Mongolia is a landlocked unitary sovereign state in East Asia. Its area is roughly equivalent with the historical territory of Outer Mongolia, and that term is sometimes used to refer to the current state. It is sandwiched between China to the south and Russia to the north. While it does not share a border with Kazakhstan, Mongolia is separated from it by only 36.76 kilometres (22.84 mi).
At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the 18th largest and the most sparsely populated fully sovereign country in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. It is also the world’s second-largest landlocked country behind Kazakhstan and the largest landlocked country that does not border a closed sea. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by grassy steppe, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city, is home to about 45% of the country’s population.
Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic; horse culture is still integral. The majority of its population are Buddhists. The non-religious population is the second largest group. Islam is the dominant religion among ethnic Kazakhs. The majority of the state’s citizens are of Mongol ethnicity, although Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization in 1997 and seeks to expand its participation in regional economic and trade groups.
The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the Turkic Khaganate, and others. In 1206, Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, which became the largest empire in history. His grandson Kublai Khan conquered China to establish the Yuan dynasty. After the collapse of the Yuan, the Mongols retreated to Mongolia and resumed their earlier pattern of factional conflict, except during the era of Dayan Khan and Tumen Zasagt Khan.
In the 16th century, Tibetan Buddhism began to spread in Mongolia, being further led by the Manchu-founded Qing dynasty, which absorbed the country in the 17th century. By the early 1900s, almost one-third of the adult male population were Buddhist monks. After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence from the Qing dynasty, and in 1921 established de facto independence from the Republic of China. Shortly thereafter, the country came under the control of the Soviet Union, which had aided its independence from China. In 1924, the Mongolian People’s Republic was declared as a Soviet satellite state. After the anti-Communist revolutions of 1989, Mongolia conducted its own peaceful democratic revolution in early 1990. This led to a multi-party system, a new constitution of 1992, and transition to a market economy.
The symbol 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.
Before the 20th century, most works of the fine arts in Mongolia had a religious function, and therefore Mongolian fine arts were heavily influenced by religious texts. Thangkas were usually painted or made in applique technique. Bronze sculptures usually showed Buddhist deities. A number of great works are attributed to the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, Zanabazar.
In the late 19th century, painters like “Marzan” Sharav turned to more realistic painting styles. Under the Mongolian People’s Republic, socialist realism was the dominant painting style, however traditional thangka-like paintings dealing with secular, nationalist themes were also popular, a genre known as “Mongol zurag”.
The traditional Mongolian dwelling is known as a ger. In the past it was known by the Russian term yurt, but this is changing as the Mongolian term becomes better known among English-speaking countries. According to Mongolian artist and art critic N. Chultem, the ger was the basis for development of traditional Mongolian architecture. In the 16th and 17th centuries, lamaseries were built throughout the country. Many of them started as gertemples. 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 ger. Further enlargement led to a quadratic shape of the temples. The roofs were made in the shape of marquees. The trellis walls, roof poles and layers of felt were replaced by stone, brick, beams and planks, and became permanent. 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 gerstyle architecture is the lamasery Dashi-Choiling in Ulaanbaatar. 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 Ulaanbaatar is a combination of the Mongolian and Chinese tradition. The temple of Maitreya (disassembled in 1938) is an example of the Tibeto-Mongolian architecture. Dashi-Choiling monastery has commenced a project to restore the temple and the 25 metres (82 ft) sculpture of Maitreya.
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 throatsinging (khoomei). The “tsam” is danced to keep away evil spirits and it was seen the reminiscences of shamaning.
The first rock band of Mongolia was Soyol Erdene, founded in the 1960s. Their Beatles-like manner was severely criticized 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.
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.
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. Until reforms in the 1990s, the government had strict control of the media and oversaw all publishing, in which no independent media was allowed. 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. The Mongolian media currently consists of around 300 print and broadcasting outlets.
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. Market reforms have led to an increasing number of people working in the media year on year, along with students at journalism schools.
In its 2013 World Press Freedom Index report, Reporters Without Borders classified the media environment as 98th out of 179, with 1st being most free. In 2016, Mongolia was ranked 60th out of 180.
According to 2014 Asian Development Bank survey, 80% of Mongolians cited TV as their main source of information.
Naadam is the largest summer celebration
The main national festival is Naadam, which has been organised for centuries and takes place over three days in the summer, consists of three Mongolian traditional sports, archery, horseracing (over long stretches of open country, not the short racing around a track practiced in the West), and wrestling, traditionally recognized as the Three Manly Games of Nadaam. In modern-day Mongolia, Naadam is held on July 11 to 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. At Naadam, this contest is very popular and develops a serious audience among older Mongolians.
Riders during Naadam festival
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.
Mongolian 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.
Other sports such as basketball, weightlifting, powerlifting, and association football, athletics, gymnastics, table tennis, jujutsu, karate, aikido, kickboxing, mixed martial arts have become popular in Mongolia. More Mongolian table tennis players are competing internationally.
Freestyle wrestling has been practised since 1958 in Mongolia. Mongolian freestyle wrestlers have won the first and the most Olympic medals of Mongolia.
Naidangiin Tüvshinbayar won Mongolia’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100kilogram class of judo.
Amateur boxing has been practised in Mongolia since 1948. Mongolian olympic boxing national team was founded in 1960. Communist government of Mongolia banned boxing during the period 1964–1967 but the government ended ban on boxing soon. Professional boxing began in Mongolia in the 1990s.
Mongolia’s basketball team enjoyed some success recently, especially at the East Asian Games.
Association football is also played in Mongolia. The Mongolian national team began playing national games again during the 1990s; but has not yet qualified for a major international tournament. The Mongolia Premier League is the top domestic competition.
Mongolia is one of the rich natural countries in the world. Because there are 7 natural zones: such as High Mountain Zone, Taiga Forest Zone, Mountain Forest Steppe Zone, Steppe Zone, Desert-Steppe Zone, Gobi Desert Zone, Wetlands. For example: Mongolian from north to south it can be divided into four natural zones: mountain-forest steppe, mountain steppe and, in the extreme south, semi-desert and desert.
High mountain zone:
All Mongolia is “mountain”, the country averaging 1.5 kilometers above the sea level. In Mongolian terms, 5%is at such high altitude as to endure extreme condition -the High Mountain Zone – winds, extreme cold, and very short growing season.
The Zone is above the tree line, characterized by tundra, alpine- sedge meadows, upland swamps and lichen- covered screes and boulders. Plants include shrubby Ground Birch; occasion Mountain Pine, beautiful white Gentian and Mountain Saxifrage. Typical mammals are “Argali”, Ibex, Snow leopard, Ermine, Snow Marten and Mountain Hare, birds include White Ptarmigan, Altai Snow cock, Eurasian Dottrel, Rock Pigeon and Red-Billed Chough.
Taiga forest zone:
Northern Mongolia includes the southern rim of Siberia ‘s vast taiga forest, the largest forest on the planet Earth. The taiga is boreal coniferous forest, mainly Siberian Larch and in higher areas Siberian Pine. Other confers such as Siberian Spruce feature. The bark and forest floor is rich in moss and lichens. In Mongolia are relatively undisturbed.
Mountain forest steppe:
To the south, about 25% of Mongolia is a mix of forest and grassland, a transition zone between taiga forest and steppe , with northern slopes clothed in trees and southern slopes carpets of wild ‘ flower of open grassland’. This attractive landscape has a high biological diversity, home to Roe Deer, Elk, Wolf, Red Fox, and Tolai Hare, Siberian marmot.
Further south, the Steppe Zone is a ‘sea grass’ covering 20% of Mongolia , crucial for the livestock of the semi-nomadic herder families. These permanent pastures, undisturbed by ploughing or artificial chemical are rich carpets of sweet smelling herbs, flower and grasses. The steppe Zone is crucial for the semi-nomadic life with livestock such as horses, goats, cattle, yaks and camels.
Desert steppe zone:
South again the lush green grasslands of the steppe give away to a transition, the Desert
Steppe Zone on the north rim of the Gobi Desert .The transition zone covers 20% of Mongolia , a dry region of parched grasslands and salt pans, strong winds and dust storm. It has grasses and shrubs very different from those of the Steppe Zone many are unique to Central Asia . Desert Steppe Zone, Desert to South. In the skies, are Houbara Bustard, Cinerous Vulture and huge Lammergeyer. Grazing animals include herds of Wild Horse, Wild ass, Saiga Antelope and Black-Tailed Gazelle
Gobi desert zone:
To the south, lies the vast Gobi, a massive desert straddling the border of Mongolia and the Inner Mongolia region of China. One of the world’s great deserts, much of the Gobi is a daunting place of bare Rocky Mountains , sand dunes, huge desert flats, relieved by wellwatered oases. The climate is harsh, from 40degree centigrade in summer to -40degree centigrade in winter.
Mongolia’s wetlands are diverse-glaciers, lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, oases etc. – and in each of the 6 Zones described above the, the wetlands support distinctive animals and plants. The Mongolian rivers separate 3 drainage basins, so the fish are quite different in each: The
Pacific Ocean Drainage Basin Supports 41 species of fish, including Amur Sturgeon. The
Arctic Ocean Basin supports 25 species of fish notably Lenok, Baikal Sturgeon and Northern Pike. The Central Asian Drainage Basin is quite distinctive being isolated, with only 5 species of fish, but evolved into new species – notably the Mongolian Grayling and Altai Osmanunique in the World.
The official language of Mongolia is Mongolian, and is spoken by 95% of the population. A variety of dialects of Oirat and Buryat are spoken across the country, and there are also some speakers of Mongolic Khamnigan. In the west of the country, Kazakh and Tuvan, both Turkic languages, are also spoken. Mongolian Sign Language is the principal language of the deaf community.
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 taken place as older generations encountered practical difficulties. The traditional alphabet is being slowly reintroduced through schools.
Russian is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, although English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.
Interest in Chinese, as the language of the other neighbouring power, has been growing. A number of older educated Mongolian citizens speak some German, as they studied in the former East Germany, while a few speak other languages from the former Eastern Bloc. Many younger people are fluent in the Western European languages as they study or work in, among other places, Germany, France and Italy.
Mongolia is known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” or “Country of Blue Sky” because it has over 250 sunny days a year.
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). A vast front of cold, heavy, shallow air comes in from Siberia in winter and collects in river valleys and low basins causing very cold temperatures while slopes of mountains are much warmer due to the effects of temperature inversion
In winter the whole of Mongolia comes under the influence of the Siberian Anticyclone. The localities most severely affected by this cold weather are Uvs province (Ulaangom), western Khovsgol (Rinchinlhumbe), eastern Zavkhan (Tosontsengel), northern Bulgan (Hutag) and eastern Dornod province (Khalkhiin Gol). Ulaanbaatar is also strongly affected but not as severely. The cold gets less severe as one goes south, reaching the warmest January temperatures in Omnogovi Province (Dalanzadgad, Khanbogd) and the region of the Altai mountains bordering China. A unique microclimate is the fertile grassland-forest region of central and eastern Arkhangai Province (Tsetserleg) and northern Ovorkhangai Province (Arvaikheer) where January temperatures are on average the same and often higher than the warmest desert regions to the south in addition to being more stable. The Khangai Mountains play a certain role in forming this microclimate. In Tsetserleg, the warmest town in this microclimate, night time January temperatures rarely go under −30 °C (−22 °F) while daytime January temperatures often reach 0 °C (32 °F) to 5 °C (41 °F) .
The country is subject to occasional harsh climatic conditions known as zud. The annual average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is −1.3 °C/29.7 °F, making it the world’s coldest capital city. 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 centre of a region of high atmospheric pressure. Precipitation is highest in the north (average of 200 to 350 millimeters (7.9 to 13.8 in) per year) and lowest in the south, which receives 100 to 200 millimeters (3.9 to 7.9 in) annually. The highest annual precipitation of 622.297 mm (24.50 in) occurred in the forests of Bulgan Province close to the border with Russia and the lowest of 41.735 mm (1.64 in) occurred in the Gobi Desert (period 1961–1990). The sparsely populated far north of Bulgan Province averages 600 mm (23.62 in) in annual precipitation which means it receives more precipitation than Beijing (571.8mm) or Berlin (571mm).
Current Time & Date:
The Mongolian Tughrik is the currency of Mongolia. The currency code for Tugriks is MNT, and the currency symbol is ₮.
Automatic teller machines accept foreign visa cards, but are mostly found in larger towns and cities. Cultural sites and community art and craft outlets usually only accept cash.
Food & Drinks:
Mongolian cuisine is rooted in their nomadic history, and thus includes a lot of dairy and meat, but little vegetables. Two of the most popular dishes are Buuz (a meat filled steamed dumpling) and Khuushuur (a sort of deep-fried meat pie.)
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. Yet, adult health deteriorated during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century and mortality rates increased significantly.
Serious problems remain, especially in the countryside. According to a 2011 study by the World Health Organization, Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar has the second-most fine particle pollution of any city in the world. Poor air quality is also the largest occupational hazard, as over two-thirds of occupational disease in Mongolia is dust induced chronic bronchitis or pneumoconiosis.
Average childbirth (fertility rate) is around 2.25–1.87 per woman (2007) and average life expectancy is 68.5 years (2011). Infant mortality is at 1.9%–4% and child mortality is at 4.3%.
Mongolia has the highest rate of liver cancer in the world by a significant margin.
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, 536 private hospitals, and 57 drug supply companies/pharmacies. In 2002, the total number of health workers was 33,273, of whom 6823 were doctors, 788 pharmacists, 7802 nurses, and 14,091 mid-level personnel. At present, there are 27.7 physicians and 75.7 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants.
Visa is required for all, except citizens of the following countries. Visas are available from the Mongolian embassy in your country. If there is no Mongolia embassy in your country, one month visas can be obtained on the spot once you arrive at the airport or railway station. There will also be a visa fee of $53US. We will supply an official confirmation letter (by email or post) for your visa application once you book a travel service with us.
Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan, Macao,USA –no need a visa for a visit not exceeding three months
German, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Russia,Turkey – no need a visa for a visit not exceeding one month
Philippines – no need a visa for a visit not exceeding three weeks
Singapore ,Hong Kong- no need a visa for a visit not exceeding two weeks
People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Thailand, Romania and Chile –who has diplomatic or official passport -no need a visa for a visit
Laos, Yugoslavia, Czech, Slovak, Mexico -who has diplomatic or official passport -no need a visa for a visit not exceeding three months ·
Hungary, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea – who has diplomatic or official passport -no need a visa for a visit not exceeding three month
India –needs Mongolian visa without visa fee
Cuba –no need a visa for a visit not exceeding one month Mongolian visas are issued by
Mongolian Diplomatic Missions abroad or upon arrival at a special request. The Mongolian Embassies Abroad list
Chinggis Khan international airport
Currency: Mongolian tögrög
Population: 3 million
Official languages: Mongolian