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Magnificent Mongolia, a land of wide open spaces, full of undiscovered beauty, situated between Russia and China, is often forgotten… which makes it even more enchanting to discover! A North Asian marvel, this country balances proud tradition and rapid modernisation.
As the descendants of Chingiss Khaan (Genghis Khan), Mongolians rightfully celebrate their national hero, who once conquered most of Eurasia. From him, they retain a certain endurance of spirit and a continuing love of their own special breed of horses. You won’t find better horsemen anywhere on Earth!
Alongside the natural wonders of rolling steppes, snow-capped mountains, and the dunes of the Gobi Desert, there is a starkly contrasting, vibrant city: Ulaanbaatar! This metropolis, undergoing constant construction, is a land of opportunity unto itself, the seat of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Are you ready for adventure? Then the ‘Land of the Eternal Blue Sky’ is the place for you!
As 46% of Mongolia’s population lives in the capital, and it is the centre of all economic activity, you will most likely be looking for accommodation in Ulaanbaatar. Accommodation costs here remain extremely affordable, with a flat rental costing less than half of what it would in much of Europe.
In previous years, it would have been necessary to work with an estate agent but today, with a fast-growing expat community, particularly from the mining, agriculture and education sectors, much can be found on the internet, either through well-known international accommodation rental websites, or online postings from locally based individuals.
As is the case in many post-socialist countries, the Mongolian school system has moved towards an eleven-year programme. Since 2008, the official school entrance age has been six, and eight years of schooling are compulsory. The school year begins on 1 September.
The top Mongolian secondary schools (based on university entrance exams) are private and of a high standard. Expats mostly choose international schools due to the language factor. There is a growing number of options in Ulaanbaatar, the best-known of which is the International School of Ulaanbaatar (ISU). This school offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum from pre-school through year 12.
Mongolia is the world’s least densely populated country and even today, a third of the population continues to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that natural life and animal husbandry play a central role in Mongolian cultural heritage, including the food they eat. Mutton is a constant at every table and dairy foods are omnipresent. Such hearty fare is key to Mongolians’ vigour in facing bracing winters. Even if curds are not a favourite, be sure to partake when Mongolian hosts offer traditional dishes as it is considered rude not to share in the feast!
Mongolia’s economy trots along at a frenetic pace due to an extremely youthful population: nearly 60% of Mongolians are under the age of 30! The future looks bright here, and is increasingly influenced by Korean and Chinese youth culture. Many Asian tech companies have set up offices here. Could this be why karaoke is found on every corner in Ulaanbaatar? Mongolians love to sing, and they’ll expect you to join in!
Nature remains at the very heart of everyone’s lives here, so getting out there is essential. For this, you will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as paved roads are the exception outside the capital!
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