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Situated in East Asia, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, as well as the 18th-largest, by area. The area of Mongolia encompasses the territory once known as Outer Mongolia, a term that is sometimes used to refer to the country.

Mongolia is a landlocked country surrounded by China and Russia and, although it does not share a border with Kazakhstan, the two countries are separated by only twenty-three miles.

Until well into the 20th century, Mongolia was cut off from the world, so much so that its name became synonymous with isolation and remoteness. The country has very little arable land, with much of its land covered by grassland, mountains, and desert. Approximately 30% of Mongolia's population is nomadic.

However, in the 21st century, Mongolia has opened up to the world, with people from outside the country coming in for travel and business opportunities, while Mongolian citizens are traveling outside the country. The Mongolian government views the tourist industry as important to its national and local economies.

Traditionally, Mongolia's economy has been based on agriculture and herding and these activities remain important, although the development of mineral deposits, such as copper, coal, tin, tungsten, and gold are driving its industrial production in recent years. Minerals represent about 80% of the country's exports, and this is still a growing industry in Mongolia.

The official language of Mongolia is Mongolian, which is spoken by about 95% of its population, although there are a number of dialects. Russian is the most commonly spoken foreign language, followed by English. More than half of Mongolians practice Buddhism, while nearly 40% are non-religious, largely due to its history of communism over much of the 20th century. The fall of communism in 1991 restored religious choice in Mongolia.

People were living in Mongolia as early 40,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic era. Early Mongolian civilizations were made up of nomadic groups who, at the time, formed confederations that rose to high levels of power, Genghis Khan is perhaps the most famous, but there were other ferocious Mongol rulers as well, such as Kublai Khan. The last Mongol Khan was Ligden Khan, who came into conflict with the Manchus and alienated most of the other Mongol clans. He died in 1634, and within a couple of years most of the Inner Mongolian tribes had united with the Manchus.

Outer Mongolia eventually submitted to Manchu rule as well, although they were given a degree of autonomy in their internal affairs. Through a series of intermarriages and alliances, the Qing dynasty retained control of Mongolia until 1911, when it disintegrated. The Mongols broke away to create an independent country under a Buddhist leader. who served as spiritual and temporal head of the nation.

However, when the Chinese formed the Republic of China, they considered Mongolia as their territory, although they permitted a degree of autonomy. In 1919, a Chinese warlord occupied Mongolia's capital. The Chinese were expelled by anti-communist Russian troops, but they proved to be just another occupying force.

Mongolian nationalists appealed to Bolshevik Russia for help, and the People's Government of Mongolia resulted, led by a group of seven revolutionaries. Communist Mongolia was independent of Russia until Stalin came into full power in the late 1920s. At that time, Mongolian political leaders were purged until Stalin had the leader he wanted, a man named Khorloogiin Choibalsan.

At the behest of Stalin, Choibalsan appropriated land and herds, which were redistributed. Herders were forced to form cooperatives, and private enterprise was banned. The communist government's policies toward religion were ruthless, resulting in the death or disappearance of about 3% of the population, many of them Buddhist monks.

Upon Choibalsan's death in 1952, the killings stopped. Relations between China and the Soviet Union were strained at that time, and the new Mongolian leader sided with Moscow. Thousands of ethnic Chinese were expelled from the country, and trade with China stopped.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Mongolia gradually began to embrace capitalism and democracy, although not without periods of instability and internal strife. Today, its system of government is a semi-presidential republic, in which the president is elected by the people, who also elect the members of the national assembly, while the president appoints the prime minister and nominates members of the cabinet. There are several political parties. Mongolia remains economically dependent on China and Russia, exporting 90% of its products to China and receiving 90% of its energy from Russia.

Sites whose topics relate to Mongolia or to entities within Mongolia are the focus of this category.



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