the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
Mongolia is a cultural nation of eastern Asia, defined by the Mongol dialect (Монгол Хэл « Mongol Xèl » / ᠮᠣᠨᠭᠭᠣᠯ ᠬᠡᠯᠡ « Moŋgol Xele »), and the region inhabited by that nation (shown at right, in blue). The nation is known in history especially for its massive land empire, perhaps the largest ever.
By extension, Mongolia is a modern state dominated by the Mongols, and a country based on that state. Mongolia was part of the Eastern Bloc, essentially a Russian client state. Since its effective independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been consistently democratic, unusually for its level of economic developement. Part of cultural Mongolia lies within the Chinese state, known as Inner Mongolia (ᠦᠪᠦᠷ ᠮᠤᠩᠭᠤᠯ « Öbür Moŋgol » / Өбүр Монгол « Öbür Mongol »), so named from a Chinese perspective; this territory is experiencing rapid demographic change due to colonization by the Han Chinese. The Great Wall of China (長城 « Ç‛aŋ35 Ç‛əŋ35 », “Long Wall”) was originally built as a physical border between China and Mongolia.
The main city of Mongolia, and the seat of the independent government, is Ulan Bator (Улаан Баатар « Ulaan Baatar »). Nearly half the residents of the state live in Ulan Bator.
Mongol has several subdialects, including one, Kalmyk (Хальмг Келн « Xalĵmg Keln ») spoken as far away as the Caucasus, a remnant of the previous empire. The relationship of Mongol to a larger language family is still debated; the most common proposal would group it with Turkic and Tungusic (which included Manchu) to form Altaic, possibly including Japanese and Korean as well. No accepted reconstruction of Altaic has yet been made.
The most famous Mongols are certainly Genghis (ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ « Čiŋgis »), born Temujin (Тэмүжин « Tèmüžin »), and his grandson Kubla (ᠬᠦᠪᠢᠯᠠᠢ « Xubilaj »). As emperors, both were titled (not named) ‘khan’ (ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ « xagan » / хаған « xağan » / хаан « xaan »). Genghis founded the Mongol empire in 1206. The empire of the Mongols was made possible by their use of horse-mounted archers to achieve mastery of the steppe (from Russian степь « stepĵ »), the vast, grassy plain that stretches east-to-west through the center of Eurasia. Kubla conquered China; the Mongols ruled China from 1271 to 1368, a period known as the Yuan dynasty. In historiography, ‘Mongolia’ is only applied to the central state, not to Mongol-dominated successor states (Chagatai Khanate, Golden Horde, Ilkhanate) in other parts of Eurasia or to China during the Yuan dynasty.
Mongols are traditionally Lamaist Buddhists, a practice adopted from the Tibetans. Though most Mongols today write in the Cyrillic script, Mongol has been, and to some extent still is, written in a unique script, originally used by the Uyghurs and adapted from Northwest Semitic, that reads top to bottom.
For the modern state (outlined in the image):
© O.T. FORD