(Mongol Ard, Uls)

Mongolia (Mongol Ard, Uls), landlocked nation in central Asia lying between China and the USSR. A vast plateau with extensive grasslands embraces the heartland of the country; part of the Gobi Desert occupies the S. An agricultural economy relies primarily on herd animals with more than 80% of the total land area devoted to pastureland. Herdsmen make up the majority of the labor force and have been organized into collectives. Crops are grown on large-scale state farms. More than 90% of the people are indigenous Mongolians; 75% Khalkha Mongols. The church was suppressed in the 1930s; at that time Tibetan Buddhist Lamaism was predominant. Only one active monastery remains.

Governmental power is vested in the People’s Great Khural of Deputies, elected every three years by universal suffrage. From this body is chosen a nine-member Presidium to exercise state affairs. Under Genghis Khan in the 13th century, Mongolia conquered most of Asia and much of Europe. In the 14th century the empire collapsed and came under Chinese rule. During the 1911 Chinese Revolution, Mongolia, with Russian backing, declared its independence; a republic was formed in 1924. Officially recognized by China in 1946, Mongolia became a member of the United Nations in 1961. In 1966 a Mongolian-Soviet assistance pact reinforced their anti-Chinese position. Since then Mongolia has developed closer ties with the USSR; relations with China have been strained, resulting in sporadic border incidents. Yumzhagiyen Tsedenbal was first secretary and chairman of the Presidium from 1974 until 1984, when he was replaced for reasons of ill health by Zhambyn Batmunkh.

Official name: Mongolian People’s Republic Area: 604,247sq mi (1,565,000sq km) Population: 2,125,463 Density: 3.5per sq mi (1.4per sq km) Chief cities: Ulan Bator, capital; Darhan; Choybalsan Government: People’s Republic Language: Khalkha Mongolian (official) Monetary unit: Tugrik Gross domestic product: $1,700,000,000 Per capita income: $880 Agriculture (major products): livestock Minerals (major): coal, tungsten, copper, gold, tin, molybdenum Trading partners (major): COMECON member countries