Mongolia Travel Information

Photo The Mongols entered history in the 13th century when under GENGHIS KHAN they conquered a huge Eurasian empire. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century. The Mongols eventually retired to their original steppe homelands and came under Chinese rule. Mongolia won its independence in 1921 with Soviet backing.


Life in sparsely populated Mongolia has become more urbanized. Nearly half of the people live in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and in other provincial centers. Seminomadic life still predominates in the countryside, but settled agricultural communities are becoming more common. Mongolia's birth rate is estimated at 1.4% (2000 census). About two-thirds of the total population are under age 30, 36% of whom are under 14.


In 1203 AD, a single Mongolian state was formed based on nomadic tribal groupings under the leadership of Genghis Khan. He and his immediate successors conquered nearly all of Asia and European Russia and sent armies as far as central Europe and Southeast Asia. Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan, who conquered China and established the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD), gained fame in Europe through the writings of Marco Polo.


The rapid political changes of 1990-91 marked the beginning of Mongolia's efforts to develop a market economy, but these efforts have been complicated and disrupted by the dissolution and continuing deterioration of the economy of the former Soviet Union. Prior to 1991, 80% of Mongolia's trade was with the former Soviet Union, and 15% was with other Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) countries. Mongolia was heavily dependent upon the former Soviet Union for fuel, medicine, and spare parts for its factories and power plants.


The U.S. Government recognized Mongolia in January 1987 and established its first embassy in Ulaanbaatar in June 1988. It formally opened in September 1988. The first U.S. ambassador to Mongolia, Richard L. Williams, was not resident there; Joseph E. Lake, the first resident ambassador, arrived in July 1990. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, visited Mongolia in August 1990, and again in July 1991.

Important: Travel to Mongolia may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Mongolia visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Ulaanbaatar
Area: 1,564,116 sq km
Population: 3,179,997
Ethnic groups: Mongol
Languages: Khalkha Mongol 90%
Religions: Buddhist Lamaist 50%, Shamanist and Christian 6%, Muslim 4%, none 40%
Government: parliamentary
Chief of State: President Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ
Head of Government: Prime Minister Norov ALTANKHUYAG
GDP: 13.29 billion
GDP per captia: 4,800
Annual growth rate: 17.5%
Inflation: 9.5%
Agriculture: wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops
Major industries: construction and construction materials
Natural resources: oil, coal, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, fluorspar, gold, silver, iron
Location: Northern Asia, between China and Russia
Trade Partners - exports: China 92.1%, Russia 2%, Canada 1.9%
Trade Partners - imports: China 30.7%, Russia 24.5%, US 8.1%, Japan 7.4%, South Korea 5.5%