Much of Mongolia is covered with mountains and high, flat land areas called plateaus. The Gobi Desert stretches across the southeastern part of the country.
Nearly all Mongolia’s people are Asians called Mongols. The country’s official language is Mongolian. The main religion is Lamaism, a form of Buddhism.
About half of Mongolia’s people live in the cities, and about half of them live and work on livestock farms. These farms are like huge ranches with small towns in the center. The central buildings include houses, business offices, shops, and doctors offices for the people and animals.
Sheep are the most important animals raised on the livestock farms. Other animals include camels, cattle, goats, and horses. The government runs some farms for raising crops. Manufacturing, mining, and construction are also important to Mongolia’s economy.
In the 1200′s, strong Mongol leaders built up the biggest land empire in history. This empire ruled most of Asia and part of eastern Europe. China controlled Mongolia from the mid-1600′s to 1911. A Buddhist priest called the Living Buddha ruled Mongolia from 1911 until he died in 1924. From 1924 to the 1990′s, a powerful Communist government controlled Mongolia. This government owned most of the country’s businesses and farms, and only Communists could serve in the government. In 1990, non-Communists were elected to Mongolia’s government for the first time.