Mongolia is a vast landscape waiting to be explored. Sandwiched between China to the south and Russia to the north, it is the world’s most sparsely populated sovereign country. Renowned for its endless steppe, nomadic culture, and of course, Genghis Khan, Mongolia is quiet an interesting country.
Did you know nearly 25 % of Mongolia’s population are still living a nomadic lifestyle? Did you know this country has the world’s coldest city as well as the world’s oldest national park? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Mongolia.
1. With an average temperature of minus 1.3 degree Celsius, Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar (“Red Hero”) is the world’s chilliest capital city. It is located in the country’s north-central part at 1,300 m above sea level in a valley formed by the Tuul River. The summers here are short and warm while winters are extremely dry and bitterly cold. January temperatures can drop to as low as −36 to −40 °C.
2. The Powerful Mongol Empire founded by the ruthless Genghis Khan originated in Mongolia. The Mongol Empire is said to be the largest contiguous empire in world history. The empire covered 22% of the Earth’s total land area. However, after the demise of Genghis Khan, the empire was divided into four kingdoms
3. Genghis Khan could not read or write, but he commissioned the first Mongolian writing system – the Mongolian script. Since the Soviet period, Mongolians have used the Cyrillic script. In Mongolian, the verb comes last. If you want to know whether a Mongolian loves you or hates you, you have to wait till the end of the sentence!
4. The burial site of Genghis Khan is a secret to this day. It is said that the burial attendees were killed by the soldier who also killed themselves in an attempt to keep the location of the site a secret, and why this was done is a question till date.
5. Bogd Khan Ull National Park (1783), the oldest national park in the world, is in Mongolia. It predates the Yellowstone by approximately 100 years.
6. Mongolia is home to endangered snow leopards. Snow leopards are native to Mongolia, and one-third of the world’s population lives there.
7. It’s also the land where dinosaurs once roamed. In the 1920s, fossilised dinosaur remains were found in the Gobi Desert, along with the first dinosaur eggs. Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed today, so remember to glance down every now and then.
8. The Gobi Desert, the largest in Asia and the fifth largest in the world, is in Mongolia. The Gobi was once a sea and now filled with marine fossils. Roy Chapman Andrews made the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in the Gobi.
9. More than one-quarter of the population live as nomads. While nearly half of the population of Mongolia live in the capital city and some scattered villages around it, the remaining population lead a nomadic way of life not much different from their ancestor’s hundreds of years ago. The nomads of Mongolia live in tents called yurts with their families and livestock. They move to find new pastures for their livestock or to protect themselves from extreme weather conditions.
10. Mongolia is also known as “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky”. This title is given to Mongolia because it receives 250 days and more of sunshine every year.
11. In Mongolia, it is a practice to shake hands when someone accidentally touches you with their feet. It is a way of apologizing for the mistake.
12. Mongolians worshiped the blue skies. They considered the sky as their father, and earth as their mother. Due to the fact that the civilization was dependent on the forces of nature, they worshiped the various elements of nature.
How to reach?
You’ll first have to fly to Beijing and then from there, take another flight (Mongolian International Air Transport), Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar’s airport, BuyantUkhaa. There are regular flights from Berlin, Beijing, Seoul, Moscow and other Russian airports. In the summer, Mogolian airports also remain connected to Hong Kong, Osaka and Singapore.
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park: Covering a vast expanse of territory that includes everything from the Tavan Bogd massif to the glittering lakes of Dayan, Khoton, and Khurgan, Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is a delight for the nature lovers. The five sacred peaks located here are the highest ones in Mongolia. This location is also home to many archaeological sites, collective forming the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Petroglyph Complexes of the Altai.
Orkhon Valley: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the scenic Orkhon Valley should not be missed at all. Here, you can find writings from the 8th century. The landscape is home to architectural ruins that date all the way back to the 6th century, including Karakorum, Genghis Khan’s capital in the 13th and 14th century.
Gobi Desert: The fifth largest desert in the world, the Gobi Desert spreads across both China and Mongolia, specifically the southern portion of the country. What makes this special are the infinite dunes, ancient rock formations, and desolate desert stretching out before you. The main attractions are the incredible singing sand dunes of Khongor and the marvellous scenery of Yolyn Am and Dungeneegyn.
Lake Khövsgöl: Lake Khövsgöl is a gorgeous fresh water lake that is frozen for almost half of the year. It is surrounded by majestic mountains covered with thick pine and larch forests where the unique wildlife of the region flourishes. There is you can see reindeer breeders who live in the mountain forests close to the lake.