Mongolia is a large, landlocked country sandwiched between two of the largest countries in the world: Russia and China. It also has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, with 4.7 people per quare mile.
Its 2.9 million inhabitants enjoy a 98% literacy rate, and claim the coldest capital city in the world. Ulaanbaatar has winter temperatures plunging as low as -57°C/-70°F. It is also one of the sunniest cities in the world, with an average of 260 days of sunshine, thanks to high pressure.
With a Soviet Communist structure a mere 23 years in its past, Mongolia's economy had traditionally relied on agriculture and herding, a livelihood that has influenced nearly all aspects of life, at least in rural areas. In recent years, Mongolia's mining industry has developed and is responsible for bringing foreign interest - and workers - to the country. Deposits of copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold fuel the industry.
Tourism is another burgeoning industry, thanks to the country's uniqueness and beauty.
Mongolia is a very old country with a very short history as a non-communist state. Currently a presidential republic, its chief of state, President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, has been in office since 2005. Presidential elections are held every four years.
There is a unicameral legislature, State Great Khural, with 76 seats elected to four-year terms by popular vote.
The major political party is the Mongolian Republican Party (MRP). Also significant at one time was the Motherland-Democracy Coalition (MDC), but that party dissolved in 2004.
Mongolia for newcomers
Mongolia is an ancient, unique country with much the world values -- natural beauty, mineral resources -- and is in the process of struggling to manage those valuable resources and the foreign interest they attract. Ulaanbaatar's growing expatriate population both affects and is affected by the rate of economic growth and the quality of life dictated by it.
Mongolians are hospitable people with a rich history, welcoming foreigners even as they - as a population - adop some of their ways, products, and cultures.