Mongolia has parliamentary type of government, with the President second in authority to state Great Hural (Parliament).
Mongolian language ('Khalkha Mongol') is the first language, spoken by 90% of population.
Foreign languages spoken mainly in the cities include English, Russian,
German, Japanese and French. Its script is Cyrillic due to Russian
influence; however a switchback to traditional script is now taking
place in schools. Second language, Russian, is spoken by most
graduates, as many Mongolians were formerly educated in Russia.
Mongolia is divided into 21 provinces (called an aimag), with the average territory of one province of 74.5 square kilometers and a population of 90.0. The aimag with biggest territory is Umnugobi (165.4 square kilometers) and the aimag with the largest population is Huvsgul (117.0 population) The provinces and cities are divided into soums and districts. A soum has an average territory of 4.9 square kilometers and a population of 2.7.
Mongolia’s surface form is very diverse, including high mountains, boundless steppes, vast valleys and the Gobi desert. Three great ranges-the Mongol Altai, Khangai, and Khuvsgul mountains-dominate northern Mongolia. Over 20 peaks, such as Tavan Bogd, are capped with eternal snow in the Altai Mountain range, and Otgon-Tenger (4,021 meters) and Munkh Saridag (3,461 meters) of the Khangai and Khuvsgol Mountain Ranges. The Asralt Khairkhan Mountain of Khentii range is capped with eternal snow some years.
Animals of Mongolia
Mongolia has a rich fauna: 140 species of mammals, 415 species of birds, about 22 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, 80 species of fish, and over 15,000 species of insects.
White-tailed Gazelles (2 million heads) make up the largest number of large wild mammals.
Mongolia has vertebrate species endemic to Central Asia (i.e. found nowhere else). Most are in the Gobi Desert Zone and the Desert-Steppe Zone, including the Mongolian subspecies of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tartaric Mongolica), four species of nocturnal jerboas (Long-eared Jerboa, Pygmy Jerboa, Mongolian Jerboa etc.) and Brandt’s Vole.
Endemic birds (i.e. found nowhere else on Earth) include Altai Snowcock and Kozlov’s Acceptor. Endemic reptiles are eight species. Endemic fish include Altai Osman and Mongolian Grayling.
Mongolia's climate is extremely continental, with long cold, dry winters and short warm summers.
On the whole, the Mongolian climate is rather arid: the annual precipitation is 200-300mm, of which 80 to 90% falls within five months (May - September). Therefore, the country receives little snow in winter, although snow blizzards rarely do occur. However, July and August boast sufficient rain to make the rivers swell. Furthermore, Mongolia is the land of winds and especially sharp winds blow in spring. In the Gobi and steppe areas winds often develop into devastating storms, reaching a velocity of 15-25 meters per second. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest winter capital in the world, but enjoys a hot summer as Mongolia is a remarkably sunny country with 250 sunny days per year!
The Mongolian national currency is the Tugrik (T of MNT). All major currencies can be exchanged at banks and licensed exchange centers in Ulaanbaatar.
Exchange rate (approx) MNT1213=US$1 as of January 4, 2005. Visa, Master Card, American Express, JCB AND Thomas Cook Travelers Cheques are accepted at banks. Most credit cards are accepted at biggest hotel, restaurant and supermarkets in Ulaanbaatar.
Banknotes are valued 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1.000, 5.000 and 10.000 Tugrik, of which the smallest notes are hardly used.
Mongolia is located in the center of the continent of Asia and covers on area of 1,564,116 square kilometers, making it the 18th largest country in the World.
The total length of the borders of Mongolia is 8,216 kilometers, and 3,543 of these are the long border with the Russian Federation and 4,673 are the long border with China.
Mongolia is one of the 38 countries on the world with no marine coastline. The nearest point to the sea is about 1,000 kilometers away from it.
People and Population
Mongolia has had approximately 2.5 million people by the beginning of 2003. Pure growth of population is accounted as 24.1 people for 1000 people. The majority (86%) are Khalkh Mongols. Other ethnic groups include Kazaks (6%) in western Mongolia, the Tsaatan or reindeer people (only about 200 people) in the north of Mongolia and more than twenty other tribes of Mongolian or Turkic descent. Two-thirds of the population is younger than 30. Much of the population growth has been absorbed in urban areas. The present urban population is over one million. With just over 700.000 inhabitants, Ulaanbaatar houses a third of Mongolia's population. However, a significant part of the urban populations still live in ger (traditional housing) habitations in town peripheries. The population density of Mongolia is extremely low: just over 1 person per square km.
Plants of Mongolia
Mongolia has approximately 4,000 species of plants. There are over 150 species of endemic plants (i.e. species found in Mongolia but nowhere else in the world).
Forests make up 11.4% (18 million hectares) of Mongolian territory, with 72% of the forests being dominated by Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica). Species of birch trees (Betula friticosa, Betula pendula and Betula humilis) and species of willow trees (Sulix) are common in the valleys of the largest river. In the arid Gobi region, occur groves of the unusual small Saxaul tree Haloxyion ammondendron.
Buddhist Lamaism (94%), Islam (6%). Still there is a strong influence of Shamanism, especially in northern Mongolia.
Mountains dominate two-thirds of the country. Mongolia's highest peaks are permanently capped with snow and glaciers. Mongolia has some 2.000 lakes. The largest rivers exit the country northwards to feed Lake Baikal in Siberia. The mountainous areas include relatively wet mountain meadow pastures and steppe regions. In contrast, southern Mongolia is dominated by the huge Gobi Desert. Nearly 10% of Mongolia is forest, mainly conifers in the northern region next to Siberia.
Water in an arid landscape
In spite of its aridity, the surface and ground water on Mongolia is-substantial. Almost 4,000 rivers are present, with a total length of 67,000 kilometer’s. Mongolia’s northern part is well watered by lakes and rivers. These belong to the three different basins: the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and Inland Basin of the Central Asia. Mongolia has 16 large lakes, each of more than 100 square kilometers. The biggest is Uvs Nuur whose waters cover 3,350 square kilometers. Many small lakes occur in the steppe and Gobi region. Oases occur in the Gobi desert. The steppe and the Gobi desert zone are rich in ground water supply. The ground water is used for drinking. Mongolia has about 400 springs.