Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Nomadic tribes that periodically plundered agriculturally based China from the west are recorded in Chinese history dating back more than 2,000 years. It was to protect China from these marauding peoples that the Great Wall was constructed around 200 B.C. The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader, Ghengis Khan, began a conquest that would eventually encompass an enormous empire stretching from Asia to Europe, as far west as the Black Sea and as far south as India and the Himalayas. But by the 14th century, the kingdom was in serious decline, with invasions from a resurgent China and internecine warfare.

The State of Mongolia was formerly known as Outer Mongolia. It contains the original homeland of the historic Mongols, whose power reached its zenith during the 13th century under Kublai Khan. The area accepted Manchu rule in 1689, but after the Chinese Revolution of 1911 and the fall of the Manchus in 1912, the northern Mongol princes expelled the Chinese officials and declared independence under the Khutukhtu, or “Living Buddha.”

Mongolia lies in central Asia between Siberia on the north and China on the south. It is slightly larger than Alaska.

The productive regions of Mongolia—a tableland ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 ft (914 to 1,524 m) in elevation—are in the north, which is well drained by numerous rivers, including the Hovd, Onon, Selenga, and Tula. Much of the Gobi Desert falls within Mongolia.

Mongolia has a harsh continental climate, with very little rainfall and wide seasonal temperature variations.

Winters are long and bitterly cold, with average temperatures in January hovering around -30 C (-22 F); in fact, Ulaan Bataar is the coldest and windiest nation capital on Earth. Summers are short and hot; most precipitation falls during the summer months.

Rain and snowfall totals are only 20-35 cm (8-14 inches) per year in the north, and 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) in the south. Nevertheless, freak snowstorms sometimes drop more than a meter of snow, burying livestock.

Mongolia takes pride in its nomadic roots; as befits this tradition, there are no other major cities in the country.

Capital - Ulaan Baatar
Population - 1,029,900 (2008)
Area - 1,564,000 square kilometers
Currency - tugrik