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Монгол Улс

Mongol Uls
Mongolian state
Mongolia flag
Mongolia coat of arms
flag emblem
Official language Mongolian
capital city Ulaanbaatar
State and form of government parliamentary republic
Head of state President
Uchnaagiin Chürelsüch
Head of government Prime Minister
Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene
area 1,564,116 km²
population 3.2 million ( 133rd ) (2019)
Population density 2 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.7% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 13.1 billion ( 131st )
  • $ 39.7 billion ( 121st )
  • 3,916 USD ( 117. )
  • 11,825 USD ( 105. )
Human Development Index 0.737 ( 99th ) (2019)
currency Tögrög (MNT)
founding 1206
(Association of Mongolian Nomad Tribes)
National anthem National anthem of Mongolia
National holiday July 11th, ("Naadam", Mongolian Festival)
Time zone UTC + 7 to UTC + 8
License Plate MNG (formerly MGL )
ISO 3166 MN , MNG, 496
Internet TLD .mn
Phone code +976
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The Mongolia ([ mɔŋɡola͜i ], officially in Mongolian Монгол Улс Mongol Uls ,ᠮᠤᠩᠭᠤᠯ
Mongol ulus , literally: Mongolian state ) is a landlocked country in the eastern part of Central Asia and lies between Russia in the north and the People's Republic of China in the south. Its area covers most of the Mongolian Plateau . Territorially just under four and a half times the size of Germany, the country with around 3 million inhabitants is the most sparsely populated state in the world. The largest city is the capital Ulaanbaatar , where more than 40 percent of the country's population live.

Due to the nature of the soil and the climate , little arable farming can be practiced in Mongolia . The landscape is dominated by grassy steppes , with mountains in the north and west, and the Gobi desert in the south. The most important branches of the economy are nomadic livestock farming and mining . The country is one of the ten most resource-rich countries in the world. The majority of the residents are Buddhists . Overall, around 62 percent of the population belong to a religious community, with an upward trend, of which 91.6 percent profess Lamaism .

Excavations in the Gobi show that Homo erectus lived in what is now Mongolia as early as 500,000 years ago . Even before the beginning of the Christian era, equestrian nomads , such as the Xiongnu or Xianbei , united to form large tribes . In 1206 Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire , which stretched across Asia to Europe and was the largest territorially coherent empire in human history. His grandson Kublai Khan conquered China and founded the Yuan Dynasty . After the collapse of this empire, Buddhism increasingly developed as a form of government. During the Qing Dynasty , Outer Mongolia was established as a province in 1644 on the territory of today's Mongolian state. From 1912 the region gained extensive autonomy rights . In 1921 the Soviet Union established a puppet government , which in 1924 proclaimed the Mongolian People's Republic . For the time it was in existence, it was politically, militarily and economically completely dependent on the Soviet Union.

In the course of the revolutions in 1989 , the country made the peaceful transition to a democratic - parliamentary system of government . On February 12, 1992, Parliament sealed the end of the communist system with the adoption of a new constitution. At the same time, the constituent power of the new state of Mongolia renounced the name People's Republic .


Mongolia is a state in Central Asia. Its territory extends between 41 ° 35 'and 52 ° 06' north latitude and 87 ° 47 'and 119 ° 57' east longitude. In terms of area, it ranks 18th among all countries in the world . Nonetheless, Mongolia has only two neighbors: it shares a 3485 km long border with Russia in the north and a 4677 km long border with the People's Republic of China in the south; in addition, Kazakhstan begins only 38 km west of the westernmost point of Mongolia. Its east-west extension is 2392 km and its north-south extension is 1259 km. It is 40% semi-desert , 35% tree steppe and 20% grass steppe; the rest is made up of forests and sand deserts .

The largest city of Mongolia is the capital Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) with about 1.3 million inhabitants, almost half of the population of the whole country. The emergence of Maidar City will not remedy the centralization of the population around Ulaanbaatar, as the two cities will only be about 30 km apart. Major cities are Erdenet with 79,649 inhabitants, Darkhan with 72,386 inhabitants and Choibalsan with 44,367 inhabitants; other cities can be found in the list of cities in Mongolia .

Surface shape

Yurt in the Gobi

About a third of the national territory is taken up by high mountains , especially in the north, west and south-east. The south and east are dominated by dry plateaus . The mean land height is around 1580 meters above sea level.

The region between the Changai Mountains and Altai is known as Western Mongolia . Here, on the border with the Chinese Xinjiang , two peaks of the Altai reach almost 4400 meters, including the Chüiten peak , which is the highest point in Mongolia at 4374  m . From there the 3000 to 4000 m high mountain ranges Mongolian Altai and Gobi-Altai stretch 2000 km to the east-southeast, along the border with China, to the Mongolian plateau ; other mountains in western Mongolia are the Tannu-ola Mountains and the Sajan Mountains . There are hundreds of glaciers in Mongolia , although all of them are very small by international standards.

In the center of the country lies the Changai Mountains with numerous three-thousand-meter peaks , the northern flank of which already drains to the Siberian Lake Baikal , and east of it the region around the capital Ulaanbaatar ( 1350  m ). To the east of this is the Chentii Mountains . To the south of this mountain range, the country is hilly until it merges into the Gobi . In the east of Mongolia is the lowest point of Mongolia at Lake Choch Nuur , at 532  m .


Ider near Dschargalant ( Chöwsgöl-Aimag )

There are about 1200 rivers in Mongolia with a total length of almost 70,000 km. The land is drained in three directions: toward the Pacific Ocean , toward the Arctic Ocean, and toward the drainless Central Asian Plain. As a landlocked country, Mongolia itself has no access to seas or oceans.

The water-rich Selenga rivers and their large tributaries Ider , Orchon and Tuul run through the north . These arise in the Changai Mountains and flow into Lake Baikal . The Onon and Cherlen , which arise in the Chentii Mountains and drain over the Amur towards the Pacific, also flow in the north and east , as well as the Ulds and Chalchyn . The largest rivers in the west are the Khovd and the Dzawkhan , both of which flow towards central Asia with no outflow. All rivers in Mongolia freeze over in winter. The ice cover can last up to six months and reach a thickness of more than one meter. The frozen rivers are often used as roads by vehicles in winter, polluting them with oil.

The almost 4000 lakes in Mongolia include the 3350 km² saltwater lake Uws Nuur and the 2760 km² Chöwsgöl Nuur . The latter is one of the most important freshwater lakes in the world. 95% of the other lakes are less than 5 km² in size; 80% are freshwater lakes. Since they are often fed by glaciers and are far from any industrial centers, they are almost not polluted and have very clear water. They are important resting places for migratory birds .

The waters in Mongolia are affected by considerable desertification , 852 of the rivers and streams and more than 1000 of the lakes have dried up or disappeared (data from 2007).


Climate diagram of Ulaanbaatar

Its location in the Central Asian highlands gives Mongolia one of the most extreme climates among the continental and arid climates in the world. Due to the dry, pronounced continental climate, the temperatures fluctuate very strongly over the course of the year: in winter the average daytime temperatures are -25 ° C, in summer +20 ° C, which means that the fluctuations are two to three times greater than in Western Europe . The mean annual precipitation reaches 200 to 220 millimeters and decreases from over 400 mm in the north of the country to less than 100 mm in the south of the Gobi desert. In the course of the year 80 to 90% of the precipitation falls from May to September. The temperature differences between night and day are also unusually high and reach up to 32 ° C. The absolute temperature amplitude between summer and winter reaches up to 100  K .

Effects of climate change

Mongolia is severely affected by global warming . Between 1940 and 2001 the annual mean air temperature rose by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The winter temperature even increased by more than 3.6 degrees during this period. Mongolia's ancient ice is melting quickly due to the changing climate and warm summer temperatures. Since the inflow from the ice fields often runs dry in summer, the drinking water supply is increasingly restricted. This will put both cultural heritage and traditional reindeer herding at extreme risk in the years to come. As a result, the climate crisis is endangering local low-latitude reindeer herders who live in the mountainous tundra zones of northern Mongolia.


While the northern part of Mongolia is still part of the boreal coniferous forest zone with sufficient rainfall, rainfall decreases continuously in the south. The natural conditions such as the precipitation gradient in north-south direction and the windward-leeward effects of the mountain ranges running through the country lead to a pronounced vegetation zoning, which Hilbig differentiated in 1995 according to the precipitation conditions from north to south as follows (their distribution is in brackets in the corresponding geographical areas and flora regions according to Grubov 1982):

  • Mountain taiga (Chubsugul, Chentei, northern edge of Changai)
  • (Mountain) forest steppes (Changai, Chubsugul, Chentei, Mongolian-Daurian flora region, Mongolian Altai, Hinggan)
  • (Dry) steppe (southern part of Changai, Central Chalcha, Eastern Mongolia, edge of the Great Lakes Basin)
    • Grass steppe
    • Mountain steppe
    • Meadow steppe
    • Sand steppe
  • Alpine vegetation (Chubsugul, Chentei, Changai, Mongolian Altai)
  • Semi-desert (desert steppe) (southern half of Mongolia, Great Lakes Basin, Gobi-Altai, Djungarian Gobi)
  • Desert (Djungarian Gobi, Transaltai-Gobi, Alashan-Gobi and East-Gobi)

Extrazonal vegetation:

  • Alpine vegetation (developed in the Chubsugul area, in central Changai, in the Mongolian Altai, partly in the Chentei)


Young cranes can be seen frequently, especially in northwestern Mongolia.

Mongolia's fauna has adapted to the conditions of the steppe. Sheep , goats , cattle , camels and horses are kept by the people . The wild mammals of the steppe include saiga , jerboa species , marmots , wolves , yaks , a wild cat species and the steppe iltis . One species of crane occurs at the lakes, while other bird species of Mongolia are buzzard species , steppe eagles , the lark and a wheatear species . A specialty is the Przewalski horse , which was already extinct and was successfully released back into the wild. The forest and mountain areas of the country are inhabited by the argali , a wild goat species , a gazelle species, the ermine , the mountain hare , the common snipe species and the Altai king chicken ( Tetraogallus altaicus ). A special feature here is the snow leopard , which is endangered due to hunting and the restriction of its habitat. The Asiatic donkey , cashmere goat , numerous species of rodents and lizards and agamas live in the Gobi . The endangered Gobi bear , a small form of the brown bear that lives mainly on a vegetarian diet , also lives in the Gobi . Carp fish , loaches , pike , burbot , perch , lenok , taimen and various species of grayling are found in the waters of Mongolia . The Baikal sturgeon ( Acipenser baerii baicalensis Nikolskii) migrated more than 300 km above the Orkhon to the Selenga spawn of the Orkhon and the upper reaches. Migratory birds that only spend the summer in Mongolia are the swan goose , mute swan and teal . There are also migratory birds that overwinter in Mongolia, such as the snow bunting or the snow owl .


Due to the region's formerly warm and humid climate, which later became dry and cool, numerous remains of dinosaurs have been preserved. Numerous spectacular finds have been made in Mongolia since the 1920s. The American scientist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first dinosaur eggs here. In addition, fossils of Oviraptor , Protoceratops , Velociraptor , Therizinosaurus , Pachycephalosauria and Tarbosaurus have been found.

Natural disasters

Mongolia lies in a seismically very active area; Earthquakes are common. However, due to the low population density and because there are relatively few buildings that could collapse, the quakes usually cause little damage. The most violent earthquakes occurred in central Mongolia in 1905 and in southwestern Mongolia in 1931, 1957 and 1967. The 1905 quake had a magnitude of 8.2 to 8.7 on the Richter scale , that of 1957 had a magnitude of 7.9 to 8.3, and the 1967 earthquake had a 7.5. However, the numerous crevices left by the earthquakes often lead to rivers, on which the nomads and their herds depend, dry up or shift.

As Dsud you originally designated very snowy winter, in which the animals are no longer able to find food beneath the snow and therefore starve. In the meantime, however, the term is also used for other, especially winter meteorological conditions, under which grazing of the cattle is impossible. In addition to the so-called White Dsud , in which the animals can no longer find food under the snow cover after heavy snowfall, a distinction is made between the so-called Black Dsud , in which the animals die of thirst due to insufficient snow (since wells and water bodies freeze, snow is when it is cold Temperatures the only water source). Another form is the icy or iron dsud , in which freezing rain covers the land with ice, preventing the animals from feeding on grass and herbs. Finally, a fourth form is the storm Dsud due to sandstorms. Dsuds are relatively common phenomena in Mongolia, which can kill millions of animals in one winter, thereby depriving the population of their livelihoods.

Administrative structure

Volksrepublik China Russland Orchon-Aimag Darchan-Uul-Aimag Gobi-Sümber-Aimag Ulaanbaatar Dornod-Aimag Süchbaatar-Aimag Chentii-Aimag Töw-Aimag Dund-Gobi-Aimag Dorno-Gobi-Aimag Ömnö-Gobi-Aimag Bajanchongor-Aimag Gobi-Altai-Aimag Chowd-Aimag Bulgan-Aimag Archangai-Aimag Chöwsgöl-Aimag Dsawchan-Aimag Uws-Aimag Bajan-Ölgii-Aimag Öwörchangai-Aimag Selenge-Aimag
Provinces of Mongolia

Mongolia is divided into 21 aimags (provinces) and the capital Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator), which forms an independent administrative unit. The latter also applied to the city of Erdenet until 1994 . From this, however, the Orkhon Aimag was created in 1994 together with some Sum des Bulgan Aimags . Likewise the city of Darchan , for which the Darchan-Uul-Aimag was spun off as an enclave from the Selenge-Aimag .

Each aimag is divided into a number of sums (comparable to counties / districts), these in turn into bags (comparable to municipalities ). There are over 300 sums, which are divided into more than 1500 bags. A bag often does not exist as a permanent settlement, as its members all move around as nomads .


In 2016, 72.8% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The capital Ulaanbaatar is very dominant because around 43% of the Mongolian population lives there. (As of January 9, 2020) The 5 largest cities are (as of 2017):

  1. Ulaanbaatar : 1,311,251 inhabitants
  2. Erdenet : 98,050 inhabitants
  3. Darchan : 82,247 inhabitants
  4. Choibalsan : 43,106 inhabitants
  5. Mörön : 38,582 inhabitants


Ethnic Groups of Mongolia (2000)
Ethnicity Number
(in thousands)
Chalcha 1,934.7 81.5
Kazakhs 103.0 4.3
Dörwöd 66.7 2.8
Bayad 50.8 2.1
Buryats 40.6 1.7
Dariganga 31.9 1.3
Zachtschin 29.8 1.3
Urianchai 25.2 1.1
Other 82.6 3.5
Foreigners 8.1 0.3
total 2,373.5 100.0

Population groups and development

Population growth in Mongolia from 1960 to 2017 ( FAO data )
Mongolia population pyramid 2016

The vast majority of the population of Mongolia (approx. 85%) belong to the Mongolian people . The subgroups of this people are essentially differentiated by their respective dialect. Especially in the west of the country ( Bajan-Ölgii-Aimag and Chowd-Aimag ) there are minorities from different Turkic peoples , such as Kazakhs and Tuvins (Urianchai). Immigrant Russians and Han mainly live in the cities or as specialists in mining. However, the proportion of Russians fell sharply after democratization.

Along with Western Sahara, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world . However, the population had more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. As part of the five-year plan (1948–1952) of the socialist People's Republic , the aim was to increase the population in order to achieve the goals of agriculture and industrialization. As a result, incentives were created to have high numbers of children: women with more than four children received awards, free vacation, higher child benefits and early retirement.

The fertility fell at the beginning of the 1990s due to the transition to a market economy and the newly emerging problems abruptly; In 1993 it was 2.6 births per woman and in 2015 (estimated) 2.2; a further decline was expected. The 2000 census found a population growth of 1.54%; for 2015 an estimated value of 1.31% was given. 45% of the population are under 25 years of age, 27% under 15.

In 2017, 0.6% of the population was born abroad. Most of the foreigners are from China, Russia and South Korea.

Bless you

In Mongolia there are periods of extreme cold, which affects the life expectancy of the rural population. Average life expectancy is 69 years (2015 estimate), with men living on average 65 and women 73 years old. In 2006, government spending on healthcare was US $ 124 (purchasing power parity) per capita.

The word "mongol" (mongɣol) in Mongolian script

Languages ​​and scripts

The Chalcha-Mongolian language as the most important representative of the Mongolian language family is the mother tongue of about 85 percent of the ethnic Mongols. The rest is mostly made up of Buryats in the north, Durbet in the northwest, Dariganga in the southeast and the western Mongols ( Oirats and the like) in the west. The remaining minorities in the West speak various Turkish languages ​​(mainly Kazakh , next to Tuvinian ). During socialism, students were taught Russian . Since 2005, English has been taught in schools as the official first foreign language. About 30,000 Mongolians speak German as a foreign language.

The literacy rate among adults exceeds 98 percent, according to the UN. The Mongolian language in Mongolia today is written in a slightly expanded Cyrillic alphabet. The traditional Mongolian script , which originally comes from Uighur , is written vertically. After the end of communist domination, it was officially decided to reintroduce it, but in practice, for economic reasons alone, this has little chance of being realized. In Inner Mongolia, however , the traditional script is still in use.


Tsetserleg Monastery
An obo (ovoo) in northwestern Mongolia
Monastery complex in Erdene Dsuu
Amarbajasgalant monastery complex in northern Mongolia

The original religion of the Central Asian steppe inhabitants was shamanism . Elements of shamanism live on in Buddhism to this day (→ syncretism ) . Today shamanistic traditions are playing an increasingly important role again. For example, oboos - piles of stones on hills or crossroads, where everyone who says a prayer adds a stone - are to be found again more often and the cult of the mountain deities of the mountain Burchan Chaldun has even been officially honored.

Buddhism was introduced to Mongolia several times: in the 1st century BC. By the Xiongnu , in the 6th century by the Jujuan , in the 10th century by the Kitan . In the world empire of Genghis Khan, where all religions were promoted, Buddhism was only one of several religions. In the 16th century, the Tibetan form of Buddhism ( Vajrayana ) established itself in Mongolia . Altan Khan , who had ambitions to unite the Mongolian tribes under his leadership, supported the priests of the Gelugpa School in spreading their teachings and in gaining supremacy in Tibet. In return, he was declared to be the reincarnation of Kublai Khan . 1578 was awarded for the first time the title of Dalai Lama to Sonam Gyatso (his two predecessors were posthumously); From that year onwards, Buddhism, starting from Hohhot , spread in several waves over the whole of Mongolia. In 1586 the Buddhist monastery Erdene Dsuu , which housed over 60 Buddhist temples, was built from the stones of the former capital Karakorum on a 16 hectare site .

The Lamaism , in particular the Tibetan line Gelugpa , slowly became a dominant force. The Qing took from 1740 to Buddhism to control the Mongols by some that the jebtsundamba khutuktu was only to be found in Tibet, to ensure that the temple would be not a place of rebellion. At the same time, a Da Lama, who was usually a Manchu and had to supervise the activities of the monastery, was placed in front of the monasteries. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 40% of men were lamas or lay people in the monasteries, of which there were more than 800 in all of Mongolia. The monasteries had great economic power and had amassed great fortunes.

From the 1920s onwards, all religions were fought along the lines of the Soviet model. Many monasteries and temples were destroyed, including Erdene Dsuu in 1937 , and thousands of lamas were murdered or exiled. Only a few monasteries survived the socialist period. Nonetheless, certain traditions, such as B. the Buddhist burial, not touched. After the democratization in 1991, however, the practice of religion revived strongly. In 2007 there were around 100 temples and monasteries, although a certain part of the population is skeptical of the religion.

Since there are no official statistics on religion and because of the unquantifiable overlap between Lamaism and Shamanism, no reliable figures are known. 50 to 96 percent of the population are reported as Buddhists. The religious studies database Association of Religion Data Archives indicates 54.2 percent Buddhists and 18.6 percent ethnic religions .

Most of the Turkic peoples living as minorities in Mongolia , such as For example, the predominantly in Bayan-Ölgii Province living Kazakhs are followers of Islam , with the exception of Tuvan. They make up about five percent of the total population.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were first missionary efforts by European and American priests for Christianity, but the missionaries were deported when the Soviets came to power. The end of socialism also meant the return of missionaries, especially evangelical denominations. According to surveys, one to seven percent of the population describe themselves as Christians, with Christianity often being associated with the high standard of living in the West. The Catholic Church in Mongolia is also gaining popularity.


Before the overthrow of 1921, education in Mongolia was almost exclusively the domain of Buddhist monasteries. Only a small percentage of the population had access to education, so only monks and government officials were literate. The socialist government subsequently introduced a general and free education system, for which it spent about a fifth of the budget. In the 1930s schools were built in all of the larger permanent settlements in the country, to which, as a rule, a dormitory for children from nomad families was attached. In the 1940s, the traditional Mongolian script was abolished and a new Cyrillic alphabet was introduced, which meant that adults had to learn to read and write again. The successes of the socialist educational policy are still effective today, Mongolia today has one of the highest literacy rates in the world: 97.8% of the population can read and write. In Mongolia today, children go to school at the age of seven. There is eight years of compulsory schooling, and around 120,000 pupils begin a higher education each year.

After the fall of communist rule, foreign donors asked the new government to cut spending on education and introduce school fees. This led to a deterioration in conditions in schools, teachers no longer received their salaries and the proportion of school dropouts rose. Boys in particular are leaving school earlier today to go to work.

Mongolia's first university was founded in 1942. Now known as the National University of Mongolia, this institution is the country's leading academic educational institution. By splitting off from the state university, further specialized universities and institutes emerged in the course of time. Numerous private universities and vocational schools have emerged since democratization. Although they were only reluctantly accepted by the population, they now offer an alternative to state institutions. At the end of 2008, there were finally 31 state universities and 55 officially accredited private academic institutions. Until the 1980s, numerous Mongols studied in the Soviet Union, the GDR or in other states of the Eastern Bloc; today one orientates oneself to East Asia, Europe and North America.


Prehistory and Antiquity

500,000 years ago the territory of what is now Mongolia was inhabited by Homo erectus . Back then the climate was milder than it is today. In the Tolbor river valley , a tributary of the Selenga , stone tools almost 45,000 years old were discovered at the Tolbor-16 site , the oldest evidence of the presence of anatomically modern humans ( Homo sapiens ) in what is now Mongolia. Cave paintings in the province of Chowd date from the later Stone Age, i.e. from 40,000 to 12,000 years ago . In the Mesolithic , around 12,000–7,000 years ago, people began to use bows and arrows and keep pets.

The first written evidence comes from Chinese chronicles. In the Bronze Age , around 2500 BC Until 1000 BC BC, the region's culture developed rapidly due to the abundance of copper deposits in Mongolia. At the same time, however, the climate continued to cool, making it too cold to farm, ultimately turning the people here into cattle-raising nomads.

In the third century BC The tribe of Xiongnu invaded the southern Chinese states. It was successfully repulsed, and in response to the frequent Mongol incursions, Emperor Qin Shihuangdi began building the Great Wall of China . The peoples from the steppe, such as the Xianbei , the Tuoba and the Rouran , overcame the wall repeatedly and plundered the Chinese areas, at times they even established their own empires and acculturated.

The Mongolian Empire

Expansion of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan (1227)

The name Mongols may have come up during the Tang Dynasty (7th to 10th centuries). In the 8th century the Turkic peoples, especially the Uyghurs, took over the supremacy, in the 10th century the Kitan founded the Liao dynasty , which lasted until 1125.

In the 12th century Temüdschin succeeded in uniting the many divided Mongolian tribes and forming a state out of them that could take on its powerful neighbors. Around the year 1206 he was recognized as the leader of all Mongols under the title of Genghis Khan . He set up a powerful army to which, with few exceptions, all men between the ages of 15 and 70 were committed, taking care to include men from different tribes in all groups. Another new feature was the strict hierarchical organization of the army and the specialization of soldiers.

To support his military organization, he introduced innovations such as a census, a communication system with flags and a mounted post. Spiritually, Genghis Khan orientated himself on Tengrism .

The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan (1227)
Replica of the silver tree in Karakoram

In what is now Central Mongolia, the capital, Karakoram , arose . It was at the crossroads of two important trade routes; the Mongols encouraged people from other parts of Asia to settle in Karakoram. The residents had freedom of religion, mosques, churches and Buddhist temples were built in the city.

The Jassa code of law passed by Genghis Khan contained traditional Mongolian laws, but was supplemented by new laws that required the expansion of the Mongolian Empire. The laws provided penalties for liars, required the return of lost property, restricted alcohol consumption, and established a social safety net for the survivors of killed Mongolian warriors. A largely uniform legal system contributed significantly to the Pax Mongolica from the late 12th century to the 14th century.

Before his death, Genghis Khan had already divided his empire into four khanates. His son Chagatai got control of the south-western part of the empire, which included Afghanistan, Turkestan and central Siberia. His grandson Batu got power over Central Asia and founded the Golden Horde there . Pol Uri got power over Mongolia and Ögedei was entrusted with rule over China and East Asia. Ögedei Khan managed to further expand the empire and expand its territory south and west. When Ögedei died twelve years later, his armies were in southern China and at the gates of Vienna . His successor Möngke conquered most of southern China and the northern part of what is now Vietnam . In 1261 Kublai Khan was his successor. Kublai was not only a talented military leader, but also a far-sighted ruler. He promoted commerce and seafaring, the sciences, and introduced improvements in Chinese agriculture. Under his rule the Mongolian script was developed and in 1280 he moved his winter residence to Dadu, today's Beijing , where he founded the Yuan dynasty . Although the conquest of Japan failed twice, the Mongolian Empire under Kublai Khan reached its peak of power. However, the succession to the throne remained unclear after the death of each ruler, and the struggles for power damaged the territorial integrity of the empire.

After the death of Kublai Khan, the Mongols could not maintain their power. The Mongol Empire knew after Kublai Khan nor the institution of the Great Khan , but he was not all Khanates fully recognized. The last Great Khan who ruled all Mongolian partial empires was Timur Khan (until 1307). After that there were repeated tribute payments by the other khans to the respective Great Khan, in particular to Toqa Timur , as well as similar gestures of submission and solidarity, but the political fortunes of the Mongol Empire after Timur Khan were in truth largely decentralized. In particular, the khans supported each other - or their great khan - only to a limited extent in military actions; soldiers were often only sent symbolically. In this respect, the Mongolian Empire from 1307 onwards was more of a confederation of states similar to the Holy Roman Empire under more formal than actual leadership by the Great Khan as a unified state in the modern sense.

Despite inadequate political unity, the solidarity within the Mongol Empire was still clearly visible after 1307. It manifested itself among other things in the legal system, the postal and communication system (Örtöö and Païza), and the common art and cultural assets such as writing and language in particular . The unity of the Mongolian Empire is therefore quite comparable to that of other great empires of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period .

15th to 20th century

Temple in the monastery of Erdene Zuu Monastery , which by Altan Khan was founded

As before the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongolian tribes repeatedly attacked the Chinese Empire, prompting the rulers of the Ming Dynasty to further expand and strengthen the Great Wall of China. Numerous fights among the Mongolian tribes, spurred on by China, also began. As a result of a long war between the two most important Mongolian tribes, the Oirats and the Chalcha , the Oirats were expelled from what is now Mongolia. During the reign of Altan Khan , Tibetan Buddhism began to become the state religion of the Mongols.

Before that, Buddhism was one of several religions practiced in his empire. At the same time, the Manchu rose to the dominant power east of what is now Mongolia . In 1634 they defeated Ligdan Khan , from 1644 the Manchurian Qing dynasty was founded, in whose government numerous Mongolian officials were also active. More efficient weapons were introduced that the mounted Mongols could not fight with a bow and arrow. However, nomadic Mongolian society was not prepared to manufacture such weapons itself. The borders of the Mongolian Empire thus began to narrow. Both Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia , which is now an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, were released for settlement by the Han at the beginning of the 17th century . Outer Mongolia increasingly came under the influence of the Russian Tsarist Empire. The entire Mongolian highlands were divided into so-called banners , the head of which was appointed by the Chinese imperial family.

Buddhism led to the emergence of permanent settlements around monasteries and became an influential power. Mongolia remained relatively peaceful and stable until the beginning of the 20th century. It was an impoverished province with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, often heavily indebted to Russian and Chinese traders. The 8th Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu took advantage of the collapse of the Chinese Qing Dynasty and, with Russian support, declared Outer Mongolia independent in 1911. In 1915 representatives of Russia, China and Outer Mongolia signed the Treaty of Kjachta , according to which Outer Mongolia received a certain status of autonomy, but was still subject to the sovereignty of China.

Communist rule

After the October Revolution in Russia, the national Chinese took the opportunity and in 1919 completely reintegrated Mongolia into the Republic of China . In the course of the Russian Civil War, part of the White Army under the leadership of Roman von Ungern-Sternberg evaded to Outer Mongolia in 1920, occupied the country and tried to fight the Red Army by advancing into Russian territory . On March 13, 1921 Ungern-Sternberg proclaimed an independent monarchy and nominally appointed Bogd Khan as head of state. On the same day, Süchbaatar and Tschoibalsan , who were in the Soviet Union, founded a communist counter-government and marched into Mongolia on July 3, 1921 with the 400-strong Mongolian Revolutionary People's Army along with 10,000 Soviet soldiers of the Red Army and occupied Urga within a short time . On July 11, 1921, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MRVP) again proclaimed the independence of Outer Mongolia. Ungern-Sternberg was extradited to the Soviet Army and executed. Bogd Khan formally remained the head of state; Only after his death did the new rulers pass a communist constitution on November 25, 1924, with which the Mongolian People's Republic emerged as a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

The still nomadic population did not oppose the new communist leadership. Due to the almost non-existent organizational structures in the country and the low population density, communism took a long time to establish itself in Mongolia. As a result, all residents of the country over the age of 18 were given the right to vote. Only traders, moneylenders, former nobles and monks were excluded. The leadership of the one-party state was taken over by the MRVP. The legislative power of the Mongolian People's Republic corresponding to the Supreme Soviet was the Great State Chural . He chose the Small State Chural. The Little Chural elected a praesidium and a council of ministers, the executive branch, which had twelve members. The Great People's Chural met only twice a year. In the meantime, the Bureau was able to pass decrees and dismiss and appoint cabinet members. His decisions had to be subsequently confirmed by the plenary. The Great Chural also appointed the members of the Supreme Court.

With the constitution of November 1, 1924, the general active and passive right to vote for women was introduced. Land, pastures, water and mineral resources were nationalized. All debts to foreign traders (especially Chinese) have been canceled and the private moneylending system has been abolished. The state took over a monopoly in foreign trade and the economic power of the monasteries was broken. In 1924 the first Mongolian currency, the tögrög , was introduced. The first state bank was the Mongolbank . At the same time, the first industrial activities, such as mining or the processing of agricultural products, began. In 1931 the property of more than a third of the households was confiscated and redistributed. In response, the affected families slaughtered seven million animals. This and the fact that the newly founded cooperatives did not function as desired led to a famine and rebellion in 1931/1932. A civil war could only be avoided with great difficulty. The changes in the economic system were carried out more slowly from now on.

On the political stage, parallel to similar events in the Soviet Union, political cleansing spread among the victims of Bogd Khan , Khakdorjab , Togotkho , Puntsuk Dorji and Dindub. In 1924, Dandsan , the deputy prime minister and minister of war, as well as the army commander in chief, was shot. In 1937 Genden , who as Prime Minister was responsible for the policy of gradually implementing communist policies, was executed. His rival Choibalsan was now prime minister and minister of war at the same time. His Stalinist policies fought religion, forced monks into factories or the army; Monasteries were destroyed, statues made of gold and silver were brought to the Soviet Union and melted down there. In 1932 Japan also installed a satellite state with Manchukuo in Inner Mongolia , whereupon the Soviet Union increased its military presence in the Mongolian People's Republic. Japan saw this action as a threat to its interests and also relocated more troops to Manchukuo's border. The official reason given by both aggressors was the support of their “brother countries” in fighting gangs and warlords . From January 1935, the conflicts between Russian and Japanese raiding parties increased dramatically due to the unresolved border lines between the Mongolian People's Republic and Manchukuo, which ended in the Japanese-Soviet border war in 1939 . During the Second World War, the Mongolian People's Republic had to support the Soviet Union by delivering cattle and clothing.

In 1952 Tschoibalsan died; he was succeeded by Tsedenbal , who ruled the country for 32 years. By 1958 at the latest, almost all nomadic households belonged to a cooperative called Negdel . In addition to the development of agriculture, some industrial centers emerged in which mining and processing of wool, meat and wood were carried out. Tsedenbal was deposed in 1984; under the successor Jambyn Batmönch , the Mongolian People's Republic got more and more room for maneuver, which was made possible by the politics of Gorbachev in the Soviet Union.

Meeting of the Great State of Chural (November 2000)


From 1988 onwards, an opposition made up of various forces was formed in the Mongolian People's Republic, calling for a multi-party system and economic reforms. With the collapse of the Soviet Union , Mongolia made a peaceful transition from 1990 to a democratic - parliamentary system of government . On February 12, 1992, Parliament sealed the end of the communist system by adopting a constitution based on the principles of a democratic state based on the rule of law and a market economy. At the same time the designation "People's Republic" was deleted from the name. The new experiences with a market economy system were difficult for many Mongols; inflation and scarcity prevailed in the early 1990s. Despite allegations of corruption and nepotism, Mongolia is now considered one of the more stable democracies in the former Eastern Bloc.


Legal system and constitution

Mongolia is a parliamentary democracy . The constitution , which came into force in 1992 , was based on the basic law of the Federal Republic of Germany and the French constitution . The basic values ​​of the state are democracy, justice, freedom, equality, national unity and respect for the law.

The unicameral parliament is called the Grand State Chural , has 76 members and is elected every four years. Shortly before the 2016 election, proportional representation was converted to a majority system with single-constituencies, with 28 constituencies in the capital Ulaanbaatar and 48 constituencies in the rest of the country.

The president is directly elected for a four-year term, with a limit of two terms of office. He is also head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces and chairman of the national security council. Uchnaagiin Chürelsüch has been in this office since 2021 .

The judiciary is independent of the executive and legislative branches. The Supreme Judicial Council appoints all judges and protects their rights. The Supreme Court develops a final interpretation of the law and makes the final decision on all appeal proceedings. Specialized courts for civil, criminal and administrative complaint proceedings also exist at all levels. The Constitutional Court , whose nine members are appointed for six years, is responsible for constitutional complaints.

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 51.9 out of 120 129 of 178 Stability of the country: Stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.48 out of 10 61 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 84 of 100 - Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 28.97 out of 100 68 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 35 out of 100 111 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020


In the parliamentary elections on June 28, 2012, the Democratic Party won the victory over the previously ruling Mongolian People's Party (MVP), as the former MRVP has been called since November 5, 2010. The MVP had been weakened because former party members formed a new party under the old name of MRVP, which became the third largest force. In the parliamentary elections on June 29, 2016, the Mongolian People's Party (MVP) replaced the Democratic Party (DP) as the ruling party. The MVP held 65 seats, while the DP (9 seats), the MRVP (1 seat) and the remaining candidates (1 seat) lost heavily, due in large part to the short-term change in the electoral law.

After the parliamentary elections on June 24, 2020, the MVP now holds 62 of the 76 seats, the DP 11 and the remaining 3 seats went to small parties and independents.

Foreign policy

Traditionally, the most important bilateral relations are those with the two neighboring countries China and Russia. Because of its inland location, it is heavily reliant on good relationships with its neighbors. The only usable route to the sea at present is via the Chinese port of Tianjin , while the country gets its energy imports from Russia. Historically, during the communist era there was a close reference to the Soviet Union, which has left strong economic, political and cultural traces to this day. However, since the end of the Cold War, the People's Republic of China has become the country's most important foreign policy reference point. In 2016, China accounted for over 80% of Mongolian foreign trade and a large part of the foreign direct investment in the country came from the People's Republic, especially in the mining sector. The Mongolian economy also employs an increasing number of Chinese workers, particularly in construction, mining and retail. However, this noticeable economic dominance of China also leads in part to an anti-Chinese mood among the population and fear of excessive dependence within the country's political leadership. The country is therefore interested in diversifying its foreign policy contacts and is looking for deeper relations with the states of the European Union , the United States and Japan within the framework of its “ third neighbor policy ” , with an interest primarily in joint trade and investment agreements.

Mongolia is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe , the Movement of Non-Aligned States and the United Nations . Mongolia is an observer state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization .



Mongolia spent almost 0.7 percent of its economic output, which was only 83 million US dollars, on its armed forces in 2017. Since Russia and China have good relations with Mongolia and Mongolia does not face any other threats, modernization programs have so far been viewed as superfluous.

It is discussed, however, to set up two rifle divisions within the next 15 years, one as a " national guard " and one for international missions. The equipment for this may be provided by Russia.

Currently, the Mongolian military is among others. Involved in international missions in Iraq , Afghanistan and Sierra Leone ( UNMIL ).

Land Forces

Today's army is accordingly equipped with what was formerly Soviet equipment. There are 650 old T-54 / 55 and T-62 main battle tanks and BMP-1 and BTR-60 / 80 armored personnel carriers ; there are also isolated air defense complexes. There are 9,300 armed men and 137,000 reservists.

Air Force

The Air Force of the People's Republic owned 90 combat aircraft until 1990, a fighter squadron with MiG-21 and a ground attack squadron with MiG-17 . At present, nine MiG-21s should still be airworthy; the last training flight is said to have taken place in 2003. There are also twelve Mil Mi-24 combat helicopters . How many still fly, however, is unknown.




Mongolia is one of the transition countries of the former Eastern Bloc . Mongolia's economy is predominantly agricultural .

After a long period of stagnation (1990–2002, + 3% to −3%), Mongolia achieved economic growth of 5.3 to 17 (2011) percent in the years up to 2011 ; the increase was largely due to growth in the service sector and higher world market prices for copper and gold. Economic growth in 2015 was only 2.4%. The official unemployment rate in 2016 was around 8%. However, the World Bank assumes that unemployment will be much higher.

However, the growth of recent years has bypassed the poor part of the population: around 40% live below the extreme poverty line , similar to 1990. The difficult years of reform increased the share of the private sector to 80%, but the social differences and the city - Country gradient increased.

The WFP map shows a chronic and threatening malnutrition rate averaging 43%. Child mortality is very high. Of 1000 newborns, 58 die in infancy. Many children and young people live in Ulaanbaatar's heating tunnels during the cold season. The floor of these tunnels is covered with excrement and populated by rats. The hygienic conditions are accordingly. The number of young people living in the tunnels is estimated to be “around 4,000” to “at least 10,000”.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Mongolia was in 2015 11.7 billion USD. The gross domestic product per capita in the same year was 3952 USD. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Mongolia ranks 101st out of 137 countries (2017-2018). In 2017, the country ranks 129th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
7.42 billion 7.25 billion 9.02 billion 13.97 billion 15.57 billion 17.39 billion 19.12 billion 18.86 billion 20.49 billion 24.53 billion 28.06 billion 31.83 billion 34.96 billion 36.18 billion 37.09 billion 39.70 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
3,581 3,245 3,774 5,482 6,039 6,649 7.187 6,961 7,437 8,802 9,880 11,043 11,948 12,183 12,307 12,979
GDP growth
−2.5% 6.4% 1.1% 6.5% 8.2% 8.8% 7.8% −2.1% 7.3% 17.3% 12.3% 11.6% 7.9% 2.4% 1.2% 5.1%
(in percent)
... 63.4% 11.6% 12.5% 4.5% 2.1% 26.8% 6.3% 10.2% 7.7% 15.9% 8.6% 12.9% 5.9% 0.6% 4.6%


Potato harvest in Sum Kharkhorin

Because of the geographically very poor soils, the long winters, the low rainfall, the nomadic tradition of the country and the short vegetation period of only 95–110 days, very little arable farming has developed in Mongolia . In contrast, however, a highly specialized livestock industry has emerged. Five species of livestock are kept, the products and benefits of which are precisely coordinated and integrated into the nomadic way of life: sheep (wool, milk, meat), goat (fur, milk), yak (milk, leather, meat), horse (milk, transport ) and camel (milk, cargo transport).

Traditional agricultural products are meat (six million large animal slaughtered in 2002), milk , sheep's wool and cashmere wool ; also grain (on a few per thousand of the land area), potatoes and vegetables.

However, many important crops cannot thrive in Mongolia's harsh climate. Only one percent of the usable area of ​​the country is used for cultivation (1998: 1,322,000 ha, corresponding to 3,266,000 acres). As a result, agriculture is focused on raising livestock, and cultivation employs only three percent of the working population. The main crops are wheat, barley, oats and potatoes. Corn, millet and rapeseed are also grown on a small scale.

Modern agriculture developed slowly in Mongolia. The first attempts at collectivization began with the establishment of state farms in the 1930s. In 1940 there were ten state farms and 91 agricultural cooperatives called "Negdel". That year agriculture generated 61% of the national income and employed around 90% of the working population. The number of agricultural cooperatives rose from 139 in 1950 to 364 in 1960. In 1959 agriculture was 100% collectivized.

In 1960 the share of agriculture in national income (according to the methodology used in the socialist states of the time) had already fallen to 22.9%, but it still employed 60.8% of the working population. After 1960, the number of state farms increased and the number of cooperatives decreased due to the merger, and special farms for the cultivation of forage crops were established. After Mongolia became a member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) in 1962 , its agriculture received extensive support from the Soviet Union and other members of the Comecon, particularly from Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

The Negdels, who concentrated on raising livestock, were divided into brigades and these were divided into "Suuri" bases, consisting of several families. Each Suuri had its own tasks and devices. An average Negdel produced 500 tons of grain in 1985 and had 61,500 head of cattle, 438,500 hectares of land, of which 1200 hectares could be cultivated, 43 tractors, two harvesters and 18 motor vehicles. Every single member of the Negdel was allowed to keep cattle in private ownership: In the mountain steppe, ten head of cattle per person and up to 50 per household were permitted, and in desert areas up to 15 per person and up to 75 per household. Members of the Negdel were also allowed to use a piece of land for private purposes.

Dal Oasis in the Gobi Desert
Vegetable growing in the Dal oasis
Rapeseed field in the Selenge Aimag

The state farms (1985: 52) had more capital and more machines than the negdels (1985: 255). They were used more for agriculture and were generally located in more productive areas or near mining and industrial operations. In addition, there were 17 special farms in 1985, mainly for the cultivation of forage crops. In 1985, a state farm employed an average of 500 workers and had 26,200 head of cattle, 178,600 hectares of land, 15,400 of which could be used for arable farming, 265 tractors, 36 harvesters and 40 motor vehicles, and it harvested an average of 12,100 tons of grain.

After the Second World War, more and more new land was started to be used for arable farming. It was not until 1960 that the Mongolian government began to publish statistical information on arable land. This year it amounted to 532,000 hectares, of which 77.5% was accounted for by the existing 25 state farms and 22.5% by the cooperatives (Negdels). In 1985 the arable area was already 1.2 million hectares, most of which were cultivated by the 52 state farms, and this year plans were made to gain a further 120,000–130,000 hectares of arable land.

Agricultural mechanization began on a larger scale with Soviet help in the 1950s. It reached a greater extent in the state farms than in the cooperatives (negdels). In the 1960s, various projects for artificial irrigation of state farms were started with Hungarian help, and by 1985 81,600 hectares of agricultural land had been artificially irrigated.

The cultivation initially concentrated on grain, while the cultivation of forage crops did not begin until the 1950s. In 1941 95.1% of the arable land was used for growing cereals, 3.4% for potatoes and 1.5% for vegetables. Mongolia has been self-sufficient in grain production since 1960. In 1985 grain was grown on 60.6% of the cultivated area, 17.7% forage crops, 1.3% potatoes and 0.4% vegetables. The main crops were wheat, barley, oats and potatoes. Between 1960 and 1980 the arable land increased considerably, but crop yields remained constant due to natural disasters and mismanagement.

Agriculture was still a significant part of the economy of the Mongolian People's Republic in the late 1980s . In 1985 it employed 33.8% of the working population, but only generated 18.3% of the national income. The country's industry mainly processed food and wood for domestic use, as well as animal products such as hides and skins for export. In 1986 almost 60% of Mongolia's exports consisted of agricultural products.

After the end of the so-called socialist economic system, far-reaching changes in the property structure also took place in Mongolian agriculture. However, the economic direction remains dependent on the natural conditions and traditions. In 2006, livestock farming accounted for 80% of agricultural income. The keeping of the animals was now 97% privately owned.

The importance of agriculture and animal husbandry for the gross national product (according to international methodology) has decreased further with a share of only under 20% (2011) (1995: 38%). However, the agricultural sector still employs a third of the population.

In 2009, 151,211 t of potatoes (cultivated area: 13,525 ha), 388,122 t of wheat (cultivated area: 248,908 ha) as well as 1844 t of barley (cultivated area: 1460 ha) and 1512 t of oats (cultivated area: 1416 ha) were harvested. Vegetables such as B. peas, beans, onions, garlic, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, among others. grown in various oases of the Gobi desert, such as B. in the Dal oasis in Aimag Ömnögobi. Some of the yurt camps preferred by tourists to stay overnight have their own greenhouses, in which vegetables are also grown to entertain the tourists.

Although the rivers and freshwater lakes of Mongolia are rich in fish, fishing is of minor importance as fish traditionally plays only a minor role in the diet of the population. In the 1980s, the establishment of a fish processing industry for export began. In 1986, however, only 400 tons of fish were caught in Mongolia.

Environment and nature protection

Mongolia has the lowest population density in the world

Forest stocks have been significantly reduced since the 1960s due to population growth from logging and man-made forest fires. Under socialism, an unsustainable form of agriculture was practiced that damaged the soil. After the reunification came the danger of overgrazing by the nomads. Overgrazing, agriculture and deforestation combined, almost 90% of Mongolia's area is threatened by desertification . Unlike in China, there is no state reforestation program in Mongolia .

In some cities there are still coal-fired power plants in operation without flue gas cleaning , which therefore pose a health risk. In the yurt quarters , too, heating and cooking are predominantly made with wood and coal, which also contributes to air pollution. Finally, many outdated and poorly maintained are motor vehicles with high emissions in operation.

Information stand of a citizens' initiative against uncontrolled mining, Ulaanbaatar July 2006

Small and large thermal power stations of the Soviet design, together with textile, leather and mining companies, pollute disproportionately large amounts of water. Less than half of the wastewater is cleaned, and mostly with outdated systems. The rivers in the vicinity of larger settlements are therefore heavily polluted, the Tuul River near Ulaanbaatar, for example, contains more than ten times the permissible pollutants.

The country's waste management has an inadequate infrastructure . Even in the population, environmental awareness has so far hardly been developed. Official and wild landfills pose an environmental risk, along with the frequently dumped waste, which is also beginning to make a growing number of travel destinations unattractive to tourism.

Nevertheless, the sparsely populated Mongolia is still home to large natural landscapes, which also offer sufficient living space for large mammals. Numerous protected areas, such as the Gobi Gurwan Saichan National Park , were created to preserve these habitats.

See also : Transnational pollution in East Asia

Mining, Natural Resources and Industry

Mongolia is one of the ten most resource-rich countries in the world, but so far only a third has been geologically fully explored. A good 6,000 occurrences of 80 different minerals have been proven, including coal , copper , uranium (about 2% of the world's reserves), crude oil , gold , silver , fluorspar , molybdenum , zinc and diamonds . In the southern part of the Gobi, coal and copper deposits have been identified, which are among the largest in the world. GDR mining experts were involved in the search for and exploration of gold deposits between 1963 and 1971, and from 1973 to 1975 they explored wolframite deposits in the Bürentsogt area .

So far, copper and coal deposits have mainly been mined in open-cast mining. This leads to large-scale changes in the landscape with corresponding consequences for flora and fauna. Overburden dumps and waste water from the processing plants also have an increased heavy metal content . An additional hazard is also expected from the planned mining of copper and gold in the Gobi desert . The Ongi River was already drying up as a result of gold mining . On the other hand, with the relatively small population of Mongolia, the large deposits of raw materials also offer the chance of a significant increase in the general standard of living.

Economic development

The unemployment rate is estimated at 8.3% (2015 estimate). The high inflation has been successfully combated since 1996. An estimate of 12.9% was given for 2014 and 5.9% for 2015. The external debt in 2014 was around $ 21 billion.

Foreign trade

In 2007 Mongolia exported goods worth 1.95 billion US dollars, of which 41.6% was copper concentrate, 12.1% gold, 9% zinc concentrate, 9% cashmere wool in various stages of processing and 6% Money. Mainly petroleum products, machines, plants, vehicles and electronic products and food were imported. In 2016, 84% of all exports went to China, the second most important buyer was Switzerland, which had a share of 9%. The most important supplier countries in 2016 were China (40%), Russia (28%), Japan (6.4%) and South Korea (6.2%).

Trade with Germany reached a volume of 82 million euros in 2008, with a strong upward trend. Mongolia exported goods worth 15.4 million euros to Germany, mainly textiles (cashmere) and animal products. In contrast, the value of imports from Germany was 66.6 million euros. Mainly vehicles and machines are imported from Germany. Mongolia has a strong interest in deepening trade relations and, for example, introducing technologies for coal liquefaction, in the construction sector or in agriculture.

To reduce dependence on its two direct neighbors, Mongolia pursued an unsuccessful third-neighborhood policy with Japan, the United States and the European Union. The dependency on exports to China continued to grow, mainly because of Europe's weak growth and the enormous Chinese demand for raw materials. In 2014, 90% of exports totaling $ 5.4 billion were raw materials.

However, due to the decline in raw material prices since 2014, revenues from raw material exports - especially from the export of copper ore - plummeted. Foreign direct investment, which was mainly made in mining, fell by 80% from 2012 to 2014.

International trade relations

There are also some agreements with the EU on trade policy, customs and textiles. Mongolia is a member of important international organizations - in addition to the UN and its sub-organizations, e. B. at WTO , World Bank and Asian Development Bank . In addition, Mongolia is the only country that has not signed up to a regional trade agreement in the WTO. With ASEAN , SAARC , APEC and CIS there are some major regional free trade agreements in Asia that Mongolia could join. The 'Commonwealth of Independent States' in particular, a group that brings together the emerging countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, could build on the earlier connection between Mongolia and the Soviet Union.

State budget

The state budget in 2015 comprised an estimated expenditure of 3.4 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of 3.0 billion US dollars. This resulted in a budget deficit of 7.3% of GDP .
The national debt was 60.0% of GDP in 2016.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:

The national budget was also endangered by the decline in export earnings since 2014; the national debt rose to over 60% of the gross domestic product (compared to 2012: 51.7%).



The Moscow – Beijing Express of the Trans-Mongolian Railway

Mongolia has a rail network of around 1815 km in length, the heart of which is the Trans-Mongolian Railway . It runs across Mongolia from the border with Russia to the border with China and is part of the connection from Moscow to Beijing . The route, which is laid out in 1520 mm wide gauge, handles around 90% of goods traffic with neighboring countries. In addition to the capital Ulaanbaatar, important industrial cities such as Erdenet , Darchan and Baganuur are connected to the Trans-Mongolian railway . Tschoibalsan is connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway near Borsja by one line, but has no railway connection within Mongolia. In order to develop important coal and ore deposits, further railway lines are planned, for example a connection from Sainschand to the industrial city of Tschoibalsan and a coal railway from Uchaa Chudag to the Chinese border; for the latter, DB International , a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn , is responsible for construction supervision and project management. In 2016 the Tömörtei – Chandgait ore railway was put into operation.

Road network

Connecting road to Saichan in Bulgan-Aimag : There is no asphalt access

The road network in 2007 consisted of 6500 km of paved road, of which 2600 km were paved. In the coming years, high investments are to flow into the road network, planned or already being implemented are the construction of 1000 km of motorway, a Millennium Road in the region around Ulaanbaatar, the renovation or new construction of the road network of the capital itself and a paved road from Bajanchongor to Tsagaan Tolgoi . The provincial capitals in particular were and are connected to the capital by paved roads. As before, however, most of the smaller towns can only be reached via dirt tracks.

The road network in Mongolia still consists mainly of countless gravel and dirt roads

Also in 2007 there were 110,000 cars, 33,700 trucks and 13,000 buses on the road. Half of the vehicles were more than ten years old; almost 60% of all vehicles were registered in Ulaanbaatar. Private buses and minibuses are the most important means of traveling in the country. Due to the still thin road and rail network, about 30% of the loads are carried by camels.

Air travel

In Mongolia there are two international airports, Bujant-Uchaa Airport and Chinggis Khaan International Airport , which regularly connect Mongolia with Frankfurt am Main , Berlin and Moscow as well as Beijing , Seoul and other important cities. There are also airfields and fields in all parts of the country that are served more or less regularly. Important Mongolian airlines are Aero Mongolia , Eznis Airways and Hunnu Air as well as the state-owned MIAT Mongolian Airlines .


The waterways are of almost no importance as they have been frozen for months. However, the flag of Mongolia applies to ITF criteria currently (March 2015) as a "flag of convenience" and is controlled by shipowners for flagging used by ships.



The Mongols had no written language until Genghis Khan had a script adopted from the Naimans adapted to the Mongolian language. The oldest and best known work of Mongolian literature is The Secret History of the Mongols . It tells the story of Genghis Khan's environment and his rise. To this day it is one of the most important sources for studying the Mongolian Empire, even if the original has been lost. Parts of it can be found in later Mongolian works, and there are also Chinese translations from the Ming dynasty . Like the Secret History , the Golden Book , an official court chronicle, was only intended for Mongolian readers.

After the fall of the Mongol Empire, numerous semi-historical works were written about the life of Genghis Khan and other Mongol leaders. In addition, oral traditions (were Üliger ) and stories recorded. From 1578, when Buddhism became the state religion, the translation of Buddhist texts dominated. At the same time, the Mongols made the acquaintance of Indian poetry, the materials of which they processed in their own factories. The Gesar epic is a heroic story from Tibet that has an important place not only in Mongolian literature.

Injannasi from China is considered to be the founder of the Mongolian novel . His life's work, The Blue Book of the Rise of the Yuan Dynasty, is a prose representation of Genghis Khan's life, although his style is heavily influenced by Chinese works such as The Dream of the Red Chamber . Alongside Dulduityn Rawdschaa , Injannasi is considered a classic of Mongolian literature in China and Mongolia.

Carved in stone: the poem My Fatherland

The pioneer of modern Mongolian literature was Jamsrangiin Tseveen , who came from Buryatia and founded the first Mongolian literary magazine. He translated Western literature from Russian into Mongolian. In his own works he criticized the status quo, such as the rule of the Qing dynasty or the conditions of Buddhism. Daschdordschiin Natsagdordsch is considered to be the actual founder of Mongolian modernism . He was trained in the Soviet Union and Germany, wrote numerous prose and epic works and worked as a translator. The most famous Mongolian poem, My Fatherland , was written by him. He was branded a nationalist by the newly established communist government. Tsendiin Damdinsüren was a linguist and reformer. He adapted the Cyrillic alphabet on behalf of the government, giving Mongolian a largely phonemic script. He wrote short stories and poems, wrote the national anthem and edited new versions of classical texts. Because of the latter, he was in conflict with the government. It was similar for Bjambyn Rintschen , who published novels, short stories and translations and was also criticized as a nationalist.

Literature has revived since the democratization of Mongolia. New publishers have emerged and contemporary authors use all the media available to them. However, very few works are translated into Western languages. Perhaps the best-known author in the West is Galsan Tschinag , who has published over 30 volumes of poetry and novels. Galsan Tschinag writes many of his books, which deal with the life of the people in Mongolia, in German. He has been awarded several German literary prizes.


Statue of Öndör Gegeen Dsanabadsar

Mongolia was a center of Buddhist art between 1600 and 1920 . Painting and sculpture mainly served to create representations as meditation objects for clergy or as prayer objects for lay people. The art of the mandala was widespread , where representations of samsara were created as a sand picture as a contemplative exercise. These were usually destroyed after their completion. A Mongolian specialty are the thangka , picture scrolls that are used to decorate monasteries. They largely follow the Tibetan style, but incorporate the representation of animals. The art of thangka was not banned after the founding of the People's Republic, but continued with socialist representations.

The most important sculptor and painter in the country was Dsanabadsar , who was also the first Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu . He is considered the most important Buddhist artist of his time and as such he shaped the Mongolian art of later times. His works are characterized by a strong reference to the Indian-Tibetan traditions and by extraordinary life-like beauty; some of the sculptures have been preserved and are in the Gandan Monastery of Ulaanbaatar. It is known that Dsanabadsar was also an important painter, but there is no picture that can be unequivocally assigned to him. Sharab was an artist who developed the art of thangka. Influenced by Soviet art, he created Mongolian Dsurag paintings as well as book illustrations, banknotes and portraits of politicians. However, many of his works have been lost. Artists such as Dolgoryn Manibadar and Monkor Erdenbajar can be assigned to socialist realism . A contemporary artist is Otgonbayar Ershuu , he lives and works between Germany and Mongolia. Otgonbayar Ershuu is on the way to becoming one of the most important Mongolian painters. Purewbat Gankhuu is an important contemporary painter who follows the traditions of Buddhist art, he was portrayed in the film Buddha's Painter .

music and dance

Mongolian musician with a horse head violin

Traditional Mongolian music is maintained to this day and concerts can attract large crowds of listeners. The most important and identity-creating instrument is the Mongolian horse head violin , there are also numerous wind, string and percussion instruments. Mongolian songs are often about heroes of earlier times, or simple songs are performed by nomads. Mongolian singing has two special features to offer: firstly, overtone singing , which uses a special breathing technique to give the impression that the singer has two voices. When performing a long song (Urtyn duu) , the individual syllables are drawn out very long, which makes the song appear very spiritual and serene.

Pop music was frowned upon during the socialist era and musicians were only allowed to process officially approved texts by the Mongolian authors' association. In the late 1980s, a pop group called Genghis Khan defied the ban and performed their songs publicly at protest rallies. It contributed significantly to the end of socialist rule in Mongolia. Today Mongolians like the singers Ariunaa and Nominjin , the boy band Camerton , the rock bands Soyol Erdene and Altan Urag make modern music of all kinds.

The folk dances reported by travelers through the Mongolian Empire have been lost during the spread of Buddhism; traditional dances have only survived in peripheral areas. Exceptions to this are ceremonial dances such as the tsam , which was performed by monks to appease wild deities. In this type of dance, which originated in Tibet in the 13th century, the performers wear colorful and imaginative masks that represent the respective characters. After a symbolic battle between gods and demons, these masks are destroyed and a white old man appears who embodies the earth god of fertility. In western Mongolia, a dance called Bielgee has been handed down, which is performed to the music of traditional instruments such as the horse head violin . The Bielgee almost exclusively moves the upper body, depicting scenes from the everyday life of the nomads.

During the period of socialism, western dances were introduced in Mongolia. In 1931 the State Central Theater was opened, in 1963 the State Theater for Opera and Ballet. Professional dancers were trained in the Soviet Union, whereby the dancer Baldschinnjam Jamjandagwa stood out and is therefore considered the father of Mongolian ballet. Classics such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker were performed . Since democratization, the importance of ballet has declined, mainly due to a lack of financial resources.

In addition to traditional classics such as Urtyn duu , modern styles of music such as pop, hip-hop, folk-rock and folk songs are widespread.


A garment that has been traditionally worn for centuries is the deel , a special coat. The typical Mongolian boot is the gutul .

Cinema and film

Cinema was introduced in Mongolia by the Soviets. As early as after the seizure of power in 1920, mobile cinemas began to roam the country to show propaganda films and educate the population. The first cinema was built in Ulaanbaatar in 1934; a year later the production company Mongol Kino was founded with Soviet help . The Mongolian filmmakers usually studied in the Soviet Union and produced films that can be assigned to socialist realism . Notable films from the communist era are Awakening , which tells the story of a Soviet doctor in Mongolia, Süchbaatar , the biography of the revolutionary hero, and Tsogtu Taiji . Democratization in the early 1990s and the cessation of Soviet aid almost led to the extinction of Mongolian cinema due to a lack of financial resources. In collaboration with new foreign partners, films such as Genghis Khan as well as The Story of the Weeping Camel and The Cave of the Yellow Dog by Byambasuren Davaa have since been made .


Aruul drying on the yurt roof

Traditional Mongolian cuisine consists primarily of dairy products and meat. Since arable farming is not possible in large parts of the country , the products of the grazing animals have to be used.

Mare's milk is fermented into the national drink Airag . In addition, milk is processed in a variety of ways, from cream , kefir , cheese , dried quark (aruul) to milk schnapps. Tea is prepared with milk and salt and turned into a soup with solid ingredients as required. Meat (primarily sheep meat) is usually cooked or served with pasta dough with various dishes such as: B. Dumplings combined. Meat is also dried and ground (borts) for storage and travel provisions . This “powdered meat” can then be boiled with hot water.


A wrestling match in the country

The Mongols love the three sports wrestling , archery and horse racing . Archery and horse racing have their origins in the military requirements of Mongolian history and each find their annual climax in the Naadam festival.

In the horse races, children compete against one another on one to five year old or fully grown horses. Depending on the age group, different distances are ridden, at the big race at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar over a full 30 kilometers.

In Mongolian archery, traditional reflex bows are used to shoot blunt-tipped arrows at special leather-braided targets. Although the origin lies in the horse archers of the Middle Ages, the competitions are now mostly carried out on foot. However, with the support of Japanese archers, mounted archery is becoming more and more popular.

Mongolian athletes are also represented in modern shooting sports . The best known is the German-Mongolian pistol shooter Dordschsürengiin Mönchbajar , who has won a number of World Cup victories and world championship titles and has participated in several Olympic Games . In 1992 she won the bronze medal with the sport pistol in Barcelona.

Wrestling is the only one of the three sports that is still reserved for men to this day. The rather compact and strong physique of most Mongols suits them very well. The loser of a fight traditionally bends under the victor's outstretched arm. The winner is allowed to perform the eagle dance by jumping around the tournament banner with outstretched arms.

Since around 1992, several Mongolian wrestlers have switched to Japanese sumo and achieved considerable success there. The athletes adopt Japanese names for this. Asashōryū Akinori (Dolgorsürengiin Dagwadordsch), who won the title of Grand Master ( Yokozuna ) in 2003 and was the first wrestler to win all six tournaments of the year in a row in 2005 , achieved the greatest successes to date . Hakuhō Shō (Mönchbatyn Dawaadschargal) was appointed yokozuna on May 30, 2007, Harumafuji Kōhei on September 26, 2012 and Kakuryū Rikisaburō on March 26, 2014. Currently the only incumbent yokozuna is a Mongolian.

The National Olympic Committee of Mongolia was established in 1956 and admitted to the International Olympic Committee in 1962. Since then, Mongolian athletes have won more than a dozen medals in total .


Before 1989 the state newspapers were distributed nationwide down to the smallest administrative unit. This system collapsed in the early 1990s; the state newspapers were privatized in 1999. The independent newspapers, which were founded in the early 1990s, suffer from a shortage of finance and labor, and their distribution hardly extends beyond the big cities. The readership is also low due to the high price of the print media in relation to income. Magazines are only of minor importance. The largest newspaper is Udriin Sonin , which in 2000 had a daily circulation of 17,700 copies.

The first Mongolian radio station was founded in 1934. This station has covered the entire national territory since the 1960s and a second radio station for Ulaanbaatar was not established until 1994. Since then, several private stations have sprung up in the cities, while the local stations that had been allocated airtime in the nationwide station before 1989 have disappeared. Several aimags therefore only have local radio at irregular intervals.

TV has only existed in Mongolia since MNB was founded in 1967. Until the end of the socialist era, only a few hours of programming were broadcast per week, and the programming of the Soviet Orbit station was also taken over. In 1990 only 41% of households had a television. Several commercial and Christian stations have sprung up in Ulaanbaatar since 1990. Numerous foreign channels can be received in the cable television networks of the larger cities. Satellite television in rural areas was not yet widespread in 2010.

In 2019, 51 percent of Mongolia's residents used the internet .

National holidays

Visitors arriving for the Naadam festival

The Mongolian national festival lasts from July 11th to 13th and is called Naadam ( Наадам , completely Eriin Gurwan Naadam = "the three male games"). The festival is of religious origin and is believed to be several centuries old. It is also celebrated in Inner Mongolia in China. In Mongolia, July 11th is now the day of the revolution , in honor of the events of 1921. The three eponymous games (see also under sport ), Mongolian wrestling competitions, archery competitions and horse races for one to five year olds take up the most important part of the festival and adult horses. Competitions are held almost everywhere in Mongolia, with the largest number of participants in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.

The second major holiday is the Buddhist New Year, which is called Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia ( Цагаан Сар = white moon ). The date is usually the beginning of February, but can vary by a few weeks between the end of January and the beginning of March and usually does not coincide with the Chinese New Year . On this day, the Mongols visit their friends and relatives and deliver gifts. The banquet table features specialties such as braised sheep's saddle and a tower of “sole cake” and other sweets.

Public holidays are still:


  • Christopher P. Atwood: Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongolian empire. Facts On File, New York (NY) 2004, ISBN 0-8160-4671-9 .
  • Timothy Michael May: Culture and customs of Mongolia. Greenwood Press, Westport CN 2009, ISBN 978-0-313-33983-7 .
  • Jennifer L. Hanson: Mongolia (= Nations in transition. ). Facts On File, New York, NY 2004, ISBN 0-8160-5221-2 .
  • Olaf Schubert: Mongolia. Kahl, Dresden 2005; 2011, ISBN 978-3-938916-00-1 .


Web links

Wiktionary: Mongolia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Mongolia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Mongolia  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Mongolia  Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 47 °  N , 104 °  E