Driving Directions Mongolia

MONGOLIA is a large, central Asian republic that shares a long northern border with Russia and is surrounded on all other sides by China.

The border with China extends for 4,670 kilometers or 2,901 miles. Mongolia consists mainly of a high plateau from which mountains rise in the west. The principal ranges are the Altai Mountains, which extend southeastwards and the Hangayn Mountains in the central west­ern area.

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The most significant peaks found in the Altai Mountains. In the east and southeast, the elevation of the plateau is generally lower and arid; semidesert scrubland gradually gives way to the real desert of the Gobi, which stretches across the southeastern portion of the country.

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Several large lakes occur in Mongolia’s mountainous regions, and there are salt lakes and salt pans in the arid, desert regions. Several large rivers cross the country, arising mainly in the mountains. The principal rivers are the Selenge and its tributaries, which flow northeastwards from the Hangayn Mountains, the Kerulen in the east, and the Onhon in the north. Four vegetational zones recognized in Mongolia, which grades into one another: coniferous forest in the mountains, forest-steppe, steppe, and semidesert/desert.

Mongolia is a sparsely populated country whose people continue to adhere to a traditional, pastoral way of life based on the herding of grazing animals. Since the people live close to the land upon which their wellbeing depends, they have a great sense of respect for the natural flora and fauna of their country. Hence Mongolia preserves a wide range of species which have become rare in other parts of central Asia and the importance of conservation, particularly when set against the challenges of development, is well recognised by the government.

Mongolia has a dry continental climate with long, freezing winters and short, mild summers during which most of the yearly rainfall experienced. Rain may not fall in parts of the desert for several years and, while daytime conditions can be searingly hot, the temperature may plunge at night to near freezing and, in winter, can fall as low as -20°C or 4°F.

The capital and largest city in Mongolia is Ulaanbaatar. Although many of the people still follow a seminomadic way of life based on animal herding, some 58 percent of Mongolians classed as urban dwellers.

Mongolia has valuable reserves of iron ore, coal, copper, molybdenum, fluorspar, tungsten, uranium gold, and silver. Ulaanbaatar is one of several industrial centers that developed to exploit some of these minerals, although others have yet to extract.

Manufacturing industries are generally on a small scale and include the processing of wool, hides, leather, furs, meat and dairy produce, textiles, wooden goods, agricultural equipment, and building products. The collapse of trade with the former Soviet Union has created severe economic problems for Mongolia, and it is increasingly looking to Japan and China for business and financial assistance.

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