Geographical location

Mongolia is a land-locked country in the North-East Asia bordering China with 4.673 km in the south and Russian Federation with 3485 km in the north. The total territory of the country is 1.566 million square kilometers making approximately 1 square kilometers per 1.6 persons and 18th largest country in the world. The territory of Mongolia is larger than territories of Great Britain, Germany France & Italy together. It is located on average altitude is 1580 meters above the sea level. The largest Mongolian mountain range, the Altai Mountain, is located in the western part of the country. This range of mountains stretches for 1500 km. The highest point in the country, Mount Huiten (4374m above the sea level) is in the Western Altai Mountains the lowest point, Huh nuur (560m) is found in Dornod province. Vast steppe dominated in eastern and southern part of country, the largest one is called Menengiin Tal (250, 00 square km).

Administrative and territorial units of Mongolia

Territory of Mongolia divided into 21provinces in Mongolia and one capital city Ulaanbaatar . Provinces are subdivided into 333 soums (region) and soums are further divided into1664 bags (hamlets). South Gobi province has got the largest territory (165.400square km.) and Huvsgul province has got the largest province population (121.900 people.)

Population: 2.8 million
Area: 1,566,000 sq km (610,740 sq mi)
Land boundaries: 8,158 km, with Russia 3,485 km and with China 4,673 km
Average altitude: 1,580 m above sea-level
Terrain: Vast semi-desert and desert plains, mountains in west and south-west, Gobi Desert in south-east
People: Khalkha Mongols (86%), Kazaks (6%), about a dozen other Mongolian ethnic groups
Languages: Mongolian, Kazakh, Russian, Chinese. English is widely spoken in the Ulaanbaatar.
Religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim, Christian and Shamanism
Literacy rate: 82.9%
Climate: Average summer temperature +20′C, average winter temperature -26′C, average rainfall 200-220 mm. Winter lasts from November to late April, Spring May through June, Summer from July through to September.
Political system: Parliamentary republic. President elected for four years. Present President Enkhbayar Nambar, elected in 2005. Prime Minister appointed by State Great Khural for four years. Present Prime Minister Mr. Elbegdorj Tsakhia. was appointed in 2004.
Legislature: State Great Khural (Parliament), unicameral with 76 members elected for four years. The last election was held on 2 Juny, 2004.
Judicial system: Mongolian judicial system consists of Constitutional Court , Supreme Court, Aimag and capital city courts, soum and district courts.
State structure: Mongolia is a unitary state and divided administratively into Aimags (21) and a capital city; Aimags are subdivided into soums; soums into bags; and a capital city into districts; districts into khoroos.
National currency: Tugrik (MNT), about MNT 1230 = USD 1 in December, 2005
Fiscal year: January 1 – December 31
Main entry points: Buyant Ukhaa (airport in Ulaanbaatar ), Sukhbaatar (railway station on Mongolian-Russian border) and Zamyn Uud (railway station on Mongolian-Chinese border)
Sea access: Tianjin/China (1,344 km) and Nakhodka/Russia (4,037 km)
Public holidays: December 31- January 1 – New Year 3 days in January/February – Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar), June 1 – Mother and Child day, July 11-13 – National Holiday (Naadam)
Time: Add 8 hours to Greenwich Mean Time
Normal working hours: 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00
Electric current: 220 volts/50 HZ
Weight and measures: Metric System
Visa arrangements: Visa shall be issued by Mongolia Embassies and Diplomatic Missions as well as Honorary consuls of Mongolia , or can be obtained at the airport at a cost of US$53 but must be accompanied by an invitation.

Education & Health

Education: Before Revolution in 1921 99% of population did not know script in Mongolia . Before People’s Revolution just males were studied religious schools. Females couldn’t study any schools. After Revolution all people want to study Mongolian classical Uigur script. It was a biggest develops our culture and education sector. In 1941 Center Committee changed Mongolian classical script into the Russian Cyrillic alphabet since that time all Mongolian people used to Russian Cyrillic alphabet. During the Socialist time Mongolia had not have private school and institutes. Just had State universities such as today’sMongolian National University , and Mongolian University of Education. Socialist time children who has 8 years old they entered elementary school and then they studied 10 years. Since in 2005 high schools are changed world school standard it means children study in high school 11 years. When they graduated high school some students will study abroad. But it was just communist countries. At that time tuition fee was free of charge. After the democratic change some people founded new private school and institutes. The average tuition fee is 350US$. Last a few years’ government supporting to developing students and youth. Mongolian half of the population is young people under age of the 35.

Health: Mongolia has a rich heritage of traditional medicine that is directly connected with nomadic way of life Mongolians have been following for many centuries. Herbal medicine, acupuncture, cauterization, massage and bone setting have been popular for many years. The history of modern medicine started in 1925 when the Russian doctor, Shastin, initiated and founded the first ‘People’s hospital with 15 beds. During the socialist period, the policy to develop a network of medical organizations with trained staff and required equipment had been successfully implemented. The health sector of the country is represented by Medical schools of all levels; the Center for hygiene and epidemiology; medical research institutes; Mother and Child Care center; Central Clinical hospitals, Medicine supply agency, Pharmaceutical factory, Agency of Quality Assurance Drugs; Bio preparations and Medical Care; aimag and soum center hospitals, and many other medical institutions and agencies. Political and economical changes that are talking place in the country have led to transformation in the structure of the health sector. As a result of those, about 400 new private and state clinics, hospitals and health centers are being opened. Mongolian doctors are can speak Russian very well but most of them can’t speak English. 

Festivals and events

Naadam festival-The Mongolian national holiday Naadam is celebrated in Mongolia each year on 11 July. “Eriin gurvan naadam” the three manly games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery- make up the core activities of the National day festivals.

Wrestling – At the start of competition all the wrestlers with the highe r title – holder in front , enter the hall in a line wearing gutuls (decorated Mongolian boots. ) and hats and their wrestling costumes called “zodog”(an open fronted , long sleeves vest of silk) and “shuudag”(tight short trunks ). There are many different titles for the wrestlers such as Titan (avarge), Lion (arslan). Zaan and Falcon. All the names signify strength. Titles are mostly confirmed during the national festival Naadam. A wrestler who wins five fights in succession during one competition has the right to have the title of Falcon, and if he wins seven fights in succession Elephant. When a wrestler wins all the fights in a competition during one of these festivals he will be a Lion. If he wins a subsequent year he merits the title of titan, the highest rank. There is a variety of throws used to defeat opponents. Some say there are hundreds of them. When the wrestling arena or step onto the carpet in the case of an indoor competition and the second take off the wrestler’s hats.

When a wrestler touches the ground with any part of his body other than his feet and arms, he is considered to be defeat. The main difference between Mongolian national wrestling and international free style wrestling is that the weight category of wrestlers is not taken into consideration.

Horse racing. Mongolian people have loved horse racing since time i mmemorial. A whole system for conducting the contests has developed over the centuries. In the races held during national festivals, including Naadam, participants are six age groups and the distances range from 15-30kms. No special tracks are prepared, the horses covering the distance in the steppe and jumping over natural barriers. Before they start the riders sing an ancient war-like song –Giingoo. The competitors start at the finishing line and at the signal to start and back to the finish line. Thus the distance is actually doubled. The horse racing can be held on saddled or unsaddled horses. Horses of two years older take part. The winner is honored with a cup of airag which he drinks and sprinkles on the head and croup of his horse. After the races, praise-singer extols the best riders and their horses.

Archery: the third element of the national games is archery. Five lines engraved on an ancient Mongolian target immortalize the phenomenal record of Yesuhei- baat ar, saying that his arrow hit the target at a distance of 536 meters. The bow is an ancient invention going back to the Mesolithic Period. Ancient Mongolians made their contribution to the design of the bow as a combat weapon.

Today Mongolian’s use less complicated form archery than in ancient time; the target is ‘wall’ made of cork cylinders braided together with leader straps. It is four meters long and 50cm high. The target is placed on the ground at a distance of 75 meters for men and 60 meters for women. In the past Mongolians used three types of bows; “big hand” (165-170cm),”average hand” (160cm), “small hand’ (150cm). Today Mongolian’s mostly use the average hand bow which requires a force of 22 to 38kg to draw it.

Arrows are usually made from pine wood and had feather fins which help the arrow to reach distance of 900 meters. Naadam archery also attracts individual archers as well as Teams of 8-12 people. Every male archer has forty arrows to shot at each target. The judges dressed in national attire, stand by the targets with hands held up after the arrows have been shot. They praise the best shot in a drawing recitative voice. The contests are accompanied by colorful national rites. Before the competition starts you hear the recitative song “uukhai’, calling on the archers to be good marksmen and hit the target.

Mongol New Year

Mongolia and a number of other Eastern and Central Asian countries have followed the lunar calendar with its 12 year animal cycle since ancient times. The New Year according to the Oriental calendar in Mongolia is called Tsagaan sar which translate white month. There are many options about the origin of this name. One is that Mongols belie ve white symbolizes happiness, purity and abundance of milk products. The date of Tsagaan sar, depending on the phases of the moon, falls anywhere between the end of January and early March. Tsagaan sar is a birthday for all Mongols. Mongol families start preparations for a holiday almost a month a head. First of all there is a tradition to prepare plenty of gifts and food, in other words to have one’s hand’s full. Also gers, sheds and pens should be cleaned out. Every Mongol family makes hundred of buuzs and bunshes. Mongols like to greet the New Year in everything new. So women sew new dels for the whole family. According to custom Mongols kill a sheep, the fattest in the flock. Then the lower back with the tail is boiled and served on the table for the entire holiday. Tsagaan sar symbolizes wealth and prosperity in the family. The New Year eve in Mongolia is called Bituun – the last dinner of the old year. Beginning at noon family begins to set up the table. There must be several dishes; a dish with the boiled sheep’s back tail a dish with ul boov (traditional bread biscuit), a dish with the berees (rice cooked with butter , sugar and raisins) and dish with traditional milk products; aaruul. Byaslag (unsalted cheese), cream, etc. one must eat all the traditional dishes that evening; boiled lamb and beef, huge variety of milk products, buzes and dessert. Some families have the tradition of placing coins inside the banshes. Whoever bites into the bansh with them coins will have good luck. At the end of the evening everyone’s stomach is fully satisfied. The following morning everyone rises bright and early according to tradition (about 6-7 o clock). On this morning there are many customs to follow. The first is to greet the sun; everyone watches the sun rise. Second in order to have good health and happiness in the New Year, each individual must take “their first steps of the year”. Everyone takes some steps in a specific direction. The direction is dependent upon what lunar calendar year one was born in. for ex, a person who was born in the mouse year must take the first steps to the north at the first day of the monkey year. The following year the direction will be different. After the fist steps are take, all family members re-enter their home. At this point the traditional Tsagaan sar greetings begin. The oldest family member is greeted first. They are seated at the north side of the ger –the most respected side of the ger. The next oldest family member is the first to greet. This member carries the hadag- a beautiful piece of blue silk – across their arms. A cup filled with milk is placed in the right hand on the silk. This person greets the oldest family member by saying”Sar shinedee saihan shinelj bna uu?” and then gives the silk and milk to them. The younger member has her or his palms facing upward and grasps the older one’s elbows. The older member has palms faced down, and the arms are above the younger. While this occurring, the two kiss one other on each cheek. (This kiss, not exactly kiss, is the touching of one’s cheeks) On this day ‘all family members show their respect and love through this greeting. After the second oldest member has finished the greeting, the one family member greets the oldest member. Then they continue to greet one another and give gifts. After the greetings, the food is placed on the table and the eating and drinking begins once again. The drinks consist of airag and vodka. The almost favorable drink during this holiday is Mongol milk tea. The woman who is head of the house continually cooks, and serves, cleans all day. Her children help her with all of the work.

At this point, guests begin to arrive and continue to all day long. The greetings continue as well as the gift- giving. The conversation greetings with the guests are a little different. Usually, question is asked about livestock’s how they survived through the winter, if they are healthy, etc.

During this period it is expect that all family members visit one another. The greetings should be finished within 15 days then Tsagaan Sar has ended.

Ger, Mongolian traditional dwelling

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Mongolian climate

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Mongolian flora and fauna

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Mongolian traditional food

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Mongolian traditional clothes

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Nomad lifestyle

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Political system

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Religion in Mongolia

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Visual Arts of Mongolia

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