By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
Sitting snugly between both China and Russia is the beautiful country of Mongolia. Although we don’t hear a lot about them, Mongolia is home to some amazing sights and a rich culture that continues to thrive today. The country is a land of open plains, wild horses, the Gobi Desert and tall mountain ranges. It is a gorgeous country worth taking some time to explore what it has to offer.
Wide open spaces
Mongolia is what you would call a landlocked country, which means that it is surrounded by other countries and doesn’t open up to the sea. If you didn’t know, Mongolia is the 18th largest country in the world, most of which is Mongolia being an open grassland. Even though it is a large country (more than 20 times bigger than Sri Lanka), it only has a population of a bit more than 3 million. Compare that with Sri Lanka which has close to 22 million people.
Geography of Mongolia varies. You’ll find the harsh Gobi desert in the South, and the cold, chilly mountains to the North. Most of the rest is open grassland. This means that Mongolia is a country of wide open spaces. Although there are a few cities that appear in the country, a lot of people in Mongolia continue to live a nomadic life, living in traditionally built tents and raising livestock. But that isn’t always easy because the winter season in Mongolia is harsh, and you’ll need to be very skilled at what you do to survive the elements.
The wild East
Mongolia is a perfect place to raise animals such as sheep, goats and other livestock, which most of the people use for their livelihood. Before there were motorcycles, many relied on horses for everything they did. If you didn’t know, most of the horses found in the wild are domesticated horses who have become feral. But Mongolia is home to actual wild horses, and you will find herds of them while travelling the countryside.
The Mongolian economy has mostly been focused around herding and agriculture for a long time. But, the country has a lot of minerals and precious material in the land. Mining is an industry that is growing and has boosted the country’s economy greatly.
Copper, coal, tin, tungsten and gold are only some of the many materials that are mined in Mongolia. In fact, the country is a huge supplier of coal to China, which uses them to generate electricity.
Even so, the country is a small economy. But it is making slow but steady growth.
Tourism is a growing industry in the country as well, which was growing as more people started to learn about the rich culture and history that people can enjoy while visiting the country.
People and culture
Mongolia is home to a rich cultural heritage that is kept alive by its people. Buddhist philosophy has had a massive influence and so has their nomadic lifestyle.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t have people living the big city life. The capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, is the largest city of the country and is home to almost half the country’s population.
The country’s history has a lot to talk about, and you should definitely take some time to learn more about it. At one period of time, the Mongolian empire was one of the biggest in Asia, even taking control of China for a period of time.
Ancient traditions live on in Mongolia. One example is the traditional Naadam festival, where traditional Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery competitions were held in massive midsummer festivals. Horses are a massive part of Mongolia’s culture and although motorcycles are slowly replacing horses, they remain a big part of the country’s culture.
I wish we could talk more about Mongolia; one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But sadly you’ll have to do your own research to learn more. But don’t worry, there’s a lot there to learn about Mongolia. All you need is to look.