Mongolia covers about 1.6 million km2. This makes it about 11 times bigger than the United Kingdom. In the north it borders Russia, China to the south. The extension in an east-west direction between the Great Khingan and the Mongolian Altai Mountains is about 2,400 km, north-south between Siberia and the Gobi about 1,250 km. Mongolia is a typical high country that is dominated by desert, steppe and two large mountains. About 80 % of the territory is higher than 1,000 m. The average altitude is 1.580 m. The largest rivers are the Selenge, Orkhon and Kherlen. Selenge and Orkhon flow into Lake Baikal, Kherlen flows to the Pacific.
The country is divided in its vast territorial expansion into different climatic zones. From the foothills of the Siberian Taiga in the North to the extremely arid regions of the Gobi near the Chinese border in the South, a wide range of climatic features can be observed. It is an extreme continental climate with little snow, very long and severe winters, which are replaced by short summer with raining warm weather, but seldom really hot summer. In Mongolia, the sun is shining up to 3,200 hrs a year, which is about 260 days.
Mongolia has about 2.4 million inhabitants (England: 50.4 million), with only about 1.66 inhabitants/km2, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. 85 % of the population is Khalkha Mongols. Buryat, Tuva, Kalmyks belong to the Mongolian minority. The most important non Mongolian population with 7 % is the Kazakhs, who are just like the Uriankhay (1.3 %) to the Turkic peoples. The most common religion is Mongolian Buddhism. In recent years, especially in the big cities, churches and various Christian sects gained influence. The Kazakhs are predominantly Muslim.
The official language is Mongolian and until 1990 Russian language was a second foreign language. Today English is recognized as a second official language.
Currency is the Mongolian Tugrik (MNT)
1 UK£ equals around MNT 3,000 (November 2015)
Mongolia Travel Guides and Books
- Mongolia, the Bradt Travel Guide by Jane Blunden
- Lonely Planet Mongolia by Michael Kohn
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
- Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh