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Rush hour in Ulaanbaatar

Large, desolate, windswept and poor country wedged between China and Russia and oddly independent of both!

Home of Genghis Khan, nutter during the Medieval period who armed only with a horse, a little furry hat and 1 million bezzers, shoed the living daylights out everyone between China and Poland.

A population of 3 million occupy an area of 1.5 million km² (that's 2 people per km² compared to the UK's 245 people per square inch) so you don't meet many people on an average day and have to shout a lot.

Their capital Ulaanbaatar, has more vowels2 than is strictly necessary - unless someone named the place while at the dentist.

Modern Mongolia

Given its location Mongolia was always likely to fall within the Communist sphere of influence, but their close links with the CCCP were evident to even casual observers. So, the streets of Ulaanbaatar ["Spit please"] were reconstructed in an ersatz-Soviet style with wide roads (lanes marked at the width of a T-55), large slab-sided brutalist buildings, Palaces of the People etc. etc.

The rest of Mongolia is still very much agricultural and most Mongolians outside of the cities either live the traditional steppe nomad life or are subsistence farmers. If you can find them - it's like matchday at Blackpool.

During the collapse of Communism, Mongolia had a quiet revolution in 1990 and is now a democratic republic.

Prominent Mongolians

OK, you might want to sit yourself down, take a deep breath and have a metaphorical run-up at some of these names:

  • President of Mongolia: Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
  • Prime Minister of Mongolia: Sükhbaataryn Batbold
  • Deputy PM: Norovyn Altankhuyag
  • Defence Minister: Luvsanvandan Bold
  • CGS: Byambajav1

Military of Mongolia

When your ancestors ruled the largest land empire in history, stretching from Poland to Vietnam and comprising some 22% of the Earth's land area, you can either go the way of the Italians or you can crack on with the job. Mongolia has chosen the latter.

They do have the problem of being stuck between two of the largest militaries on the planet - they couldn't realistically hope to be much more than a speedbump under Chinese tanks if it kicked off. So, they've got a small, professional armed forces (no navy obviously) who routinely send small teams on peacekeeping missions around the world and have gained an excellent reputation with the other armies they work alongside.

Mongolia have sent units to Iraq and currently have approx 130 troops as part of ISAF in Afghanistan.

The equipment of the Mongolian General Purpose Force (Mongol Ulsiin Zevsegt Huchin) is mostly older Soviet stuff, more info can be found here: Wiki.

Future Prospects

Mongolia will become a fully paid up EU member by 2015 at the current rate of expansion, and will no doubt bring much needed variety and colour (and horse blood) to the (by now) very predictable Eurovision Song Contest.

Obviously should World War III kick off with the odd Bucket of Sunshine being thrown around and these bods survive ... expect a horde of armed to the teeth mongols arriving outside your bunker/pile of rubble without much delay.


1 Surnames as such are relatively new to Mongolia. Quite ally though, having just one name.

2 When the Mongols invaded Poland they sent most of the vowels they found back home, leaving the Poles to survive on subsistence levels.