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Geography of Mongolia

Learn Geographic Information about the Asian Country of Mongolia


Mongolia Flag

The Mongolia flag has vertical bands of red, blue, and red; centered on the red band in yellow is the national emblem ("soyombo" - a columnar arrangement of abstract and geometric representation for fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and the yin-yang symbol).

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated April 26, 2011

Population: 3,133,318 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Ulaanbaatar
Land Area: 596,959 square miles (1,546,116 sq km)
Highest Point: Nayramadlin Orgil at 14,350 feet (4,374 m)
Lowest Point: Hoh Nuur at 1,837 feet (560 m)

Mongolia is a large landlocked country in eastern and central Asia. It is bordered by Russia and China and its capital and largest city is Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with a population density of 5.25 people per square mile (2.02 people per square kilometer). Mongolia is known for its rugged terrain, semi-nomadic population (mainly in the countryside and about 30% of its population) and rich mineral resources.

History of Mongolia

Mongolia was first formed as a state in 1206 C.E. when several nomadic tribes grouped together under Genghis Khan. According to the U.S. Department of State, Khan and his successors conquered most all of Asia and European Russia. His grandson, Kublai Khan, later conquered China and formed the Yuan Dynasty which lasted from 1279 C.E. to 1368 C.E. when it was overthrown in China.

In 1644, the Manchus conquered China and established the Qing Dynasty. It later gained control of Mongolia, known as Outer Mongolia, in 1644 when Mongol nobles "swore an oath of allegiance to the Manchu emperor" (U.S. Department of State). From 1691 to 1911, Outer Mongolia was a Chinese province and from 1912 to 1919 it was an independent state that was protected by Russia. However in 1919 it again came under Chinese control as a province which lasted until 1921.

In the early 1920s, conflicts between China and Russia began to escalate and in July 1921, the Soviet military occupied Mongolia's capital, Urgoo. On July 11, 1921 it gained its independence from China. Three years later on November 25, 1924 the Mongolian People's Republic was established.

From 1925 to 1928 the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party gained influence in Mongolia. In its early years, Mongolia's people were mainly nomadic and illiterate. In addition, Mongolia's government was disorganized and there was no real economy. However from 1932 to 1945 Mongolia's communist government began to gain strength and take over many aspects of daily life. This led to anti-communist uprisings and the imprisonment of over 10,000 people in the 1930s.

In 1939, Japanese forces invaded Mongolia after tensions on the Mongolia-Manchuria border. The Soviet-Mongolian army defeated Japan and a truce was signed along the border. After World War II, the Soviet Union became more influential in Mongolia, it began to develop more and it formed other international relations with countries like North Korea.

In 1961, Mongolia joined the United Nations and throughout the 1960's its ties with the Soviet Union grew stronger, which caused relations between it and China to diminish.

Government of Mongolia

Today Mongolia is considered a parliamentary republic with three branches of government. Its executive branch consists of a chief of state (filled by the President) and a head of government (filled by the Prime Minister, First Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister), while its legislative branch is the unicameral State Great Hural. Mongolia's judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court. The country is divided into 21 provinces for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Mongolia

Mongolia does not have an advanced economy and historically its main economic activity has been in herding and agriculture. However the country is rich in natural minerals like copper, gold, coal, uranium and tin. This has allowed it to develop economic relationships with Russia and other countries. The main industries in Mongolia are construction, mining, oil, food and beverages manufacture, processing of animal products and cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing. Agricultural products include wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses.

Geography and Climate of Mongolia

Mongolia is the 18th largest country in the world and it is the world's second largest landlocked country (behind Kazakhstan). Its topography is varied but it is rugged and mainly undeveloped outside of Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia's land consists of large desert and semi desert plains, the Gobi Desert in its south-central regions, a grassy steppe area and rugged mountains in the west and southwest parts of the country. The highest point in Mongolia is Nayramadlin Orgil at 14,350 feet (4,374 m) while its lowest point is Hoh Nuur at 1,837 feet (560 m).

The climate of Mongolia is mostly desert and/or continental. As a result there are very large daily and seasonal temperature ranges. For example Ulaanbaatar has an average January temperature of -17˚F (-27˚C) and an average July temperature of 74˚F (23˚C). It is considered the world's coldest capital city. Precipitation falls mainly in northern Mongolia during the winter. In the Gobi Desert and the country's southern regions, there is little to no precipitation.

To learn more about Mongolia, visit the Mongolia maps page on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (6 April 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Mongolia. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mg.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Mongolia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107796.html

United States Department of State. (8 March 2011). Mongolia. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2779.htm

Wikipedia.com. (22 April 2011). Mongolia - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolia

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