Mongolia's history begins with the Mongol Kingdom in the
Middle Ages. This kingdom was conquered by China in the late
1300s. Mongolia was under Chinese rule until the early
1900s, but Russian influence also prevailed. In 1911, Outer
Mongolia declared itself independent after contact with St.
Petersburg. Inner Mongolia remained part of China. However,
Russia did not recognize the independence of Outer Mongolia;
in fact, in 1912-1919, the country was almost an autonomous
area under Chinese supremacy and Russian protection. From
1919 to 1921, Mongolia was again subject to China.
A revolutionary resistance supported by the Russians led
to independence in 1921. A communist regime in close
cooperation with the Soviet Union was deployed and Mongolia
became the world's second communist state in 1924.
After extensive demonstrations demanding democratization,
the Communist Party monopoly in Mongolia was abolished in
1990. The first election with several political parties was
held the same year. In 1992 Mongolia got a constitution
based on western democratic model and with market economy. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Mongolia.
The Mongol Empire (1206–1368)
Since prehistoric times, Mongolia has been populated by
nomads. In the 9th century, tribes held together in
short-term alliances. Towards the end of the 12th century,
the chief of the Genghis Khan united Mongol tribes and
formed the Mongol Empire, which became the largest empire in
world history in area. At its greatest, it stretched from
Siberia in the north to Vietnam and the Gulf of Oman in the
south and from Korea in the east to Poland in the west.
After the death of Genghis Khan, the kingdom was divided
into four khanates (kingdoms). In 1368, these were conquered
by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, who drove the Mongols back to
their homeland and destroyed the former Mongolian capital
Karakorum. The Mongol Empire went down.
Chinese Lordship (1368–1921)
From the 15th century, the Mongolian steppe people were
forced by China, with the ruling dynasties of Ming and Ching
(the Man-seers). Insurgency occurred, but they were crushed
by Chinese generals. In the 1600s, a distinction is made
between Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, as the latter is
regarded as part of China itself.
Russian influence began to prevail in outer Mongolia in
the 19th century. Several Russian trading centers were
established, and resident Burjat Mongols provided cultural
contact. In 1902, the Mongolian territories were opened to
Chinese settlement for fear of Russian expansion, and the
move increased. But to the Mongols, the distant tsarist
regime seemed less dangerous than a stream of Chinese
peasants and traders.
During the Chinese Revolution, Outer Mongolia declared
independence on December 28, 1911, after contact with St.
Petersburg. The spiritual head of the Mongols, the eighth
"living Buddha ", was crowned as king of gods in Ulan Bator.
However, Russia did not recognize the independence of Outer
Mongolia; in fact, in 1912-1919, the country was almost an
autonomous area under Chinese supremacy and Russian
protection. In 1919-1921, Mongolia was again subject to
China. The feudal community was unsettled.
A revolutionary movement arose, supported by the
Russians. In 1921, Sukhe Bator (1893–1923) and Choibalsang
(1895–1952) founded the Mongolian People’s Party (from 1924:
the Mongolian Revolutionary Party), and a provisional
government was formed. With Soviet assistance, they expelled
revolutionary Belarusian and Chinese forces, and the
government established itself in 1924 in Ulan Bator. When
the eighth "living Buddha" died shortly afterwards, Outer
Mongolia was proclaimed a people 's republic, defiant in
Chinese protests, and with the Soviet state as the role
After a few years, a "capitalist class" emerged with
pro-Chinese tendencies. It was crushed in the years
1929-1932, and a more revolutionary policy was initiated.
But attempts at forced agricultural collectivization were
met with the slaughter of cattle, and Soviet assistance had
to be called in to stop the uprising.
Soviet vassal state (1921–1990)
When the Japanese occupied Manjury and moved further
west, the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People's Republic
entered into a treaty on mutual aid, and Soviet troops moved
in 1936. This was the beginning of even harder repression,
especially of Buddhism, which had an important historical
role. Marshal Choibalsang had close contact with Stalin
through the Soviet secret police. The monks were largely
liquidated, and most of the country's 700 monasteries
collapsed; in total, about 100,000 Mongols should have lost
their lives during the terror that culminated in 1938.
New mass graves were discovered in the 1990s. Then the
religious life also flared up again, and several monasteries
were rebuilt. As recently as 2003, at a monastery in Ulan
Bator, a mass grave was found with the remains of at least
575 victims. At the liquidation, most were wearing monk
Jumdjagin Tsedenbal, Mongolia's dominant leader for over
30 years, was deposed in 1984 and his dogmatic regime
criticized. In 1989–1990 came a wave of demonstrations
demanding multi-party system and economic reform. A
constitutional amendment ended the Communist Party's
monopoly of power, and the first election involving several
parties was held in 1990. Democratic opposition was winning
in the cities.
Extensive economic reforms were implemented in 1991. In
the following year, Mongolia gained its first stock
exchange, mainly as a result of extensive privatization. All
citizens were granted share options free of charge in former
In 1992, Mongolia introduced a new constitution according
to the Western democratic model. The country was no longer
called the People's Republic, and the Communist star was
swept away by the flag. In 1991, the old Communist Party
changed its political profile by officially renouncing
Marxism-Leninism as an ideology in favor of "scientific
socialism". Orthodox powers were purified. Led by a reform
wing, the party still had a dominant role throughout the
Traditional Mongolian culture underwent a renaissance
during the democratization process in the 1990s; At the same
time, western popular culture also gained entry. Genghis
Khan became one of the symbols of new nationalism and
officially recognized as a national hero.
After opposition in 1992, four opposition parties joined
forces in the Mongolia National Democratic Party (MNDP)
alliance. The MNDP alliance won the 1996 general elections
by a pure majority; Thus, for the first time since 1924,
Mongolia gained a non-communist regime. Punsalmaagiyn
Ochirbat won the 1993 presidential election as MNDP's
candidate, but was followed in 1997 by the communist
Natsagiyn Bagabandi, an obvious reaction to the far-reaching
economic reform measures since 1993. A third of the Mongols
then lived below the poverty line. Bagabandi was re-elected
as president in 2001 but in 2005 had to give way to Prime
Minister Nambaryn Enkhbayar.
The 2004 parliamentary elections became a triumph for the
liberal opposition, which won over the old ruling party of
reformed communists with 40 against 36 seats. In the
previous elections, the communists won a full 72 out of 76
seats, but now got the mandate cut in half.
Prime Minister Miyegombyn Enkhbold came to power in 2006
following election promises on measures to accelerate
economic growth. But in power, he met counterparts from MPRP
factions, and the opposition criticized the government for
corruption, especially in connection with agreements that
granted foreign investors a license to extract Mongolia's
mineral wealth. Enkhbold was forced to resign in November
2007 after he was first dismissed as leader of the People's
Revolutionary Party (MPRP), the reformed Communist Party.
Sanjaagiin Bayar from the same party took over the prime
minister post. The new prime minister promised a critical
review of all the mining industry licenses.
In June 2008, Mongolia held its first parliamentary
election following a new electoral system in which one-man
circles were replaced by proportional representation in
multi-person circles. MPRP retained power with 41 out of 76
seats. Exploitation of the country's mineral wealth was the
biggest electoral issue. A draft law proposed by the MPRP
will give the state at least a 51 percent stake in new large
joint ventures with foreign mining companies. The opposition
will improve the framework conditions for private Mongolian
Allegations of electoral fraud by MPRP gave rise to
strong riots in the capital Ulan Bator. Five people died and
over 300, including 100 policemen, were injured during the
riots. 700 were arrested. The opposition boycotted the
opening of the new National Assembly.
The May 2009 presidential election was won by Tsakhiagijn
Elbegdorj from the largest opposition party, the Democrats,
by a small margin. Elbegdorj is known to be skeptical of
foreign influence, and his stated policy of fair and
sustainable development may weaken the opportunities for
foreign investment in the mining industry.
Economic development after 1990
The transition from a planning economy with a partially
natural economy to a market-based economy has been
difficult. GDP declined by 20 per cent in the period
1990–1995, but has since shown cautious growth. Since the
turn of the millennium, peat farming and nomadic culture
have been severely affected during Mongolia's worst natural
disaster in half a century. Extreme climates in the form of
drought, floods, blizzards and large amounts of snow caused
more than 13 million livestock to die during the extremely
severe winters from 2000 to 2003. The country received
extensive crisis relief from the UN and donor countries,
Since the turn of the millennium, total international aid
has responded to 60-70 percent of the state budget. About
one third of the population lives below the UN poverty line.
In 2013, Mongolia was ranked 103 out of 187 countries on the
UN Living Index. During the economic transition, the social
problems became more tangible. Loss of livestock and other
business bases has driven tens of thousands of nomads and
half-moms into cities and towns. A disputed law on the
privatization of the state's land properties from 2003 aims
to secure a broader business base for a vulnerable
population. Around half of the country's 586,000 households
applied for land.
Mongolia is among the poorest countries in the world -
with GDP per capita of $ 3770 in 2013, according to the
World Bank. Around one third of the country's own population
lives below the government's defined poverty line. The
country imports about 70 per cent of its food needs. A
marked urbanization process has led to unemployment of more
than 30 per cent and pressure on urban infrastructure. In
recent years, public health services and social services
have been weakened.