Citation courtesy of the U.S. State Department (March 8, 2011)
Life in sparsely populated Mongolia has recently become more urbanized. Out of the total population of 2.735 million (2009 est.), nearly half of the people live in urban centers, including the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Semi-nomadic life still predominates in the countryside, but settled agricultural communities are becoming more common. Mongolia’s birth rate is estimated at 25.1 births per 1,000 people (2009 est.). About 58% of the total population is under age 30, 47.8% of whom are under 14. Ethnic Mongols account for about 95% of Mongolia’s population and consist of Khalkha and other groups, all distinguished primarily by dialects of the Mongol language. Mongol is an Altaic language–from the Altaic Mountains of Central Asia, a language family comprising the Turkic, Tungusic, and Mongolic subfamilies–and is related to Turkic (Uzbek, Turkish, and Kazakh), Korean, and, possibly, Japanese. Among ethnic Mongols, the Khalkha comprise 90% and the remaining 10% include Dorvod, Tuvan, and Buriat Mongols in the north and Dariganga Mongols in the east. Turkic speakers (Kazakhs, Turvins, and Khotans) constitute 5% of Mongolia’s population, and the rest are Tungusic-speakers. Most Russians left the country following the withdrawal of economic aid and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Traditionally, Buddhist Lamaism was the predominant religion. However, it was suppressed under the communist regime until 1990, with only one showcase monastery allowed to remain. Since 1990, as liberalization began, Buddhism has enjoyed a resurgence. About 4 million ethnic Mongols live outside Mongolia; about 3.4 million live in China, mainly in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and some 500,000 live in Russia, primarily in Buryatia and Kalmykia.
Area: 1,566,500 sq. km. (604,103 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Alaska (land boundaries 8,114 km.). Terrain: Almost 90% of land area is pasture or desert, of varying usefulness; 1% arable; 9% forested. Climate: Continental, with little precipitation and sharp seasonal fluctuations.
Type: Mixed parliamentary/presidential. Independence: gained in 1921; in 1990, democratic reform begun and shift from dependence on the former Soviet Union declared. Constitutions: 1960 and February 12, 1992. Branches: Executive–power is divided between a president (elected by a popular election in May 2009) and prime minister (current cabinet nominated by the prime minister was approved in November 2009 following the appointment of a new prime minister; most cabinet members remained in place from the September 2008 government of the previous prime minister, who stepped aside due to health problems). Legislative–State Great Hural (parliament; 76 members elected in June 2008). Judicial–Constitutional Court is empowered to supervise the implementation of the constitution, makes judgment on the violation of its provisions, and solves disputes. Legal code based on Continental and Russian law. Legal education at Mongolian State University and private universities. Mongolia accepts International Court of Justice jurisdiction. Political parties (2010): 17 registered political parties. Suffrage: Universal at 18. Administrative subdivisions: 21 aimags (provinces) and one city (Ulaanbaatar).
GDP (2010 est.): 8.25 trillion Mongolian Tugruks/MNT (U.S. $6.8 billion at current exchange rates). GDP growth (2010): 7%. Per capita GDP (2010): approx. $2,008. Natural resources: Coal (thermal and metallurgical), copper, molybdenum, silver, iron, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, uranium, and petroleum. Agriculture (15% of 2010 GDP, livelihood for about 40% of population): Products–livestock and byproducts, hay fodder, vegetables. Industry (31% of 2009 GDP, composed of mining 21.8%, manufacturing 6.4%, and utilities (electricity, gas, and water) 2.4%: Types–minerals (primarily copper and gold), animal-derived products, building materials, food/beverage. Trade: Total turnover of foreign trade for 2010 was $6.2 billion. Exports–$2.9 billion (U.S. dollar (USD) figures based on current USD/MNT exchange rate): minerals, livestock, animal products, and textiles. Markets–Asian countries (approx. 87.4%), European countries (approx. 4.5%), and countries of American continent (approx. 5.1%). Imports–$3.3 billion: machinery and equipment, fuels, food products, industrial consumer goods, chemicals, building equipment, vehicles, textiles. Suppliers–91 countries account for 93.2% of total imports, of which European countries (46.5%) and Asian countries (47.3%). Aid received: From 1991–2009, official development assistance to Mongolia from bilateral and multilateral donors totaled over $4.056 billion. Received $357.47 million in official development assistance in 2009. Fiscal year: Calendar year.