Mongolia (sometimes called Outer Mongolia) is a nation in eastern Central Asia. It shares a 3,005-km
(1,866-mi.) border with the USSR in the north and a 4,673-km (2,902-mi.) border with China in the south.
Covering an area approximately equal in size to Alaska, Mongolia has one of the lowest population densities
in the world. From the 13th century onward the Mongols ruled a huge empire, but following its disintegration
in the 17th century Mongolia was ruled by China until 1921, when it
became independent. It became the world's second Communist nation (after the USSR) in 1924, closely
allied with and heavily dependent upon the USSR until 1990.
Because of its inland location, Mongolia has a continental climate with long, cold winters (October to April)
and short, humid summers. Temperature varies widely, averaging -26 degrees C (-15 degrees F) in January,
the coldest month, and 16 degrees C (61 degrees F) in July, the warmest, at Ulaanbaatar. Rainfall is highly
variable, and sudden downpours often cause flooding. Rainfall varies from about 460 mm (18 in) in the
mountains to about 100 mm (4 in) in the Gobi. Mongolia is known for its clear, sunny days, averaging about
240 such days per year.
The country's steppe vegetation supports an estimated 30 million (1996) horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and
camels. Large deposits of coal, copper, fluorspar, gold, and silver are found there. Thermal stations,
constructed with Soviet aid, have greatly increased power generating capacity, but are now operating with
difficulty due to a lack of spare parts.
The population of Mongolia is highly homogeneous. About 90% of the population are Mongols. They are
divided into several tribes, the largest of which are the Khalkhas (about 75% of the total population). The
Buryat, Dariganga, and Darbet Mongol tribes are also important. The largest minority group is the Kazakh
The Mongolian language has been written in a Cyrillic Alphabet since the 1940s. The traditional Mongolian
script, which resembles Arabic but is written vertically, has been regaining popularity and is taught, along
with English, in the schools. The majority of the population practiced Tibetan Buddhism until the Communist
government instituted an anti-religious movement in (1937-39). Today a small but growing portion of the
population practices Buddhism or shamanism, the other traditional form of religion.
Mongolia is a republic. Members of the bicameral legislature (khural) are elected every 4 years by universal
adult (age 18 and over) suffrage. The smaller chamber, established in 1990, meets between sessions of the
larger chamber to draft legislation and make day-to-day decisions. The Mongolian People's Revolutionary
(Communist - now not anymore) party (MPRP) was the sole legal party until 1990, when the constitution was amended to allow
opposition parties, institute a presidential system of government, and add a 53-member standing
legislature, the Small Khural. A new constitution was drafted in 1991, and a unicameral parliament of 76
members was chosen in free multiparty elections in June 1992. In June of 1996 a Democratic Coalition
swept the ruling MPRP out of power in national elections. They formed a majority government with 50 out of
76 seats in the Great Khural. Local elections in October 1996, however, saw a victory for MPRP members in
many districts of the country. The presidential election in May of this year was also won by a MPRP member,
This map reflects the Mongol Empire in 1227,when
Chingis Khan died.
The first tribal peoples known to have inhabited Mongolia were the Hunnu (Huns) during the 4th
century. They created a great tribal empire, engaging in warfare with their neighbors the Chinese until the
Hunnu empire was broken up several centuries later. In AD 744 the Uigar seized Mongolia and held
it until 840 when the Kirghiz took control.
The Mongol tribes were unified and reached the height of their power during the 13th century under
Chingis Khan (click
here to read about Chingis Khan by someone/not Mongol), who established his capital at
Kharkhorin. He and his heirs conquered China and extended their empire to eastern Europe. The
Mongol empire gradually declined in power, and in 1691 it came under the
control of the Ch'ing dynasty of China. Under the Ch'ing, present-day Mongolia was administered as the
province of Outer Mongolia while the adjacent area to the southeast was the province of Inner Mongolia.
Outer Mongolia remained a province until 1911, when it claimed its independence. The Chinese reoccupied
Outer Mongolia in 1919 but were driven out in 1921 by Russian Baron von Ungern-Sternberg, who also
massacred thousands of Mongolians. Later that year, Mongolian revolutionaries Sukhbaatar and Khorloin
Choibalsan ousted Ungern-Sternberg with Soviet help, and independence was finally won.
The Mongolian People's Republic was declared in 1924. It served as a buffer between the USSR and China,
which did not recognize it until 1946.
Mongolia established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1987 and signed a border agreement with
China in 1988 as part of an effort to create a nonaligned foreign policy. In December 1989, in response to
events in Eastern Europe and the withdrawal of Soviet forces stationed in Mongolia, demonstrators began to
stage peaceful protests in Ulaanbaatar demanding political and economic change. The protests were widely
viewed as a revival of Mongolian nationalism. The MPRP responded by replacing its politburo with younger,
more progressive members in March 1990 and legalizing opposition parties.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Mongolian Blue Spots are flat birthmarks with wavy borders and irregular shapes, common among people
of Asian, East Indian, African, and Latino heritage. They may be seen in about 10% of Caucasians to over
90% of African Americans. Bluish gray to deep brown to black skin markings, they often appear on the base of
the spine, on the buttocks and back and even sometimes on the ankles or wrists. Mongolian spots may cover a
large area of the back. The pigmented area has large concentrations of skin cells called melanocytes, with
normal skin texture. They commonly appear at birth or shortly after birth and may look like bruises.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM?
Mongolian spots are benign skin markings, and are not associated with any illnesses, complications or risk
factors. There is no known prevention and they generally fade in a few years and disappear by puberty. Though
occasionally they persist into adulthood, there is no need for treatment.
Because Mongolian spots can be easily mistaken for bruises, particularly by well-meaning white people who
have no experience with them, they have triggered accusations of child abuse against some adoptive parents.
For this reason, it is important to be sure that both your child's pediatrician and the caseworker who
completes your post-adoption work record information on the presence of Mongolian spots into their records.
You can assist in the documentation of this information by taking snapshots of the spots and providing prints
to be included in your child's files. Since you cannot take for granted that everyone will know what Mongolian
spots are, it is good advice to have their presence recorded from the start.
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