What is Mongolia Known For?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mongolia? Maybe you have watched some documentaries or read something about Chinggis Khaan; for the most part most people who have never been to Mongolia think of the following things.
Grasslands and Steppes
A lot of people stumble across documentaries on Discovery Channel, National Geographic and other various TV channels that showcase Mongolia. Most often those documentaries highlight the open steppes, the beautiful countryside, and the “blue sky”
However, western and northern Mongolia has a very different landscape. From densely populated forests, mountains, to big lakes, various Mongolian minority groups live in the western and northern part of Mongolia.
Nomads Who Ride Horses Everywhere
You probably have seen them on TV documentaries as well. Rough and hardy people living a rough and hardy life. Their life is simple and peaceful according to some tourists, but living out in the steppes as a nomad can be a difficult.
Most nomads don’t know much about modern day luxuries and technology, hence they are subject to harsh climate conditions, which is why most nomads tend to have rough and dark skin.
However, it’s wrong to assume every Mongolian is a nomad. Almost 1.7 million people (~60% of the population) live in urban cities as of 2018 and each year, more and more nomads are opting to live a sedentary lifestyle.
High Quality Cashmere
Mongolia has one of the finest cashmere products in the world. For the past few years, most of Mongolian cashmere was sold locally, however, with the help of Naadam and Gobi (2 big cashmere brands from Mongolia), only recently has the world started to enjoy Mongolian cashmere.
Warriors and Wrestlers
If you are familiar with Naidan Tuvshinbayar or Sumo, you will know that Mongolia is known best for wrestling and sumo when it comes to sports. Even in movies and cartoons, Mongolians are portrayed as scary warriors, big and tough.
Yurts and Gers
Another representation of Mongolia’s culture and history. Most Mongolians have lived in yurts/gers traditionally and many nomads still live in one to this day. The mobility of gers makes it so popular and practical. Packing and setting it up again in different places can take only a few hours.
Here’s an interesting video on how it’s done.
Protein Rich Foods
And the reason why Mongolians are hardy and tend to be more stockier compared with other Asians is because of the protein rich foods. Locals consume great amounts of organic diary and meats. As a nomadic country with over 30 million stock animals, there is plenty of protein to go around.
And who can forget, Chinggis Khaan, or Genghis Khan as some spell it. He is known for creating the biggest land empires in history. Depending the educational system, Chinggis Khaan is a controversial figure. Some think he is a barbarian who brought nothing but destruction, while others argue he made a profound impact for the greater in the world.
Under Chinggis Khaan’s rule, there was peace throughout Eurasia and various cultures had the freedom to trade with one another, practice their religion without persecution, and maintain their cultural traditions without being forced to assimilate into Mongolian practices and traditions. The 13th century was one of the most peaceful and prosperous eras of Eurasian history.
For a sense of perspective, he is no more different than previous conquerors such as Julius Caesar, Alexander, Charlemagne, etc. It depends where people learned their history.
Without the revered Mongolian horse, Chinggis Khaan would not have been able to establish the Mongolian Empire that we know of today. The Mongolian horse served as an integral part of Chinggis Khaan’s military organization, tactics, and strategy.
When visiting Mongolia, you will come across statues and monuments dedicated specifically for Mongolian horses. They are praised for their spirit and is a symbol of Mongolian history and culture.
The Naadam Festival
The Naadam festival, sometimes referred to as the “manly games of Mongolia” is the most popular time of the year for tourists to visit. The three main games: Wrestling, Archer, and Horse Racing are held from July-August.
In the capital, Ulaanbaatar, the national championships are held, whereas in smaller villages and towns, the regional championships are held. In some places foreigners are allowed to participate and even win a title.