Mongolia, formally called Outer Mongolia, is a landlocked country lying in central Asia between Russian Siberia on the north and China on the South. The productive areas of Mongolia are tablelands ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level, are situated in the north and are fed by an abundance of rivers. Most of the Gobi Desert lies within Mongolia.
Mongolia is the homeland of the Mongols that plundered the agricultural based China from the west over 2,000 years ago. The name Mongol is derived from the miniature tribe whose head Ghengis Khan started the conquest to build a gigantic empire extending from Asia to Europe. The Great Wall was built to keep these scavengers out. The Empire reached its zenith in the 13th century under Kublai Khan. The kingdom was facing serious decline by the 14th century due to invasions from China and infighting. The region came under Manchu rule in 1689 but after the Chinese Revolution and fall of the Manchus in 1912 the Mongols declared independence under Khutukhtu, the “Living Buddha”.
While herding and agriculture are two vital aspects of the Mongolian economy, it is endowed with deposits of 80 different types of minerals including huge reserves of copper, coal, gold, and uranium. The country is undergoing a fast paced change due to expansion of mining in the region. Some of the other growing industries in Mongolia include food & beverage, cement, textile, leather goods, and carpet. It major trading partners include Canada, U.S, and China.
Mongolian culture is unique. It is one of the last horse-based cultures left on the planet, and the natives highly value their horses. Outside the capital it is still the major mode of transport and children start riding as soon as they are able to sit. Like any nomadic culture, Mongolians are very hospitable. Guests are treated with traditional foods made up of dairy products in the summer and meats in the winter. The yurt (Ger) is a part of their national identity, and even today a large portion of the Mongolian population resides in yurts, even in the capital city!
Capital: Ulan Bator
Government: Semi-presidential system, Parliamentary republic
Total area: 604,247 sq mi (1,565,000 sq km)
Official language: Mongolian language
Religion: Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, Shamanism & Christianity