Area: 1,566,000 sq km (610,740 sq mi)
Population: 3.0 million (51% live in urban areas)
People: Khalkha Mongols (82%), Kazaks (4%), others (14%)
Regions: 21 Aimags (provinces). Aimags subdivided into Soums
Capital: Ulaanbaatar (47°55′N 106°53′E)
Languages: The official language, Mongolian, is spoken and understood throughout the country. Russian is the other major language used. However, other foreign languages, primarily English, are becoming more popular.
Religions: Buddhism (53%), Protestanism (40%), Shamanism (4%), Islam (3%)
Government: Parliamentary with a president elected every 4 years
Economy: Traditionally based on agriculture, livestock breeding (camels, bovine, goats, horses and sheep); mining (coal, gold, copper and uranium).
Time: GMT + 8
Electric current: 220 volts/50 HZ
Normal working hours: 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00
Weight and measures: Metric System
The population of Mongolia is 3.0 million people. The urban population is approximately 1.7 million with the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, about 1.3 million inhabitants. While the average population density of Mongolia is just over 1 person per sq. km, About 75 per cent of the population of Mongolia speak Khalha Mongol, the official language, while another 15 per cent speak other Mongolian languages. Ethnic minorities are mainly speakers of Turkic languages, such as Kazakh, Tuvinian, Urianhai and Hoton.
Ethnic groups: 85% Mongol, mostly Khalkha Mongol. Also 7% Turkic (mainly Kazakh), 4.6% Tungusic and 3.4% other groups. Four million Mongols live outside Mongolia.
Mongolia is a huge, landlocked country about 3 times the size of France, squashed between China and Russia. At 1,564,116 km2 Mongolia is the world’s 19th-largest country. It was immeasurably bigger during the period of Mongol conquest under Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. Until the 20th century Mongolia was twice its present size and included a large chunk of Siberia and Inner Mongolia (now controlled by China).
Mongolia has a 3,000km (1,864ml) border with the Russian Federation in the north and a 4,670km (2,901ml) border with China in the south. From north to south it can be divided into four areas: mountain, forest steppe, mountain steppe and, in the extreme south, semi-desert and desert (the latter being about 3% of the entire territory).
The Mongolian way of life is nomadic and intimately connected with the ways of animals. Despite urbanization, the traditions of the steppes live on. Even in the cities, the majority of Mongolians continue to live in a ger, a large, white felt tent that can be moved easily and has a universal layout: the door always faces south;
Mongolians have always taken wholeheartedly to Tibetan Buddhism and the links between Mongolia and Tibet are old and deep. Once in a lifetime, every devout Buddhist Mongolian tries to reach the holy city of Lhasa; the Tibetans in turn have relied on various Mongolian tribes to sustain their power.
Not until 1990 was freedom of religion restored. Since then, there’s been a phenomenal revival of Buddhism and other religions. Monasteries and temples always have Tibetan names. There’s a small minority of Sunni Muslims, about 5%, in the far western regions of Mongolia, most of whom are ethnic Kazaks.
Mongolia’s paintings, music and literature are dominated by Tibetan Buddhism and nomadism. Traditional music involves a wide range of instruments and singing styles. In Mongolian khoomi singing, carefully trained male voices produce harmonic overtones from deep in the throat called “throat singing”, releasing several notes at once. Traditional music and dance performances aren’t complete without a touch of contortionism, an ancient Mongolian tradition.
The Mongolians are big tea drinkers and the classic drink is suutei tsai (salty tea with milk). Herders make their own unique home brew airag, which is fermented horse’s milk with an alcoholic content of about 3%.
Known as “the land of blue sky”, Mongolia is a remarkable sunny country enjoying 250 sunny days a year. Mongolia has warm summers and extremely cold winters. The country has the world’s most typical continental climate with extreme diurnal and annual ranges of temperature. Average temperature in most of the country is below the freezing point from November to March and close to it in April and October. Winter nights of -40C occur most years (lowest recorded -55C at Lake Uvs). Summer extremes reach as high as +40C in the Gobi Desert and +33C in Ulaanbaatar.
Monthly temperature variations of +45C to -55C are not uncommon in many regions of Mongolia.