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, theRouran, 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 except the era of Dayan Khan and Tumen Zasagt Khan.
In the 16th centuries, Tibetan Buddhism began to spread in Mongolia and it has been accelerated by the unwavering support of Qing governments after Mongolia had been incorporated by the Qing dynasty. In the 1900s, almost half of the adult male population were Buddhist monks. By the mid-18th 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, before the abdication of the last Qing emperor and the establishment of the Republic of China. 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 as a Soviet satellite state in 1924. After the breakdown of communist regimes in Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own peaceful 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 one of the most sparsely populatedindependent countries in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. It is also the world’s second-largest landlocked country. 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 majority of its population are Buddhists and non-religious population is the second largest group. 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.
At present, the population of Mongolia is 3 million. Much of the population growth has been absorbed in urban areas. The present urban population is over 1.5 million. With just over one million inhabitants, Ulaanbaatar houses almost more than a third of Mongolia’s population. However, a significant part of the urban population still lives in ger (traditional housing) habitations in town peripheries. The population density of Mongolia is extremely low: just over 1 person per square km. 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.
Ethnic and Languages
The demonym for the people of Mongolia is Mongolian. The name Mongol usually accounts for people of the Mongol ethnic group, thus excluding Turkic groups such as Kazakhsand Tuvans. Ethnic Mongols account for about 97% of the population and consist of Khalkh and other groups, all distinguished primarily by dialects of the Mongolian language. The Khalkhs make up 86% of the ethnic Mongol population. The remaining 14% include Oirats, Buryats and others. Ethnic distinctions among the Mongol subgroups are relatively minor. Language or tribal differences are not a political or social issue. Significant Ethnic Turkic speaker Kazakhs constitute 3.9% of Mongolia’s population and the other Tuvan, Khoton, Chantuu, Tsaatan are Mongolized people with Turkic origin and speak in Mongolian. In the 19th century, the advance of the Russian Empire troops pushed Kazakhs to neighboring countries. In around 1860, part of the Middle jüz Kazakhs came to Mongolia and were allowed to settle down in Bayan-Ölgii Province. Smaller numbers of Russian, Chinese, Korean and American people working in Mongolia, since 1990. English is the most widely used foreign language followed by Russian. Lately, Japanese, Korean and German are gaining popularity.
Various forms of Shamanism have been widely practiced throughout the history of what is now Mongolia, as such beliefs were common among nomadic people in Asian history. Such beliefs gradually gave way to Tibetan Buddhism, but shamanism has left a mark on Mongolian religious culture, and continues to be practiced. Traditionally, Tibetan Buddhism was the predominant religion. However, it was suppressed under the communist regime until 1990, with only one showcase monastery allowed to remain. Since 1990, as liberalization began, Buddhism has enjoyed a resurgence.
Mongolian most popular sport is its national style of wrestling. Apart from a few rules, Mongolian wrestling is quite similar to the conventional way of wrestling. The biggest and heaviest wrestler has got the biggest chance to win, as Mongolian wrestling has not got any weight divisions. Neither it has time limits, the fight ends with the first wrestler hitting the ground with his feet soles or open hand palms.
The Mongol bow is a recurved composite bow renowned for its military effectiveness. The old Mongolian bows that were used during the times of Genghis Khan were smaller than the modern weapons used at most Naadam festivals today. Modern Mongolian bows are larger and have string bridges. During Naadam, archery competitions generally take place in the stadium, while horse riding matches are held just outside the city.
Horse racing is one of the “Three Manly Arts.” Horse racing is the second most popular event in Mongolia, after traditional wrestling. Mongolian races are long, up to 30 km, and can involve thousands of horses. The native horses have excellent endurance. Though foreign breeds are faster than Mongolian horses, they are usually exhausted by the end of the run, while the Mongolian horses still have wind. Nevertheless, there have been occasions where horses have died of exhaustion during the Naadam race.