Winter Festivals In MongoliaFebruary 27, 2018
Khovsgol Ice FestivalMarch 24, 2018
Top Facts About Mongolia
What do you think the top facts about Mongolia are? Here’s one – Mongolian women were able to vote in 1924, – that’s ahead of the UK (1928), Spain (1931) and France (1945). As a country, people often think they know about Mongolia but then they think a bit a more and realise ‘perhaps I don’t know so much?’ So here are some top facts about Mongolia – a quick profile of the country and the things that make Mongolia the country that it is.
- Mongolia is the 18th largest country in the world – it is the size of Western Europe. It is also the second-largest landlocked country in the world occupying a strategic landlocked position between China and Russia. A vast area of 1,564,116 km², the country is not just vast but remarkably diverse. Located at the crossroads of the Central Asian steppe, the Siberian tundra, and the Gobi Desert, Mongolia hosts a range of globally significant biodiversity.
- Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world with just over 3 million people. In fact, Mongolia’s livestock population is way higher (70 million 949 thousand – Dec 2019). Mongolia has five main livestock species – goats, sheep, cattle (including yaks), horses and Bactrian camels. As of 2019 the number of horses (over 4.2 million), cattle (over 4.7 million), sheep (over 32 million) and goats (over 29 million) far outweigh that of the human population. According to Mongolian Statistical Information Service, there were 230,854 herder households – a majority of which continue to live in the felt tents known as ‘gers.’
- Mongolia is one of the highest countries in the world with an average elevation of 1,580 meters. In fact, over 80% of the country is over 1000m and its highest point is Khuiten Peak in Mongolia’s major mountain chain – the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia – a region of intensive mountain building and seismic activity. The high central Asian mountain ranges protect the country against the humid air masses creating an extreme continental climate with a temperature range to suit. Known as the ‘Land of the Blue Sky’ it gets its name for its (on average) 260 days of blue sky per year.
- Chinggis Khan (1162-1227) is arguably Mongolia’s most famous person – together with his sons and grandsons, he conquered the most densely populated civilisations of the thirteenth century. At its height, the empire covered between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles. It remains the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever known. Although he was supposedly illiterate, he introduced the first writing system to Mongolia in the early 13th century. He borrowed Mongolia’s traditional vertical script (written left to right) from the Uyghurs. You can visit the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue – an impressive 40 metres high stainless steel statue of Chinggis Khan located 54km from Ulaanbaatar. It is worth a visit for the view alone, the statue significantly faces east towards his place of birth in Khentii Aimag. The statue is said to represent the power and courage of Chinggis Khan and its site is said to be where he found the golden whip that inspired his future conquests.
This is the 131 ft high stainless steel statue of Chinggis Khan located 54km from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. The statue significantly faces east towards Chinggis Khan’s place of birth in Khentii Aimag.
- Mongolia is known for its Naadam Festival – the festival of the Three Manly Sports (although Mongolian wrestling is arguably the most famous of the three sports there is also horse racing and archery). What you might not know though is that Mongolia broke a Guinness World Record in 2011 when 6,002 wrestlers participated in a wrestling competition. It was organized by the Mongolian National Wrestling Federation and was held in Mongolia’s capital city (Ulaanbaatar) between 17 and 25 September 2011. Wrestlers came from each of Mongolia’s 21 provinces and 325 soums (districts), with some travelling as far as 1,700 km to compete. In fact, Mongolia’s Olympic wrestling team has won 9 medals (although no golds to date). Mongolia first took part in the Olympics in 1964 and has won 26 Olympic medals, including two golds, 10 silvers and 14 bronze. Their two gold medals were won at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 by Naidangiin Tüvshinbayar in the men’s 100 kilograms judo title and bu Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan in the men’s bantamweight boxing event. Mongolia’s judo team has produced eight medals, (including the gold), boxing has produced seven medals (including one gold) and Mongolia has taken two medals in shooting.
Wrestling is one of the Three Manly Sports of Mongolia’s Naadam Festival. Naadam takes place countrywide in July in Ulaanbaatar and at provincial, district and more local levels such as here in the small community of Bayandalai in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
- Mongolia is home to the Takhi – the world’s only undomesticated horses also known as Przewalski’s horse. Takhi are believed to have disappeared from Mongolia due to habitat loss and poaching. In 1991, land was set aside for the Takhi re-introduction and from 1992-2000 a series of airlifts brought eighty-four Takhi from the Netherlands (results of a careful international breeding programme). The horses were kept in fenced enclosures until acclimatised and then eventually set free. Takhi are genetically different from domestic horses as the latter have sixty-four chromosomes while the Takhi have sixty-six. Because Mongolia is located at the crossroads of the Central Asian steppes, the Siberian taiga (forest region) and the Gobi Desert it hosts a range of globally significant biodiversity within its boundaries. The global importance of Mongolia’s ecosystems is also recognised through its four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, two World Wildlife Fund Global 200 Ecoregions, eleven Ramsar Sites (Wetlands of International Importance), and seventy Important Bird Areas (IBAs – designated by Birdlife International).
A harem of wild Takhi / Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii) grazing at Khustain Nuruu National Park in central Mongolia
- The Mongolian Stock Exchange (in Sukhbaatar Square in central Ulaanbaatar) is the smallest in the capitalist world. It is housed in what was a children’s cinema during Mongolia’s seven decades of Communist rule. Ulaanbaatar was so named by the Russians in 1924 – it means ‘Red Hero.’ However, before 1911, the city’s name was Nomiĭn Khüree (‘Great Settlement’) and it was renamed Niĭslel Khüree (‘Capital Camp’) in 1911. Ulaanbaatar is home to over 1.4 million – over half of the entire population of the country.
Zaisan Hill in Ulaanbaatar provides great panoramic views out over the city.
- According to the 2010 Census, 64.4 % of Mongolia’s population is of some religious faith. 86.6% of these are Buddhist (Mongolia follows Tibetan Buddhism), 4.9 per cent are Muslim, 4.7 per cent are Shamanist, and 3.5 per cent are Christian. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the 1992 constitution – the 1992 Constitution states that ‘the state respects its religion and religion honours its state.’
This image of a door is from Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharkhorin. Erdene Zuu is Mongolia’s oldest monastery (built in the 16th Century) and part of the Orkhon Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sacred blue scarf (known as a khadag) shows how Mongolia (that follows Tibetan Buddhism) also amalgamates aspects of shamanism into its Buddhist religion.