Once known as Outer Mongolia, this landlocked country counts Russia, Siberia and China among its neighbors. The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader was Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire which grew to encompass much of Asia and Europe.
Mongolia’s largest city is Ulaanbaatar, which is also its capital. The country’s first language is Mongolian, with Turkic and Russian also spoken in parts of the country. English is taught in all secondary schools.
Traditionally, agriculture and herding have been Mongolia’s key economic activities. However, thanks to Mongolia’s vast and, as yet, mainly untapped mineral wealth, its mining industry is expanding rapidly, attracting much interest from foreign investors. In 2011, Citigroup named Mongolia as one of its Global Growth Generator countries (countries with the most promising growth prospects for 2010-2050).
Festivals are a popular part of Mongolian culture, the most significant being Naadam, which takes place every summer and consists of three national sports. While an important part of Mongolian culture is horse-riding, in particular long-distance races and trick riding, the country’s most popular sport by far is Mongolian wrestling – records for which date back over 7,000 years.