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ABOUT MONGOLIA

GEOGRAPHY

Mongolia is a landlocked country in Central Asia, located between China and Russia. The terrain is one of mountains and rolling plateaus, with a high degree of relief. The total land area of Mongolia is 1,564,116 square kilometres. Overall, the land slopes from the high Altai Mountains of the west and the north to plains and depressions in the east and the south. The Khüiten Peak in extreme western Mongolia on the Chinese border is the highest point (4,374 metres). The lowest is 518 metres, an otherwise undistinguished spot in the eastern Mongolian plain. The country has an average elevation of 1,580 metres. The landscape includes one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes (Lake Khövsgöl), many salt lakes, marshes, sand dunes, rolling grasslands, alpine forests, and permanent mountain glaciers. Northern and western Mongolia are seismically active zones, with frequent earthquakes and many hot springs and extinct volcanoes. The nation’s closest point to any ocean is approximately 960 kilometres (600 mi) from the country’s easternmost tip bordering northern China to Chongjin in North Korea along the coastline of the Sea of Japan.

CLIMATE

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 (temperature increases with altitude).

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, nighttime January temperatures rarely go under −30 °C while daytime January temperatures often reach 0 °C to 5 °C.

The country is subject to occasional harsh climatic conditions known as zud. The annual average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is 0 °C, 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 center 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 622.297mm occurred in the forests of Bulgan Province close to the border with Russia and the lowest of 41.735mm occurred in the Gobi Desert (period 1961–1990). The sparsely populated far north of Bulgan Province averages 600mm in annual precipitation which means it receives more precipitation than Beijing (571.8mm) or Berlin (571mm).

The name “Gobi” is a Mongolian term for a desert steppe, which usually refers to a category of arid rangeland with insufficient vegetation to support marmots but with enough to support camels. Mongols distinguish Gobi from desert proper, although the distinction is not always apparent to outsiders unfamiliar with the Mongolian landscape. Gobi rangelands are fragile and are easily destroyed by overgrazing, which results in expansion of the true desert, a stony waste where not even Bactrian camels can survive. The arid conditions in the Gobi is attributed to the rain shadow effect caused by the Himalayas. Before the Himalayas were formed by the collision of the Indo-Australian plate with the Eurasian plate 10 million years ago Mongolia was a flourishing habitat for major fauna but still somewhat arid and cold due to distance from sources of evaporation. Sea turtle and mollusk fossils have been found in the Gobi apart from the more well-known dinosaur fossils. Tadpole shrimps (Lepidurus mongolicus) are still found in the Gobi today.

USEFUL INFORMATION

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. Ulaanbaatar, the capital and also the largest city, is home to about 45% of the population. Mongolia’s political system is a parliamentary republic.

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, and 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 and occasional raids on the Chinese borderlands. In the 16th centuries, Tibetan Buddhism began to spread in Mongolia and it has been accelerated by the unwavering support of Qing government after Mongolia had been incorporated by the Qing dynasty. In 1900s, almost half of the adult male population were buddhist monks.

At the end of the 17th century, all of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Manchus’ Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty the Mongols established Temporary Government of Khalkha in 30 November 1911. On 29 December 1911 Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty and this National Liberation Revolution ended 220 years of Manchu rule (153 years after the collapse of the Zunghar Khanate).

Shortly thereafter, the country came under Soviet influence, resulting in the proclamation of the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924.  After the breakdown of communist regimes in Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own democratic revolution in early 1990; it led to a multi-party system, a new constitution of 1992, and transition to a market economy.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. It is also the world’s second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppe, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south.

Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism. 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 regimes.