Mongolia (Mongolian: Монгол улс (help·info)) is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, China to the south, east and west. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest city, is home to about 45% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic. The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the Gökturks and others. In 1206 Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, and his grandson Kublai Khan conquered China to establish the Yuan Dynasty. After the collapse of the Yuan, the Mongols retreated to Mongolia and resumed their earlier pattern of constant internal conflict and occasional raids on the Chinese borderlands. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. At the end of the 17th century, all of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence, but had to struggle until 1921 to firmly establish de facto independence from the Republic of China, and until 1945 to gain international recognition. The country came under strong Russian and Soviet influence; in 1924, the Mongolian People's Republic was declared, and Mongolian politics began to follow the same patterns as the Soviet politics of the time. After the breakdown of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own Democratic Revolution in early 1990, which led to a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and transition to a market economy. At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.75 million people. It is also the world's second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state's citizens are of Mongol ethnicity, although Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west. About 20% of the population live on less than US$1.25 per day. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization in 1997 and seeks to expand its participation in regional economic and trade regimes. History
Prehistory and antiquity
Sites such as Tsagaan Agui (White Cave) in Bayankhongor Province show that Homo erectus inhabited Mongolia from 800,000 years ago. Modern humans reached Mongolia approximately 40,000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic. The Khoid Tsenkher Cave in Khovd Province shows lively pink, brown and red ochre paintings (20,000 years ago) of mammoths, lynx, bactrian camels and ostriches, earning it the nickname "the Lascaux of Mongolia". The Mal'ta Venus (21,000 years ago) testifies to the level of Upper Paleolithic art in northern Mongolia, though Mal'ta is now part of Russia. Pastoral nomadism and metalworking became more and more developed with the later Okunev Culture (2nd millennium BC), Andronovo culture (2300–1000 BC) and Karasuk culture (1500–300 BC), culminating with the Iron Age Xiongnu Empire in 209 BC. Monuments of the pre-Xiongnu Bronze Age include deer stones, keregsur kurgans, square slab tombs and rock paintings. The vast Xiongnu empire (209 BC-93 AD) was followed by the Mongolic Xianbei empire (93–234) which also ruled more than the entirety of present-day Mongolia. The Mongolic Rouran Khaganate (330–555), of Xianbei provenance, ruled a massive empire before being defeated by the Göktürks (555–745) whose empire was even bigger (laid siege to Panticapaeum, present-day Kerch, in 576). They were succeeded by the Uyghur Khaganate...
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