To the World from Mongolia

Mongolia is the world's second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. It is typically classified as being a part of East Asia, although sometimes it is considered part of Central Asia, and the northern rim of historical Mongolia extends into North Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south. Mongolia's political system is parliamentary democracy. Its capital and largest city is Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar).

Mongolia was the center of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth century and was later ruled by the Qing Dynasty from the end of the seventeenth century until 1911, when an independent government was formed with Russian assistance. The Mongolian People's Republic was proclaimed in 1924, leading to the adoption of communist policies and a close alignment to the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, Mongolia adopted a new constitution which was ratified in 1992. This officially marked the transition of Mongolia to a multi-party political system.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres, Mongolia is the nineteenth largest, and the least densely populated independent country in the world. The country contains very little arable land as much of its area is covered by arid and unproductive steppes with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately thirty percent of the country's 2.8 million people are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state's citizens are of the Mongol ethnicity, though Buriats, Kazakhs and Tuvans also live in the country, especially in the west. About 38% of the population lives in Ulan Bator.

1,564,116 sq km (603,909 sq miles).

2,510,000 (official estimate 2002).

Population Density
1.6 per sq km.

Ulaanbaatar. Population: 869,900 (2004).

Mongolia has a 3485km- (2165 mile-) border with the Russian Federation in the north and a 4670km- (2902 mile-) border with China in the south. From north to south, it can be divided into four areas: mountain-forest steppe, mountain steppe and, in the extreme south, semi-desert and desert (the latter being about 3 per cent of the entire territory). The majority of the country has a high elevation, with the principal mountains concentrated in the west. The highest point is the peak of Tavan Bogd, in the Altai Mountains, at 4374m (14,350ft) high. The lowest point, Khukh Nuur lake, in the east, lies at 560m (1820ft). There are several hundred lakes in the country and numerous rivers, of which the Orkhon is the longest at 1124km (698 miles).

Khalkh Mongolian is the official language. Kazakh is spoken by 5 per cent of the population. There are also many Mongolian dialects.