Mongolia’s prominence in the world stage goes back to 13th century, when Mongol warrior Genghis Khan united the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia (including the country now known as Mongolia) and formed the Mongol Empire. Lasting from 1206 to 1368, the often-brutal battles that Genghis Khan and his descendants (including Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan) waged resulted in the expansion of the Mongol Empire – as far east as the Korean peninsula and Siberia, as far south as China, extending westward into portions of modern-day Russia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Persia, and Turkey. In effect, Genghis Khan and his descendants formed the largest contiguous land empire in history.
After the Mongol-led China-based Yuan dynasty fell apart in 1368, what remained of the Mongol army retreated to their original lands in Mongolia. With the Mongol groups divided amongst themselves over the centuries, their country was invaded by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty (China) in 1691. Such rule continued until 1911, when the Qing Dynasty collapsed. That year, Mongolia, led by the Bogd Khan (the spiritual leader of Mongolia’s Tibetan Buddhism), declared independence from China. Such independence was interrupted by China when its military invaded Mongolia in 1919. Chinese occupation of Mongolia would only last two years, when Mongolian rebel forces (with help from Soviet Union) drove the Chinese out of their country in 1921. With internal power struggles between various Mongolian factions lasting for a few years, complete with the death of Bogd Khan in 1924, the country’s pro-Soviet factions succeeded in declaring the country the Mongolian People’s Republic that year (under Soviet influence).
Mongolia was under Soviet-dominated Communist rule from the mid-1920s until 1990 (in the midst of the collapse of the Soviet Union itself). In March 1990, a democratic revolution that started with hunger strikes to overthrow Mongola’s Communist government led to the peaceful rejection of Communism. That led to a multi-party system, a new constitution and a transition to a market economy.
Few Westerners are familiar with Mongolia. It is the world’s second largest landlocked country and occupies a territory of 1.56 million sq. kilometers. Mongolia is located in Northeast Asia, bordered by Russia in the north and China in the south, east and west. Mongolia is the world’s least densely populated country, with a population of just over 3 million people living in a vast area of 1.56 million sq. kilometers. Ulan Bator is Mongolia’s capital, the country’s largest city and home to nearly 45% of the country’s population.
According to Mongolia’s National Statistics Office, 529,000 foreign travelers visited Mongolia in 2018 (9.7% increase compared to 2017). Of those who visited Mongolia, 85% were there for tourism purposes. The main nationalities of tourists visiting Mongolia are Chinese, Russian, South Korean, and American. In a survey on 3500 tourists, 60.7% revealed that nature (eco-tourism) was their reason for visiting Mongolia, while 42.4% were there to witness the nomadic lifestyle. Adventures such as horseback riding and trekking made up 12.1%, while 11.3% of the surveyed tourists said they were interested in Mongolia’s rich history, particularly Genghis Khan.