Mongolia Birding Tours
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia and is a similar size to the historical territory of Outer Mongolia, a term that is sometimes used to refer to the current state. Russia is to the north and China is to the east, south, and west (the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is to the southeast of Mongolia within China). Although not bordering Mongolia, Kazakhstan is only 23 miles (37 kilometers) away from its westernmost point. Mongolia is second to Kazakhstan as the largest landlocked country in the world, but is the most sparsely populated sovereign state in the world with a population of 3.3 million people, 45 % of whom live in the capital, Ulaanbaatar (also known as Ulan Bator). Around 30 % of the population is still nomadic or semi-nomadic moving around the vast steppe grasslands where horse culture is an integral part of life, as it has been for thousands of years.
The history of Mongolia and its people makes for some seriously fascinating reading. Homo erectus inhabited Mongolia from 850,000 years ago and modern humans appeared about 40,000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic. Caves have been found with ochre paintings which are dated as more than 20,000 years old, illustrating lynx, Bactrian Camels, and even ostriches!
Since these prehistoric times, Mongolia has been inhabited by nomads who, from time to time, formed great confederations that rose to power and prominence. None more famous than Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan) who in the chaos of the late 12th century, waged a series of military campaigns – renowned for their brutality and ferocity – sweeping through much of Asia, and forming the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Under his successors it stretched from present-day Poland in the west to Korea in the east, and from parts of Siberia in the north to the Gulf of Oman and Vietnam in the south, covering a staggering 13,000,000 square miles (33,000,000 square kilometers) before its gradual collapse and retreat back into what is effectively present-day Mongolia, in the period after his death.