Friday, January 12, 2007
Mongolia Country and History Information Summary
Map of Mongolia by the University of Texas
Country name: Mongolia (Local short form: Mongol Ulus, formerly known as Mongolian Peoples Republic and until 1924 was called Outer Mongolia).
Capital: Ulaanbaatar (means Red Hero) population 904,000 people (2006). Situated on the Tuul River. From 1639-1706 was known as Urga or Da Khuree.
Size: 604,826 square miles (1,566,00 square km)
Area comparison: Four times the size of U.K., Three times the size of France, or about the size of western Europe. Mongolia is the world’s largest landlocked nation and is the 18th largest country in the world.
Location: Northern Asia, situated between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.
Population: 2.8 million (2006) More than half the population is under age 30.
Population Density: 4.7 persons per square mile (1.7 persons per square km) Approximately 65% of Mongolians live in urban centers, 35% are pastoral nomads.
Languages: Khalkh Mongolian (90%), Turkic, Russian. Cyrillic script is used in writing.
Literacy Rate: 98.4%
Religions: Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism (96%), Shamanism,
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Mongolia has 21 Aimags (provinces) which are divided into 343 Sums (districts) and smaller areas known as Baags.
Climate: Extreme Continental (large daily and seasonal temperature changes)
Summer averages +68F degrees. Winter averages –13F degrees. Winter season runs from October till April. Annually Mongolia has more than 260 sunny days on average.
Average Elevation: More than 5,180 feet (1,580 meters) Average altitude in Mongolia is one mile above sea level.
Major Rivers & Lakes: The Orkhon River is the longest river in Mongolia at 698 miles (1124 km). Lake Hovsgol Nuur is Mongolia’s largest lake and holds 2% of the world’s freshwater supply.
Terrain: Desert steppe, Desert plains, Grassy steppe terrain is found in most parts of Eastern Mongolia, Mountainous zone covers 5% of Mongolia’s territory, Mountain forest, Taiga forest region in the north is 5% of Mongolia’s total landmass.
The Gobi Desert is the world’s northernmost desert and has a mostly gravel surface with low-lying rocky hills. One of the earth’s great deserts it ranges through most of southern Mongolia and comprises 17% of Mongolia’s total landmass. Annually desertification in the Gobi Desert is increasing due to overgrazing primarily.
Mountain Ranges: Altai Nuruu Mountains ranging northwest to southeast, Khentii Nuruu Mountains in the northeast and Khangai Nuruu Mountains in Central Mongolia.
Highest peak: Khuiten Peak14,350 feet (4374 meters) in the Altai Tavanbogd Uuul range.
Currency: Tögrög (Tughruk), U.S. $1 = Tg1165 (January, 2007)
Main Exports: Copper, Textiles, Cashmere and cashmere products, Fluorspar, Wool, Livestock and livestock products.
Public Holidays: New Years Day - January 1st, Tsagaan Tsar (Lunar New Year) – Usually early February depending on phases of the moon, International Woman’s Day – March 8th, Mothers and Children’s Day - June 1st, Naadam (National Games) – July 11th - 13th, Independence Day – November 26th,
Brief History of Mongolia
In the 13th century Mongolian epic chronicle of history titled ‘The Secret History of the Mongols’ the story of the Mongol people’s origins begins like this:
“There came into the world a blue-gray wolf
Whose destiny was Heaven’s will.
His wife was a fallow deer.
They traveled across the inland sea
And when they camped near the source of the Onan River
In sight of Mount Burkhan Khaldun
Their first son was born, named Batachikhan.” 1
Mongolia is an independent nation that rose during the reign of Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) who founded the Mongol nation in 1206. Chinggis Khan was born into Mongol tribal nobility in approximately 1162; his given name was Temujin. When Temujin was nine years old his father Yesugei Khan, was poisoned by tribal enemies. Temujin went on to survive abandonment by his clansmen, near starvation, capture by enemies, war wounds and the kidnapping of his wife Borte. Temujin was able to rescue Borte and later attracted a band of followers from many different tribes who saw in him signs of a visionary leader destined for greatness.
Temujin fought and overcame the Dorbets, Tartars, Seljuits, Tonkaits, Merkits, Keraits, Naimans, and other Turkic and Mongol tribes in Mongolia as his power grew. After these successful campaigns he was formally recognized as the supreme leader of the tribes of Mongolia in 1206, and given the title of Chinggis Khan, which means ‘Universal Ruler’.
He then proceeded to conquer the Central Asian kingdom of the Khwaramshah, defeat all the tribes of northern China by 1225 and laid the foundations for the birth of the massive Mongol Empire. Before Chinggis Khan died in 1227 he chose his son Ogodei as successor and advised his sons to expand the empire, recognize Ogodei in writing and to serve each other for the sake of unified strength.2
Today Chinggis Khan is recognized by many as a military and political genius3 without parallel whose empire endured for generations while in comparison Alexander the Great’s empire crumbled as he died.4
The Mongol Empire at its greatest extent spanned most of Asia with its dominions reaching from Korea to Hungary and down to the Indus. The Mongol Empire Khans and their generals defeated the armies that controlled the territories of the nations we know of today as China, North and South Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, northern India, Hungary, Transylvania, Bulgaria, eastern Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and others.
The lands that make up modern day Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan were conquered and ruled by the Mongol Empire’s Golden Horde Dynasty from 1237 until 1382. The Golden Horde’s rule endured in Kazan and Astrakhan till 1554 and lasted in Crimea until 1783. Some historians5 have reasoned that the Mongol Golden Horde Dynasty helped the Russian princely states and Muscovy’s development as a regional power, which ultimately led to the creation of czarist Russia and its consolidation of Central Asia.
After conquering China’s Northern and Southern Sung kingdoms, Mongolian Emperors unified and ruled China during the Yuan Dynasty from 1271 till 1368. A Han Chinese peasant leader named Zhu Yuanzhang forced the Mongol Yuan to leave China and became the first Ming Dynasty king in 1368. Warfare between the western Oirod Mongols and the eastern Khalkh Mongols from 1400 to 1454 led to an extended tumultuous division between the Mongols. Esen Khan the Oirod Mongol chief reunited the Mongol tribes and captured the Chinese Ming Emperor Yingzong in 1449. In 1552 the Mongol prince Altan Khan defeated the Oirod and reunited Mongolia. Mongolians largely adopted Tibetan Buddhism during Altan Khan’s reign, 1543-1583.
The Ming Dynasty was gradually weakened by its long wars with the Mongols, internal conflicts, powerful court eunuchs, corruption and other regional campaigns. In 1644 the reign of the last Ming king Ch’ung-Chen (1628-1644) was doomed by yet another large scale peasant uprising rebellion. At that very moment a nomadic tribe called the Jurchen or Manchu swept into northern China, seized the imperial throne and claimed the ‘mandate of heaven’ as their divine right to rule China.
During the Manchu tribe’s Qing Dynasty in China (1644 – 1911) Mongolia was split into Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia and was administered by Manchu rulers. Outer Mongolia declared independence in 1911 after the Manchu government in China finally collapsed.
With Russian assistance Mongolia was able to expel Chinese troops trying to reassert Chinese rule in Mongolia in 1921. From 1924 till 1990 Mongolia was known as the Mongolian Peoples Republic and was governed by a single Communist party system under the influence of the U.S.S.R. During the Soviet-style Communist period Mongolia was largely inaccessible to visitors from the West. Until the 1990’s Buddhist monasteries were mostly closed, industrial development was limited, private land ownership was not allowed and there was no official recognition of Chinggis Khan. In 1990 Mongolia had a peaceful transition to a democratic multiparty system of government with democratic elections successfully held in July of 1990.
Main page: www.Mongolianculture.com
This Mongolia country information and historical summary page was compiled by the Indo-Mongolian Society of New York in 2007.