50 Fascinating Facts about Mongolia

When most people think of Mongolia, they think of Genghis Khan, the famous and feared founder of Mongol Empire. However, there's a lot more to this remote, landlocked nation than that: from its vast rugged expanses to the northern mountains and southern Gobi Desert, Mongolia is land of contrasts, steeped in history and influenced (not to mention somewhat overshadowed) by its links to bordering countries China and Russia. The majority of Mongolia's three million population live in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar and the rest of the country, although large, is sparsely populated. The country is still in many respects a nomadic culture, but since its democratic revolution in 1990, it has been in the process of transitioning to a market economy. Buddhism is the country's main religion, and Mongolian is the only official language.

Mongolia Facts

1
Mongolia is a state in East Asia, between China and Russia
2
The word Mongolia is derived from the word Mong, which translates as brave
3
It has an estimated population of 3,000,000
4
There are approximately 4.3 people per square mile, which makes it one of the sparsely populated countries in the world
5
The official language is Mongolian, and the Cyrillic alphabet is used
6
Russian is the most common foreign language used in Mongolia, closely followed by English, which is now obligatory in schools
7
The majority of the population is of Mongol ethnicity, but there are also a lot of Kazakhs that occupy the state
8
Humans reached Mongolia around 40,000 years ago
9
Mongolia is the 18th largest country in the world
10
The Mongolian national flag was adopted in 1992
11
The symbol on the left hand side of the flag, is called Soyombo, and is a Buddhist symbol that represents the sun, moon, stars and heavens
12
The Mongol Empire was founded in 1206 by Genghis Khan
13
Mongolia achieved independence from China during the 1921 revolution
14
The currency is the Mongolian Togrog
15
The majority of the population practise Buddhism and the second largest group are non-religious
16
The capital city of Mongolia is Ulaanbaatar and 45% of the population actually reside here
17
Ulaanbaatar is also known as Ulan Batar and derives from the world Ulayanbayatur, which translates as red hero
18
Ulaanbaatar used to be called Urga and was a mobile capital until it finally settled after being moved 25 times
19
It is the world’s coldest capital, as the average temperature there is around -1.3 degrees
20
Mongolia is known as the ‘Land of The Eternal Blue Sky’, or ‘Country of Blue Sky’, as it is recorded as having 250 sunny days a year
21
Mongolia is home to the Gobi Desert, which is the fifth largest desert in the world but the largest in Asia
22
It is thought that ice cream was created here by Mongolian horsemen, from when they took cream made from animal intestines on journeys along the Gobi Desert. In 1295 ice-cream was eventually taken to Italy after Marco Polo visited
23
In 1922, dinosaur bones were discovered in the Gobi Desert by Roy Chapman Andrews
24
A traditional Mongolian home is known as a Ger and was the basis for Mongolian architecture. They are also known as yurts and the door of a Ger will always face South as the wind blows from the North
25
The national drink is called airag and is fermented mare’s milk
26
The traditional Mongolian clothing is called Deel. It is still commonly worn, mainly by herders
27
The economy is mainly based on herding, agriculture and mining
28
Over the years, approximately 30% of households have lived from breeding livestock
29
There are 13 times as many horses as there are people
30
During extreme weather conditions in 2009-2010, Mongolia lost around 9.7 million animals which affected a lot of households
31
Over 80% of Mongolia’s exports are minerals
32
The most common meat used in Mongolia is mutton
33
Mongolia is the second largest producer of cashmere Goat wool
34
Even though homosexuality is not illegal, the majority of the population are very uncomfortable with it
35
Two of the most well known and traditional dishes are Buuz, which is meat filled steamed dumpling and Khuushuur, which is a deep fried meat pie
36
Mongolia has the second highest Yak population and a very traditional cheese eaten is called Byaslag, that is made from the Yak’s milk
37
The snow-leopard, as well as the two-humped Bactrian camels, are native to Mongolia
38
There is a camel festival, which first commenced in 1997, to celebrate these camels and to protect the species
39
The Camel festival is held in the Gobi Desert
40
Another traditional festival in Mongolia, is the Golden Eagle Festival
41
This festival is held during the first weekend of October, where Kazakh eagle hunters, compete against each other to catch small animals with their specially trained golden eagles
42
The most important and celebrated festival is Nadaam, to celebrate their independence. Nadaam is celebrated over three days from July 11th and includes the three main sports in Mongolia, wrestling, horse-racing and archery.
43
The festival is also known as Eriin Gurvan Naadam, which translates as the three games of men
44
On 17th September 2011, Mongolia hosted the biggest wrestling competition, with 6002 wrestlers competing. This was recorded in the Guinness Book Of Records
45
Wrestling is the main national sport and was introduced into the country 7000 years ago
46
The Takhi horse is native to Mongolia and are the largest wild horses that are left on the planet
47
Thousands of years ago, all correspondence and messages used to be carried hundreds of miles everyday on horseback. It became a state service that was referred to us Ortoo and operated until 1949
48
Mongolia is home to the largest statue. It is Genghis Khan riding a horse and was built in 2008
49
Mongolia is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world for visitors
50
A mother that has five children is awarded as an ‘Honoured Mother’

Mongolia is known as the 'Land of the Eternal Blue Sky' because it has over 250 sunny days a year. Most of the country is hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter (the result of cold air from Siberia). The country occasionally experiences harsh climatic conditions known as 'zud', and the annual average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is -1.3°C/29.7°F, making it the world's coldest capital city. Tourism in Mongolia was extremely limited by the Communist government that was in place until 1990 and, although tourism is increasing, it is still a largely unexplored country for most travellers. However, Mongolia's combination of natural beauty, wide variety of untouched landscapes, and nomadic lifestyle and culture make it the perfect destination for the more adventurous visitor.

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