Mongolia is truly one of the world's last undiscovered travel destinations and the safest country to visit. It is a land where you can experience wide-open spaces, cobalt blue skies, forests, deserts, crystal clear rivers and lakes, and the traditional hospitality of the nomads. Permanent dwellings are few and far between, fences even fewer and the land is owned by the people, like one large National Park. As a tremendous destination to experience the outdoors, Mongolia also boasts of unique history dating back to the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan. Simply put, it is a land of adventure, horses, nomads, and blue sky.
Top 10 facts of Mongolia
POPULATION: 3.3 million /Year of the RAT 2020/ - Khalkha Mongols (86%), Kazaks (6%), about a dozen other Mongolian ethnic groups
LIVESTOCK: 70,9 MILLION (Horses-4.2 million, Cows-4.7 million, Camels-472.3 thousand, Sheep-32.2 million, and Goats-29.2 million
TOTAL AREA: 1,564,116 sq km (603,908 sq mi)
NATIONAL CURRENCY: Tugrik (MNT), about MNT 2768 = USD 1 (by March 2020)
LAND BOUNDARIES: 8,158 km, with Russia 3,485 km and with China 4,673 km
TERRAIN: Vast semi-desert and desert plains, mountains in west and southwest, Gobi Desert in southeast, Forest in north-east, vast steppe and grassland in east, forest and mountain ranges in north
POLITICAL SYSTEM: Parliamentary republic. President elected for four years. Present President Elbegdorj Tsahia, elected in 2013. Prime Minister appointed by State Great Khural for four years. Present Prime Minister Mr. Erdenebat Jargaltulga was appointed in 2016.
LANGUAGES: Mongolian, Kazakh
RELIGIONS: Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim, Christian and Shamanism
LITERACY RATE: 82.90%
Brief history of Mongolia
A large number of ethnicities have inhabited Mongolia since prehistoric times. Most of these people were nomads who, from time to time, formed confederations that rose to prominence. The first of these, the Xiongnu, were brought together to form a confederation by Modun Shanyu in 209 BC.
In 1206, Chinggis Khan (also known as Genghis Khan) founded the Mongol Empire, the largest empire in history. The Mongol Empire’s territory extended from present-day Poland in the west to the Korean peninsula in the east, from Siberia in the north to the Arab peninsula and Vietnam in the south, covering approximately 33 million square kilometers. In 1227, after Chinggis Khan’s death, the Mongol Empire was subdivided into four kingdoms. In 1260, Chinggis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, ascended the throne of one of the four kingdoms that encompassed present-day Mongolia and China. In 1271, Kublai Khan formally established the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan Dynasty was the first foreign dynasty to rule all of China until it was overthrown by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368.
The Mongol court returned to its native land, however, centuries of internal conflict, expansion and contraction brought them fall into Manchu Qing dynasty. They conquered Inner Mongolia in 1636. Outer Mongolia was submitted in 1691. For the next two hundred years Mongolia was ruled by the Qing Dynasty until 1911. Mongolia declared its independence in 1911 under the Bogd Khan, the spiritual leader of Mongolia’s Tibetan Buddhism. However, the Chinese government still considered “Outer Mongolia” as part of it and invaded the country in 1919.
In 1921, People’s Revolution won in Mongolia with the help of the Russian Red Army and thus Mongolia became the second socialist country in the world. After Bogd Khan’s death in 1924, the Mongolian People’s Republic was proclaimed and the first Constitution was adopted.
Mongolia was under a Soviet-dominated Communist regime for almost 70 years, from 1921 to 1990. In the fall of 1989 and the spring of 1990, new currents of political thought began to emerge in Mongolia, inspired by the glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. In March 1990, a democratic revolution that started with hunger strikes to overthrow the Government led to the peaceful renouncement of communism. Mongolia’s renouncement of communism led to a multi-party system, a new constitution and a transition to a market economy.
Over the past two decades, Mongolia has transformed itself from a socialist country with a planned economy into a vibrant multi-party democracy with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Mongolia is the world’s second largest landlocked country and occupies a territory of 1.56 million square kilometers. Mongolia is located in Northern Asia, bordered by Russia in the north and China in the south, east and west. Mongolia is the world’s least densely populated country, with a population of more than 3.1 million people living in a vast area of 1.56 million square kilometers. Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia’s capital and largest city and home to approximately 45% of the country’s population.
Mongolian Culture and Nomads
Two elements that are essential to the nomads are the “ger” (a Mongolian yurt) and livestock.The first is a transportable home that allows the family to move in sync with the seasons; the second caters for all other needs (food, fuel and transport).The wealth of a nomadic family is measured by the number of livestock it owns. Horses are revered as they are the main mode of transport. A Mongolian proverb says “a man without a horse is like a bird without wings”. Like every other nomadic culture, Mongolian culture is well-known for its hospitality. Upon guests’ arrival, traditional offerings and treats are served – dairy products in the summer time, and meat in the winter. Traditionally a Mongolian, even during his absence, will leave his ger unlocked, in order to allow any passer-by to rest and enjoy the treats which are left on the table for visitors.
Mongolians traditionally lead a pastoral, nomadic lifestyle. Because of the climate and short growing season, animal husbandry defines the nomadic lifestyle, with agriculture playing a secondary role. Nomads raise five types of animals – goats, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camels and horses – that provide meat, dairy products, transportation, and wool. Of these animals, the horse holds the highest position in Mongolian tales and legends.
As one of the only remaining horse-based cultures left in the world, Mongolians greatly cherish their horses. Outside the capital, the horse is still the main mode of transportation.
Children begin riding as soon as they can sit up. Nomads are extremely proud of their riding skills and horse racing is a favorite pastime. Believing the race to be a test of the animal’s and not the rider’s ability, young children are often the jockeys. The most prestigious tests of these superb animals are the horse races at the Naadam Festival, Mongolia’s national games, which takes place each July. Fa milies will travel for days to be able to participate or just attend this grand event.
Mongolian Nature and Geography
Geography of Mongolia
The southern part of territory of Mongolia is desert. Mongolia is a landlocked country in Northern Asia, strategically located between China and Russia. The terrain is one of mountains and rolling plateaus, with a high degree of relief. 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. Huitenii Orgil (soc.priod. sometimes called Nayrandalin Orgil-Mount Friendship) in extreme western Mongolia, where Mongolian, Russian, and Chinese borders meet, is the highest point (4374 meters). The lowest is 560 meters, an otherwise undistinguished spot in the eastern Mongolian plain. The country has an average elevation of 1580 meter. The landscape includes one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes (Khovsgol Nuur), many salt lakes, marshes, sand dunes, rolling grasslands, alpine forests, and permanent montane glaciers. Northern mongolia and western Mongolia are seismically active zones, with frequent earthquakes and many hot springs and extinct volcanoes.
Mongolia has three major mountain ranges. The highest is the Altai Mountains, which stretch across the western and the southwestern regions of the country on a northwest-to-southeast axis. The Khangay Mountains (Khangayn Nuruu), mountains also trending northwest to southeast, occupy much of central and north-central Mongolia. These are older, lower and more eroded mountains, with many forests and alpine pastures. The Hentyn Nuruu, mountains near the Soviet border to the northeast of Ulaanbaatar, are lower still. Much of eastern Mongolia is occupied by a plain, and the lowest area is a southwest-to-northeast trending depression that reaches from the Gobi Desert region in the south to eastern frontier. The rivers drain in three directions: north to the Arctic Ocean, east to the Pacific, or south to the deserts and the depressions of Inner Asia. Rivers are most extensively developed in the north, and the country’s major river system is that of the Selenge-Moron, which drains into Lake Baikal. Some minor tributaries of Siberia’s Yenisei River also rise in the mountains of northwestern Mongolia. Rivers in northeastern Mongolia drain into the Pacific through the Argun and Amu (Heilong Jiang) rivers, while the few streams of southern and southwestern Mongolia do not reach the sea but run into salt lakes or deserts.
Climate of Mongolia
Mongolia is high, cold and dry. It has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers, during which most 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, which averages 20 to 35 centimeters per year, and lowest in south, which receives 10 to 20 centimeters. The extreme south is the Gobi, some regions of which receive no precipitation at all in most years. The name Gobi is a Mongol meaning desert, depression, salt marsh, or steppe, but 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 event Bactrian camels can survive.
Average temperatures over most of the country are below freezing from November through March and are about freezing in April and October. January and February averages of -20̊ C are common, with winter nights of -40̊ C occurring most years. Summer extremes reach as high as 38̊ C in the southern Gobi region and 33̊ C in Ulaanbaatar. More than half the country is covered by permafrost, which makes construction, road building, and mining difficult. All rivers and freshwater lakes freeze over in the winter, and smaller streams commonly freeze to the bottom. Ulaanbaatar lies at 1351 meters above sea level in the valley of the Tuul Gol, a river. Located in the relatively well-watered north, it receives an annual average of 31 centimeters of precipitation, almost all of which falls in July and in August. Ulaanbaatar has an average annual temperature of -2.9̊ C and a frost-free period extending on the average from mid-June to late August.
Mongolia’s weather is characterized by extreme variability and short-term unpredictability in the summer, and the multiyear averages conceal wide variations in precipitation, dates of frosts, and occurrences of blizzards and spring dust storms. Such weather poses severe challengers to human and livestock survival. Official statistics list less than 1% of the country as arable, 8 to 10% as forest, and the rest as pasture or desert. Grain, mostly wheat, is grown in the valleys of the Selenge river system in the north, but yields fluctuate widely and unpredictably as a result of the amount and the timing of rain and the dates of killing frosts. Although winter are generally cold and clear, there are occasional blizzards that do not deposit much snow but cover the grasses with enough snow and ice to make grazing impossible, killing off tens of thousands of sheep or cattle. Such losses of livestock, which are an inevitable and in a sense, normal consequence of the climate, have made it difficult for planned increases in livestock numbers to be achieved.
Mongolian Foods and Drinks
The diet of nomads was very much dependent on their livestock and consisted primarily of milk products and meat. Any of the traditional nomadic animals--sheep, goats, yaks, and camel--would be milked and the milk used to make butter, yogurt (ayran) and qurut. Qurut is the dried round-shaped sour curds which could be consumed at times when when fresh milk products were not available, during winter, or at other times when food shortages resulted from droughts and severe weather conditions. Qurut could also be taken as "trail food" by those who might be away from the nomadic camp or on a military campaign. Qurut is crushed and boiled in water to make a healthy meal rich in calories and vitamins. Another important food product was fermented mare’s milk, the sour drink called koumiss which still has not lost its popularity among Central Asians. Koumiss is to the nomad as wine is to the French. Although koumiss is fermented, the Central Asian nomads do not consider koumiss as an alcoholic beverage, but rather a wholesome drink.
Commonly used in marmot and coat involves removing the bones( and bowels from the skinned carcass through the neck red hot stones are put inside the carcass closed and the neck opening. Then the carcass is barbecued. The meat roasted this way is tender tasty and fragrant. ) innards of the animal, whilst leaving the meat bones and skin intact, then placing red hot stones inside the body of the animal to cook the meat sometimes inside the boodog may you make vegetables and some pepper and salt. If you bring hot stones it will be good for relaxing also health.
It is prepared by cutting up the meat of the sheep and coat and placing it in a container together with hot stones while heating from the outside. Some people add and fixed many kinds of vegetables also pepper and salt. Khorkhog was a cooking method commonly used by soldiers on a military campaign in earlier centuries as the meat of a large animal such as a deer or gazelle could thus be cooked in its own stomach thus eliminating the need for carrying heavy pots or special utensils. Usually, a man making Boodog and Khorhog.
Mongolian Naadam FestivalJul 11-13
Naadam Festival is the only one of its kind; it is a sophisticated and eloquent expression of nomadic culture, it is the honored celebration of a national independence, and it is an outstanding combination of arts and sports. Even, the core of the festival – three manly sports – the wrestling, horseracing and archery, embrace many elements of arts, such as singing, dancing and performingGolden Eagle FestivalOct 3-5
At Mongolia’s Winter Golden Eagle Festival, ethnic Kazakhs show off the breathtaking skills of their trained hunting eagles, alongside cultural displays of Kazakh traditional costumes, handicrafts and food.Two Thousand Reindeer Festival2020.08.20
Tsaatan Reindeer Festival in July 2020: The annual Reindeer Festival is focused on enhancing tourism in Khuvsgul Province by promoting reindeer culture internationally. The festival will be organized for the 16th year with the purpose to publicizing the unique lifestyle, culture and customs of the Dukha people living in northern region of Khuvsgul Province in hopes of improving their livelihoods via tourism incomes of the locals. The event features q reindeer race and many interesting activities such as demonstration of reindeer herders’ camp, reindeer riding, mini NaadamBlue Pearl Ice FestivalFeb 2-6
Lake Khuvsgul is called the Blue Pearl of Mongolia for its pristine water and it is one of the 17 ancient lakes in the world. The ice festival is a two day annual event in March that involves the reindeer herders (Tsaatan) from the north, join local residents to celebrate Ice Festival with traditional games and races such as Sumo on ice, ice ger building, ice skating and sleigh rides and enjoy the display of ice sculpturesNomadic Mongolians ShowAug 3, 14, 28
The Show demonstrates a traditional living way of Mongolian nomads and it takes place from mid of May to end of October. Mongolia is a homeland of ancient nomads and still now they have been breeding the five main types of stocks and migrating from place to place searching most favorable pastures through their vast Mongolian steppes.Kazakh's Nauryz (Spring /New Life) FestivalMar 22
Nauryz is a very important holiday for Kazakhs, which marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated several days starting from 21st of March, the day of the spring equinox. Nauryz means ‘new day’, it is celebrated in the Great Steppes from ancient times. Nauryz symbolizes goodness and wealth, happiness and love and a great friendship day, since this holiday is common for many nations. During Nauryz celebrations, past offences are forgiven and forgotten and everybody makes a wish to leave all badness behind and bring renewal in the New Year.Mongolian Yak FestivalJul 23
Yak Festival on July 23rd 2020: The Yaks Festival is one of the most important festivals in Mongolia. It’s annually held on July 23rd in Orkhon Valley (Bat Ulzii Sum) located in Ovorkhangai Province. The Yak Festival aims to attract more domestic and foreign tourists by promoting Mongolia’s yak culture. The two-day event will include a session about the sustainable development of yak farming, a yak parade, yak racing and a fashion show featuring yak wool clothes. The yak has a great value for nomadic breeders, as the animal has many uses and plays a necessary role in the development of a farm – hence – the festival highlights the significance of this domesticated animal.Mongolian National Costume FestivalNov 15
The Mongolian Government has decided to mark a new festival – National Costume Day on 9 July every year. The decision aims to expand the annual traditional festival of ‘Deeltei Mongol’ or "Mongolians in Deels" which is held the day before the Naadam Festival starts in July. The decision aims to encourage the younger generation to wear traditional clothing and create more jobs; it is also part of the government’s effort to promote the development of the country’s tourism sector.Mongolian Lunar New Year /Happy Tsagaan Sar/Feb 14-18
The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar (White Moon), is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunisolar calendar. The festival of the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Mongols and some Turkic peoples. The holiday has shamanistic influences. The customs of Tsagaan Sar are significantly different depending on the region. In Mongolia around the New Year for example, families burn candles at the altar symbolizing Buddhist enlightenment. Also people greet each other with holiday-specific greetings such as Амар байна уу? (Amar baina uu?), meaning "Are you living peacefully?".
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