In this research essay, I will examine the development of the state of Mongolia since 1990. While doing research for this paper, I have noticed that an underlying theme in many academic sources is the development of Mongolia in the past decade. Since the Soviet Union has withdrawn major monetary support from Mongolia in the late 1980s, the nation has had to restructure most of its government, and economy, which also caused a social change. In an attempt to revitalize the economy, the government of Mongolia has taken steps to improve the nation in several ways.
I will examine the development processes in the context of the following areas of concern: demographics, history, nationalism, current issues, economics, government, communication and education, and finally, infrastructure. Demographics Mongolia is a large (1. 5 million km5), land-locked country located between two giant countries: Russia and the People’s Republic of China. Mongolia’s present population of 2. 6 million people is growing at 1. 4 percent. The national language is Mongolian, but there are other languages spoken, which are Turkic, Russian, Chinese, and English.
Ulaanbaatar, with a population of 650,000, is Mongolia’s national capital. Other major cities include Darkhan (90,000) and Erdenet (65,000) (ADB 2000: 3). Located deep within the interior of eastern Asia far from any ocean, Mongolia has a marked continental climate, with long, very cold winters, and short, cool to extremely hot summers (temperature highs to 40 degrees Celsius). Its variety of scenery comprises upland steppes, semi-deserts, and deserts, although in the west and north, forested, high mountain ranges alternate with dry, lake-dotted basins.
Mongolia is highland country, with an average altitude of 1,585 metres above sea level (Rupen 1978: 15). Following independence from China in the 1920s, Mongolia became the second country after Russia to adopt communism in 1924. Mongolia remained closely tied to the Soviet Union until the end of the 1980s. It received support from the Soviet Union economically and with its military, and generally followed Soviet guidance politically and culturally. Mongolia now practices a democratic government with multiple parties.
It is currently attempting to rebuild national culture which it lost during the Soviet communist establishment. I will further discuss its history in the “History” section. Mongolia’s major exports include copper, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, and other non-iron metals. Major imports are machinery and equipment, fuels, food products, industrial consumer goods, chemicals, building materials, sugar, and tea. Mongolia’s training partners are Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
Mongolia’s assets include abundant natural resources, a well-educated population, and a strategic trade location. Ninety-seven percent of the population is literate, compared to the average literacy rate of fourty nine percent in South Asia, and fifty three percent in low-income countries world-wide (ADB 2002). History In 1196, a small nomadic tribe lead by Chinggis Khan rose to power in Mongolia. The Khan tribe triggered the start of a great Mongolian expansion from Mongolia to as far west as Palestine.
For 200 years Chinggis Khan and his successors ruled a large portion of Asia as well as parts of the Middle East thanks to their intelligent and well planned military strategy. The empire fell to the Chinese Qing dynasty in the eighteenth century. The Qing dynasty separated Mongolia into Outer and Inner Mongolia, where Outer Mongolia extended from the Gobi Desert to the Russian border, and Inner Mongolia touched the Chinese borders. As a result of its proximity to China, Inner Mongolia experienced much more Chinese influence than did the people of Outer Mongolia.
There was as influx of Chinese settlers into Inner Mongolia, where they slowly gained economic power through the Qing implementation of taxes and money lending to the Mongolians of the area (Rupen 1978: 13). Even to this day, Inner Mongolia is ruled by the Chinese and remains separate from Outer Mongolia (now called the State of Mongolia). Outer Mongolia was largely left on its own for a hundred years, where they peacefully practised Buddhism introduced by the Tibetans. Eventually, however, the Qing dynasty was able to corrupt Buddhism in Outer Mongolia, and gained power in the region.
It was only in 1911, when the Qing dynasty collapsed, that the Russians had a great amount of influence on the Mongolians. With the help of Russian forces, Outer Mongolia immediately claimed their independence from China in 1921, and in 1924, again with the help of Soviet forces, the Mongolian People’s Republic was proclaimed. Until the end of the Soviet era, Mongolia was very much under Soviet control. It relied heavily on Soviet economic support and modelled its administration and economic development on the Soviet pattern.
In the 1960s the copying of the Soviets reached its peak: an intensive program of industrialization commenced. The implementation of the industrialization program conflicted with many environmental values viewed amongst most Mongolian pastoralists. The industrialization of the nation affected the Mongolian nation and culture for many years after. The Buddhist religious establishment, for example, controlled most aspects of Mongolian society, at least in Outer Mongolia, prior to the 1930s.
It played a large part of religious and cultural identity of the Mongolians, and was interwoven into everyday life: it funded and ran the education, judiciary, and health care systems. The Soviets, however, saw the Buddhists as a hindrance to the Mongolian revolution lead by the communist Soviets because of their different belief and value systems, and as a result, almost anything related to Buddhism was abolished in the country by the Soviets (Gilberg ; Svantesson 1996: 13). In the early 1980s, the rise of Gorbachev as the new Soviet leader spurred a negative reaction amongst Mongolians toward his new policies.
Because of this, opposition demonstrations in 1989 led the ruling Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) to call multi-party elections following which, in 1992, the communist state was dismantled, and the People’s Republic of Mongolia became the State of Mongolia (Altangerel, 2001: 4). Nationalism Mongolia’s history continues to play a large role in Mongolian identity, especially the legacy of Chinggis Khan and his successors. While other nations like Russia might think of the Khan dynasty as destroyers, Mongolians have always seen him as the centre and origin of the national history and the founder of their independent statehood.
It is not surprising then, to see Mongolian interest and pride in Chinggis Khan (Sabloff 2001: 102 ). Prior to Russian rule, the Mongolians were generally a peaceful population of nomadic pastoralists, who, many of them, practiced Buddhism. However, in the past few decades, by mechanically copying other nations (like the Soviet industrialization during the 1960s), Mongolia almost lost its cultural roots, customs, and traditions. In 1989 the Mongolia People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) recognized this problem and initiated a “Mongolian nationalist revival” (Bruun ; Odgaard 1996: 33).