The drivers will set their trip meter and charge accordingly, check that the driver set the trip meter to zero. If a metered taxi, check that the driver resets the meter.

Whichever method of long-distance travel is chosen, keep in mind that everything in Mongolia has a tendency to break down. Don't be shocked if part of the suspension breaks and the driver jimmy-rigs a carved wooden block in the place of a mount. For more serious breakdowns, it can easily take an entire day or longer for somebody to come along and help, so leave plenty of slack in itineraries. Finally, Mongolians are rather notorious for being late. A bus that is scheduled to leave at 8AM will probably not be out of the city till almost 11AM.

For local travel, horse-back is good option. Note, however, that Mongolians ride on wooden saddles, so if you value your buttocks it's probably a good idea to pick up a leather, Russian saddle in UB.

Another great alternative is to simply walk. Since camping is possible anywhere, resting is never a problem. Wherever there is water there are nomads, and if you stick to the major dirt-roads you will encounter plenty of guanz, who can provide huge cheap meals to keep you going. Adopting the Mongolian style of sleeping outdoors is also an option - wrap yourself in wool blankets and then cover yourself with a Russian raincoat (essentially a tarp in the form of a trench coat), and simply plop yourself down on the ground. One night sleeping this way gives a whole new appreciation for the wonders of sleeping bags and bivvy sacks/tents.

If you plan to travel around the countryside without a guide, take a GPS and get some maps. The "Mongolia Road Atlas" is available in many bookstores, it is over 60 pages and covers the whole country. More detailed maps are available at the Mongolian Government Map Store. These maps are 1:500,000. Also some other special purpose maps and a very good map of downtown Ulaanbaatar. The map store is on Ih Toiruu St. Go west from the State Department store on the main street, called Peace, Peace and Friendship, or Ekhtavan Ave, two blocks to the large intersection with traffic lights, Turn right (North) and the map store is about half way along the block. There is an Elba electronic appliance store set back from the street, a yellow and blue building, the next building is a large Russian style office building 4 floors in height, the map store entrance is on the west side, toward the south end of the building, it lines up with the North wall of the Elba building.

See also: Mongolian phrasebook

With the exception of the westernmost province where Kazakh is spoken, everybody in the country speaks Mongolian. The language is extremely difficult for Westerners to learn and speak, even after multiple months of being immersed in the culture. Westerners typically take a minimum of 9-18 months of full time Mongolian language study to be conversant. Most locals will appreciate attempts to speak phrases in Mongolian, although the traveller will inevitably pronounce them wrong (be careful when ordering water in a restaurant - the word for water [pronounced "oos"] is indistinguishable for that of "hair" to the English ear! Makes for a good laugh over and over ...). Picking up a phrasebook and practising a few phrases will help. The numbering system is regular, and fairly easy to learn.

If you can speak Russian you are at an advantage. It has been widely taught for most of its history and you shouldn't have much trouble getting by, especially in the capital. English is not widely spoken, although it's been getting more popular lately.

See

Mongolia is a big country with bad transportation means, so trying to see too many provinces you would spend your holidays inside vehicles. Hôvsgôl (or "Hövsgöl") lake, in Hövsgöl province, is very beautiful. There is no much architecture in Mongolia, but Amarbaysgalant monastery, Selenge province, in the middle of nowhere, is worth seeing. Interested by the economical aspect? See Erdenet's open copper mine, the biggest copper mine in Asia, in Orhon province.

Do

Mongolian trains, very slow, are a good and cheap way to discuss with people.

Buy

The Mongolian currency is the tôgrôg (төгрөг), also spelled tugrik, tugrug or togrog, Unicode and local symbol: "₮", ISO symbol: "MNT". There are 1 423 tugrik in US$1 or 2 105 tugrik in €1 (as of 09 November 2009).

  • Mongolian cashmere is known as the best in the world. Garments and blankets made of cashmere. You can find lots of stores that sells cashmere products.
  • Paintings by local artists are excellent buys in Mongolia.
  • You can find felt poker-work in Erdenet.
  • Note that it is illegal to take antiques out of the country without a special permit.
  • The huge open-air market, Narantuul ("The Black Market") in Ulaanbaatar offers the lowest prices on just about anything you could want. Be very careful of the many pickpockets and even attackers there. This can be a great place to get a good pair of riding boots. You can opt for a variety of Mongolian styles, from fancy to the more practical, or even get a good set of Russian style boots.
  • In Erdenet is a ISO 9 001 certified carpet factory, making and selling also slippers made in carpet.

Rent

You can rent tourism material (but no vehicle) at Fiable.biz, a company managed by a French in Erdenet. It's possible to give back in Ulaanbaatar the things you rented there.

Traditional

The main diet in rural Mongolia is mutton or sheep. Yak might also hit the menu occasionally. Here, about 800 to 1200 tugrik will buy you a large platter heaped with fried noodles and slivers of mutton. On the side will be a large bottle of ketchup. A tasty and greasy dish served is khurshuur (hushoor), which is a fried pancake stuffed with bits of mutton and onion. Three to four make a typical meal. Also, the ubiquitous buuz (boots) can be had at any canteen in town or the countryside. Buuz are similar to khurshuur in that they are dumplings stuffed with mutton and onion, however they are boiled rather than fried. About 6 buuz should cost 500 tg, or 60 cents USD, and serves one.

The boodog, or marmot barbecue, is particularly worth experiencing. For about 10,000 tugrik, a nomad will head out with his rifle, shoot a marmot, and then cook it for you using hot stones. Along the same lines as boodog is khorhog, which is prepared like so: build a fire; toss stones into fire until red hot; place water, hot stones, onions, potatoes, carrots, and, finally, mutton chops, into a large vacuum-sealed kettle; let the kettle simmer over a fire for 30-60 minutes; open kettle carefully, as the top will inevitably explode, sending hot juices flying everywhere; once the kettle is opened, and all injuries have been tended to, eat contents of kettle, including the salty broth. This cooking method makes mutton taste tender and juicy, like slow-roasted turkey. Ask your guide if he or she can arrange one (but only during summer).

The boodog is also made of other meat, usually goat, and is similar to the khorhog with one major difference: the meat, vegetables, water and stones are cooked inside the skin of the animal. They skin it very carefully, and then tie off the holes at the legs and anus, put the food and hot stones inside, tie off the throat, and let it cook for about 30 minutes.

Drink

The national drink is called Airag. This is a summer seasonal drink made from fermented mare's milk, and is certainly an acquired taste. The alcohol content is less than that of beer, but can have noticeable effects. Be careful, if you aren't accustomed to drinking sour milk products the first time might give you diarrhea as your stomach gets accustomed to it. This should only happen the first time though. Once you've completed the ritual, your digestive system shouldn't complain again. There are numerous ways to describe the taste, from bile-like to a mixture of lemonade and sour cream. The texture can also be offsetting to some people since it can be slightly gritty. It is worth keeping in mind that Airag is milk and a source of nutrients. After a day of riding it can actually be quite refreshing, once acquiring a taste for it.

The first thing you will be served every time you visit a ger will be milk tea, which is essentially a cup of boiled milk and water, sometimes with a couple pieces of tea leaf thrown in for good measure. You might want to build up your tolerance by drinking lots of milk in preparation for your stay because they don't drink much else, except perhaps boiled water if you specially request it during a longer stay. Also, most traditional nomadic foods such as dried yogurt and the like require acclimatization to milk as well. Cold drinks don't actually exist in the countryside (unless you intend to drink straight out of a river, generally not recommended), and it's generally recommended that you don't drink anything cold after eating mutton, as it can cause the fat to congeal in your stomach and make you ill.

If you are in Mongolia especially in the country side try their National Home Made Vodka. It's usually made from distilled yogurt or milk. It doesn't have any weird taste. After you have your first shot of the vodka you won't feel anything, but few minutes later it will get to your head. Most people in Mongolia usually drink this for medical reasons. First you heat up the vodka then put in a little bit of special oil which is also made from milk. Careful don't overheat it, you might get blind. Mongolians call their national vodka nermel areehk ("distilled vodka") or changa yum ("tight stuff"). There are lots of Russian type Vodkas sold all over the country. The best ones are Chinggis Khaan vodka, Soyombo and Golden Chinggis.

In Ulaanbaataar you can find most of Western beers, from Miller to Heineken. They sell Budweiser -- not American Bud but the Czech Budweiser. Local beer, such as Chingiss, Gem Grand, Borgio or Sengur is fine.

Sleep

Some western-style accommodations are available in Ulaanbaatar, but they go for western prices. There are a few nice guest houses in UB for less than $US10 per night (even as cheap as 3,000 tugrik if you're willing to share a room), but they are crowded during the tourist season and hard to get into.

Out in the countryside, most of the hotels are rundown leftovers from the Soviet era. A better option is tourist ger, set up by various entrepreneurial locals. Staying at one of these costs about 5000 tugrik per person per night. They often include breakfast and dinner as well. When staying in one of these guest ger, the usual gift-giving customs can be skipped.

Finally, there are also ger-camps. Set up by tour-companies, they do occasional rent out space to independent travellers. Unfortunately, they tend to be both expensive (35 US$ per person per night )and out of the way.

Except for the cities and larger towns, all of the land is publicly owned. This means you can pitch a tent pretty much anywhere. Courtesy dictates that you keep your distance from existing nomad encampments. Common-sense dictates that you don't pitch a tent in the middle of or too close to a road.

  • Mongol Rally, [5]. Have a great adventure and raise money for charity  edit

Learn

There are some language schools in the capital. The two most well known ones to foreigners are Bridge School and Friends School. Both schools offer group study classes or individual tutors. It usually takes Westerners about 9 to 18 months before they acquire good conversational abilities in Mongolian. Speakers of the Altai-Turkic languages, such as Turks or Kazakhs, tend to pick it up quicker due to the similarities in grammatical structure.

Work

There is a huge demand for "Native" English speakers as English teachers. Anyone who is interested in teaching English will have no trouble getting employment and a work visa through a school or organization. However, the pay is generally low compared to other countries. Though it'll usually be just enough for room and board plus a little extra.

Local English-language media are another source of employment for native English speakers, offering work as editors, proof-reader or photojournalist.

Volunteer work is available teaching English, assisting with charity work and joining archaeological digs. These jobs are easy to find and are very rewarding.

Stay safe

Mongolia is generally a very safe place to travel. However, incidences of pick pocketing and bag slashing have been on the rise in recent years, so always keep your personal belongings in a safe place (money belts are highly recommended), especially in crowded areas or in places where your attention is diverted, such as internet cafes . Notorious places for theft are the Black Market (bazaar), the railway station and crowded bus stops.

Violent crime is uncommon, but still caution is required at night, and dark or deserted alleys and streets, in particular, should be avoided.

There are small bands of Mongolian ultra nationalists that style themselves as neo-Nazis who assault foreigners including white, black and particularly Chinese. They are especially provoked by foreigner interaction with Mongolian women.

Lone or female travellers obviously need to exercise a higher degree of awareness of their surroundings.

Be careful when travelling by horse as it is not unknown for groups to follow tourists and then steal their goods, including the horses, while they sleep at night.

Dogs in Mongolia can be aggressive and may run in packs. It is a good idea to be wary of them since they are not likely to be as tame as domestic dogs elsewhere.

Stay healthy

Nomads' dogs may have rabies. As a precaution, consider having a rabies shots before coming.

Marmots should not be eaten at certain times of the year because they can carry bubonic plague. That said, the disease is carried by the marmot's fleas so the afflicted tend to be fur traders, and marmot is not a mainstream dish even in Mongolia.

Hepatitis and tuberculosis are common throughout Mongolia.

  • The USA Center for Disease Control, [6]. Country by country warnings and advice  edit

Respect

Always receive items with the right hand, palm facing up. Drink from the right hand with the palm up as well. It is very rude to refuse a gift. If offered a plate of hospitality munchies, take at least a small nibble from something.

Contact

There are plenty of Internet cafés in the capital. The postal service is slow and most people have a PO Box if they want to get anything. It is possible to buy phone cards that can be used to call abroad very cheaply from domestic phones, but not all phones can do this. (You can ask for MiCom or MobiCom cards). In the countryside, don't expect to be staying in contact with anyone. Most Aimag Centers (Province Capitals) have an Internet Café in the post office.

To make local calls in Ulaanbaatar use a phone of one of the many entrepreneurs with cellular telephones on the street corners. Expect to pay from Tg150 to Tg200 per minute (June 2009 prices).

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also mongolia, and Mongólia

Contents

English

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Mongolia

Plural
-

Mongolia

  1. Country in Central Asia. Official name: Mongolia.

Related terms

Translations

See also


Finnish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Mongolia

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Mongolia

  1. Mongolia

Declension

Derived terms


Italian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Mongolia

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Mongolia f.

  1. Mongolia

Related terms


Norwegian

Proper noun

Mongolia

  1. Mongolia

See also


Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /mɔŋˈɡɔlja/, rare: /mɔnˈɡɔlja/

Proper noun

Mongolia f.

  1. Mongolia

Declension

Singular only
Nominative Mongolia
Genitive Mongolii
Dative Mongolii
Accusative Mongolię
Instrumental Mongolią
Locative Mongolii
Vocative Mongolio

Derived terms

  • Mongoł m., Mongołka f.
  • adjective: mongolski

Simple English

Mongolia

Монгол Улс (Mongol Uls)

File:Flag of File:Coat of Arms of
Official flag Coat of Arms
National information
National anthem: "National Anthem of Mongolia"
About the people
Official languages: Mongolian
Population: (# of people)
  - Total: 2,791,272 (ranked 134)
  - Density: 1.8 per km²
Geography / Places
[[Image:|250px|none|country map]] Here is the country on a map.
Capital city: Ulaanbaatar
Largest city: Ulaanbaatar
Area
  - Total: 1,564,116 (ranked 18)
  - Water:n/a km² (0.6%)
Politics / Government
Established: July 11, 1921
Leaders: President: Nambaryn Enkhbayar

Prime Minister: Sanjaagiin Bayar

Economy / Money
Currency:
(Name of money)
Tugrug (MNT)
International information
Time zone: +7 (DST: +8)
Telephone dialing code: +976
Internet domain: .mn

Mongolia is a country between China and Russia, in Asia. Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and the People's Republic of China to the south, east and west. The capital and largest city, Ulan Bator/ Ulaan Battor, is home to about 38% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic. Until recently, most of the people there were Buddhists, and many of them are nomads (people who always move and do not stay in one home), but this is changing. The largest city, and capital city is Ulaanbaatar, which has been spelled Ulan Bator and other ways in the past. The north and east parts of the country have many mountains, and part of the south part is the Gobi Desert. There are 2,791,272 people living in Mongolia, which is the 18th biggest country in the World, with an area of 1,564,116 square kilometres. The crime rate and the local night life are very low. Their language is Mongolian, but some know English, Chinese and Russian.

Contents

History

The area which is Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires until the great 'Mongol Empire' was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols returned to their earlier nomadic lifestyle. After the 16th century, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism and by the end of the 17th century, most of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence, but had to struggle with the Soviet Union's help, until 1921 before the world accepted its independence. Mongolia is still a largely rural nation. The Mongolian Red Cross Society was set up in 1939. It has its headquarters in Ulan Bator. Since the end of the Soviet Union in 1992, Russia and the Ukraine lost interest in Mongolia. China and South Korea are its trade and political partners now. There have been much colder winters over the last few years that have killed many people and cattle.

Climate

File:Mongolia 103.88219E 46.
A NASA satalite photo of Mongolia
Mongolia has always had a steppe climate. It has very cold winters and mild summers. Things have much got worse lately. There have been much colder winters over the last few years that have killed many people and cattle.

On June 2, 2008 52 people and 200,000 head of cattle had died in heavy blizzards by the 2nd in Mongolia[1].

On March 1st to 2nd, a heavy dust storm hit N.E. China and parts of Mongolia. and ended over North Korea and South Korea in the 4th [2]

21 people had died in a rural Mongolian blizzard on May 8th 2008.[3] parts of the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia were also affected on the 8th of May 2008.

On June 2 2009, it was said that 15 people and 10,000 head of cattle had died by this date in Mongolia.

April 1st and 2nd, 2010 had temperatures plummet to -50 degrees in Mongolia’s Tuul valley, The nomad Urna said she bought 400 bundles of grass and tons of animal to help in any more bad weather. The Mongolian Red Cross have said that about 4,500,000 livestock died as a result of the bad weather this year.[4][5] Tume, who lives in Ulan Bator said that he had noticed that there were several really harsh winters in a row too. He blamed climate change, but experts said that overgrazing by cattle had also killed of most of the country’s grassland.[6]

Swine flu

Mongolia is currently free of bird and swine flu, but 103 air travelers who were suspected victims, and the plane crew of 6, were quarantined for 7 days in Ulaan Bator(Ulaanbaatar) in May 2009.[7]

It may have come over the border from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia.[8][dead link]

Other websites

Sources

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