Mongolia, area in east central Asia divided into Outer Mongolia, or the Mongolian People's Republic, and Inner Mongolia, or the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Mongolia as a whole is bordered by Russia to the north and by China to the south, east, and west.
Land and climate
The land is largely a steppe plateau with an average elevation of 3,000 ft/914 m. The Hentiyn, Sayan, and other mountain ranges hem the area to the north and northeast and the Altai Mountains mark the end of the plateau to the southwest. Much of the southeast is part of the Gobi Desert which straddles a large part of Outer and Inner Mongolia. The climate is harsh with great extremes of heat and cold. The capital is Ulan Bator.
Although both Inner and Outer Mongolia were communist, many Mongolians continued to practice Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism). Mongolian is the official language.
The economy is based upon livestock farming, the principal livelihood of a traditionally nomadic people. There is also some agriculture. Coal, iron ore, gold, and other minerals are mined. Industry is limited to felts, furniture, and other consumer goods. The chief exports are livestock, wool, hides, meat, and ores.
Formerly the heartland of the Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, Mongolia became a province of China in 1691. Mongolia declared its independence in 1911, but was reoccupied by China in 1919. With support from the Soviet Union, Outer Mongolia declared its independence again in 1921. In 1924 it became the Mongolian People's Republic, the world's second communist state although China did not recognize Mongolia's independence until 1946. In 1990 the country became a multiparty democracy, and Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat was elected president. In 1997 he was succeeded by Bagbandy.