Mongolia is a fascinating country. Once the largest empire on the planet, its history and mystery are just two of the reasons why so many visitors flock to this vast country year on year.
Mongolia is a vital part of the Trans-Siberian experience, and many of our rail journeys take in all that’s great about this beautiful destination. If you’re currently looking forward to a winter adventure in Mongolia, let us make the countdown to your departure even more exciting with these thought-provoking facts.
There are 500,000 square kilometres for every person
You may have an inkling that Mongolia is pretty vast, but just how vast will only become apparent once you arrive. Mongolia is five times bigger than Germany, yet its population is only slightly larger than the German city of Dusseldorf.
There are in fact 500,000 square kilometres of land area for every person that lives in Mongolia, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet after Greenland and the Falkland Islands.
Up to 40% of the population is nomadic
Around 25 to 40% of the Mongolian population is a part of a nomadic community. This way of life is instilled in Mongolian culture, with many individuals taking up the traditional roles of nomadic herders. The country is one of the last in the world to have a high number of nomads among its population.
There are approximately 3 million horses in Mongolia
Horses actually outnumber people in Mongolia, with 3 million horses currently calling the country their home. Horse culture in Mongolia is world-renowned. Nomadic communities rely on horses for a number of things. As a result, they form a staple part of Mongolian life.
Mongolian horses are however more than just a treasured herd animal. Here The Mongolian Experiment reveals more about the relationship between Mongol and horse:
“Mongolians put a huge amount of trust into the abilities of their horses, and that changes the way that they ride… More control is given to the horse than in western riding, and I have read countless accounts of westerners trying to ride a Mongolian horse the way they would ride a western horse, and the Mongolian horses essentially rebel against such heavy-handed attempts at subjugation. Mongolian horses are independent and expect to be allowed to think for themselves and judge what is probably best for the situation at hand.”
Horses provide transport, entertainment, and food and drink, with the infamous fermented mare’s milk or airag, a must-try for any visitor.
Mongolia is home to the two-humped camel
Despite its sparse population, Mongolia is a great place to go wildlife watching. The country hosts a diverse collection of species, with the grey wolf, Siberian ibex, snow leopard, and Gobi bear just some of the mammals that are certain to be on your list of animals to see. The Bactrian camel is just one of the endangered species that live in Mongolia.
Unlike its Arabian relative, it has two humps instead of one, and the species is only found in two places, Mongolia and in a small part of China. The population of Bactrian camel is largely domesticated. There are only around 1,400 wild Bactrian camels, making them a particularly rare sight.
You’ll find the world’s oldest national park here
One of the best places to see wildlife in any country is by paying a visit to a national park, and the same is true in Mongolia. You’ll find the oldest national park in the world in Mongolia. Based just a stone’s throw away from Ulaanbaatar, Bogd Khan Ull National Park was founded in 1783, 100 years before Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
As well as its beautiful mountain being of religious significance, Bogd Khan Ull National Park is home to more than 220 species of plant and rare mammals like the red deer, musk deer, Siberian deer, wild boar, and Siberian ibex.