Mongolia is a landlocked country in east-central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west.It is the 19th largest country in the world and one of the most sparsely populated (population of around 3 million people). It contains very little arable land and the majority of the area is covered by windswept grasslands.
A third of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic and practise rudimentary subsistence farming and manage herds of livestock.The majority of its population are Buddhists. Islam is the dominant religion among ethnic Kazakhs.
The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader was Genghis Khan. He went on to conquer China, Beijing and Russia to create the world’s largest empire.It stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan, with over 700 tribes and cities under his rule.He was a ruthless leader but Genghis Khan also modernised Mongolian culture, embraced religious freedom and established contact between the East and West.He has the status of a national hero. A 131-foot statue of Genghis Khan stands on an isolated hill about one hour’s drive from Ulaanbaatar
Mongolia has a parliamentary system of government.The State of Mongolia was formerly known as Outer Mongolia and only became a democratic democracy in 1990.Inner Mongolia is under Chinese control in a region known as the Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.More ethnic Mongolians live in Inner Mongolia than in the State of Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia and its largest city.It used to be a nomadic city and moved three times a year.The name means ‘Red Hero’. Today it is home to about a third of the Mongolian population.The population swells during the frigid winter months, where the city outskirts turn into a mass camp as nomads seek to get closer to the amenities of civilisation as temperatures drop to below -30.
Genghis Khan could not read or write but he commissioned the first Mongolian writing system – the Mongolian script.Since the Soviet period, Mongolians have used the Cyrillic script. Today, the majority (98%) of the Mongolian population have access to education and are literate.In previous decades, education was managed by Buddhist monasteries and only monks had access to it.
Mongolia’s natural resources include: oil, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, silver and iron.
Mongolia’s agriculture includes: wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep, goats, cattle, camels and horses. Horses are mainly kept for sport where horse racing is one of the top three national sports.Archery and wrestling are the other two national pastimes.
The Gobi Desert is in Mongolia.This is the largest desert in Asia and the fifth largest in the world.It was once a sea and many marine fossils and dinosaur fossils still lie exposed on the sand. Roy Andrews was the first person to discover dinosaur eggs in the Gobi and his expedition was the inspiration for the movie Indiana Jones.
Mongolia has the oldest National Park in the world.It was established in 1778 by the Mongolian government. It was originally chartered by the Ming Dynasty officials as an area to be kept off limits to protect its beauty and sacred nature.
Animals native to Mongolia include: snow leopards, the two-humped camel, the Mongolian Takhi horse (the last wild horse in the world) and eagles (kept as pets by nomads and used for hunting). The two-humped camel can survive extreme desert temperatures from minus to plus 50°C.
Mongolia’s diet is primarily meat and dairy products.The local alcoholic drink is airag which is fermented mare’s milk. Buuz is a steamed dumpling and a popular national dish.The meat, either mutton or beef, is salted and flavoured with onion, garlic and seasonal herbs.Tsuivan is another popular national meal; a noodle dish that includes onion, vegetables and mutton. The dish is pan fried in fat.
Experience the sights and sounds of Mongolia. Lekker Adventures specialises in providing you with the complete travelling experience to Mongolia. Click here to find out more about travelling to Mongolia with the assistance of Lekker Adventures.