Introduction

Map Far East

Mongolia is a large country, more than twice the size of Texas. With a population of only 2.7 million people, it is sparsely populated. In fact it is the most sparsely populated country in the world. And it is set right in the middle of the land mass of Asia.

Its latitude is about the same as New England's, which might lead you to expect a temperate climate, but instead it has a harsh continental climate. Mongolia is far from any ocean that might provide atmospheric moisture so the country is arid and consists mostly of grass-covered steppe or desert. It is located at the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and most places in the country have an elevation of between 4000 and 5000 feet above sea level. The elevation and the lack of atmospheric moisture make the climate fairly extreme with hot summers and cold winters.

Mongolia is bounded by two giant nations - China and Russia - both of which have controlled Mongolia at one time or another. Increasingly desirable for its mineral wealth, Mongolia's independence depends in part on its being able to walk agilely between these two 300 pound gorillas.

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