Situated between Russia and China, Mongolia is a mountainous country with a harsh climate. Most of Mongolia is at least 5,000 feet above sea level. The country has cold winters, but gets less than 4 inches of rain each year. The Gobi Desert, in Mongolia, is the coldest desert on earth and stretches for 250,000 miles.

For centuries, Mongolia was populated by nomadic tribes. Ghenghis Khan conquered Mongolia in the 13th century, uniting the tribes and building an empire. Southern Mongolia, or Inner Mongolia, is ruled by China, while the north is independent. Mongolia was a Communist country from 1924 until 1990. Today, the country is a democracy. Although poor, Mongolia is rich in minerals and has a fast growing economy.

Although the climate is too harsh for growing most crops, Mongolians raise sheep, cattle and other livestock. In recent years, very cold, snowy winters have killed off many of the animals, leaving families without a way to earn a living. Mongolians still live in traditional yurts, which are domed tents.

Gobi Desert in Mongolia

Fun Facts

  • 2.8 million people live in Mongolia.
  • The country has 604,249 square miles of land.
  • The official language is Khalka Mongolian.
  • Most people here are Buddhist.
  • The life expectancy is 67 years.


  1. Harsh: severe, rough
  2. Nomadic: wandering, without a home
  3. Yurt: traditional Mongolian home

Learn More

Visit National Geographic Kids to learn more about Mongolia.

Extra Credit

Question: Does Mongolia trade with other countries?

Answer: For many years, Mongolia was isolated. Since becoming a democracy, Mongolia has welcomed investors from Russia, China, the U.S. and other countries.