or Outer Mongolia
Country, north-central Asia, between Russia and China. Area: 603,909 sq mi (1,564,116 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 2,550,000. Capital: Ulaanbaatar. Some four-fifths of the population are Mongols; minorities consist of Kazakhs, Russians, and Chinese. Languages: Khalkha Mongolian, Turkic languages, Russian, Chinese. Religions: traditional beliefs, Buddhism, Islam. Currency: tugrik. Mongolia has an average elevation of about 5,200 ft (1,580 m) above sea level. Three mountain ranges stretch across the north and west: the Altai, the Hangayn (Khangai), and the Hentiyn (Khentei). The south and east are occupied by the Gobi Desert. Livestock raising, especially sheepherding, accounts for nearly three-fourths of the total value of agricultural production; wheat is the major crop. Mongolia's rich mineral resources include coal, iron ore, and copper. Mongolia is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. In Neolithic times it was inhabited by small groups of hunters and nomads. During the 3rd century BC it became the centre of the Xiongnu tribal league. Turkic-speaking peoples held sway in the 4th–10th centuries AD. In the early 13th century Genghis Khan united the Mongol tribes and conquered Central Asia. His successor, Ögödei, conquered the Jin dynasty of China in 1234. Kublai Khan established the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty in China in 1279. The Mongols were confined to their original homeland in the steppes after the 14th century. Ligdan Khan (ruled 1604–34) attempted to unite Mongol tribes against the Manchu, but after his death the Mongols became part of the Chinese Qing dynasty. After the fall of the Qing in 1912, Mongol princes, supported by Russia, declared Mongolia's independence from China, and in 1921 the Soviet Red Army helped drive off Chinese and Russian forces. The Mongolian People's Republic was established in 1924. The country adopted a new constitution in 1992 and shortened its name to Mongolia.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.