The Mongolian state idea was initiated by Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan) in 1206, as he brought together various nomadic tribes. Upon his death, the Mongol Empire expanded from Manchuria to the Caspian Sea. His successors expanded the empire’s boundaries, culminating in the formation of history’s largest land empire. However, by the 1600s, the Mongolian kingdom weakened, leading to vulnerabilities. By 1636, Inner Mongolia was annexed by the Qing Dynasty, with Outer Mongolia following in 1691.

Amidst China’s political disturbances in the early 1900s, Mongolian nationalists sought Soviet Union’s alliance. By 1924, Outer Mongolia declared independence, becoming the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR), the second Communist nation globally. Under the Soviet Union’s shadow, the MPR faced challenges like the religious purges of the 1930s. Yet, Soviet investments also enhanced infrastructure, education, and economic progress. Presently, Inner Mongolia remains a Chinese province.

Mongolia smoothly shifted to democracy, electing its first democratic parliament in July 1990. By 1992, a new constitution was framed, with the inaugural president being elected in 1993.

Population, Language, and Religion

As of mid-2020, Mongolia’s population was approximately 3.28 million, with 43% residing in Ulaanbaatar. The remainder either settle in smaller locales or follow a nomadic lifestyle. Most Mongolians are of Khalkh ethnicity (around 80-82%, 2010 data), with a significant 3.8% being Kazakhs. Other ethnicities are closely related to the Khalkh.

Khalkh Mongolian, written in Cyrillic, is Mongolia’s official language. Minority languages, like Kazakh, are spoken in areas like Bayan-Ulgii. Previously, Russian was the primary foreign language taught during the socialist era. Now, English prevails, with languages like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and German also gaining traction. Interestingly, Mongolians typically use their first name and a patronymic instead of surnames. For instance, a person named Tumur, son of Batbold, would be addressed as Batboldin Tumur or B. Tumur. This naming convention, which remains consistent across genders, doesn’t change upon marriage.

Historically, Shamanism dominated Mongolia but was later overtaken by Buddhism in the 16th century. The communist era witnessed a suppression of all religions, resulting in the destruction of many religious establishments. Currently, most Mongolians identify as Buddhists, with Shamanism, Christianity, and Islam also present in minorities.