In between the giants
China and Russia the fascinating country of Mongolia
really is something else. It brings to mind the times
when the Mongols were feared for their extraordinary
fighting skills that delivered them the largest empire
ever known to mankind. But these times are long gone.
What we call Mongolia today is a country of about twice
the size of Texas inhabited by peaceful people. Excluding
the capital Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia has an amazingly low
population density of half a person per square kilometer
(less than one person a square mile).
Still Mongolians have
a rather distinct way of life, which they have been
living for hundreds of years. Nomadic herdsmen wonder
around the country in their advanced movable dwellings
called gers and face temperatures from 30° C down to
-50°c. The diet is for a great deal based on mutton
and dairy products; the things given to them by the
animals. The preferred local drink is airag, fermented
In the last century
the nomadic society did come under threat by the destructive
ideals of communism. When in 1990 Mongolia became a
democracy, many people left the town and cooperatives
and went herding again. Not withouth risk. A lot of
the traditional knowledge had faded and only slowly
did some of them readapt to the nomadic way of life.
Nowadays Mongolia is modern country
where people drive their fancy landcruisers, while talking
to their trendy mobile phone. Economic growth has been
encouraging, while the elections of 2004 shows that
democracy is really ruling the country.