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Mongolia

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Mongolia, country in East Asia, landlocked between Russia and China. The country’s capital and largest city is Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator), located in the heartland of Mongol civilization. For thousands of years Mongolia has been the homeland of ethnic Mongols, who make up 90 percent of the country’s people today. Mongols are traditionally nomadic animal herders, with complete freedom of movement, and many continue this way of life on the steppe, a swath of rolling grasslands extending across the country. Mongolia is a sparsely populated country, and domesticated animals outnumber people. Wild horses and many other animals also roam free on the steppe.

In the 13th century the Mongols were first united under Genghis Khan, who founded the largest land empire in history, the Mongol Empire. After the empire fell apart, Mongolia became a province of China known as Outer Mongolia. In 1924 a communist-led revolution won the independence of Outer Mongolia as the Mongolian People’s Republic. It maintained close ties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Its name officially changed to Mongolia in 1992, after one-party communist rule was abolished.

Sources

Mongolia

Akiner, Shirin, ed. Mongolia Today. Routledge, 1991. Collection of 12 essays on contemporary Mongolia.

DeFrancis, John. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan. University of Hawaii Press, 1993. Description of the author's encounters on a camel trek in 1935.

Kotkin, Stephen, and Bruce A. Elleman, eds. Mongolia in the Twentieth Century. M. E. Sharpe, 2000. Includes Mongolian communities in Russia and China.

Major, John S. Land and People of Mongolia. Lippincott, 1990. Covers many aspects of the country and culture; for younger readers.

Man, John. Gobi: Tracking the Desert. Yale University Press, 1999. A journalist's trek through Mongolia's southern desert.

Sanders, Alan. J. K. Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Scarecrow, 1996. Historical and contemporary Mongolia.

Sermier, Claire. Mongolia: Empire of the Steppes. Trans. Helen Loveday. Odyssey, 2002. An informative, illustrated guidebook.

Severin, Timothy. In Search of Genghis Khan. Macmillan, 1993. The author discusses his travels following the route of horse relay stations, which provided a system of communication that lasted for centuries in Mongolia.

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