Mongolia at a glance

Area: 1,564,100 km2, 17th largest country in the world, three-times the size of France, seven-times the size of England
Population: 2,754,314 (as of 2006)
Density: 1.6 people per km2
Landscape: Desert, steppe, alpine, taiga
Average altitude: 1.6 meters above sea level
Climate: Extreme continental climate with four distinct seasons, ~ +20°C in summer, ~ -24°C in winter
Time zone: +7 hours to GMT
Official language: Mongolian
Spoken foreign languages: English and Russian
State structure: Parliamentary republic
Administrative units: 21 aimags (provinces)
Capital city: Ulaanbaatar (about 1 million people as of 2006)
Economy: Agriculture (livestock breeding), tourism, mining
Religion: Buddhism 94%, (some elements of Christianity, Muslim and Shamanism)
Currency: Tugrug, 1 US$ ≈ 1175 (2008)
Communication: GSM 900 network, CDMA network
Public holidays: January 1 New Year
Jan.-Feb. Lunar New Year
March 8 International Women's Day
June 1 Mother and Child Day
July 11-13 Naadam ("Three manly sports")
November 26 Independence Day

Modern Mongolia
Country profile:
"¢ Independent democracy since 1990
"¢ Stable government, rapidly expanding economy, low crime rate
"¢ Member state of United Nations since 1961
"¢ Space flight in 1981 (10th country in the world in space)
"¢ World's second largest copper reserves
"¢ Leading cashmere producer
"¢ 98% literacy rate
"¢ Elementary and general education is compulsory and free
"¢ Urban population engages in commerce, trade, industry, etc.
"¢ Rural population livelihoods primarily based on agriculture

"¢ Account for nearly half the national population
"¢ Nomadic lifestyle closely connected to landscape
"¢ Move seasonally and live in felt tents (gers)

€ Urban residents typically wear western clothing
"¢ Rural residents wear traditional costume (deels) and Mongolian boots
"¢ Traditional food consists of mutton, beef, and diary products (yogurt, dried curds, cheeses, etc.)
"¢ Urban centers feature international restaurants serving Indian, Russian, Chinese, French, Czech, Thai, and other cuisines
"¢ Active nightlife featuring disco clubs, bars, live music, cinemas, theatre, and sporting events
"¢ Diverse shopping opportunities ranging from open-air markets to high-end boutiques
"¢ Internet cafes and gaming centers are common in urban centers

People and culture
"¢ Population dominated by younger demographic (55% of the population is under 24)
"¢ 20 ethnic groups including Khalkha, Buryad, Darhad, Kazakh, and Uighar,
"¢ Mongolians typically embrace traditional and modern aspects of culture
Ger, Mongolian traditional dwelling:

"¢ The origin of the ger dates back to 2500-3000 BC
"¢ Easily assembled and dismantled in thirty to sixty minutes
"¢ Ger always faces to the south towards the sun
"¢ Made of two key components "“ the wooden framework (lattice walls) and the felt coverings
"¢ Ger is covered felt insulation in winter, and well-ventilated in summer
"¢ The number of walls and poles determines the size of a Ger
"¢ The weight of a Ger is approximately 250 kg.
"¢ Long Song or (Urtiin duu) features multi-octave singing, and melodic manipulations
"¢ Throat singing (Khoomii) features complex vocal manipulations that mimick sounds of nature and animals
"¢ Mongolian music is used in oral histories, ceremonies, and celebrations
"¢ Modern Mongolian music incorporates folk traditions and contemporary genres such as pop, rock and roll, and hip hop

History and Traditions
Brief history:
"¢ 3rd-1st centuries BC "“ "Hunnu State", the first dynasty, Reign of King Attila
"¢ 1162 – Birth of Chinggis Khaan
"¢ 1206 – The establishment of "The Great Mongolian Empire"
"¢ 1207-1226 – Conquest of Chinggis Khaan
"¢ 1240 – "The Secret History of the Mongols" was written
"¢ 1755 "“ Manchu occupation of Mongolia begins
"¢ 1911 "“ "Bogd Khan the Theocratic State", the proclamation of independence from Manchus
"¢ 1921 "“ Mongolian independence from China
"¢ 1979 – 1st visit of Dalai Lama
"¢ 1981 – Spaceflight, first Mongolian to fly to space
"¢ 1989 – Democratic Revolution won the path to democratic country
"¢ 1992 – New democratic constitution, first Parliamentary election
"¢ 1997 – 1st foreign investors' conference was held
"¢ 2008 – Next parliamentary election will be held

Naadam, "Three manly games"-nationwide celebration:
"¢ Naadam festival originated many centuries ago as a test for courage, strength, horsemanship, and marksmanship
"¢ It consists of horse racing, wrestling, and archery competitions followed by ankle bone shooting contest
"¢ Wrestling:
To show power and strength wrestlers perform an eagle dance prior to a wrestling match. Wrestlers wear open-front vests and distinct wrestling shorts. The techniques and tricks used in Mongolian wrestling include a variety of holds, throws and other moves. When a contestant's knee or elbow touches the ground he loses the match.
"¢ Archery:
Men and women compete in distinct categories. Leather targets are placed on the ground at a distance of 75 meters for men and 60 meters for women. Folk songs (Uukhai) are commonly sung amongst cheering fans.
"¢ Horse racing:
Young riders, both male and female, compete in races as early as the age of six. The special folk song Uukhai is sung to cheer and give inspiration to both horses and riders.
Lunar New Year celebration "Tsagaan Sar":
For more than 2,000 years Mongolians have been celebrating Tsagaan Sar, literally the "White Month"
"¢ Lunar New Year typically falls in late January or early February, according to Buddhism cosmology
"¢ “Tsagaan Sar”, the celebration of new life, symbolizes wealth and prosperity in the family
"¢ Families prepare food and gifts, and receive visitors in their homes during the holiday month
"¢ Sports competitions, traditional festivals, and singing are common features of Tsagaan Sar celebrations

Nature and geography
World's first strictly protected area "“ Bogd Khaan Mountain (1778)
"¢ Highest point "“ Khuiten peak of Altai mountains (in the West) an average of 3,000 meters above sea level
"¢ Deepest lake "“ Khuvsgul nuur (holds 2% of the world's fresh water supply)
"¢ Biggest lake "“ Uvs Nuur Basin tht is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of 12 protected areas representing the major biomass of Eastern Eurasia
"¢ Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape "“ a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has archaelogical remains dating back to the 6th century
Gobi of Mongolia:
"¢ The Gobi desert, once covered with water, is rich with fossilized dinosaur bones and eggs, and petrified wood
"¢ Diverse flora and fauna can be found, even in the midst of extreme temperatures and the near absence of water
"¢ Hot and cold springs with medicinal properties serve as therapeutic oases in the desert
"¢ This Gobi is home to wild sheep, snow leopard, wild ass, gazelle, wild camel, Gobi bear, and ibex
"¢ Great Gobi Reserve established in 1975 was included in the list of world's Biosphere Reserves in 1991
Yoliin am (Vulture's mouth) gorge:
"¢ This dramatic narrow river canyon has sheer rock walls with an average height of 200 meters
"¢ The gorge's features include thick ice sheets and rock formations
"¢ In rainy seasons, waterfalls form in the gorge
Hongor sand dune:
"¢ "Hongoriin Els" sand dune is the largest and most impressive sand mountain in Mongolia stretching for an extraordinary 180 km
"¢ It's called the "Singing Dune" because of the sounds produced by masses of sand moving in the wind, which can be heard from great distances.
Huvsgul lake:
"¢ The "Dark blue pearl" of Mongolia, Huvsgul Lake is the deepest lake in Central Asia
"¢ It is the world's 14th largest source of fresh water, making up over approx. 2% of the world's fresh water supply
"¢ The lake is surrounded by high peaks, lush meadows, taiga forest, and forested