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State

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Mongolia

Ulaan Baator

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Tugrik

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History

Sometimes called Outer Mongolia (Inner Mongolia is a province of China).

Original home of Temuchin (various Romanised spellings), later called Jenghis Khan (died 1277). (The meaning of Jenghis - various spellings - is obscure and might be “fierce”He was proclaimed Greatest Khan (leader) of the Mongols in 1206 and founded an empire which at its largest extent reached from the borders of Poland to China and Korea. This empire was led by Mongols but also included many of the nomadic Turkic tribes of the Steppe. His mass killings of non-Mongol peoples have been thought of as the medieval equivalent of a nuclear war. In particular the Mongols destroyed the Islamic civilization centered on Baghdad and the Central Asian area around Bukhara and Samarqand, and the ancient city of Balkh in modern Afghanistan. It never fully recovered.

In the west the Mongols were defeated for the first time in Syria by the Mamelukes of Egypt, and thus Europe and north Africa were saved. The whole of Central Eurasia was altered by the sudden growth of this empire from the nomadic horsemen who had previously been only a local menace.

Jengis Khan was one of those individuals in a class which includes Shaka the Zulu, Napoleon and Hitler whose military ability provokes immense destruction. Perhaps he possessed the quality of other dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin of being unable to imagine the suffering of others. The psychologist would call such a person a psychopath - someone apparently lacking in moral sense. Gradually the successors of Jengis Khan became converted to the civilizations and religions of the people they conquered. In the Muslim area they became Muslims; in Mongolia itself they adopted the Lamaist version of Buddhism from Tibet. As the Muslim Moguls their descendants conquered northern India. In Central Asia their territories were taken over by the Turks and helped the rise of the Ottoman Empire. In Russia their descendants continued to rule (as the Khanate of the Golden Horde) until eventually conquered by Ivan the Terrible and later Tsars. Their descendants remain in Tatarstan and the Crimea. In China they formed a dynasty which became assimilated to Chinese culture.

The modern state is now confined to the ethnic heartland of the nation. It was a close ally of the Soviet Union. That is, since the Bolshevik revolution Mongolia was ruled by a communist party so closely that it appeared to be a part of the Soviet Union rather than a satellite. It should be regarded as a colony. Some of its territory was annexed to the Soviet Union. Its own "revolution", under a close ally of Stalin, Choibalsan, resulted in a reign of terror and mass killings of Buddhist monks and other opponents of the Communist regime. The southern part "Inner Mongolia" is a province of China and large numbers of Chinese have been settled there so that Mongols there are now a minority.

In 1990 multi-party elections were held and a new government has taken office. This also reflects events in the Soviet Union. Religion (Lamaist Buddhism and some Islam) has been allowed publicly again.

Because Mongolia exists as a buffer between Russia and China its independence must always be qualified. Its frontier with China could not be defended by the Mongols alone. The Soviet military forces have now withdrawn. Many of the Mongol people live in Inner Mongolia which is part of China. China has had a claim to Mongolia and traditionally has ruled the country. It is therefore a possible occasion for war between China and whatever power exists to the west. On the other hand, should China itself collapse as a great power the Mongols in China may wish to join those in Mongolia.

Buddhist, not Muslim
The people are Buddhists of a sect which is also found in Tibet. It was the Mongol king who first appointed the Dalai Lama and one of the early Dalai Lamas was from the royal family of Mongolia. Now that religion is permitted again contacts with Tibet are increasing. Mongols would wish to go on pilgrimage to Lhasa. This would no doubt worry the Chinese. The Dalai Lama has visited and was greeted with enthusiasm. Mongolian monks are training with the Dalai Lama in India.

Mongols who left Mongolia with Jenghis Khan became Muslims in the areas they had conquered from the Muslim Persians. But at home and in China they remained Buddhist. About 5% of the population are Muslims. These are nomadic Kazakhs.

There is also a small population of Uighurs. These too are Muslim.

Languages

Mongol

 Shane O'Rourke - The Cossacks



How the Steppe nomads attacked the surrounding settled states
David Christian - History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia

A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire v. 1

Morris Rossabi - Modern Mongolia

Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists

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Politics

Embryo multi-party system replacing former Communist government.

In elections in 1991 the Communist Party (renamed as Socialist party) was given a majority in the Parliament and formed a government. However it has announced a program of privatization, which is more advanced than in most other former communist countries.

In July 1996 it lost power to a coalition of non-Communists.

Later elections saw the former Communists enter a coalition.

In March 2005 there are signs that the second phase of revolutions after the fall of the Soviet Union may be coming to Mongolia too as street protests occur against communist participation in the government.

E D Phillips - The Mongols




The Mongols (Peoples of Europe)

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Pastoral economy with mining potential: coal, metals.

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Green/Ecology

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Report on climate displacing people to urban slums

Last revised 28/06/12


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