Facts about Mongolia

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MongoliaThe Mongols gained fame in the 13th century when under Chinggis KHAN they conquered a huge Eurasian empire. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century. The Mongols eventually retired to their original steppe homelands and in the late 17th century came under Chinese rule. Mongolia won its independence in 1921 with Soviet backing. A Communist regime was installed in 1924. Following a peaceful democratic revolution, the ex-Communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) won elections in 1990 and 1992, but was defeated by the Democratic Union Coalition (DUC) in the 1996 parliamentary election. Since then, parliamentary elections returned the MPRP overwhelmingly to power in 2000, but 2004 elections reduced MPRP representation and, therefore, its authority.

Geography of Mongolia

Northern Asia, between China and Russia
46 00 N, 105 00 E
total: 1.565 million sq km
water: 9,600 sq km
land: 1,555,400 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Alaska
Land boundaries:
total: 8,162 km
border countries: China 4,677 km, Russia 3,485 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
desert; continental (large daily and seasonal temperature ranges)
vast semidesert and desert plains, grassy steppe, mountains in west and southwest; Gobi Desert in south-central
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Hoh Nuur 518 m
highest point: Nayramadlin Orgil (Huyten Orgil) 4,374 m
Natural resources:
oil, coal, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, silver, iron, phosphate
Natural hazards:
dust storms, grassland and forest fires, drought, and "zud", which is harsh winter conditions
Environment current issues:
limited natural fresh water resources in some areas; the policies of former Communist regimes promoted rapid urbanization and industrial growth that had negative effects on the environment; the burning of soft coal in power plants and the lack of enforcement of environmental laws severely polluted the air in Ulaanbaatar; deforestation, overgrazing, and the converting of virgin land to agricultural production increased soil erosion from wind and rain; desertification and mining activities had a deleterious effect on the environment
Geography - note:
landlocked; strategic location between China and Russia

Population of Mongolia

2,996,081 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.9% (male 402,448/female 387,059)
15-64 years: 68.4% (male 967,546/female 969,389)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 45,859/female 59,923)
Median age:
24.6 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
52.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.89 years
male: 62.64 years
female: 67.25 years
Fertility rate:
2.25 children born/woman
noun: Mongolian(s)
adjective: Mongolian
Ethnic groups:
Mongol (mostly Khalkha) 94.9%, Turkic (mostly Kazakh) 5%, other (including Chinese and Russian) 0.1%
Buddhist Lamaist 50%, none 40%, Shamanist and Christian 6%, Muslim 4% (2004)
Khalkha Mongol 90%, Turkic, Russian (1999)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.1%
male: 99.2%
female: 99% 


Country name:
conventional short form: Mongolia
local short form: Mongol Uls
former: Outer Mongolia
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
21 provinces (aymguud, singular - aymag) and 1 municipality* (singular - hot); Arhangay, Bayanhongor, Bayan-Olgiy, Bulgan, Darhan Uul, Dornod, Dornogovi, Dundgovi, Dzavhan, Govi-Altay, Govi-Sumber, Hentiy, Hovd, Hovsgol, Omnogovi, Orhon, Ovorhangay, Selenge, Suhbaatar, Tov, Ulaanbaatar*, Uvs
11 July 1921 (from China)
National holiday:
Independence Day/Revolution Day, 11 July (1921)
12 February 1992
Legal system:
blend of Soviet, German, and US systems of law that combines aspects of a parliamentary system with some aspects of a presidential system; constitution ambiguous on judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Nambaryn ENKHBAYAR (since 24 June 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Sanjaa BAYAR (since 22 November 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister (Norovyn ALTANHUYAG (since 27 September 2008); Vice Prime Minister Miegombyn ENKHBOLD (since 6 December 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the president and confirmed by the State Great Hural (parliament)
elections: presidential candidates nominated by political parties represented in State Great Hural and elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 May 2005; following legislative elections, leader of majority party or majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by State Great Hural.
Legislative branch:
unicameral State Great Hural 76 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (serves as appeals court for people's and provincial courts but rarely overturns verdicts of lower courts; judges are nominated by the General Council of Courts and approved by the president)


Economic activity in Mongolia has traditionally been based on herding and agriculture. Mongolia has extensive mineral deposits. Copper, coal, gold, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin, and tungsten account for a large part of industrial production and foreign direct investment. Soviet assistance, at its height one-third of GDP, disappeared almost overnight in 1990 and 1991 at the time of the dismantlement of the USSR. The following decade saw Mongolia endure both deep recession because of political inaction and natural disasters, as well as economic growth because of reform-embracing, free-market economics and extensive privatization of the formerly state-run economy. Severe winters and summer droughts in 2000-02 resulted in massive livestock die-off and zero or negative GDP growth. This was compounded by falling prices for Mongolia's primary sector exports and widespread opposition to privatization. Growth was 10.6% in 2004, 5.5% in 2005, 7.5% in 2006, and 9.9% in 2007 largely because of high copper prices and new gold production. Mongolia is experiencing its highest inflation rate in over a decade as consumer prices in 2007 rose 15%, largely because of increased fuel and food costs. Mongolia's economy continues to be heavily influenced by its neighbors. For example, Mongolia purchases 95% of its petroleum products and a substantial amount of electric power from Russia, leaving it vulnerable to price increases. Trade with China represents more than half of Mongolia's total external trade - China receives about 70% of Mongolia's exports. Remittances from Mongolians working abroad both legally and illegally are sizable, and money laundering is a growing concern. Mongolia settled its $11 billion debt with Russia at the end of 2003 on favorable terms. Mongolia, which joined the World Trade Organization in 1997, seeks to expand its participation and integration into Asian regional economic and trade regimes.

$8.542 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 20.6%
industry: 21.4%
services: 58%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
1.488 million 
Labor force - by occupation:
herding/agriculture 42%, mining 4%, manufacturing 6%, trade 14%, services 29%, public sector 5%
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
nuclear: 0%
construction materials; mining (coal, copper, molybdenum, fluorspar, and gold); oil; food and beverages; processing of animal products
wheat, barley, potatoes, forage crops, sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses
copper, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals
Export partners:
China 54.4%, US 14.3%, Canada 13.5%, UK 4.7% 
machinery and equipment, fuel, cars, food products, industrial consumer goods, chemicals, building materials, sugar, tea
Import partners:
Russia 33.4%, China 26.6%, Japan 6.6%, South Korea 5.9%, Germany 4.3% 
togrog/tugrik (MNT)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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