Country Listing

Mongolia Table of Contents



Size: Total 1,565,000 square kilometers.

Topography: Mountains and rolling plateaus; vast semidesert and desert plains, 90 percent pasture or desert wasteland, less than 1 percent arable, 8 to 10 percent forested; mountains in north, west and southwest; Gobi, a vast desert in southeast; Selenge river system in north.

Climate: Desert; high, cold, dry, continental climate; sharp seasonal fluctuations and variation; little precipitation; great diurnal temperature changes.


Population: 2,125,463 in July 1989; in 1989, birth rate 35.1 per 1,000; death rate 7.6 per 1,000. Approximately 51 percent live in urban areas; nearly 25 percent in Ulaanbaatar in 1986. In 1987 population density per square kilometer 1.36; sex ratio 50.1 percent male, 49.9 percent female as of 1986.

Ethnic Groups: Nearly 90 percent Mongol. Rest Kazakh (5.3 percent), Chinese (2 percent), Russian (2 percent); Tuvins (see Glossary), Uzbeks (see Glossary), Uighurs (see Glossary), and others (1.5 percent).

Languages: Khalkha Mongol (official language), 90 percent; minor languages include Turkic, Chinese, Russian, and Kazakh.

Religion: Predominantly Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism); about 4 percent Muslim (primarily in southwest), some shamanism. Limited religious activity although freedom of religion guaranteed in 1960 Constitution.

Health: Life expectancy in 1989 sixty-three for males, sixty-seven for females. Infant mortality 49 to 53 per 1,000; 112 hospitals in 1986 with a ratio of 110 hospital beds and 24.8 doctors per 10,000 population. Overall free medical care; medical specialists and facilities concentrated in urban areas; close cooperation with Soviet Union in medical research and training.

Education: Four years compulsory elementary school overall and four years compulsory secondary school in all but most remote areas; two-year noncompulsory general secondary. Higher education: one university, seven other institutes of higher learning. In 1985 primary and secondary education: 28 specialized secondary schools, 40 vocational schools, 900 general education schools enrolling 435,900 students; many Mongolian students at universities and technical schools in the Soviet Union and East European countries--approximately 11,000 studied abroad in 1986-87. In the late 1980s, educational reform plans announced for 11-year system of general education with traditional emphasis. In 1985 national literacy rate estimated at 80 percent; 100 percent claimed by government.

Media: Thirty-five newspapers and thirty-eight magazines published in 1986.

Data as of June 1989