Mongolia is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Ulaanbaatar, the capital and also the largest city, is home to about 45% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic.
At 1,564,116 km2 (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the world's 19th-largest country (after Iran). It mostly lies between latitudes 41° and 52°N (a small area is north of 52°), and longitudes 87° and 120°E. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its westernmost point is only 38 kilometers (24 mi) from Kazakhstan. The geography of Mongolia is varied, with the Gobi Desert to the south and with cold and mountainous regions to the north and west. The highest point in Mongolia is the Khüiten Peak in the Tavan bogd massif in the far west at 4,374 m (14,350 ft).
Current Population - 2,901,291
Current Male Population – 1,432,194 (49, 4%)
Current Female Population – 1,469,097 (50, 6%)
Ethnic Mongols account for about 95% of the population and consist of Khalkha and other groups, all distinguished primarily by dialects of the Mongol language. The Khalkha make up 86% of the ethnic Mongol population. The remaining 14% include Oirats, Buryats and others. Turkic peoples (Kazakhs and Tuvans) constitute 4.5% of Mongolia's population, and the rest are Russian, Chinese, Korean and American nationalities.
The official language of Mongolia is Mongolian, and is spoken by 95% of the population. A variety of dialects of Oirat and Buryat are spoken across the country, and there are also some speakers of MongolicKhamnigan. In the west of the country, Kazakh and Tuvan, both Turkic languages, are also spoken.
Today, Mongolian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, although in the past it was written using the Mongolian script. An official reintroduction of the old script was planned for 1994, but has not yet taken place as older generations encountered practical difficulties. The traditional alphabet is being slowly reintroduced through schools. Russian is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, although English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.
According to the 2010 National Census, among Mongolians aged 15 and above, 53% were Buddhists, while 39% were non-religious.
Various forms of Tengriism and shamanism have been widely practiced throughout the history of what is now Mongolia, with such beliefs being common among the nomads of central Asia. They gradually gave way to Tibetan Buddhism, but shamanism has left a mark on Mongolian religious culture, and it continues to be practiced. The Kazakhs of western Mongolia traditionally practice Islam.
Mongolia is divided into 21 provinces (aimags), which are in turn divided into 329 districts (sums). The capital Ulaanbaatar is administrated separately as a capital with provincial status.
Mongolia is a parliamentary republic. The president is directly elected. The people also elect the deputies in the national assembly, the State Great Khural, which chooses the prime minister, who nominates the Cabinet in consultation with the president. The Khural confirms the ministers. Mongolia's constitution guarantees a number of freedoms, including full freedom of expression and religion. Mongolia has a number of political parties; the biggest are the Mongolian People's Party and the Democratic Party. The President of Mongolia has a largely symbolic role but can block the Parliament's decisions and appoint judges and justice of courts and appoint ambassadors abroad. Mongolia's constitution provides three requirements for taking office as president; the candidate must be a native-born Mongolian, be at least 45 years old, and have resided in Mongolia for five years before taking office. The president must also formally resign his or her party membership. The legislative arm, the State Great Khural, has one chamber with 76 seats and is chaired by the speaker of the house. It elects its members every four years by general elections. The State Great Khural is powerful in the Mongolian government with the president being largely symbolic and the prime minister being chosen by the parliament from among its own membership.
Economic activity in Mongolia has traditionally been based on herding and agriculture, although development of extensive mineral deposits of copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold have emerged as a driver of industrial production. Besides mining (21.8% of GDP) and agriculture (16% of GDP), dominant industries in the composition of GDP are wholesale and retail trade and service, transportation and storage, and real estate activities. Mongolia is ranked as lower middle income economy by the World Bank. 22.4% of the population lives on less than US $1.25 a day. GDP per capita in 2011 was $3,100.
The Trans-Mongolian Railway is the main rail link between Mongolia and its neighbors. It begins at the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia at the town of Ulan-Ude, crosses into Mongolia, runs through Ulaanbaatar, then passes into China at Erenhot where it joins the Chinese railway system. Mongolia has a number of domestic airports with some of them having international status. However, the main international airport is Chinggis Khaan International Airport, located approximately 20 km (12 mi) from downtown Ulaanbaatar. Direct flight connections exist between Mongolia and South Korea, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. MIAT Mongolian Airlines is Mongolia's national air carrier operating international flights, while other domestic air carriers such as Eznis Airways, Aero Mongolia and Hunnu Airlines are serving both domestic and regional routes.
When a visitor spots or approaches a ger he says “Nokhoi khorioroi”, which literally means “Call off the dog”. A hostess or a child usually comes out and invites the guest into a ger. The visitor should not carry a whip, hobble or weapon when he comes in and he hangs his knife from the belt. The visitor normally does not knock on the door. He crosses the threshold with the right foot. A guest greets inside, not outside. In Mongolia, the younger usually greets first and asks’ Ta sain baina uu?’ which means, “How are you?” or “How do you do?” Mongols living in the countryside are not used to shaking hands with visitors; instead, they greet by stretching their arms if they see each other for the first time in the year.
Primary and secondary education formerly lasted 10 years, but was expanded to 11 years. Since the 2008–2009 school year, new first-graders are using the 12-year system, and a full transition to the 12-year system will not occur until the 2019–2020 school year. As of 2006, English is taught in all secondary schools across Mongolia, beginning in fourth grade.