LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
Situated in east-central Asia, Mongolia has an area of 1,565,000 sq km (604,250 sq mi), Comparatively, the area occupied by Mongolia is slightly smaller than the state of Alaska. The largest landlocked country in the world, Mongolia is bordered by Russia and by China, with a total boundary length of 8,162 km (5,072 mi).
Mongolia is essentially a vast plateau with an average elevation of 914 to 1,524 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft). Mongolia comprises a mountainous section in the extreme west, where the peak of Nayramadlin Orgil (Huyten Orgil) of the Mongolian Altay Mountains rises to a height of 4,374 m (14,350 ft). Other mountain ranges are the Hentiyn, along the Soviet border, and the Hangayn, in west-central Mongolia. The southern part of the country is occupied by the Gobi, a rocky desert with a thin veneer of shifting sand. Explorations have uncovered large reservoirs of water 2–3 m (7–10 ft) beneath the desert surface. The largest lakes are found in the northwest. These include the nation's largest lake, Uvs Lake, a saltwater lake with an area of about 3,366 sq km (1,300 sq mi).
Mongolia has an arid continental climate with a wide seasonal range of temperature and low precipitation. In winter, it is the site of the great Siberian high, which governs the climate of a large part of Asia and gives Mongolia average winter temperatures of -21° to -6°c (-6° to -22°f) and dry, virtually snowless winters. In summer, remnants of the southeasterly monsoon bring most of the year's precipitation. Annual precipitation ranges from 25 to 38 cm (10 to 15 in) in mountain areas to less than 10 cm (4 in) in the Gobi.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Mongolia is divided into several natural regions, each with its characteristic plant and animal life. These regions are the mountain forests near the Soviet Siberian border; the mountain steppe and hilly forest farther south; the lowland steppe grasslands; the semidesert; and finally the true desert. Larch and Siberian stone pine are characteristic trees of the northern forests, which are inhabited by bear, Manchurian red deer, snow panther, wild boar, and elk. The saiga antelope and the wild horse are typical steppe dwellers. As of 2002, there were at least 133 species of mammals, 274 species of birds, and over 2,800 species of plants throughout the country.
The population of Mongolia in 2015 reached at 3.000,000, which placed it at number 135 in population among the 193 nations of the world. The projected population for the year 2025 was 3,390,000. The population density was less than 1 person per sq km (1 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 57% of the population lived in urban areas, and that urban areas were growing every year.
The largest group, the Khalkha, lives in Central and Eastern Mongolia; the Bayad, the Durvud, the Khoton, the Altai-Uriankhai, the Torguud, the Uuld, the Zakhchin and the Myangad live in the West; in Eastern Mongolia live the Dariganga, the Barga, the Uzemchin, the Buryat and the Khamnigan, and in the North the Khotgoid, the Darkhad, the Khuvsgul-Uriankhai, the Tsaatan and the Khakhar. Also the Kazakhs, who are Muslims, live in the Altai.
There are more than 20 tribes of Mongol or Turk origin living in Mongolia !
Khalkha Mongolian, the official language, is spoken by about 90% of the population. It is one of a large dialect group in the Mongolic branch of the Altaic language family. Early in the 13th century, the Mongols adopted an alphabet written in vertical columns from the Turkic Uighurs, and they retained that script until modern times. The literary language differed increasingly from the living spoken language and, in 1941, the Mongolian government decided to introduce a new phonetic alphabet that would accurately reflect modern spoken Mongolian. The new alphabet consisted of the Cyrillic letters used in Russian, except for two special characters needed to render the Mongolian vowels represented as ö and ü in Western European languages. After a period of preparation (1941–45), the new alphabet was introduced in 1946 in all publications and in 1950 in all business transactions, but, following independence, the traditional script was due to be restored in 1994.
The differences between the Khalkha language spoken in Mongolia, the Buryat language spoken in the Buryat Republic of the Russian Federation, the Chahar and Ordos languages of China's Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, and other Mongolian dialects are comparatively small and chiefly phonetic.
Before the government's campaign against religion in the 1930s, there were about 700 Buddhist monasteries with about 100,000 lamas in Mongolia. During 1936–39, the Communist regime closed virtually all monasteries, confiscated their livestock and landholdings, tried the higher lamas for counterrevolutionary activities, and induced thousands of lower lamas to adopt a secular mode of life. In the mid-1980s, only about 100 lamas remained. Since the new constitution of 1992 established freedom of religion, Mahayana Buddhism has made a surprising resurgence. Former monasteries have been restored, and there is a seminary at Gandantegchinlen Hiyd. In 1992, Roman Catholic missionaries were also encouraged to come to Mongolia to continue the presence they had initiated earlier in the century.
At late 2010 report indicated that about 50% of the population practiced some form of Buddhism, mostly Lamaist (or Tibetan) Buddhism. About 4% of the population were ethnic Kazakh Muslims. There were small Christian communities throughout the country, including Roman Catholics, Russian Orthodox, and Protestants. It is believed that some natives practice shamanism. About 40% of the population still claims no religious affiliation.