Mongolia -- Country Profile
The country of Mongolia covers more than 600,000 square miles of land in Central Asia (almost three times the size of France), but is sparsely populated with about 2.6 million people -- less than the population of Mongols living in China. One third of Mongolians live in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and half of the population herds livestock for a living. The predominant religion is Tibetan Buddhism. Bordered by Russia in the north and China in the south, Mongolia's average altitude is above 5,000 feet, and Ulaanbaatar is often described as the coldest capital in the world. The country's largest trading partner is China and the central Asian plateau is believed to be rich in largely untapped mineral resources, such as iron, copper, and gold.
In the 13th century, after the unification of Mongolian tribes under the legendary warrior Genghis Khan, a vast Mongolian empire was created. At its height, the empire stretched from the eastern seaboard of China to Central Europe in the West. Only the British Empire, at its peak, covered a larger geographical area. After the Mongol empire declined, Mongolia was ruled by the Chinese Qing Dynasty from the 17th century to the early 20th century.
In 1911, with the backing of Russia, Mongolia was granted autonomy, eventually gaining full independence in 1921. Heavily influenced by Russia, the communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) ruled the country for most of the 20th century. In 1990, the MPRP was forced out when political opposition parties were allowed to form; and by 1992 the country was officially recognized as a democracy. The MPRP (which is no longer communist) was defeated by the Democratic Union Coalition in the 1996 parliamentary election, but went on to regain power in 2000 and is the current ruling party. In 2005, President Bush became the first serving leader in the United States to visit Mongolia.
Mongolia's climate is extreme, with long, bitter winters and severe wind chills. Summers are short but warm, followed by a rapid return to winter in October. January is the coldest month, during which temperatures can drop to -50 Degrees Celsius. Droughts compounded by harsh winters (a phenomenom known as the "zud") have continued to threaten the nomadic herding culture and many families have given up this way of life and moved to the capital to seek work. In 2001, 13 out of 21 provinces faced disaster when a particularly devastating deep-freeze wiped out 7 percent of the country's livestock.
Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations
The site details economic and cultural information about the country and lists comprehensive links to government departments and international trading partners.
U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The Web site of the United States embassy in Mongolia highlights partnerships and trade initiatives between the two countries, including community development programs run by the United States Peace Corps.
Transcript of President Bush's 2005 address in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
In his speech to the Mongolian people during a visit to Mongolia in November 2005, President Bush talks about the country's transition from communism to democracy and the economic and political reforms the government has adopted.
The Lonely Planet
For more information about visiting Mongolia, the Lonely Planet site provides fast facts on the history and culture of the country and the latest photo galleries and tips from travelers to the region.
Compiled by Jackie Bennion and Ariana Reguzzoni