See H. H. Vreeland, Mongol Community and Kinship Structure (2d ed. 1957); E. D. Philips, The Mongols (1969); F. W. Cleaves, ed. and tr., The Secret History of the Mongols (1982).
The name "Mongol" appeared first in 8th century records of the Chinese Tang dynasty, but then only resurfaced in the 11th century during the rule of the Khitan. At first it was applied to some small and still insignificant tribes in the area of the Onon River. In the 13th century, it grew into an umbrella term for a large group of Mongolic and Turkic tribes united under the rule of Genghis Khan under a same identity (mostly cultural).
The specific origin of the Mongolic languages and associated tribes is unclear. Some researchers have proposed a link to languages like Tungusic and Turkic, which are often included alongside Mongolic in a hypothetical group called Altaic languages, but evidence for this line of argumentation is rather weak.
The differentiation between tribes and peoples (nationalities) is handled differently depending on the country. The Tumed, Chahar, Ordos, Bargut (or Barga), Buryats, Dörböd (Dörvöd, Dörbed), Torguud, Dariganga, Üzemchin (or Üzümchin), Bayid, Khoton, Myangad (Mingad), Zakhchin (Zakchin), Darkhad, and Oirats (or Öölds or Ölöts) are all counted as tribes of the Mongols.
The Chinese census of 2000 counted 5.8 million Mongols (according to the narrow definition above). Most of them live in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, followed by Liaoning province. Small numbers can also be found in provinces near those two.
Other peoples speaking Mongolic languages are the Daur, Monguor, Dongxiang, Bonan, and parts of the Yugur. Those do not officially count as part of the Mongol nationality, but are recognized as nationalities of their own.