macrohistory & world report


Map of Mongolia

Mongolia (capital Ulaanbaatar) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Mongolia's extensive mineral deposits and attendant growth in mining-sector activities have transformed Mongolia's economy, which traditionally has been dependent on herding and agriculture. Mongolia's copper, gold, coal, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin, and tungsten deposits, among others, have attracted foreign direct investment. Soviet assistance, at its height one-third of GDP, disappeared almost overnight in 1990 and 1991 at the time of the dismantlement of the USSR. The following decade saw Mongolia endure both deep recession, because of political inaction and natural disasters, as well as economic growth, because of reform-embracing, free-market economics and extensive privatization of the formerly state-run economy. The country opened a fledgling stock exchange in 1991. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization in 1997 and seeks to expand its participation in regional economic and trade regimes. Growth averaged nearly 9% per year in 2004-08 largely because of high copper prices globally and new gold production. By late 2008, Mongolia was hit hard by the global financial crisis. Slower global economic growth hurt the country's exports, notably copper, and slashed government revenues. As a result, Mongolia's real economy contracted 1.3% in 2009. In early 2009, the International Monetary Fund reached a $236 million Stand-by Arrangement with Mongolia and the country has largely emerged from the crisis with better regulations and closer supervision. The banking sector strengthened but weaknesses remain. In October 2009, Mongolia passed long-awaited legislation on an investment agreement to develop the Oyu Tolgoi mine, considered to be among the world's largest untapped copper-gold deposits. Mongolia's ongoing dispute with a foreign investor over Oyu Tolgoi, however, has called into question the attractiveness of Mongolia as a destination for foreign direct investment. Negotiations to develop the massive Tavan Tolgoi coal field also have stalled. The economy has grown more than 10% per year since 2010, largely on the strength of commodity exports to nearby countries and high government spending domestically. Mongolia's economy, however, faces near-term economic risks from the government's loose fiscal and monetary policies, which are contributing to high inflation, and from uncertainties in foreign demand for Mongolian exports. Trade with China represents more than half of Mongolia's total external trade - China receives more than 90% of Mongolia's exports and is Mongolia's largest supplier. Mongolia has relied on Russia for energy supplies, leaving it vulnerable to price increases; in the first 11 months of 2013, Mongolia purchased 76% of its gasoline and diesel fuel and a substantial amount of electric power from Russia. A drop in foreign direct investment and a decrease in Chinese demand for Mongolia's mineral exports are putting pressure on Mongolia's balance of payments. Remittances from Mongolians working abroad, particularly in South Korea, are significant."

Economic growth rate 2011: 17.3% 2010: 6.4% 2009 minus 1.3%

Mongolian author

Uuganaa Ramsay, author

Labor force in agriculture 2010: 33.5%

Export partners 2011: China 92.1%, Russia 2%, Canada 1.9%


Uuganaa Ramsay: "Mongolians have a nomadic tradition. I was raised in a yurt on the plains, have herded goat and sheep and journeyed by horse. We are good at adapting to different situations, have good survival skills and traditionally you can turn up at anyone's house and expect to be fed and get a bed."

Living in an urban area
2010: 62%

Density estimated for 2005: 1.8 persons per square kilometer

Ethnic groups
2000: Mongol (mostly Khalkha) 94.9%, Turkic (mostly Kazakh) 5%, other (including Chinese and Russian) 0.1%

2004: Buddhist Lamaist 50%, Shamanist and Christian 6%, Muslim 4%, none 40%


South of Russia. North of China. Landlocked. In size equivalent to 1,251 by 1,251 kilometers or 782 by 782 miles.


Presidents are elected by popular vote for a four-year term and eligible for a second term. Presidential candidates are nominated to run by parties in parliament.

Unicameral parliament with 76 seats, of which 48 members are directly elected from 26 electoral districts, while 28 members are proportionally elected based on a party's share of the total votes; all serve four-year terms.

Capital: Ulaanbaatar

Recent History

The great Mongol empire of the 13th and 14th centuries, the empire created by Genghis Khan and his sons, fragmented. Frequent clan warfare among the Mongols was followed by domination by China under the Manchus. After the Manchu dynasty fell in 1911, the Mongols declared independence. A Chinese warlord sent troops into Mongolia in 1919, which were expelled in 1921 by anti-Bolshevik Russians. The brutality of the Chinese and the anti-Bolshevik Russians magnified Mongol desire for independence. Mongol nationalists asked for and received help from the Bolsheviks, and together these two forces took over the country, retaining as a figurehead rule a Buddhist leader.

During Stalin's rule, purges took place in Mongolia, including attacks on monasteries and the executions of thousands of Buddhist monks. Three percent of Mongolia's population, it is estimated, were killed in these times.

During the arguments between the Soviet and Chinese rulers in the early sixties, the Chinese described it as fortunate that the Mongols had conquered the Russians, bringing civilization to the backward Russians. The Soviets described Genghis Khan as a barbarian. During the 1960s the Soviets moved to suppress Genghis Khan as a father figure among the Mongols. An official in Mongolia's communist government sponsored a scholarly symposium on Genghis Khan and wanted the creation of a marker at Genghis Khan's birthplace. For this he went the way of the Hungarian communist, Imre Nagy. He was executed – cut down with an ax.

Mongolia maintained close ties with the Soviet Union until the Soviet Union collapsed. There was no more soviet aid. Economic recession followed. The Communists gave up power in 1996, allowing elections that brought to power the Democratic Union Coalition (DUC). As a strong opposition, the communists, embodied in the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), stalled a move toward free market economics, and in 2000 they regained power, winning 72 of Mongolia's 76-seat legislature.

July 2008: With new exploitation of mineral wealth some people can afford to eat in foreign-owned restaurants and drive expensive SUVs, and they are resented by some who are less affluent. According to the BBC, "a third of the population struggles to survive on $2 a day."

Mongolia has two major political parties. The dominant party is the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), which is slightly to the left of the minority party, the Democratic Party, which favors more free enterprise. Both parties welcome foreign investment and Western mining companies.

The World Factbook

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