What Are the Physical Features of Mongolia?

Prominent physical features of Mongolia include the Gobi Desert, Altai Mountains, Burkhan Khaldun and Hovsgol Nuur. The central Asian country occupies nearly 604,000 square miles directly south of Russia and is bordered by China to the south, east and west.

Dominating southern Mongolia and northwestern China is the Gobi, a vast area of desert, semi-desert and parched steppe. A moderately high elevation and location in the shadow of the Himalayas means colder temperatures than other deserts, with strong winds and snow not uncommon.

The rugged Altai Mountains in the western part of the country serve as the dividing line between Russia and China. The lower and middle mountains feature coniferous forests, while higher terrain is dotted with glaciers, including Mongolia's highest point -the 14,350-foot summit of Tavan Bogd.

In eastern Mongolia is Burkhan Kahldun, a peak in the country's most significant range -the Khentii Mountains. The area around the summit is considered to be the resting place of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire.

In northwestern Mongolia at the foot of the Sayan Mountains rests Hovsgol Nuur, a large lake accounting for 70 percent of the country's fresh water. One of the oldest on the planet, the lake drains into the Eg River at the south end, which connects to the country's longest river -the Selenge- and ultimately Lake Baikal.