21 fun facts about Mongolia!

Table of Contents

1. Mongolia is the 2nd largest landlocked country in the world

Mongolia is the 2nd largest landlocked country in the world and is located right next to the largest landlocked country of Kazakhstan. Located in Central Asia, Mongolia spans an area of over 1.5 million square kilometers (603,900 square miles), also making it the 19th largest country in the world. It is the most sparsely populated country in Asia with only around 2.1 inhabitants per square kilometer and every second person in the country lives in Ulaanbaatar.

2. The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history

The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history. Founded by Genghis Khan in the early 13th century, the Mongol Empire quickly expanded its territory which would eventually stretch from modern-day China to Europe. To give you an idea of how big the empire was at its height of 33 million km² (12.75 million mi²) it was 3 million km² (1.15 million mi²) larger than the entire continent of Africa 30.37 million km² (11.73 million mi²).

3. Mongolia is known for its nomadic culture and heritage

Mongolia is known for its nomadic culture and heritage. From ancient times, the Mongolian people have been a nomadic people, traveling with their herds of livestock across the vast steppes and deserts of the country. Today around 30% of Mongolia’s population still lives as nomads and herders.  The herding culture in Mongolia is so strong that you can even buy apartments and houses in the capital city with your livestock rather than normal money.

4. The Gobi Desert is located in Mongolia

The Gobi Desert is located in Mongolia and is the largest deserts in Asia. Covering over 1,300,000 square km (500,000 square miles), the Gobi Desert is known for its unique geography, harsh climate, diverse wildlife, and its vast collection of dinosaur fossils. It is also home to many valuable minerals and has been a source of wealth and prosperity for centuries making it an important player in the ancient trading route “the silk road”.

Goats in the Gobi Desert
Goats in the Gobi Desert

5. Horses play a big role in Mongolia’s history and culture

Mongolia has a rich history of horseback riding and traditional horse games such as horseback archery and horse races. It comes as no surprise that horses have been an important part of Mongolian life and culture for centuries considering that they are nomads, serving as both a means of transportation and a source of food.

 Throughout history, the Mongolian people have developed a deep connection with their horses, and horsemanship has become an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage.

6. The traditional Mongolian dwelling is the Ger

The traditional Mongolian dwelling is the Gur, a portable tent made of felt and canvas. The Gur is an iconic symbol of Mongolian nomadic culture and has been used by nomadic families for centuries.

 The unique design of the Ger allows it to be easily dismantled and transported by horseback, making it ideal for a nomadic lifestyle.  Despite the simplicity of a Ger, it is a highly functional and comfortable home that is able to stay warm in the winter months and cool in the summer months.

Traditional Mongolian Ger
Traditional Mongolian Ger

7. Mongolia is home to many unique species of wildlife

Mongolia is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including some species that are unique to the country. The Asiatic wild ass, also known as the khulan, is one such species and is found in the deserts of Mongolia. Snow leopards, one of the world’s rarest big cats, are also found in Mongolia and are protected by various conservation programs. The Gobi bear, a subspecies of the brown bear, is found in the Gobi Desert and is considered one of the rarest mammals in the world. In addition to these unique species, Mongolia is also home to a variety of other wildlife, including wolves, eagles, and various species of deer and sheep.

The country’s diverse landscapes, including forests, deserts, and mountains, provide habitats for a wide range of wildlife and support a thriving ecosystem. However, many of Mongolia’s wildlife species are threatened by habitat loss and overhunting, and ongoing conservation efforts are necessary to protect and preserve the country’s rich wildlife heritage.

8. The capital city of Mongolia is Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, is a modern metropolis that serves as the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. With a population of over 1.3 million people, it is the largest city in Mongolia and is located in the northeastern regions of the country.

The city has a rich history, dating back to the 17th century when it was established as a nomadic monastery for Buddhists, since then the city moved around until it eventually settled in its current location in 1778. Despite its modernity, Ulaanbaatar still retains a strong connection to Mongolia’s traditional nomadic culture and is known for its colourful markets, Buddhist temples, and traditional performance art.

The view of Ulaanbaatar
The view of Ulaanbaatar

9. The official language is Mongolian and the official script is the Cyrillic alphabet

Mongolian is the official language of Mongolia and is spoken by the majority of the population. The Mongolian language has its own unique alphabet, the Cyrillic script, which was adopted during the Soviet era. But what makes the Mongolian Cyrillic script unique to Mongolia is that they have altered and changed it to fit with the sounds of their traditional language.

Today, Mongolian is taught in schools and is the main language of communication in the country, although many people also speak Russian and English, especially in the larger cities.

10. Mongolian nomads are theorized to be the true inventors of ice cream

It is theorized by historians that ice cream was actually invented by Mongolian horsemen.  When they would journey on horseback they would store cream In animal intestines as provisions.  Then while they were riding the constant movement of the cream in the intestines with the cold sub-zero temperatures constantly blasting them it eventually formed an early version of ice cream.

From there the invention of ice cream was eventually over many centuries spread to Chinese nobles who refined the technique of ice cream making and added many different flavours. Then later in history when Marco Polo visited China he took the recipes that he had learned back to Italy where they started making the ice cream we know and love today.

11. The country is known for its unique traditional music, which includes long songs, horse-head fiddle music, and throat singing

Mongolian traditional music is an important part of the country’s cultural heritage and is known for its unique and diverse styles. One of the most famous forms of traditional Mongolian music is the long song, which is characterized by its slow and haunting melody.

The horse-head fiddle, also known as the morin khuur, is another iconic instrument in Mongolian music and is used in many traditional songs and dances. Throat singing is a singing technique where you make vibrations in your throat. This technique is used in many cultures but in Mongolia, throat singing originated as a spiritual and ritual practice when the singers tried to mimic the sounds of nature around them.

12. The Mongolian flag holds meaning to the nation

The flag of Mongolia is a symbol of the country’s independence and national pride. The blue stripe on the flag represents the sky and the constant blue sky, which is a symbol of the country’s vast and open landscapes. The red stripe represents the prosperity and progress of the country and reflects the aspirations of the Mongolian people for a better future. On the left stripe is a gold Soyombo symbol representing fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and a Taijitu symbol representing the duality of yin and yang.

 The flag was adopted in 1992, following Mongolia’s transition to a democratic and free market economy, and has since become an important symbol of the country’s identity and unity.

flag of mongolia
Mongolia’s flag
Image attribution

13. The country has a strong military tradition, with a history of legendary warriors such as Genghis Khan

Mongolia has a rich military tradition, dating back to the legendary warriors of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, is considered one of the greatest military leaders in history and is revered by many Mongolians as a symbol of strength, courage, and leadership.

The country’s military tradition is still evident today and is reflected in the training and skills of the Mongolian military. Despite being a relatively small country, Mongolia has a strong and well-equipped military and plays an important role in regional security and stability.

14. Mongolia has a diverse landscape, including forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains

Mongolia boasts a diverse and striking landscape that ranges from forests, lakes, rivers, and towering mountains. The country is home to several unique and awe-inspiring natural wonders, such as the Khustain Nuruu National Park, which is home to the only remaining wild horse species in the world, the Takhi or as it’s also known as Przewalski’s horse.

Additionally, Mongolia is home to many pristine lakes, including the stunning Khuvsgul Lake, which is known for its crystal-clear waters and is surrounded by stunning mountains.

The country’s diverse landscape also includes vast deserts, such as the Gobi Desert, which is one of the largest deserts in Asia and is known for its unique landscape and biodiversity.

15. The country is rich in minerals, including coal, gold, silver, and copper

As previously mentioned, Mongolia is a country with a rich and diverse landscape, including beautiful forests, serene lakes, flowing rivers, and towering mountains, but not only that it’s also abundant in natural resources, particularly minerals, which have been a major source of its economic growth. Mongolia is known for its rich deposits of coal, gold, silver, and copper, and has become one of the world’s leading producers of these valuable resources.

The country’s thriving mining industry has attracted significant investment from foreign companies and has played a crucial role in the country’s economic development. The abundance of minerals has also helped to diversify the country’s economy and create new job opportunities for its citizens.

16. Mongolia is the world’s second-largest producer of cashmere

Mongolia is the second largest producer of cashmere and produces around 27% of the entire world’s supply. It is only beaten out by China which produces 60% of the world’s supply.

 In case you didn’t know what cashmere is it is a type of fine wool obtained from the undercoat of cashmere goats, it is then turned into mostly many different types of clothing goods.

The cold climate is perfect for cashmere goats which thrive in the harsh and cold conditions The wool produced in Mongolia is considered to be of the highest quality, and is in high demand globally, contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

cashmere goat
Cashmere Billy goat

17. The country has a strong literary tradition, including the epic poem “The Secret History of the Mongols”

Mongolia boasts a rich literary tradition, with a rich cultural heritage that spans centuries. One of the most prominent examples of Mongolian literature is the epic poem “The Secret History of the Mongols”, which is considered one of the most important historical and cultural documents of the Mongol Empire and it is the oldest piece of Mongolian literature dating back to the 13th century.

This epic poem tells the story of the rise of the Mongol Empire, from its humble beginnings to its eventual domination of much of Asia and Europe. The poem is renowned for its vivid descriptions of the people, customs, and events of the time, as well as its complex and sophisticated language.

18. Mongolia is known for its traditional cuisine, including dishes such as steamed dumplings, roasted meat, and dairy products

With Mongolia’s rich nomadic heritage, it comes as no surprise that Mongolia has some incredible traditional dishes. Mongolian food is characterized by its bold flavours and hearty dishes, their recipes are designed to provide sustenance and energy for those living in a rugged and demanding environment.

Some of the most well-known dishes from Mongolia include buuz, which are steamed dumplings filled with meat and vegetables, and khuushuur, which are fried meat-filled pastries. Another staple of Mongolian cuisine is roasted meat, which is often prepared over an open flame and served with a variety of side dishes, such as dairy products like aaruul, which is a type of dried curd, and airag, a traditional fermented mare’s milk.

19. Mongolia’s national sport is wrestling

Mongolia has a long-standing tradition of wrestling, which is considered one of the “Three Manly Skills” and is celebrated with great passion during the annual Naadam festival. This festival is a national event that is held in July and is a showcase of Mongolian heritage and traditions.

Wrestling, along with horse racing and archery, is one of the three main events of the festival and is an integral part of Mongolian culture. The sport of wrestling is steeped in history and is considered a symbol of strength, bravery, and athleticism.

It is a source of pride for Mongolians and is an important aspect of their cultural identity. The traditional Mongolian wrestling style is unique and involves intricate techniques and movements that have been passed down through generations.

20. Mongolia has a unique and complex system of honorifics and titles

Mongolia has a long and rich cultural heritage, and this is reflected in the country’s complex system of honorifics and titles. These titles and honorifics are used to reflect the importance of family, elders, and personal accomplishment in Mongolian society. The use of these titles is a way to show respect and recognition for one’s elders, family members, and individuals who have achieved something notable.

In Mongolian culture, these titles are an integral part of daily life and are used in both formal and informal settings. The use of honorifics and titles provides a fascinating insight into the cultural heritage of Mongolia and the values and beliefs that are deeply ingrained in the country’s society.

21. Mongolia has close ties with many countries

Mongolia is a member of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization and it has close diplomatic relations with many countries. The country’s membership in these international organizations reflects its commitment to global peace, security, and economic cooperation.

Mongolia also maintains strong diplomatic ties with countries in the region, including China, Kazakhstan, and other neighbouring countries, as well as with countries further afield. The country’s location at the crossroads of Asia makes it a valuable partner in regional and international relations, and it continues to play an active role in promoting peace, stability, and cooperation in the region.

Mongolian mountains
Mongolian mountains

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