Published on January 22nd, 2014 | by Kellie Bright
FACTY THINGS: 10 FACTS ABOUT MONGOLIA
Mongolian eagle festival | Photo courtesy of J. Wigstein
People are totally fascinated by Mongolia. I’m basing this claim solely on the fact that I know I am fascinated by Mongolia, but I feel like it’s a pretty accurate claim. The country is by turns strange, exotic and relatively untouched; with rural families not just surviving, but thriving in one of the world’s most barren landscapes. Mental.
Here are 10 Mongolia facts that we believe to be pretty cool:
1. The two humped Bactrian camel is indigenous to Mongolia. The annual Thousand Camel Festival is run by a local non-governmental organisation working to protect and preserve the Bactrian camel population, which has been steadily declining over the past twelve years. At the festival you’ll get an opportunity to interact with the camels and learn first-hand about the camel herders’ nomadic lifestyle.
2. In a country where distances are far and communication can be difficult, it is important to maintain a sense of community. People living in the Mongolian countryside will always have a bowl of warm, salty milk tea ready for visitors
3. In winter you’ll find venders selling ice cream on the street from paper boxes. There’s no need for a freezer at -30 degrees Celsius.
4. Wooden electricity poles are attached to a concrete base, because without it the pole would simply snap from the pressure of the freezing ground. This might not seem that interesting, but it’s a pretty good demonstration of Mongolian ingenuity.
5. The Golden Eagle festival is held over two days every year, celebrating age-old Kazakh traditions. It begins with a parade of eagle hunters on horseback, displaying their elaborate hunting costumes and accessories. The eagles are judged for their speed and agility, as the birds are released from a cliff and swoop down to land on the arms of the hunters below. The men demonstrate their courage and horsemanship and a variety of traditional games.
6. Genghis Khan is considered the founding father of Mongolia. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and establishing the largest empire in the world, exceeded only by the British Empire in the 19th century. In a span of just 25 years, Genghis Khan’s horsemen conquered an area larger and greater in population than the Romans did in four centuries. In short, he was a determined bloke.
7. A 131-foot statue of Genghis Khan sits just outside Ulan Bator and is the world’s tallest statue of a horse.
8. You could fit the Netherlands into Mongolia thirty seven times. But you could fit Mongolian roads into the Dutch road system sixty seven times!
9. The Mongolian Stock Exchange is the smallest in the capitalist world.
10. In the 1920s, fossilised dinosaur remains were found in the Gobi Desert, along with the first dinosaur eggs. Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed today, so keep an eye on the ground as well as the stunning landscape!