Mongolia at a glance
The country is located in the landlocked plateau between Russian Siberia and the plains of northern China. Mongolia makes a geographically and culturally dramatic impression. Within this enchanting country’s borders, you can experience boundless wonders of nature. Mongolia’s pristine mountains, unspoiled Gobi desert and sweeping grassland are home to a vast natural heritage. This wildlife includes snow leopards, wild horses and camels, Gobi bears, wild sheep and goats, gazelles, antelope and more. The crystal clear rivers and astonishingly blue lakes are abundant with fish and hundreds of species of endemic and migrating birds. If you are in search of a retreat or a creative change, you will surely find it in the piece and serenity of Mongolia’s Buddhist culture and the warm traditions of the nomadic style.
Mongolia boasts a rich and thrilling history. The first appearance of human beings on the territory of present-day Mongolia dates back to the Stone Age. At the beginning of the 13th century, Chingis Khan in the west founded the Mongolian Empire, which by the end of the century extended from China to the Caspian Sea. After the collapse of the empire, Mongolia was subjugated by the Manchu Dynasty for several centuries, and then in 1911 the Mongol Monarchy was established. The struggle of D.Sukhbaatar and his fellow revolutionaries against the Manchus brought about complete political and territorial independence in 1921. After Sukhbaatar’s death in 1923, this ancient country of nomadic herdsmen remained a member of the socialist eastern block until its transition to the present-day democracy.
Size and population
Mongolia’s total land area is 604,250 square miles. Covering an area of the size of Alaska, Mongolia is fifth largest country in Asia and the seventeenth largest in the world. With population of approximately 3 million, population density is only 3.6 persons per square mile. The population is about evenly split between urban and rural dwellers. The country is divided into 21 provinces or aimags. The three largest cities are Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and Erdenet.
Based on Mongolia’s history, particularly the tales of Chingis Khan, visitors sometimes expect modern Mongolians to be rough, warlike or even hostile towards strangers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The precarious and challenging nature of nomadic life have in fact shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all guests and pilgrims in Mongolia. Mongolians instinctively understand that the courtesy and welcome offered to a stranger today will surely be returned in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.
Buddhist Lamaism is undergoing a revival within Mongolia. Shamanism is also practiced today and its traditions remain a part of the culture in modern days.