Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia, between Russia and China. Territorially almost four and a half times larger than Germany, the country is the least populated country in the world with only around three million inhabitants. More than 40 percent of the country's population lives in the capital Ulaanbaatar. The majority of the population are Mongolians, the slight majority of whom follow Mongolian Buddhism.

The national territory covers most of the Mongolian Plateau. Due to the nature of the soil and the climate, agriculture can hardly be practiced in Mongolia. The landscape is dominated by grassy steppes, with mountains to the north and west, and the Gobi Desert to the south. The most important economic sectors are nomadic livestock farming and mining. The country is one of the ten countries richest in raw materials in the world.

Excavations in the Gobi show that Homo erectus lived in what is now Mongolia 500,000 years ago. Even before the beginning of the Christian era, equestrian nomads such as the Xiongnu or Xianbei united to form large tribes. In 1206, Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, which stretched across Asia and into Europe and was the largest territorially contiguous empire in human history. His grandson Kublai Khan conquered China and founded the Yuan dynasty. After the collapse of this empire, Buddhism increasingly dominated the state. During the Qing Dynasty, “Outer Mongolia” was created as a Chinese province in 1644 on the territory of today's Mongolian state.

From 1912 the region gained extensive autonomy rights. In 1921, the Soviet Union established a puppet government, which proclaimed the Mongolian People's Republic in 1924. During its existence, it was completely dependent on the Soviet Union politically, militarily and economically. It was only during the revolutions in 1989 that the country made the peaceful transition to a democratic parliamentary system of government. On February 12, 1992, parliament sealed the end of the communist system by adopting a new constitution. Since then, Mongolia has been a stable democracy. According to the 2022 Democracy Index, Mongolia is the only democracy in the world completely surrounded by clear dictatorships. The Mongolian population is particularly concerned about the relationship with China, as they are aware of the lack of chances in a possible military conflict and are becoming increasingly dependent on this threatening backdrop.



The most important city and the only one with international air and rail connections is Ulaanbaatar. The city had a million inhabitants in May 2007 and is not only the seat of the government and practically all administrative institutions and authorities, but also the only city that corresponds to the concept of a large city in the western sense. All trade with foreign countries is carried out here. The station has a container loading station, which is also a kind of duty-free area where goods are pre-cleared for import.

Other cities:
Khovd - Probably the greenest city and the most important city in the west is Khovd. Located in the middle of a valley in the Altai Mountains, the city enjoys abundant water resources, and Khovd is also the seat of a university to which students from the western, southern and eastern regions travel to study foreign languages (English, Russian), politics, economics or geology to study. This is also the headquarters of the WWF, which has a lot of animal and nature conservation projects running in this region of Mongolia.
Dalansadgad - The largest city in the south is Dalansadgad, which lies in the middle of the Gobi Desert in a foothills of the Altai Mountains.
Darkhan - Northeast of Ulaanbaatar is Darkhan. Darkhan is the third largest city in Mongolia and is close to the (presumed) birthplace of Genghis Khan. There are large coal deposits near Darkhan, which are mined there in opencast mines.
Erdenet - About 400km northwest of Ulaanbaatar lies the country's second largest city, Erdenet. Here is one of the world's largest molybdenum deposits and one of the largest copper mines in Asia. Revenues from copper mining account for about 70% of Mongolia's state revenue, which underlines the importance of this city (300,000 inhabitants). Molybdenum is also a sought-after precious metal that is used to make stainless steel and high-temperature superconductors.
Hovd - A historic town at the crossroads of traditional Mongol and Kazakh culture. Hovd is located about 50km from Mongolia's highest mountain, the "Friendship Peak", Nairamdal Orgill
Bayan Ölgii - The city furthest to the west is Ölgii, where import/export trade with Kazakhstan is mainly handled. This is also the coldest city in Mongolia with an average temperature of -0.5 degrees and an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level. NN. The city is surrounded by mountains up to 3000 meters high, which are easy to reach and climb. There are two nature reserves and Lake Uvs nearby.
Ondorkhaan - is located 340km east of Ulaanbaatar and can be reached by bike within 4 days on a well-developed road.
Uliastai - a developing industrial city in the middle of Mongolia. Gold deposits are suspected nearby.


Other destinations

Practically all of Mongolia's sights are outside the cities. Every valley, every mountain peak, every pass road can represent a special attraction.

Perhaps the most interesting place is Gurvan Saichan National Park near Dalansadgad. One of the largest sites of dinosaur bones in the world can be found here. It is a sandstone formation that, through natural erosion, reveals these dinosaur bones, which employ research teams traveling all over the world.

Half a day's journey west of Dalansadgad lies a glacier in the middle of the desert and three hours further (approx. 100 km) is Khohgoryn Els, the largest sand dune in the world with approximately 120 km long, 30 km wide and 200 meters high.

In the north of Mongolia lies Lake Khovsgol, one of the largest inland lakes in Mongolia, surrounded by a nature reserve that extends to the Russian border. Geologists suspect that in the past the lake was connected to Lake Baikal. The lake is well suited for hikers, and there are also tours that take place over several days, mainly on horseback. The Saatan live in the northeast, they are reindeer nomads whose area can only be visited with a special permit.

200km south of Lake Khovsgol lie the hot water springs of Jargalant. Unfortunately, the nature park is located off the beaten track and can practically only be reached by organized tour. Not far away are the Orkhon waterfalls, which are also worth seeing.

Anyone who has mountaineering ambitions can let off steam in the area around Khovd and Bayan Olgii. Mongolia's highest peak is a day's journey from Khovd and is just over 4,000 meters high. Beginners prefer to scramble around the edge of Bayan Olgii, where you can do without special equipment.

The most beautiful monastery is probably the Amarbayasgalant monastery in the Selenge mountain steppe, between Darkhan and Erdenet. It is accessible by car or after four days of hiking along the Orkhon River from Darkhan. The active monastery is open to visitors. Next to the monastery you can also spend the night unannounced in two ger camps (yurt camps). Costs around 25 euros with good full board (as of 2011).


How to get there

Entry requirements

EU and EFTA citizens, Swiss and Turks do not need a visa to enter the country for stays of up to 30 days. However, this regulation is temporarily limited until December 31, 2025, except for Germans and Turks. Entry visas are issued by the respective Mongolian embassy or consulate. For non-tourist stays lasting longer than one month, the applicant must contact the immigration authorities in Ulan Bator at least six weeks in advance. After a positive decision has been issued, a visa must be applied for with the relevant certificate from the responsible consul, which is usually issued within five working days.
Bicycle travelers in particular have a bit of a hard time with the 30-day stay/visa because the extension is usually only done in Ulan Bator, and otherwise the only route for a 30-day visa is the north-south road from Russia to China. For stays of more than thirty days, you are also required to report within the first week of your stay. You must also deregister one week before departure. The immigration office, which is also responsible for extending your stay, is close to the airport and can be reached relatively easily with bus lines 11 or 21. The buses are marked “Niseh” or “Нисэх”. Cost approx. 30-40 US$.

Responsible are:
In the Federal Republic of Germany: Consular Department of the Embassy, Hausvogteiplatz 14, 10117 Berlin. Email: Processing time 5 working days. Also for non-Germans living in the Federal Republic of Germany (with registration certificate). Germans who entered the country without a visa can apply for an extension beyond the permitted 30 days, but must submit this application during the first week of their stay. Anyone who wants to stay between 31-90 days needs a visa, which requires an invitation from Mongolia. Price: more than 30 days 1 or 2 entries: €45 or €60 each + €10 service fee.

“A visa is required for departure and onward travel to the People's Republic of China, which must be obtained from the responsible Chinese diplomatic mission before the trip. It should be noted that, according to current Chinese entry law, the visa application must be submitted in the country of citizenship or habitual residence (which must be proven in the visa process). This means travelers in Mongolia cannot obtain a visa for China through the Chinese Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.”

The Mongolian honorary consuls in the Federal Republic of Germany are not authorized to issue a visa.

In Austria it is not permitted to submit applications by post; appointments must be made at the
Consular section of the embassy. Tel.: +43-1-535 28 07 (15), email: Processing time 7-10 days. Price: same as Germany.
In Switzerland: Section consulaire de l'Ambassade, Chemin de Mollies 4, 1293 Bellevue. Tel.: (0)22 - 774 19 74.

Approval from the Mongolian immigration authority is required to issue a visa with a residence permit of up to 360 days. This can also be obtained from a private or business host in Mongolia and a processing time of 1-2 months can be expected.

It should also be noted that the inviter finds himself in a file and cannot invite any number of people, but a maximum of 3 private individuals per year. Otherwise, according to the immigration authorities, it is also possible to leave the country 6 times in a row and come back with a fresh visa. However, the nearest embassy can be found in Almaty, Astana, Irkutsk or Beijing, with each of these places being about 2 days away by train.

If you would like to stay in Mongolia for significantly longer than 30 days for academic reasons, you should arrange this through the partner university. To start a business, capital of up to US$ 100,000 must be deposited and you will then receive a three-year investor visa.

Work visas are generally only issued as “entry-exit” visas. The inviting employer must then complete the formalities and pay 20% foreign tax on the salary. When a fixed-term employment contract expires, the residence permit expires.

Since May 2019, business and tourist visas, those for multiple entries of up to 30 days and those for stays of 31-90 days can be applied for electronically at the Mongolia Immigration Agency as an e-visa to issue a visa on arrival at least 14 days in advance. This service is primarily aimed at residents of countries where there is no Mongolian representation.


By plane

Mongolia is served inexpensively with connections from Turkish Airlines and Air China. Flights from the Mongolian civil air transport company MIAT, as well as Aeroflot, Air Haian and Air Korea are significantly more expensive.

From Germany, MIAT offers direct flights from Berlin and (seasonally) Frankfurt.

Overall, MIAT offers the shortest flight time of around seven to eight hours and the only real direct connection from Germany. MIAT's service, food and drinks are excellent. You fly to Germany with machines that are maintained by Lufthansa Technik.


By train

Arrival and entry by train is possible from Moscow or Beijing. This is the Moscow-Beijing route of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Irkutsk-Ulaanbaatar and Ulaanbaatar-Beijing sections are particularly worth seeing.

If you start your journey in Ulaanbaatar, you only pay a fraction of what is charged in Moscow or Beijing (Ulaanbaatar-Moscow approx. 100-120 US dollars in a couchette). It is recommended to travel on a Mongolian train as it is superior to Russian and Chinese train compartments in terms of service, value for money and hygienic conditions.

If you also want to leave by train, it is worth considering booking this section first in Mongolia, as the prices are slightly cheaper here.

Tickets for the international trains are not available in the train station itself, but in a railway building slightly away from the station. It's best to get the Trans-Siberian tickets and those for the train to Beijing from the hotel or guesthouse. But if you don't get tickets, you don't have to panic, trains run every day to Samin Uud/Erlian (from there you can take a bus to Beijing) or to the Russian border. Some trains only run from UB to Irkutsk, but from there there are connections to Moscow several times a day.

Aside from the Trans-Siberian crossing through Mongolia, the railway also offers local trains that run between Samin Uud and UB, or from Ulaanbaatar to the Russian border. These trains stop at every town that has a train station.

There are now several small branches from the main route, the most important of which are the route to Erdenet and Darkhan, which are also served daily. The other branches can be reached once or twice a week.

There has been a railway line between Choibalsan and Russia that has been put back into operation since 2008. It should be possible for foreigners to cross the border there.


By bus

Only the following crossings are available at road border crossings for foreigners (with tourist visa type J): Mongolian-Russian border (daily 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.): Altanbulag/Kjachta (Selenge Aimag) and Tsgaan-Nuur/Tashanta (Bayan Ulgii Aimag) . Mongolian-Chinese border: Zamyn-Üüd/Erenhot (= Èrlián or Ereen; Dornod Aimag), daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Border crossings are closed on public holidays; During festivals such as New Year, even for several days. There are a number of other border crossings, but they are only open to citizens of neighboring countries or require permission from the Russian and Mongolian authorities, border troops and others specifically for the western border, which means it is almost impossible.

You can take a bus to Ulsanbaatar from Russia or from the Chinese border town of Erlian. There are also bus connections from Ulasnbaatar to all parts of the country, although only the surrounding cities of Darkhan, Erdenet, Arvaicheer and Bayanhongor are served almost daily. Darhan and Erdenet are also served by large, comfortable buses, and cities further away are served by twelve-seater Russian-made minibuses.

There is a northwest route that leads to Bayan Olgii to the west via the cities of Arvaiheer, Uliastai, Khovd and a southwest route that leads to Bayan Olgii via Arvaicheer, Bayanhongor, Altai, Khovd. Other destinations can sometimes only be reached after waiting several days or not at all.

The southern route serves Mandalgov and Dalansadgad (towards China), while the northern route has no major cities.

In the individual cities there are official bus stations (Sochid Teerin Gasar), where buses leave for the nearest aimag capital in the late afternoon, usually between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. You can cover perhaps 300 to 400 kilometers per day, which is between five and 16 hours of driving. The journey will only begin when around 12-15 passengers have gathered, if necessary not until the next day or the day after. Otherwise, every big city has a market district, near which bus and jeep drivers are always waiting for passengers.


By bicycle

Foreigners can currently only travel by bicycle via the border crossings mentioned in the “Bus” section.

Crossing the Russian-Mongolian border on a bicycle is prohibited, although exceptions have been reported (as of 2016). It is expected that you will use a motor vehicle. It is often possible to travel with a truck.

There are “taxis” at the crossings that offer transfers for prices between €10 and €20 per person with a bike (2016) and are usually called by the officials themselves. Using their services is also an advantage as they receive priority processing and can usually help with the formalities.


By boat

There is no inland shipping for passengers; the only shipping connection that Mongolia has from abroad is via Lake Khovsgol in the north of the country and is used for the exchange of goods and the transport of raw materials in the ice-free period between June and October.



The 0.0 alcohol limit applies to drivers. Private taxis charge fancy prices from foreigners, even more than in other Central Asian countries.

Hitchhiking: Most people in Mongolia don't own a car. Cars are only driven in the inner cities, but they would hardly pass the TÜV in Germany. Regardless, in Ulaanbaatar you can simply stand on the street and try to stop a car. You will then be taken to your destination for a comparatively low price if you speak Mongolian or Russian. You should negotiate the prices in advance. For the route from the airport to the city center you pay around 5000 T (as of 2006). This price has increased significantly, even if you want to hitchhike from the airport to the city, you have to calculate around 15,000 T (as of 2016).

Bicycle: Cycling in Mongolia is quite difficult. The bad roads and the sometimes poor water supply make every cycling trip an adventure. There are a few well-developed roads, one leads directly from northern Kyakhta via Ulaanbaatar south to Samiin Uud. Other roads that are also practical for cyclists - i.e. asphalted - lead to Erdenet and Bayanhongor. Everything else is piste, desert or steppe. Spare parts can be found on the local market in the provincial capitals, but not outside of that. There are 40-50 km of concrete slab roads around the aimag capitals, and occasionally the road is also asphalted. Further inland you can only expect leveled desert roads, if at all.

Local transport: You have to differentiate between the local transport system in Ulaanbaatar and the rest of the country. In Ulaanbaatar, buses run every minute from 6 a.m. to around 10 p.m. There are also electric bus routes on the main streets. There are also minibuses that go to the more distant parts of the city. These minibuses are also available in larger cities.

Long-distance transport: Since only 2.5 million people live in Mongolia, there is no strong infrastructure for public transport. All long-distance bus routes are operated by family businesses, which often only operate a single bus. The Aimag capitals can all be reached by plane once or twice a week. There are also private airlines that provide helicopters or small propeller planes and scheduled flights to the larger cities in the interior. There is a state-regulated transport system for bus travel, but the further you get from the capital, the less these regulations apply and the more adventurous the loads and filling conditions are. Smaller cities can only be reached, if at all, with private jeeps, whereby you either wait until there are enough passengers or you have to pay the not inconsiderable travel costs alone. You can take the train north and south of UB and to Erdenet, once or twice a day. This requires time - sometimes four hours for 100 kilometers - and tolerance for overcrowding - with up to 20 people in the 8-person compartment.

You can also ride motorcycles for shorter distances. Recently, more and more people are riding bicycles. There are now also car-free Sundays, one of which was April 29, 2007. For tourists, there are relatively well-organized tours from travel companies based in Ulaanbaatar. These travel agencies offer trips into the interior of the country for individual travelers and small and large groups, with accommodation, meals and English-speaking support also provided.



The national language is Mongolian. Communication is rarely possible in German, Russian or English. If none of that works, a smile always helped.

Mongolian belongs to the Ugro-Altaic language family and is divided into around ten dialects, some of which are spoken in neighboring countries. The learning effort is relatively high because this language has no vocabulary in common (except for a few foreign words) and is completely different from other languages in terms of sentence structure and grammar.

Mongolian is written using a slightly expanded Cyrillic alphabet, of which there is also a Latin transliteration, and there is a vertically written written language, the Uighur script. This was used in Mongolia until the mid-1920s and is still used today in the autonomous province of Inner Mongolia (China). The Uighur script is difficult to apply to the colloquial language spoken today because it has remained in use virtually unchanged since the 14th century, but the language has evolved.

In Mongolia, Mongolian, more precisely the Khalha dialect, is used as the official language, and all lessons at state schools and universities are given in Mongolian, so that this dialect is also a colloquial language for all ethnic groups living in Mongolia.

Oirat and Buryat dialects are spoken in the north, and the entire west of Mongolia from Bayan Olgii to the border is Kazakh-speaking. Virtually all older Mongolians also speak or understand Russian, and Manchurian dialects are widespread in the East.

Teaching at the university was switched from Russian to Mongolian a long time ago, and there are also efforts to introduce English as a foreign language. Due to active trade relations with Russia and China, the two languages will retain their importance in trade.



Ulaanbaatar has everything, including imported goods and high-tech items. In some cases, payment by credit card is even offered. The prices are almost always excellent and non-negotiable. You can also pay with foreign currency and then get the change back in the local currency.

Outside Ulaanbaatar, every aimag capital has market districts where you can stock up on food, clothing and simpler technical equipment. There are also smaller shops, which usually have a selection of drinks and prepackaged foods and offer the odd artisanal item. Cash payment is the order of the day here, card terminals are completely unknown.

Many cosmetic items are imported from Europe, Japan or China, as are all technical items, and western prices can also be expected for them. Items of clothing can be purchased very cheaply, and custom-made items are also possible for relatively little money.

The large selection of German foods is surprising. You can find the well-known products from Edeka, Rewe and Co. in all supermarkets and also in small shops. In the modern shopping centers of UB, e.g. in the State Department on Peace Avenue, there are organic shelves with almost exclusively German brands (Naturkind, Gut and glad...).



This is a topic that books could be written about. Since the culture is nomadic, like in many other nomadic cultures, meat and dairy products form the main basis of the diet.

Mongolian cuisine consists predominantly of meat, animal fats and dairy products. As a European, you are initially shocked by the taste of the products; everything tastes somehow “highly concentrated”. But that's only because we as Europeans no longer know it, or have been weaned off the habit by the food industry, that meat or milk or yoghurt have their own taste. Here in Germany everything is pasteurized, homogenized and standardized. In Mongolia, a pig not only lives for six months and doesn't get concentrated feed from a retort, but it lives outdoors and only eats herbs and spices all day long. You can tell that in this meat, no matter what animal you eat. You can prepare meat there without spices and it still has taste. It's the same with dairy products or vegetables (potatoes, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes and onions, everything else is imported from China and only tastes like water). Anyone who has ever eaten or drunk Mongolian tomatoes or tomato juice made from Mongolian tomatoes will never forget this experience. Of course the tomatoes don't look like our supermarket tomatoes, but the taste is unique.

Typical Mongolian dishes:
Boozz (dumplings filled with meat and steamed)
Hushuur (as above only fried)
Zöwin (fried noodles with carrots and cabbage)
Lapscha (Mongolian noodle soup)
Hutzei soup (glass noodle soup with meat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, meatballs and bacon)
Borzock (sweet dough fried in fat)
Aaruul (dried milk or also called concrete curd)

Milk is also generally boiled in Mongolia, and for this reason it is completely harmless in the central part of the country. Conversely, there is neither cheese nor yoghurt. In the Kazakh region of Bayan Ölgii, raw milk products such as buttermilk, cheese and yoghurt are still available in many places. Since the people there also value quality, the wholesomeness of these dishes is guaranteed.

There is a clear trend towards more vegetarian and vegan food in Ulaanbaatar. In the most central square, Sukhbaatar Square, there is a vegan restaurant from the Loving Hut chain with dishes that creatively combine traditional Mongolian cuisine and vegan preparation.

General basic rules for eating and drinking
Always boil or filter water from the tap.
Always have some liquor with you, as the European body is not used to these natural foods, and take a “double” after every meal. It is also a common custom to drink vodka together. Only this part of Kazakhstan gets by without alcohol.
Never refuse food or drink or invitations to do so, especially in the countryside with nomads.
If you want to try Airag (fermented mare's milk), always take enough toilet paper with you. The obligatory diarrhea after the first consumption is not harmful, but healthy, like mare's milk in general. With an Airag treatment, the diarrhea can last for a week, then just drink enough (especially mare's milk)!
If you've eaten enough, there should always be something left on your plate. Then the hosts know that it was enough.


Night life

There are practically all the entertainment options in Ulaanbaatar that are also available in other major cities. Among the discos, only the UB Palace and the club The Strings in the Bayangol district should be highlighted. There are many smaller dance halls that are located in the city center and in the university district and only offer enough space for around 50 people.

The beer gardens of Khan Bräu and another brewery can be found in the city center, and there are many other options, e.g. E.g. the Great Mongol next to the State Circus or the Irish Pub.

Almost every evening there are events in the State Opera and frequent performances in the State Theater. There are many smaller clubs, restaurants and pubs along Peace Avenue that are usually open until midnight.

The Tengis Cinema is located in the city center, where mostly dubbed films from India or blockbusters are shown in three cinema halls.

You shouldn't walk alone at night because you'll often come across drunk people who can be quite disruptive. Since public alcohol consumption outside of restaurants was banned in spring 2007, this phenomenon has also decreased significantly.


Where to stay

Ulaanbaatar offers several large hotels where you can expect western comfort for western prices. This means in particular clean bed linen, electrically generated hot water (since May 2007 the public hot water supply has been completely switched off), telephone and internet, restaurants, cleaning and, above all, peace and quiet.

For budget travelers, there are many facilities called guesthouses, which offer shared accommodation for as little as $4 per night. Single or double rooms can be expected here for $15-20 per day.

A few private individuals also offer accommodation, which is usually a furnished room for $10 to $20 a day.

Comfortable hotels are unknown in the interior of the country. Even the most expensive hotels are filthy, hot water is only available in winter and clean toilets are a rarity. You also have to expect that as a foreigner you will occasionally be shown a different price list.

There are motel-like establishments in Khovd, Bayanhongor and Bayan Olgii for around $5 per night. You shower in public shower houses, where you can always find a hairdresser. In some cities it is better to take a tent and camp outside the city because the cheapest accommodation in the provincial towns is populated with eight to twelve chain-smoking drunken Mongolians.

Camping is allowed nationwide and you can usually have peace and quiet. In Khovd, the Khovd Hotel should be mentioned, in Bayan Olgii you can stay quite well in the Basteau, and in Altai there is the Altai Hotel, where you can have a little discussion in Mongolian and then no longer pay the tourist price.

Gercamps are open in many places in summer. Here you sleep in traditional Mongolian tents, you can also prepare your food there and there are decent toilets and showers. This is probably the nicest way to stay overnight outside of Ulaanbaatar if you don't want to camp.



Mongolia is a relatively safe country. Violent crime is rare, and tourists occasionally fall victim to pickpocketing or scams. Even when traveling inland, there is no risk of criminal attacks other than pickpocketing.

The only danger you face in the evening is being harassed by drunks. Women should not travel alone outside the capital and should not take sensitive valuables such as camcorders or laptops with them. This in turn is a recommendation because of the largely non-existent roads when traveling overland in buses or jeeps - only what can survive a day-long ride in an off-road vehicle belongs in your luggage.



Only use boiled tap water and only consume well-cooked or well-cooked foods. Water offered by nomads in the steppe is often taken from the rivers, which serve as drinking water for the numerous livestock, which defecate and urine there. Since temperature differences of 30 degrees can sometimes occur between day and night, you should think about suitable clothing and harden yourself accordingly.

The food offered in restaurants is all safe, although not always tasty.

Simple medications can be obtained without a prescription from pharmacies in Ulaanbaatar, but staff are not expected to speak English. You MUST bring special medications, insulin and other things with you.

Since even Ulaanbaatar cannot be expected to have Western-standard hospitals, you should always have operations carried out at home and take out appropriate insurance.

In recent years, over 600 cases of brucellosis have been recorded each year. This bacterial, febrile illness can be transmitted through contact with sick animals (sheep, goats, cattle) or consumption of undercooked dairy products. Be careful with raw milk and raw cheese. Mongolia is one of the few countries where the plague is endemic. Here it is transmitted to humans from diseased marmots (marmots are a delicacy in the host country).

Cases of rabies have been described. For trekking and/or bicycle tours where immediate medical care and vaccination cannot be ensured within a day, especially after animal bites, a preventative rabies vaccination is recommended.



The classic Mongolian mentality is very much focused on saving face, integrity and honor. Traditional norms that come from the nomadic tradition, such as hospitality, have a very strong impact in daily life.

This means, for example, that you can never take spontaneous photos of people. Mongolians like to be photographed, but first they want to get ready, look in the mirror again and then be photographed with all their relatives dressed up. It goes without saying that when you enter a ger, especially when visiting nomads, you shouldn't start snapping wildly.

You should be very polite towards official bodies in particular and never show impatience. This is usually counterproductive and is not understood by the other side. On (planned) visits you should always take a few small gifts with you. This is expected and will be met with a bit of misunderstanding if you fail to do so. Even in everyday life you have to accept that certain things don't happen immediately, or at least not today.

When visiting spontaneously, as often happens when traveling, you should at least master the basic forms of politeness, which means taking an hour, drinking a lot of tea, trying one or two vodkas and some food. Refusing a drink or food completely is considered very rude - if you don't like vodka, you'll do the deed by sipping it.

If you are planning longer trips or stays, you should definitely get to grips with the language. This helps with some problems or at least solves them if you can ask the right questions and don't have to rely on a translator. Most Mongolians know how difficult it is to learn their language and are very grateful if you can have a little conversation with them.



If you want to keep in touch with the outside world, you can rely on a variety of different options in Ulaanbaatar. There are Internet cafés on every street corner where you can write emails, make phone calls and chat via Skype or Messenger, or call home with relatively cheap providers.

Cell phones are also possible here, but they are expensive, three to five euros per minute with a German cell phone contract. So get out the German SIM card and buy a MobilCom prepaid card for around 12 euros. You can then top it up, a minute of mobile phone calls costs around four cents if you call Mongolian numbers and around 40 cents per minute to Germany. There is also a special foreign credit account with which you can get down to 20 cents per minute. The largest top-up amount is 10,000 Tugrik, which is around six euros and you will then be credited with 11,000 units.

Anyone traveling inland will not find any telephone booths. Sometimes it is helpful to get help in difficult situations or to reserve rooms. The mobile phone network is relatively well developed and is available in all major cities. Buying a card is completely unbureaucratic, but the numbers expire after two months and you cannot be called from abroad.



The name of the country comes from the ethnonym "Mongols", the origin of which, in turn, continues to be the subject of controversy. So, a number of researchers - in particular, N. Ts. Munkuev - notes that the ethnonym "Mongol" is first found in Chinese sources "Jiu Tang shu" ("The Old History of the Tang Dynasty", compiled in 945) in the form of meng-wu shi -wei - "Mongols-Shiwei", and in the "Xin Tang shu" ("New history of the [dynasty] Tang", compiled in 1045-1060) in the form of men-wa bu - "tribe of men-wa". In various Khitan and Chinese sources of the 12th century, the names of meng-ku, manguli, manguzi, mengu guo were also used for these tribes. D. Banzarov connected the ethnonym "Mongol" with historical geographical names: the river Mon and Mount Mona. According to Hasdorj, the people who lived in the nearby places of Mount Mon in Ordos acquired the name Mon. The word goal was added to it, as a result of which the name Mongol arose. Gol is a Mongolian word meaning "central, main". A version was also put forward, according to which the name Mongol arose by combining the Mongolian words monkh (“eternal”) and gal (“fire”).

The Mongolian scientist Zh. Bayasakh suggests that the name Mongol appeared as a result of a modification of the Mongolian word mongө (“silver”). The connection between the concepts of Mongol and mongo (“silver”) is mentioned in the Chinese texts “Hei-da shi-lue” of 1237; they say that the population of Great Mongolia called their state the "Great Silver Dynasty".

As B. R. Zoriktuev notes, from the many interpretations of the term Mongol, a version stands out about its origin from the Tungus-Manchu word mangmu / manggu / mangga, meaning “strong, resilient, tight”. According to L. Bilegt, the name Mongol is the Tungus-Manchu tracing paper of the Mongolian word kiyan, which translates as “a large stream flowing from the mountains to the lowlands, stormy, fast and strong; rushing current." This version was further developed in the works of A. Ochira.



Prehistory and antiquity

500,000 years ago, the territory of what is now Mongolia was inhabited by Homo erectus. Back then the climate was milder than today. In the valley of the Tolbor River, a tributary of the Selenga, stone tools dating back almost 45,000 years were discovered at the Tolbor-16 site, the oldest evidence of the presence of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) in what is now Mongolia. Cave paintings in the Khovd province date from the later Stone Age, i.e. from 40,000 to 12,000 years ago. In the Mesolithic, around 12,000-7,000 years ago, people began to use bows and arrows and keep pets.

The first written evidence comes from Chinese chronicles. In the Bronze Age, around 2500 BC. to 1000 BC, the culture of the region developed quickly due to the numerous deposits of copper in Mongolia. At the same time, however, the climate continued to cool down, making it too cold to farm, and the people here ultimately became livestock-raising nomads.

In the third century BC, the Xiongnu tribe invaded the southern Chinese states. He was successfully repulsed, and in response to frequent Mongol incursions, Emperor Qin Shihuangdi began building the Great Wall of China. However, steppe peoples such as the Xianbei, Tuoba, and Rouran repeatedly breached the wall and plundered Chinese territories, at times even building their own empires and acculturating.


The Mongol Empire

The name Mongols probably came into being during the Tang Dynasty (7th to 10th centuries). In the 8th century, Turkic peoples, especially the Uyghurs, took over supremacy, and in the 10th century the Kitan founded the Liao dynasty, which lasted until 1125.

In the 12th century, Temüjin managed to unite the numerous Mongolian tribes that were at odds with each other and form a state out of them that could compete with its powerful neighbors. Around 1206 he was recognized as leader of all Mongols under the title of Genghis Khan. He raised a powerful army, to which, with a few exceptions, all men between the ages of 15 and 70 were enlisted, taking care to include men from different tribes in all groups. What was also new was a strictly hierarchical organization of the army and the specialization of the soldiers.

To support his military organization, he introduced innovations such as a census, a communications system using flags, and a mounted post. Spiritually, Genghis Khan followed Tengrism.

The capital Karakorum was built in what is now central Mongolia. It lay at the crossroads of two important trade routes; the Mongols encouraged people from other parts of Asia to settle in Karakoram. The residents had religious freedom, and mosques, churches and Buddhist temples were built in the city.

The Yassa Code of Laws issued by Genghis Khan contained traditional Mongolian laws but was supplemented with new laws that required the expansion of the Mongol Empire. The laws imposed punishments for liars, required the return of lost property, restricted alcohol consumption, and established a social safety net for the survivors of slain Mongol warriors. A largely uniform legal system contributed significantly to the Pax Mongolica from the late 12th century to the 14th century.

Before his death, Genghis Khan had already divided his empire into four khanates. His son Chagatai was given control of the southwestern part of the empire, which included Afghanistan, Turkestan and central Siberia. His grandson Batu gained power over Central Asia and founded the Golden Horde there. Pol Uri was given power over Mongolia and Ögedei was entrusted with rule over China and East Asia. Ögedei Khan managed to further expand the empire and expand its territory south and west. When Ögedei died twelve years later, his armies were in southern China and at the gates of Vienna. His successor Möngke conquered most of southern China and the northern part of what is now Vietnam. In 1261 Kublai Khan became his successor. Kublai was not only a talented military leader, but also a far-sighted ruler. He promoted trade and shipping, the sciences and introduced improvements in Chinese agriculture. Under his rule, the Mongolian script was developed and in 1280 he moved his winter residence to Dadu, now Beijing, where he founded the Yuan dynasty. Although the conquest of Japan failed twice, the Mongol Empire reached its peak of power under Kublai Khan. However, the succession to the throne remained unclear after the death of each ruler, and the struggles for power damaged the territorial integrity of the empire.

After Kublai Khan's death, the Mongols were unable to maintain their power.[60] Even after Kublai Khan, the Mongol Empire still had the institution of the Great Khan, although he was no longer fully recognized by all khanates. The last great khan to rule all Mongolian empires was Timur Khan (until 1307). Afterwards, there were repeated tribute payments from the other khans to the respective great khan, especially to Toqa Timur, as well as similar gestures of submission and solidarity, but in reality the political fortunes of the Mongol Empire after Timur Khan were largely decentralized. In particular, the khans only supported each other - or their great khan - only to a limited extent in military actions; Soldiers were often only sent symbolically. In this respect, for most of the time from 1307 onwards, the Mongol Empire was more of a confederation of states similar to the Holy Roman Empire, under more formal than actual leadership by the Great Khan, than a unified state in the modern sense.

Despite a lack of political unity, cohesion within the Mongol Empire was still clearly evident even after 1307. It manifested itself, among other things, in the legal system, the postal and communication system (Örtöö and Païza) and the common art and cultural assets, especially writing and language. This means that the unity of the Mongol Empire is comparable to that of other large empires of the late Middle Ages and early modern times.


15th to 20th centuries

As before the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongol tribes repeatedly attacked the Chinese Empire, which prompted the rulers of the Ming Dynasty to further expand and strengthen the Chinese Wall. Numerous fights between the Mongolian tribes began, instigated by China. As a result of a long war between the two most important Mongolian tribes, the Oirats and the Chalcha, the Oirats were expelled from what is now Mongolia. During the reign of Altan Khan, Tibetan Buddhism began to become the state religion of the Mongols.

Before that, Buddhism had been one of several religions practiced in his empire. At the same time, the Manchus rose to become the dominant power east of what is now Mongolia. In 1634 they defeated Ligdan Khan, and from 1644 onwards the Manchurian Qing dynasty was founded, in whose government numerous Mongol officials also worked. More efficient weapons were introduced, which the mounted Mongols could not fight with bows and arrows. However, nomadic Mongolian society was not equipped to produce such weapons itself. The borders of the Mongol Empire thus began to narrow. Both Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, which is now an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, were opened to Han settlement in the early 17th century. Outer Mongolia increasingly came under the influence of the Russian Empire. The entire Mongolian highland was divided into so-called banners, whose head was appointed by the Chinese imperial family.

Buddhism led to the emergence of permanent settlements around monasteries and became an influential power. Mongolia remained relatively peaceful and stable until the beginning of the 20th century. It was an impoverished province with fewer than 500,000 residents, often deeply in debt to Russian and Chinese traders. Taking advantage of the collapse of the Chinese Qing dynasty, the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu declared Outer Mongolia independent in 1911 with Russian support. From 1912, Mongolia gained extensive autonomy rights. In 1915, representatives of Russia, China and Outer Mongolia signed the Treaty of Kyakhta, under which Outer Mongolia received some autonomous status but remained subject to Chinese sovereignty.


Communist rule

After the October Revolution in Russia, the National Chinese seized the opportunity and fully reintegrated Mongolia into the Republic of China in 1919. In the course of the Russian Civil War, part of the White Army under the leadership of Roman von Ungern-Sternberg moved into Outer Mongolia in 1920, occupied the country and tried to fight the Red Army by advancing into Russian territory. On March 13, 1921, Ungern-Sternberg proclaimed an independent monarchy and nominally installed Bogd Khan as head of state. On the same day, Sükhbaatar and Choibalsan, who were in the Soviet Union, founded a communist counter-government and marched into Mongolia on July 3, 1921 with the 400-man Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army along with 10,000 Russian soldiers from the Red Army and quickly occupied Urga . On July 11, 1921, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MRVP) again proclaimed the independence of Outer Mongolia. Ungern-Sternberg was extradited to the Soviet Army and executed. Bogd Khan remained formally the head of state; It was only after his death that the new rulers adopted a communist constitution on November 25, 1924, which created the Mongolian People's Republic as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. During its existence, it was completely dependent on the Soviet Union politically, militarily and economically.

The population, which continued to live nomadically, offered no resistance to the new communist leadership. Due to the country's almost non-existent organizational structures and low population density, communism took a long time to establish itself in Mongolia. As a result, all residents of the country over the age of 18 were given the right to vote. Only traders, moneylenders, former nobles and monks were excluded. The political leadership of the one-party state was taken over by the MRVP. The legislative body of the Mongolian People's Republic corresponding to the Supreme Soviet was the Grand State Khural. He chose the Small State Khural. The Little Khural elected a presidium and a council of ministers composed of twelve members, which formed the executive branch. The Great People's Khural met only twice a year. In the meantime, the Presidium was able to pass decrees and dismiss and appoint cabinet members. His decisions had to be subsequently confirmed by the plenary session. Furthermore, the Great Khural appointed the members of the Supreme Court.

The constitution of November 1, 1924 introduced general active and passive women's suffrage. Land, pastures, water and mineral resources were nationalized. All debts to foreign traders (especially Chinese) were canceled and the private moneylending system was abolished. Foreign trade was placed under a state monopoly and the economic power of the monasteries was broken. In 1924, the first Mongolian currency, the tögrög, was introduced. The first state-owned bank was Mongolbank. At the same time, the first industrial activities, such as mining and the processing of agricultural products, began. In 1931, the property of more than a third of households was confiscated and redistributed. In response, the affected families slaughtered seven million animals. This and the fact that the newly founded cooperatives did not function as desired led to a famine and a rebellion in 1931/1932. A civil war could only be avoided with great difficulty. From then on, changes in the economic system were implemented more slowly.

On the political stage, parallel to similar events in the Soviet Union, political purges took place, the victims of which included Bogd Khan, Chakdorjab, Togotkho, Puntsuk Dorji and Dindub. In 1924, Dandsan, the deputy prime minister and minister of war and commander-in-chief of the army, was shot. In 1937, Genden, who as prime minister was responsible for the gradual implementation of communist policies, was executed. His rival Choibalsan was now both prime minister and war minister. The focus of his Stalinist politics was the fight against religion, among other things. through the forced conscription of monks and nuns to work in factories or to military service and the destruction of monasteries. Gold and silver statues were confiscated, taken to the Soviet Union and melted down. In 1932, Japan also founded a satellite state, Manchukuo in Inner Mongolia, after which the Soviet Union increased its military presence in the Mongolian People's Republic. Japan saw this action as a threat to its interests and also moved additional troops to Manchukuo's border. Both states cited support for their “brother countries” in fighting “gangs” and warlords as the official justification for their respective policies. From January 1935, conflicts between Soviet and Japanese border troops increased dramatically due to unclear borders between the Mongolian People's Republic and Manchukuo, which ended in the Japanese-Soviet Border War in 1939. During World War II, the Mongolian People's Republic had to support the Soviet Union by supplying livestock and clothing.

Choibalsan died in 1952; he was succeeded by Tsedenbal, who ruled the country for 32 years. From 1958 at the latest, almost all nomadic households belonged to a cooperative, called Negdel. In addition to the development of agriculture, some industrial centers emerged in which mining and the processing of wool, meat and wood were carried out. Tsedenbal was deposed in 1984; Under his successor Dschambyn Batmönch, the Mongolian People's Republic was given increasingly more room for maneuver, which was made possible by Gorbachev's policies in the Soviet Union.



From 1988 onwards, an opposition made up of various forces formed in the Mongolian People's Republic, demanding a multi-party system and economic reforms. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolia made a peaceful transition to a democratic parliamentary system of government starting in 1990. On February 12, 1992, Parliament sealed the end of the communist system by adopting a constitution based on the principles of a democratic constitutional state and a market economy. At the same time, the term “People’s Republic” was deleted from the name. The new experiences with a free-market economic system were difficult for many Mongolians; In the early 1990s there was inflation and shortages. Despite allegations of corruption and nepotism, Mongolia was considered one of the more stable democracies of the former Eastern Bloc in the late 2000s.

The anthropologist David Sneath confirmed this assessment in 2018. Although there were allegations of electoral fraud after the 2008 parliamentary election, which resulted in violent protests and the arson of the headquarters of the ruling Mongolian People's Party in the capital, the demonstrators did not oppose them democracy as an institution, but against what they perceived as the corruption of the ruling class. This incident shows that what at first glance appears to be a stable parliamentary government system is struggling with strong political tensions beneath the surface. Despite these conflicts, Sneath sees strong features of a consociational democracy realized in Mongolia.



Mongolia is a country in East Asia. Its territory extends between 41° 35′ and 52° 06′ north latitude and 87° 47′ and 119° 57′ east longitude. It ranks 18th among all countries in the world in terms of area. Nevertheless, Mongolia only has two neighbors: the country shares a 3,485 km long border with Russia in the north and a 4,677 km long border with the People's Republic of China in the south; Furthermore, Kazakhstan begins just 38 km west of Mongolia's westernmost point. Its east-west extent is 2392 km and its north-south extent is 1259 km. It is covered by 40% semi-desert, 35% by tree steppe and 20% by grass steppe; The rest is made up of forest and sandy desert.

The largest city in Mongolia is the capital Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) with approximately 1.3 million inhabitants, almost half of the population of the entire country. The creation of Maidar City will not resolve the centralization of the population around Ulaanbaatar, as the two cities will only be approximately 30 km apart. Important cities are Erdenet with 79,649 inhabitants, Darkhan with 72,386 inhabitants and Choibalsan with 44,367 inhabitants; other cities can be found in the list of cities in Mongolia.


Surface shape

About a third of the national territory is occupied by high mountains, especially in the north, west and southeast. Dry plateaus dominate the south and east. The average national altitude is around 1,580 meters above sea level.

The region between the Changai Mountains and Altai is called Western Mongolia. Here, on the border with China's Xinjiang, two peaks of the Altai reach almost 4,400 meters, including the Chüiten peak, which at 4,374 m is the highest peak in Mongolia. From there, the 3000 to 4000 m high mountain ranges of Mongolian Altai and Gobi-Altai stretch 2000 km to the east-southeast, along the border with China, to the Mongolian Plateau; Other mountains in western Mongolia are the Tannu-ola Mountains and the Sayan Mountains. There are hundreds of glaciers in Mongolia, although they are all very small by international standards.

In the center of the country lies the Changai Mountains with numerous three-thousanders, whose northern flank already drains to the Siberian Lake Baikal, and to the east of it the region around the capital Ulaanbaatar (1350 m). To the east is the Chentii Mountains. South of this mountain range the country is hilly until it merges into the Gobi. In the east of Mongolia, Lake Choch Nuur is the lowest point in Mongolia at 532 m.



There are about 1200 rivers in Mongolia with a total length of almost 70,000 km. The land is drained in three directions: towards the Pacific Ocean, towards the Arctic Ocean and towards the drainless Central Asian Plain. As a landlocked country, Mongolia itself has no access to seas or oceans.

The water-rich Selenga rivers and their large tributaries Ider, Orkhon and Tuul run through the north. These arise in the Changai Mountains and flow into Lake Baikal. Also in the north and east flow the Onon and the Cherlen, which rise in the Chentii Mountains and drain towards the Pacific via the Amur, as well as the Ulds and Chalchyn. The largest rivers in the West are the Khovd and the Dzavkhan, both of which flow towards drainless Central Asia. All rivers in Mongolia freeze over in winter. The ice cover can last up to six months and reach a thickness of more than one meter. The frozen rivers are often used as roads by vehicles in winter, polluting them with oil.

Mongolia's almost 4,000 lakes include the 3,350 km² saltwater lake Uws Nuur and the 2,760 km² Chöwsgöl Nuur. The latter is one of the most important freshwater lakes in the world. 95% of the other lakes are less than 5 km² in size; 80% are freshwater lakes. Because they are often fed by glaciers and are far from any industrial centers, they are almost unpolluted and have very clear water. They are important resting stations for migratory birds.

Mongolia's waters are experiencing significant desertification, with 852 of its rivers and streams and more than 1,000 of its lakes drying up or disappearing (2007 data).



The location in the Central Asian highlands gives Mongolia one of the most extreme climates among the continental and arid climates in the world. Due to the dry, pronounced continental climate, temperatures fluctuate greatly throughout the year: in winter the average daily temperatures are −25 °C and in summer they are +20 °C, which means that the fluctuations are two to three times greater than in Western Europe. The mean annual precipitation reaches 200 to 220 millimeters and decreases from over 400 mm in the north of the country to less than 100 mm in the south of the Gobi Desert. Annually, 80 to 90% of precipitation falls from May to September. The temperature differences between night and day are also unusually high, reaching up to 32 °C. The absolute temperature amplitude between summer and winter reaches up to 100 K.


Effects of climate change

Mongolia is significantly affected by global warming. Between 1940 and 2001, the annual mean air temperature rose by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The winter temperature rose by more than 3.6 degrees during this period. Mongolia's ancient ice is melting rapidly due to the changing climate and warm summer temperatures. Since the inflow from the ice fields runs dry more often in summer, the drinking water supply is increasingly restricted. This will put both cultural heritage and traditional reindeer herding at extreme risk in the coming years. As a result, the climate crisis is endangering domestic low-latitude reindeer herders living in the mountainous tundra zones of northern Mongolia.



While the northern part of Mongolia is still part of the boreal coniferous forest zone with sufficient rainfall, rainfall continues to decrease towards the south. The natural conditions such as the precipitation gradient in the north-south direction and the windward-leeward effects of the mountain ranges running through the country lead to a pronounced vegetation zonation, which Hilbig 1995 differentiated from north to south according to the precipitation conditions as follows (their distribution is in brackets the corresponding geographical areas and floral regions named after Grubov 1982):

Mountain taiga (Chubsugul, Chentei, northern edge of Changai)
(Mountain) forest steppe (Changai, Chubsugul, Chentei, Mongolian-Daurian floral region, Mongolian Altai, Hinggan)
(Dry) steppe (southern part of Changai, middle Chalkha, eastern Mongolia, peripheral area of the Great Lakes basin)
Grass steppe
mountain steppe
meadow steppe
sand steppe

Alpine vegetation (Chubsugul, Chentei, Changai, Mongolian Altai)
Semi-desert (desert steppe) (southern half of Mongolia, Great Lakes basin, Gobi-Altai, Djungarian Gobi)
Desert (Djungarian Gobi, Trans-Altai Gobi, Alashan Gobi and East Gobi)
Extrazonal vegetation (which differs significantly from the typical vegetation of the respective climatic zone):

Alpine vegetation (formed in the Chubsugul region, in central Changai, in Mongolian Altai, partly in Chentei)



The fauna of Mongolia has adapted to the conditions of the steppe. People keep sheep, goats, cattle, camels and horses. Wild mammals of the steppe include saiga, jerboas, marmots, wolves, yaks, a species of wild cat and the steppe polecat. A species of crane occurs on the lakes, and other bird species in Mongolia include buzzard species, steppe eagles, the lark and a species of wheatear. A special feature is the Przewalski horse, which was already extinct and was successfully reintroduced into the wild. The forest and mountain areas of the country are inhabited by the argali, a species of wild goat, a species of gazelle, the stoat, the mountain hare, species of snipe and the Altai king chicken (Tetraogallus altaicus). A special feature here is the snow leopard, which is highly threatened due to hunting and the restriction of its habitat. The Gobi is home to the Asian donkey, the Cashmere goat, numerous species of rodents and lizards and agamas. The highly endangered Gobi bear also lives in the Gobi, a small form of brown bear that eats a primarily vegetarian diet. Carp fish, loaches, pike, burbot, perch, lenok, taimen and various species of grayling are found in the waters of Mongolia. The Baikal sturgeon (Acipenser baerii baicalensis Nikolskii) migrates more than 300 km across the Orkhon to spawn in the Selenga and the upper reaches of the Orkhon. Migratory birds that only spend the summer in Mongolia include the swan goose, mute swan and teal. There are also migratory birds that winter in Mongolia, such as the snow bunting and the snowy owl.



Due to the region's formerly warm and humid climate, which later became dry and cool, numerous dinosaur remains have been preserved. Since the 1920s, numerous spectacular discoveries have been made in Mongolia. The American scientist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first dinosaur eggs here. Fossils of Oviraptor, Protoceratops, Velociraptor, Therizinosaurus, Pachycephalosauria and Tarbosaurus were also found.


Natural disasters

Mongolia lies in a very seismically active area; Earthquakes are common. However, due to the low population density and because there are relatively few buildings that could collapse, the earthquakes usually cause little damage. The most violent earthquakes occurred in central Mongolia in 1905 and in southwestern Mongolia in 1931, 1957 and 1967. The 1905 quake measured 8.2 to 8.7 on the Richter scale, the 1957 quake measured 7.9 to 8.3, and the 1967 quake measured 7.5. However, the numerous cracks in the earth left by the earthquakes often lead to rivers on which the nomads and their herds depend dry out or shift.

Dsud originally refers to very snowy winters in which the animals are no longer able to find food under the snow cover and therefore starve. The term is now also used for other meteorological conditions, particularly winter ones, under which livestock grazing becomes impossible. In addition to the above-mentioned White Dzud, in which the animals can no longer find food under the snow cover after heavy snowfall, a distinction is made between the so-called Black Dsud, in which the animals die of thirst due to too little snow (since wells and waters freeze, there is snow when it is cold temperatures the only source of water). Another form is the Icy or Iron Dsud, in which freezing rain covers the land with ice, preventing animals from feeding on grass and herbs. Finally, a fourth form is the storm dzud due to sandstorms. Dzuds are relatively common phenomena in Mongolia, which can kill millions of animals in one winter, thereby depriving the population of their food supply.


Administrative division

Mongolia is divided into 21 aimags (provinces) and the capital Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator), which forms an independent administrative unit. The latter also applied to the city of Erdenet until 1994. From this, however, the Orkhon aimag was created in 1994 together with some sums from the Bulgan aimag. Likewise the city of Darkhan, for which the Darkan-Uul aimag was separated from the Selenge aimag as an enclave.

Each aimag is divided into a number of sums (comparable to counties/districts), which in turn are divided into bags (comparable to municipalities). There are over 300 sums, which are divided into more than 1500 bags. A bag often does not exist as a permanent settlement because its members all move around as nomads.