Main features:

Population: 3 million (2014)

Area: 1 564 116 km²

Capital city: Oulan-Bator (Ulaanbaatar)

Main cities: Oulan-Bator (1,4 million), Erdenet (88 243 inhabitants) and Darkan (74 300 inhabitants)

Apex: Tavanbogd Uul (4 370 m)

Languages: Mongol khalkha, Buriat, Chinese, Kazakh

Religions: Lamais Buddhists (86,5%), Muslim kazakhs (5,9%), Christian and shamans (7,6%)

Political situation:

Parliamentary democratic republic

Head of state: Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj, since June 18th, 2009

Head of government: Dendevyn Terbishdagva, acting Prime Minister since November 5th, 2014

Unesco World Heritage Sites: Ubs Nuur Bassin (2003), Orkhon Valley (2004), Atal mongol petroglyphs (2011)

Miscellaneous Features: 

Death penalty abolished in 2012

Strong desire to protect national security and Mongolian sovereignty 

Request for international support to ensure permanent neutrality (sept. 2015)

Member of the OSCE since November 2012


Mongolia is one of the countries with the highest elevation in the world, with an average altitude of 1,580 meters. Its western border with Russia and China is a mountain range, the Altaï, and a large glacier. The landscape of the country is composed of mountains, prairies, salt and freshwater lakes, and finally steppes that make up almost half of the territory. The largest lake, Khövsgöl Nuur, on its own makes up 2% of all freshwater on the planet. The Gobi desert, south of the country, allows flocks of sheep, goat and camel to graze. The saxual, small tree resisting erosion and soil depletion, is commonplace among the numerous animal species such as yacks, marmottes, gazelles and horses, some of which are threatened such as the black tailed antilope, the snow leopard or wild camel. In the north of the country, the Siberian forest counts many wild flowers such as edelweiss. 

Pushed by droughts and cold spells in the last few years, many farmers and herders have left the Mongolian countryside for cities. Oulan-Bator, the capital, now gathers more than 60% of the country’s total population. This rural exodus is one of the root causes of desertification of these prairies as well as degradation of living conditions and multiplication of slums.


Migrations in Mongolia

“The causes of internal migrations are multiple and closely interwoven. There is of course an environmental and climatic factor, essentially because of the dzud*, whose frequency and severity is reinforced by climate change. But the issue is primarily and essentially economical: although the country is enriching rapidly thanks to the mining boom, there is no balanced redistribution policies and the growth of the national income benefits mostly to a urban elite of Ulaanbaatar.” Benoit Mayer

Read the full interview… And watch our documentary shot in the Mongolian countryside!