Mongolia FAQ <author>Oliver Corff <abstract> Summary: This posting contains a list of Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) about Mongolia, Mongolians and the areas where Mongolian-speaking people live. </abstract> <toc> <sect>Preliminary Notes <p> <sect1>About this FAQ <p> Archive-name: mongol-faq Version: 7.00 Copyright: Oliver Corff 1994..2000 Berlin, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, Macau Anyone wishing to contribute to or improve this document should not hesitate to send the edited part(s) to me, i.e. Oliver Corff, <tt> </tt> or <tt> </tt> Translations into other languages are welcome and appreciated. The author kindly requests to receive a proof copy prior to publishing the translated version in order to make sure that the translated version is based on the most recent original. <bf>Thanks to</bf> Christopher Kaplonski, Peter Crandall, Mingan Choct, Ariunaa, Peter Lofting, Ken Beesley, Wolfgang Lipp, Noreen Palazzo, Solongowa Borzigin, Purevdorj, Darima Socktoyeva, Prof. Dr. Yondon (+), Mykel Board, Dominik Troger, David Methuen, Peter G. Campbell, Katherine Petrie, Laurent Amsaleg, E. Bulag, Graham Shields, Jakub Paluszak, Mark Chopping, Kent Madin and all others who have contributed by submitting facts, corrections or suggestions on what to include. Contributions of all kind are so numerous that the FAQ compiler lost track of who contributed what a long time ago. <bf>Technical Note:</bf> This text is now maintained on the basis of an sgml master in Latin1 encoding. The master document is converted into plain text form (for feeding into the newsgroups) and HTML form (for presentation in the WWW). If you want to redistribute this FAQ (which you are free and welcome to do as long as the document is not modified and the copyright and author lines remain intact) please contact the FAQ source if you require the <htmlurl url="" name="FAQ in sgml format">. Without contacting the author, you are only entitled to store, mirror and reproduce the text version as found in the newsgroups or the HTML version found at the official Mongolia FAQ URL. Incorporation of this FAQ in commercial distributions, no matter which media (CD-ROM, books, etc.) requires written permission by the FAQ compiler. <sect1>How is this text compiled? <p> Back in 1994, the maintainer of this FAQ thought it would be nice to have a FAQ on Mongolia. He collected some of the original questions (mainly questions like: how to obtain visa, where to find software, etc.), circulated the idea in the then newly founded Mongolia-related newsgroup soc.culture.mongolian and within a few days a number of contributors and ideas came together to form the first Mongolia FAQ. Since then, this text saw a considerable increase in detail and range of questions. People still tend to ask the same questions, even this one: How was this text compiled? Well, the answer is right here. As far as possible, the FAQ maintainer tries to use first-hand experience and information to answer questions. Over the years, the maintainer visited Mongolia and Southern (Inner) Mongolia in various functions. The maintainer hopes to be able to share his, not always objective view, with the readers. Sometimes, if not frequently, the information is provided by readers of the before-mentioned newsgroup or readers of this FAQ. The list of contributors speaks! You are always welcome to share your ideas, suggestions, criticism and updated information with the maintainer since this offers the best chance for improving this text. Join the ranks! Information is updated in two ways: if major changes become necessary, the document is changed immediately and redistributed as soon as possible, usually within a few days. Other questions of not such an urgent nature take more time to make it into this document, and then the document receives its updates at greater intervalls, but also at the benefit of greater chunks. <sect1>How can I get a copy of this Frequently Asked Questions list? <p> You are holding a copy of this document in your working memory! Save it now. A copy of this document is always kept in Infosystem Mongolei (see below) but here again is its URL: <tt> </tt> <sect1>Can I receive regular updates of this document? <p> Yes and no. Of course you are entitled to receive updates, and you can send a mail to requesting an updated version, but due to the nature of how the FAQ is generated, it cannot be regular. Whenever a new version is out, it will be announced in soc.culture.mongolian and the mailing list. <sect1>I see all these irritating spelling variants in Mongolian Names. Which one is right? <p> Given the name of the Capital of Mongolia, one can find it written in several forms: Ulan Bator, Ulaan Baatar, Ulaanbaatar and even Ulaganbagatur (where the ``g'' sometimes is --- strangely enough! --- spelled by a Greek gamma).. Which one, then, is the really correct form? As with every non-Latin script, there is a problem of rendering this script into Latin which involves a choice between two methods: transliteration and transcription. The first method tries to reproduce the original writing while the second method tries to indicate its pronounciation. The process is further complicated if another language and/or script is inserted between the original and the target. Hence, Ulaanbaatar is the transliteration of the name in Mongolian (using the Cyrillic alphabet), Ulan Bator is a spelling derived from the Russian transcription of the name (though Russians and Mongolians use the same writing system, the Russians preferred to make a transcription of the Mongolian name rather than accepting it unmodified into Russian), Ulaan Baatar is the transliterated spelling of the Mongolian words ``Red Hero'' (the literal meaning of the name), and Ulaganbagatur finally is an approach to transliterate the name from the Classical Mongolian writing. The whole methodological problem is explained in detail in the section on Mongolian and computers towards the very end of this FAQ. Due to the difficulties of rendering names etc. for postal, news and other services some more or less ``official'' ways of spelling exist, in addition to several transliterations and common spellings which are not correct in the strict sense but enjoy a broad acceptance. <sect1>Is there a key to the romanization used here? <p> The FAQ maintainer uses the MLS system for romanizing Mongolian. The MLS system offers round-trip compatibility (Cyrillic texts can be transliterated, the romanized version can be retransliterated and will be identical with the Cyrillic original). Software for MS-DOS and UNIX based computers is available at no charge. The basic principles underlying MLS are simple: if ever possible, use <it/one/ Latin character for <it/one/ Cyrillic letter, and if not possible, use an unambiguous digraph. Vowels are classified as front (female) or back (male); front vowels are all marked with diacritics. It is a fact that Mongolian *has* seven basic vowels, and it is not possible to avoid these in writing. Furthermore, if ever possible, one transliteration symbol should be used for Cyrillic *and* Classical Mongolian letters of the same linguistic origin. The following simple table tries to avoid graphics and foreign character sets but uses conventional names and positions to identify Cyrillic letters. <!-- More or Less Conventional --> <table> <tabular ca="rlll"> Position<colsep>Name <colsep>Romanization <colsep>Notes<rowsep><hline> 1 <colsep>A <colsep>A/a <colsep> <rowsep> 2 <colsep>Be <colsep>B/b <colsep> <rowsep> 3 <colsep>Ve <colsep>W/w <colsep>(1)<rowsep> 4 <colsep>Ge <colsep>G/g <colsep> <rowsep> 5 <colsep>De <colsep>D/d <colsep> <rowsep> 6 <colsep>Ye <colsep>E/e <colsep> <rowsep> 7 <colsep>Yo <colsep>Yo/ or yo <colsep>(2)<rowsep> 8 <colsep>Je <colsep>J/j <colsep> <rowsep> 9 <colsep>Ze <colsep>Z/z <colsep> <rowsep> 10 <colsep>Ih <colsep>I/i <colsep> <rowsep> 11 <colsep>Xagas I (I kratkoye)<colsep>I or /<colsep>(3)<rowsep> 12 <colsep>Ka <colsep>K/k <colsep> <rowsep> 13 <colsep>eL <colsep>L/l <colsep> <rowsep> 14 <colsep>eM <colsep>M/m <colsep> <rowsep> 15 <colsep>eN <colsep>N/n <colsep> <rowsep> 16 <colsep>O <colsep>/o <colsep> <rowsep> 17 <colsep>Front (barred) O<colsep>/ <colsep> <rowsep> 18 <colsep>Pe <colsep>P/p <colsep> <rowsep> 19 <colsep>eR <colsep>R/r <colsep> <rowsep> 20 <colsep>eS <colsep>S/s <colsep> <rowsep> 21 <colsep>Te <colsep>T/t <colsep> <rowsep> 22 <colsep>U <colsep>U/u <colsep> <rowsep> 23 <colsep>Front (Straight) U<colsep>/ <colsep> <rowsep> 24 <colsep>Fe <colsep>F/f <colsep> <rowsep> 25 <colsep>Xa <colsep>X/x <colsep>(4)<rowsep> 26 <colsep>Ce <colsep>C/c <colsep><rowsep> 27 <colsep>Che <colsep>Q/q <colsep><rowsep> 28 <colsep>Sha <colsep>Sh/sh <colsep><rowsep> 29 <colsep>Shcha <colsep>Qh/qh <colsep>(5)<rowsep> 30 <colsep>Xatuu Temdeg (Hard Sign)<colsep>`<colsep>(6)<rowsep> 31 <colsep>61-Y <colsep>Y/y <colsep>(7)<rowsep> 32 <colsep>Zln Temdeg (Soft Sign)<colsep>'<colsep>(6)<rowsep> 33 <colsep>E (not Ye)<colsep>/ <colsep><rowsep> 34 <colsep>Yu <colsep>Yu/yu <colsep>(8)<rowsep> 35 <colsep>Ya <colsep>Ya/ya <colsep><rowsep> <!-- --> </tabular> </table> Notes: <enum> <item> <it/W/ was chosen over <it/v/ because <it/v/ serves a slightly different purpose in the transliteration of Classical Mongolian. And, there is no <it/w/, only <it/b/, in Classical Mongolian. <item> Small <it/yo/ can be written as <tt/e+diaeresis/ (#137 in the good old IBM cp437 codepage) or as <it/yo/. Pick what you like. Actually, for ISO 8859-1 users, there is also a capitalized <it// available. (Not so for IBM cp437 users). The converter software is lenient and accepts both; so should humans. <item> <it/Xagas i/ (lit. ``half i'') can be entered as #139 by IBM cp437 users; a capitalized version of this letter is available for ISO 8859-1 users only. <item> <it/X/ may look strange at first glance but is optically close to its Cyrillic partner; <it/H/ could not be used because it is reserved for Buriad (e.g.: <it/hain baina uu/) where it coexists with it/x/. <item> Yes, <it/Qh/ for Shch is <it/odd/. However, this letter <it/never/ occurs in genuinely Mongolian words, so it should not be too insulting to the eye. And, unlike shch, it is round- trip compatible! <item> Both hard and soft signs are expressed by simple accents, the transliteration does not make a difference between uppercase and lowercase letters. It is possible to judge by context. <item> Why ``61-...''? In Mongolian called <it/jaran-nign/, lit. ``sixty-one'', reproduces the hand-written image if this letter. <item> <it/Yu/ and <it/yu/ can also be written as <it/Y/ and <it/Y/ so as to avoid things like *<it/yulr/. <it/ylr/ looks nicer! </enum> <sect>Mongolia - Communication and Information <p> <sect1>Are there any sources of information on Mongolia in the Internet? <p> Yes and No. First the No. Until about 1994, There used to be only a number of miscellaneous documents (mainly U.S. government publications) on Mongolia available on the Internet. These documents (not much more than a handful of files) were partially outdated, difficult to find and frequently available on various mirrored sites increasing the confusion. Now the first Yes. In spring 1994, the USENET newsgroup soc.culture.mongolian came into existence. It enjoys a certain popularity, not only among Mongolia specialists but also among other interested persons. This newsgroup (which is not moderated) offers lively discussions on all sorts of topics ranging from food to religion, from history to modern politics. Many frequent contributors supply soc.culture.mongolian also with news about current events, exhibitions etc. In order to read the news of soc.culture.mongolian, start any of the news readers available on your machine (this may be tin, rn, nn, or any other favourite). Following the instructions, it should not be too difficult to subscribe to soc.culture.mongolian since this is a mainstream USENET newsgroup which should be available at any Internet site featuring USENET services. Now the second Yes. The <htmlurl url="" name="Mongolia Society"> in Bloomington, Indiana established a WWW home page in Summer 1995. The WWW homepage gives information about the Mongolia Society and its activities. The Mongolia Society URL is: <tt></tt>. The author of this site, Mitch Rice, is very active in collecting, bundling and updating Mongolia-related Internet documents, references to other WWW home pages on Mongolia and Tuva, gopher servers and single documents on Mongolia in the <htmlurl url="" name="Mongolia WWW Virtual Library">, the URL being: <tt> </tt> Now the third Yes. The Mongolian Internet provider <htmlurl url="" name="Magicnet">, the URL being: <tt> </tt> provides news about Mongolia and even as a daily download of ``Today'' articles. ``Today'', or <it>ndr</it> in Mongolian, is the most important newspaper in Mongolia. For reading the articles, a special font is provided which can be loaded into Microsoft Windows environments. Now the fourth Yes. Recently, many more Web sites on Mongolia have emerged, some of them with a focus on travel, others with a focus on Southern (Inner) Mongolia, again others focussing on Chinggis Khan and his spiritual heritage. Instead of including all references here I wish to redirect all requests to the <htmlurl url="" name="Mongolia WWW Virtual Library">. Now the fifth Yes. In November 1993, the first gopher server offering dedicated information on Mongolia started working. It was located at Free University, Berlin, Germany, and could be reached via (do not try that anymore, that is history now!): <tt> gopher </tt> . This gopher server used to offer the Infosystem Mongolei featuring a small but growing collection of articles, maps, legal documents and software related to Mongolia. From early 1995 on, this gopher server was supposed to migrate to a WWW site, but, alas! due to a handful of reasons this aim could not be achieved before spring 1996. In its present phase, the <htmlurl url="" name="Infosystem Mongolei - WWW site"> is to a certain yet small extent still a mirror of the former gopher site but soon the former gopher site will only be recognizable as its root, not as its substance any more. New technologies are constantly advancing and create new opportunities for publishing documents which seemed to be ``unpublishable'' due to technical constraints. The new WWW site supports Chinese characters in its documents eliminating effectively the need for dedicated software on the users' side. The Infosystem Mongolei - WWW URL is: <tt> </tt> You can receive announcements about new articles, updates etc. if you send a mail to with the request to be included in the mailing list. <!-- More information on other Asia-related sources which may be important for Mongolia studies can be found at the <htmlurl url="" name="ANU - Register of Asian Studies E-Journals"> maintained by Dr. Ciolek. --> <sect1>Is there an Internet or e-mail link to Mongolia? <p> The first e-mail link in Mongolia came into existence in January/February 1995 and was not yet a continuous (i.e. 24 h/day) operation but it seemed to work. It is still active and organized by a commercial service provider, Datacom Co., Ltd. Mongolia. The address is: <tt> </tt> and requests to this address will most certainly be answered by Bataa, the system operator. There are various types of service charges. First, one has to open an account which is between USD 20.-- and USD 100.-- depending on whether one is a private or an institutional user. Then there is a monthly charge (starting with USD 5.-- / month), and in addition there is a volume charge for every kB of data which is 30 cents. Despite these various charges, the operation via e-mail is by far the cheapest because fax and DX telephone costs are tremendous. In 1999, many Internet providers have mushroomed at least in Ulaanbaatar, and there are now too many Internet Cafs as can be included here; they are easily locatable by their huge billboards like the ones near the National University and the Baga Torog, the Small Ring Street with Sxbaatar Square at its centre. Fares seem to be around T1600.-- per hour, which is rather modest. The occasional traveller to Ulaanbaatar can thus afford to stay in touch with home. In addition, the Academy of Sciences which used to have its own connection (UUCP) to the Internet via Dubna, Russia, has switched to magicnet, too, in summer 1996, but this is history, and recently the Academy can be reached via: <tt> </tt> for the Computer Centre of the Academy. The other institutes which used to have an address at Dubna are migrating too, and their new addresses will be provided in due course. <htmlurl url="" name="Inner Mongolia University"> can be accessed by the URL <tt> </tt>. <htmlurl url="" name="Inner Mongolia Polytechnical University"> can be accessed by the URL <tt> </tt>. By information of February 4, 1996, Buryatia can be reached via e-mail. For first contact, you may communicate to <tt> </tt> (Communicated by Darima Socktoyeva, February 1996) <sect1>Is there an IDD (International Direct Dialing) telephone link to Mongolia? <p> Yes, there is the possibility to place IDD (International Direct Dialing) telephone calls to Mongolia. The country code is ++976. <sect2>What are the area codes within Mongolia? <p> Available area codes are: <table> <tabular ca="lr"> Ulaanbaatar <colsep> 01<rowsep> Darxan <colsep> 037<rowsep> Dornod, Qobalsan <colsep> 061<rowsep> Arxanga <colsep> 073<rowsep> Bayan-lgi <colsep> 071<rowsep> Bayanxongor <colsep> 069<rowsep> Bulgan <colsep> 067<rowsep> Gow'-Alta <colsep> 065<rowsep> Gow'-Smber <colsep> 075<rowsep> Darxan-Uul <colsep> 037<rowsep> Dornogow' <colsep> 063<rowsep> Dundgow' <colsep> 059<rowsep> Zawxan <colsep> 057<rowsep> Orxon <colsep> 035<rowsep> wrxanga <colsep> 055<rowsep> mngow' <colsep> 053<rowsep> Sxbaatar <colsep> 051<rowsep> Slng <colsep> 049<rowsep> Tw <colsep> 047<rowsep> Uws <colsep> 045<rowsep> Xowd <colsep> 043<rowsep> Xwsgl <colsep> 041<rowsep> Xnti <colsep> 039<rowsep> Baganuur Drg <colsep> 031<rowsep> Nalax Drg <colsep> 033<rowsep> </tabular> </table> At present the telephone system in Ulaanbaatar is under reconstruction which implies that certain numbers are changed. Ulaanbaatar used to have 5-digit telephone numbers until 1992. Those numbers which then began with a 2 are usually converted by placing a 3 in front of the leading digit. Other numbers were changed later. Some numbers still retain the 5-digit order. <sect1>How to reach Inner Mongolia? <p> Inner Mongolia can be reached via China. The country code is 86, the area code for Huhhot is (0)471 (skip the leading 0 when dialing from abroad). In 1995, there was a change in the telephone system of Huhhot, and a ``9'' must now be included after the first digit. So, a number like 454433 becomes now 4954433. <sect1>How to reach Buryatia and Kalmykia? <p> Buryatia can be reached via Russia. The country code is ++7 but there are two city codes for Ulan Ude: 3012 for 6-digit telephone numbers, 30122 for 5-digit telephone numbers. Kalmykia is also reached via Russia, its area code is 847 and a district Code may appear between it and your local numbers. <sect1>Are there mobile (cellular) phone services available in Mongolia? <p> Yes, a service provider named ``MobiCom'' provides cellular phone services (GSM standard) within Ulaanbaatar and a 35-km range around the Capital as well as Darxan and rdnt. You can take your Siemens, National Panasonic or other mobile phone to Ulaanbaatar and get a service contract (with chip card) there. The initial fee is hefty (around USD 200.-- or USD 300.--) and the airtime price per minute is around USD .50. Monthly fee used to be USD 50.-- but was reduced to approximately USD 30.-- with the arrival of a competitor, SkyTel (see below). MobiCom numbers begin with 99-11, followed by a four-digit subscriber's number. Dialling from abroad requires the sequence +976-99-11-subscriber. There is no further area code between the country code and the cell phone number. Contact MobiCom Corporation, tel. 312222, or send a fax before going there (+976-1-314041) if you want to use their service. Another mobile phone company which started business in 1999 is SkyTel. Their telephone numbers begin with 96-16. SkyTel rates seem to be more competitive than MobiCom's. Both MobiCom and SkyTel have their offices in the immediate neighbourhood behind the Central Post Office west of Sxbaatar Square. <sect1>Are there Mongolian radio broadcasts? <p> The question has two possible basic meanings. First of all, we can ask whether there are radio broadcasts in Mongolia. Then we can ask whether there are Mongolian language radio broadcasts abroad. Both questions can be answered positively. Mongolia has a domestic radio service, both wireless and wire, as well as television. Besides the domestic radio service, there is also an international shortwave service. The radio in Ulaanbaatar is mainly based on a wire-distributed system with loudspeakers in virtually every urban househould. In some areas there is only one channel available while other areas feature two channels which are propagated with long waves and detected with very simple sets: two channel buttons (with the more sophisticated sets; the simple ones do without), volume control, that's it. If one does not want to listen, one pulls the plug; otherwise it's Plug and Play. These radio sets, called `boxes' (<it>xarcag</it> in Mongolian) are available in the department store but where ever you go you would inevitably run into the soft background of these ever-present voices, especially at offices, workplaces etc. The movie ``Argamshaa'' has a scene where an empty apartment is shown with just the radio being switched on. Recently, at least one independent FM radio station took up operation. Mongolian television is a complex story: the state-run television can mainly be received in Ulaanbaatar, but in recent years many satellite channels mushroomed. It is now possible to watch MTV. Besides these new stations, Mongolian television has also diversified: There is now Ulaanbaatar City Television which even broadcasts on Monday when the state-run television station habitually has its day off. More details on television schedules and broadcast history can be found in an article by John W. Williams, <htmlurl url="" name="Mass Media in Post-Revolution Mongolia"> (in Infosystem Mongolei). International broadcasts on short wave by Radio Ulaanbaatar can be heard daily in English and Mongolian. The frequencies given here are last winter's schedule but appearantly there are not many changes so these can be tried: <table> <tabular ca="rrl"> Time (UTC)<colsep> Frequencies <colsep>Direction<rowsep><hline> 0300-0330<colsep> 9960, 12000kHz <colsep>Asia<rowsep> 0910-0940<colsep> 9960, 12000kHz <colsep>Asia<rowsep> 1445-1515<colsep> 7530, 9950kHz <colsep>Asia<rowsep> 1930-2000<colsep> 4080, 7530kHz <colsep>Europe and Asia<rowsep> </tabular> </table> A more detailed list which is probably not up-to-date gives information on the languages used by Radio Ulaanbaatar, schedule effective from September 24, 1995 to March 26, 1996 (Do not feel shocked to see the year 1996 there. The frequencies do not seem to change over the years.) <table> <tabular ca="lllll"> Language <colsep>Target Area <colsep>Weekday<colsep>Time UTC <colsep>Frequencies, kHz<rowsep> <rowsep> Mongolian <colsep>East Asia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1020-1050<colsep> 12085,9960,990<rowsep> <colsep>Siberia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1250-1320<colsep> 9950,7350,990<rowsep> English <colsep>Australia <colsep>Daily <colsep>0910-0940 <colsep>12000,9960<rowsep> <colsep>South Asia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1445-1515<colsep> 9950,7530<rowsep> <colsep>Europe <colsep>Daily <colsep>1930-2000<colsep> 7530,4080<rowsep> <colsep>North America <colsep>Daily <colsep>0300-0330<colsep> 12000,9960<rowsep> Russian <colsep>Far East <colsep>12.45.7<colsep>0945-1015<colsep> 12085,9960<rowsep> <colsep>Siberia <colsep>.23.567<colsep>1410-1440<colsep> 9950,7530<rowsep> <colsep>Europe <colsep>1.32.67<colsep>1700-1730<colsep> 7530,4080<rowsep> Japanese <colsep>East Asia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1120-1150<colsep> 12085,9960<rowsep> <colsep> <colsep>......7<colsep>1200-1230<colsep> 12085<rowsep> Chinese <colsep>East Asia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1050-1120 <colsep>12085,9960,990<rowsep> <colsep>Asia <colsep>Daily <colsep>1330-1400<colsep>9950,7530,990<rowsep> </tabular> </table> Address: Radio Ulaanbaatar, CPO Box 365, Ulaanbaatar 13, Mongolia The reception is usually fairly weak (as reported repeatedly and backed up by own experience). <sect1>What about Electricity Supply? <p> All these electric things are mentioned here. Do they operate on batteries? No, of course not. The standard electrical voltage of Mongolia is 220V, 50 cycles/second, and is supplied via Russian-style electricity outlets. The connector pins are round, usually with a diameter of 4mm, so squeezing modern German 5mm plugs into Mongolian sockets will break the socket. Either retrofit your wiring with so-called European plugs (4mm, no earthing connector), or use adapters, or modify or replace the wall outlet. Electricity is available in the cities of Mongolia as well as in amag centres and larger villages; in the countryside however, solar-driven batteries are extremely useful. Prepare yourself for brown-outs (unstable electricity supply) and black-outs (complete electricity failure) at unregular intervals for everything between fractions of a second and several hours. <sect>Mongolia - Land, People, Language <sect1>Where do Mongolians live? <p> Mongolians live in: <itemize> <item> Mongolia proper, the huge, land-locked country between China and the Siberian part of the Russian Federation (see also the <htmlurl url="" name="CIA -- The World Fact Book -- Mongolia">, URL <tt></tt>) <item> Southern Mongolia, or Inner Mongol Autonomous Region which politically belongs to China; <item>There are about 600,000-700,000 Mongols living in western Liaoning province. Most of them are Kharchin Mongols and the land they are living formerly called Zosot Aimag. Now there are still two Mongol Autonomous Counties in Liaoning; <item>There are about 150,000 Mongols living in western Jilin province. Most of them are Khorchin Mongols. They form one Mongol autonomous county there; <item>There are about 160,000 Mongols living in southwest Heilongjiang province. Most of them are Khorchin Mongols. There is one Mongol autonomous county in Heilongjiang. However, there are also four or five thousands of Kalmyks (Oirat) living in Yimin County (formerly the Ikh Mingan Banner). They were moved to the present area in early 18th century by the Qing government; <item> Buryatia, direct north of Mongolia proper, south and south-east of Lake Baikal. Buryatia is an Autonomous Republic, the capital is Ulaan-d (Ulan-Ude) (see also <htmlurl url="" name="Buryatia Fact File"> in Infosystem Mongolei); <item> An important number of Mongols who are known as Kalmyks live in Russia in Kalmykia, the capital being Elista. Kalmyks are also known as Oirats; <item> In Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, there are also Kalmyks holding strong ties with their brethren in Kalmykia. Yet even among the Oirats, groups are differentiated which has a strong political repercussion even today. There are also some Chahar Mongols in Xinjiang, and they may not consider themselves belonging to the mainstream Oirat, but be more interested in Inner Mongolia; <item> In Qinghai (modern Chinese name of what used to be known as Huhnuur or Koko-Nuur in old maps - which means <it>Blue Lake</it> in Mongolian and Chinese, being the Amdo region of Tibet) there are several communities of Mongolians and their descendants. They can be divided into two groups: 1. Mongols to the west of Xxnuur (Prince Lubsandanjin's group), i.e. Haixi Tibetan and Mongolian autonomous prefecture. They speak good Mongolian (Hoshot dialect). 2. The Mongols in Henan prefecture, i.e. those who earlier belonged to Prince Chagaandanjin, now speak Tibetan, but are still regarded and officially recognized as Mongolians; <item> In north Gansu there is a Mongol community which is largely of a mixed Khalkha-Hoshot origin. Some of the were descendants of Khalkha refugees fled Mongolia in the late twenties and early thirties of the 20th century; These groups deserve mentioning because they do not think they are living in `Chinese' provinces, but living in their original homeland. Jungaria is particularly important, it is also the homeland of the Kalmyks and Mongols in Germany and USA; <item>There are about 60,000 Mongols in Henan province, mainly concentrated around Nanyang Prefecture. They are descendants of the Mongol army during the Yuan dynasty. They do not speak Mongolian any more, but politically they are considered Mongols; <item> A significant number of Mongolians live dispersed in other Chinese provinces. Some of them form their own nationalities, e.g. the Dagurs, the Dongxiang (Sarts), the Bao'an etc. with languages being quite distant from modern Mongolian (cf. below); <item> Small communities of an ancient Mongol tribe named Moghols live in Afghanistan. Their language spoken today has only little in common with Xalx or Qaxar Mongolian; <item> There is also a worldwide somewhat scattered community of Mongol scholars, students and professionals living in many countries from <bf/A/merica to New <bf/Z/ealand. About 500 or more Mongols live in Germany. Many of them came to Germany during the existence of the German Democratic Republic which is now united with the Federal Republic of Germany; <item> A significant number of Kalmyks became expatriated during World War II. Having the status of Displaced Persons (DP) they were relocated to Munich, Germany immediately after the war from where many of them went on to the United States of America where they settled in New Jersey and formed the nucleus of the present Kalmyk community in the US; </itemize> <sect1>What Happened When? A Chronological View at Mongolian History <p> An overview of Mongolian history is given here in tabular manner. There are still many gaps in this list which are to be filled later. This is a starter, and should actually be accompanied by the notorious Site under Construction warning. Since this is an overview only, neither all geographical nor all personal names can be explained and commented in detail here. The reader interested in in-depth information is kindly requested to consult history books on Mongolian history; an introductory bibliography (see also the last item of this FAQ) can be found at SROM - Suggested Readings on Mongolia. Speaking in geopolitical terms, the epicentres of Mongolian history are the conquest of Central Asia in the 13th century, the Golden Horde (m. <it/altan orda/) in today's Russia lasting to the beginning of the 16th century, the comparatively shortlived Il Khanate (from 1220 to ca. 1350) and the Yuan Khanate (dynasty, <it/ulus/) in China (from 1279 to 1368), and, by the point of view of the Golden Horde, East Mongolia which is more or less identical with modern Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. This very brief sketch does not contain the history of Mongolians in India, nor many other contacts between Mongolia and the West. Huge volumes have been written about every single of these subjects, and the researcher who wants to fully understand by own reading of historical sources the panorama of Mongolian history has to master, besides Mongolian, a range of about a dozen totally different languages, from Latin to Chinese as geographical poles, with Arabian, Persian, Turkish, Armenian etc. etc. in between. Few scholars have ever achieved this first source knowledge, which is one of the reasons why we have no all-encompassing history of the Mongols out of the hands of one author alone. At this point the onset of this historical overview coincides with Khabul Khan's activities. Neither the early Hunnu (Xiongnu) nor the East Turkic empires are included here. <descrip> <tag/1130-50/ Khabul Khan unites the Mongxol and forms a tribal group. <tag/around 1167/ Birth of Temujin, grandson Khabul Khan's, who will later receive the name Chinggis. <tag/around 1195/ Temujin reigns the Mongxol and is entitled Khan besides receiving the name Chinggis. The etymology of this name could not yet be clarified in a satisfactory manner. <tag/1206/ At the Onon river, clean leaders hold an assembly (m. xuriltai) at which Chinggis Khan is confirmed as the leader of the Mongol Federation. <tag/1209/ Mongols invade Xixia, also known as Tangut. <tag/1215/ Beijing falls to Mongols. <tag/1218-1220/ Mongol campaign towards the West; Karakitai falls in 1218; Buchara and Samarkand fall in 1220. The latter date is considered by some as the initial year of the Il Khanate. <tag/1223/ Mongols beat a united army of Qipchak Turks (Cumans) and Russians at the Kalka river (enters the Sea of Azov near Zhdanov via the Kal'mius river); modern name Kal'qik, it is a tributary to the Kal'mius river, but some sources give the name Kalec and point to the modern city of Taganrog as its mouth); this date is considered by some as the beginning of the Golden Horde. <tag/1227/ Death of Chinggis Khan. Fall of the Tangut. <tag/1229/ Election of gdi as Great Khan. <tag/1240/ The Secret History of the Mongols probably written in this year, if not 12 years later. Marking the onset of Mongolian literature, the Secret History of the Mongols of which no truly original text is preserved (only a transcription of the Mongolian language with Chinese characters survived) is at the same time Mongolia's first history, her first genealogy and her first epos. Besides that, it is as well a piece of poetry as a piece of lore; until today it is a keystone of Mongolian literature. <tag/1241/ Battle of Liegnitz marking the westernmost expansion of the Mongol empire. Death of gdi. <tag/1245-1247/ John of Plano Carpini travels to Mongolia. <tag/1253/ Begin of the campaigns against Korea. <tag/1253-1255/ William Rubruk travels to the Mongols and is sent to Karakorum. Carpini's and Rubruk's travelogues belong to the earliest western sources on medieval Mongolia. <tag/1255/ Death of Batu, first Khan of the Golden Horde. <tag/1258/ Bagdad conquered by Hlg. <tag/1259/ Death of Mngk. <tag/1265/ Death of Hlg, the first Il Khan. <tag/1267/ Death of Brk, Khan of the Golden Horde. <tag/1272/ Khubilai adopts Chinese dynastic title Yuan. <tag/1274/ First attempt to conquer Japan. <tag/1279/ End of Song resistance against Mongols is considered the founding date of the Yuan dynasty, or Yuan Ulus. <tag/1281/ Second attempt to conquer Japan. Fleet defeated prior to landing in Japan by storms praised by Japanese as ``Winds of Godly power'' - kamikaze. <tag/1291-2/ Mongols defeated in Java. <tag/1287/ Rabban Sauma (also known as Bar Sawma) sent to Europe by Il Khan Arghun. <tag/1313/ zbg becomes the last powerful Mongol ruler of the Golden Horde. <tag/1335/ Death of Abu Sa'id, the last Il Khan of Hlg's line, probably by poisoning. Beginning decline of the Il Khanate. No new ruler powerful enough to govern the whole Khanate emerges. Within a few years, the Il Khanate collapses. <tag/1368/ The Yuan rule in China collapses and yields to the Ming dynasty. <tag/1485/ Sheikh Ahmad becomes last Khan of the Golden Horde. <tag/1502/ Sheikh Ahmad's troups defeated by Mengli Girai. <tag/1503/ The peace between Lituania and Russia is considered as the end of the Golden Horde. <tag/1505/ Alexander of Lituania has Sheikh Ahmad executed. <tag/1586/ rdn Zuu founded. <tag/1578/ Altan Khan awards the title of Dalai Lama to the Tibetan priest Bsod-nams Rgya-mcho. Eastern Mongolia embraces Tibetan buddhism. <tag/1604/ Ligdan Khan becomes last of the Mongolian Great Khans. <tag/1604-1634/ Mongolian rulers fail to recognize Ligdan Khan's attempts to unify the Mongolian tribes; at Ligdan's death in 1634 even the remaining Caxar flee; the collapse of Mongolian power leads to Manchu claims over southern and east Mongolian territory which will now be called ``Inner Mongolia''. <tag/1636/ Ming toppled with Mongolian assistance; Qing dynasty founded. <tag/1638/ Lifan Yuan founded. The equivalent of the ``India Office'' in some aspects, it was responsible for Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur and Russian affairs. <tag/around 1651/ Ix Xr probably founded as a nomadic monastery. <tag/1686/ Zanabazar invents Soyombo script. <tag/1689/ Manchu-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk. Russian border defined. <tag/1691/ Council of Dolon nor. Xalx Mongol rulers submit formally to the Manchu Court. <tag/1761/ Final organization of the Lifan Yuan. <tag/around 1779/ Ix Xr becoming settled. <tag/1911/ End of Qing Dynasty. 8th Yebcundamba Xutugtu enthroned as Head of Autonomous Mongolia. <tag/1915/ Treaty of Kyakhta. Russia and China maintain various privileges in Autonomous Mongolia (the third partner) without Autonomous Mongolia being able to decide her own territorial issues. <tag/1921/ Baron of Ungern-Sternberg in Xalx. <tag/1921-1924/ Provisional Revolutionary People's Government in Xalx. <tag/1923/ Death of Sxbaatar, revolutionary hero of modern Mongolia. <tag/1924/ Death of the 8th (and last) Zebcundamba Xutugtu. Foundation of the Mongolian People's Republic (MPR; in Mongolian: BNMAU, Bgd Naramdax Mongol Ard Uls); first national assembly, Ardyn Ix Xural or Great People's Hural held. rg (Urga) renamed Ulaanbaatar. <tag/1939/ Battle of Xalxyn Gol between Japanese-Manchukuo and Soviet- Mongolian forces. <tag/1945/ Inner Mongol Autonomous Region founded. <tag/1961/ Mongolian People's Republic joins UNO; membership strongly supported by India. <tag/1962/ Mongolian People's Republic becomes COMECOM member. <tag/March 1986/ The 19th Party Congress of MAXN addresses issues of political openness and economic efficiency. Similar to Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union, this was originally intended as an attempt to revitalize socialism. It was, in retrospect, the start of the end of socialism in Mongolia. <tag/December 1989/ The first opposition group, the Mongolian Democratic Union is formed on 10 December (now a national holiday). This coincides with MAXN's Seventh Central Committee Plenum, which considered the need for greater reforms. <tag/January 1990/ Social-Democratic Movement (forerunner of the Mongolian Social-Democratic Party) founded. <tag/1990, March/ Mongolian demonstrators demand reforms, glasnost' and multi-party elections. New parties are founded by young Mongolian intellectuals. <tag/1991/ COMECON dismantled; Mongolia deeply hit by economical crisis. <tag/1992, Feb./ Mongolian People's Republic adopts new constitution and is renamed Mongol Uls - Mongolia. <tag/1992, June/ Mongolia hold elections; the old Communist party MAXN wins with a comfortable majority of seats in the new parliament. Jasra becomes Prime Minister. <tag/1996, June/ Mongolia holds elections; the old Communist party MAXN is defeated, and the Democrats gain a landslide victory. They come close by one seat to the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional amendmends. New Prime Minister is nxsaxan. <tag/1997, May 18/ Bagabandi (MAXN) elected President of Mongolia, replacing P. Oqirbat. <tag/1998, spring/ The Mongolian government, crippled by internal disputes, forces the cabinet to resign. Mongolia is effectively without government during several months. <tag/1999, December 24/ The recent experiences with nominations for Prime Ministers and their consequent repeated denial by the President leads to an amendment of the constitution; seven issues are discussed and passed in less than 40 minutes. Major items concern the quorum, or required presence of a simple majority of MPs, as well as the simplification of the nomination procedure for cabinet members. <tag/2000, July 2nd/ Mongolia holds parliamentary elections; the MAXN, after their first defeat in history, claims a stunning victory and gains 72 of 76 seats in Parliament. The Democratic Parties are --- despite their positive record on inflation and economic stability --- punished by the voters for their mismanagement, their corruption scandals and their in-fighting between various factions culminating in the founding of a handful of new parties within months of the election. </descrip> <sect1>Who is Who among the Khans? <p> The genealogy of the founders of the Mongolian empires is given here; complete biographies exceed the scope of the FAQ and will be found in the Who is Who part of Infosystem Mongolei. <code> [I] Chinggis Khan (*1167? -- +1227) | +--------+---------------+--------------+ | | [II] | Four sons: Jochi Chaghatai gdi Tolui (*1180?) (*1186) (*1190?) (+1227) (+1242) (+1241) (+1232/3) | | | | | | | | Batu, Chaghatai | | 2nd son Khans [III] | (*1207) Guyuk | | | | | | | Khans of the | Golden Horde | | +---------------+---------+------------+ [IV] [V] | | Mngk Khubilai Hulegu Ariq-Bk (*1208) (*1215) (*1218) (*?) (+1259) (+1294) (+1265) (+1266) | | Yuan Il Khans Emperors The Great Khans ruled in following chronological order: Chinggis Khan: 1206-1227 gdi: 1229-1241 Guyuk: 1246-1248 Mngk: 1251-1259 Khubilai: 1260-1294 </code> <sect1>How does the Mongolian National Flag look like, and what does it mean? <p> The Mongolian flag consists of three bands, red, blue, and red, of equal width. In the left red band there is the national symbol, called Soyombo. Its history dates back to the 17th century AD to the creation of the Soyombo script by Zanabazar (see also the paragraph on Mongolian writing below). The three-tongued flame on top symbolizes the nation's past, present and future prosperity (this and the following paragraph quoted from: This is Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar 1991), sun and crescent, immediately below the flame, are old Mongolian totems. The two triangles in the upper and lower part tell about the people's determination to uphold their freedom and independence. The rectangles and walls stand for strength, uprightness and honesty. The Yin-Yang symbol in the center is interpreted in two ways: some see the unity of pairs of natural elements, fire and water, earth and sky, man and woman; others see two fishes standing for continuous movement since fishes neever sleep as they cannot close their eyes. In 1924 the first Great People's Hural (National Assembly) decided to crown the symbol with a 5-pointed star which was abolished with the new constitution of 1992. <sect1>How do Mongolians live? (Economy Basics) <p> <sect2>Pastoral Nomadism <p> The prevailing Mongolian style of life is pastoral nomadism. Mongolia proper has an immense richness in livestock; the Five Species of Animal, as they are traditionally counted in Mongolian (<it/tawun xoshuu mal/) are sheep, goat, camel, horse and cattle. Sheep deliver wool, goat and cattle deliver milk and meat, camel and cattle provide transport, and horses are used for riding. Between twice and four times a year a typical herders' family moves between a winter camp and a summer camp. Depending on the area (grasslands in the east, semi-desert and desert in the south (<it/gobi/ literally means desert)) the composition of the livestock changes significantly. Traditionally, pastoral nomadism secures a kind of self-sufficient life; the wool is used to produce fabric and felt for the <it/gr/, the traditional Mongolian round tent (aka <it/yurt/); hides are processed into leather for all kinds of goods from boots to household ustensils; in the summer, milk is processed into dairy products; only surplus meat is traded against grain and rice. Only around one percent of Mongolia's surface is used as arable land for grain production. <sect2>Industrialized Cities <p> The nomadic type of economy is challenged by modern-day's industrial production with its typical and profound division of labour; the industrial society which prevails in the few major cities of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (being the capital), Darxan (in the north) and rdnt (the mining centre) is based on trade and the exploitation of natural resources like ores and coal; this economy is virtually detached from the countryside and was hit hardest during the economical crisis of the early 1990s. The rift between countryside and city is so big that food stores in Ulaanbaatar offer German jam, butter from New Zealand, cheese from Russia, mustard from Czechia, and juice from Poland (these are just examples), but virtually no products of Mongolian origin besides bread and sausage. Mongolia lacks the technical means to produce and transport dairy products in winter; with temperatures below -30 centigrades milk and cheese have to be heated rather than to be cooled! As a consequence, relying on imported foodstuff without access to local resources is an expensive endeavour for the average city dweller stretching the family budget to its limits. <sect2>Mongolian Economy in China <p> In some areas (e.g. in Gansu and Yunnan) the population of Mongolian origin leads a sedentary life and engages in agricultural work. The life in Southern Mongolia (Inner Mongol Autonomous Region) is mainly determined by the industrialization which took place in the first quarter of the 20th century; big cities like Xxxot (Huhhot) and Baotou (the major metal-processing centre of Southern Mongolia) show little affinity to traditional Mongolian life. <sect2>What Currency is used in Mongolia? <p> The currency unit of Mongolia is named <it/tgrg/, conventionally rendered as Tugrik in western languages. One American dollar is roughly equivalent to anything from 1000 to 1080 tugrik (subject to daily fluctuation) in recent years. The currency symbol is a double-barred T. Inner Mongolia uses the Chinese Yuan (Renminbi or RMB). The Chinese banknotes carry inscriptions in five languages (Chinese, Mongol, Tibetan, Uighur and Zhuang). <sect1>Where to call in distress? <p> Nobody hopes to run into emergency situations, but it is nonetheless good to know which telephone number to call in case of a case. In Ulaanbaatar, dial 101 for fire alarm, 102 for police, and 103 for medical emergencies. Ulaanbaatar is implementing a Japanese-style police system in the city with little police booths in the residential areas. At least for long-term residents it is advised to contact the nearest police booth and enquire for their telephone number. <sect1> Who speaks Mongolian? <p> Virtually all citizens of Mongolia proper speak Mongolian. Some do not because they are either of Kazakh or other ethnic origin. Not all ethnic Mongols in Southern Mongolia do speak Mongol, many of them have switched to Chinese. Similar phenomena can be observed in Buryatia where many inhabitants speak Russian. The minor communities scattered over China (<htmlurl url="" name="Dongxiang"> (cf. article in Infosystem Mongolei), Dagur, Eastern Yugur, Tuzu, Bao'an etc.) and Afghanistan (Moghol) speak some very old varieties of Mongolian which have developed into proper languages in their own right. Some of these languages are not well documented. The Kalmyks speak a form of Mongolian known as Kalmyk which even developed its own modified form of writing known as ``Tod'' or ``clear'' writing because it identifies vowels and some consonants (k/g, t/d) in an unambiguous manner. <sect1> What kind of a language is Mongolian? <p> <sect2>Mongolian - Language<p> Mongolian belongs to the Altaic family of languages showing structural (and partially lexical) similarities with languages of the Tungusic group of this family (e.g. Manju) and the Turkic group of this family (e.g. Turkish). Mongolian has strong vowel harmony: all vowels within one word and even all grammatical particles must be chosen from one of two vowel sets which are known as male and female or back and front vowels. Mongolian has a total of seven short vowels. There are also seven long vowels. The distinction between short and long vowels is essential as it alters the meaning: [tos] is ``grease, oil'' while [toos] is ``dust''. Besides simple short and long vowels there are also diphtongs which have duration values similar to long vowels. The stress is usually put on the first syllable if all syllables of a word are short; otherwise the stress is put on the first syllable carrying a long vowel. The set of consonants has many constraints: [r] may not occur at the beginning of a word. [f] only occurs in foreign loans and is frequently converted to [p]. [w] and [b] though phonetically different do not form an opposition on the phonological level. The same holds true for [c] and [q] ([c] as [ts]ar, [q] as [ch]ill) as well as [j] (as in [j]eep) and [z] (best described as fairly unvoiced [ds]). Both pairs are expressed by the same symbol in Classical writing and the development of different phonetical realisations is mainly due to vowel environment and dialect situation. The consonants [k] and [g] are linked to vowel harmony. In words containing back vowels, [k] changes to [x] and [g] becomes [G] (a voiced velar). Beginners frequently confuse the latter with something like a French [r]. <sect2>Mongolian - Grammar<p> The grammar is fairly simple: all predicates are put at the end of the sentence resulting in a S.O.P. (subject - object - predicate) structure. There are no subordinate clauses in the sense of Indo-European languages. Attributes are placed in front of the denominated entity. Indo-European style subordinate clauses (Relativsatz, etc.) are resolved as attribute constructions. Verbs can be collated to form new meanings or expand or intensify the meaning of the main verb. Verbs occur in two distinct categories: 1) the ``genuine'' or finite verb forms finish phrases, serve as predicates and can be compared to ordinary verbs of Indo-European languages; 2) all other verb forms, be they converbs (modifiers of other verbs), verbal nouns (usually translated as verbs but with the complete behaviour of nouns like the ability to form oblique cases) or the equivalents to participles and gerundial forms cannot be used to finish phrases. As a rule of thumb, a Mongolian phrase usually has numerous occurrences of verbs of the second class but only one finite verb at the end of the phrase. As an exception to this rule of thumb, under certain circumstances phrases may also end with a verbal noun as predicate. All grammatical functions and relations are expressed by suffixes which are ``glued'' to the end of a root be it noun or verb hence the term ``agglutinative language''. More than one suffix can be attached to a word: e.g. <it>tsh</it> ``bag''; <it>tshs</it> ``out of the bag''; <it>tshs</it> ``out of his/her bag''); <it>bolgoomj</it> ``care''; <it>bolgoomjto</it> ``with care'' -> careful (as adjective); <it>bolgoomjtogoor</it> ``acting with care'' -> doing something carefully (as adverb). The repetitive nature of similar endings has strongly influenced traditional lyrics which uses line alliterations and line-internal alliterations as a main element for structuring versed speech. The emphasized beginnings of words thus form a healthy offset to the grammatical suffices. <sect2>Mongolian - Writing<p> Mongolian writing is a fairly complex topic. In the history of the written language, numerous scripts were either accepted from other cultures or domestically designed. The most important scripts are Uighur, Chinese, Phagsba, Soyombo and Cyrillic. Other scripts than these five were also employed at given times in history, e.g. Latin which had been used during the 1930s. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Uighur<p> The traditional Mongolian script is written in vertical lines from left to right, very much like an Arab page turned counter-clockwise by 90 degrees. Though this script (called Uighur script because the Uighurs had used it first) has been the main vehicle of written Mongolian, a number of other writing systems have been and are being employed. The earliest documents still existing date back to the 13th century. Despite numerous other attempts to introduce different types of writing, this script has proven to be to most stable vehicle of written Mongolian. It was used up to the 1930s in Mongolia when it was first replaced with a short-lived Latin script (until 1938) and then replaced by a modified Cyrillic script in 1940. In Southern Mongolia or China's Inner Mongolia (Inner Mongol Autonomous Region, or wrr Mongol rt Zasax Oron) Uighur or Classical Mongolian writing is still the official writing system. Similar to the historical orthography of English, Classical Mongolian as it is used today contains a lot of phonological archaisms and historical features which make it sometimes not perfectly easy to learn but which offer valuable insight for linguists and provide enough of dialect neutrality for modern-day speakers from most Mongolian language areas. In the beginning of the 1990s, Mongolia was considering the return to the Classical script despite the heavy financial and social cost: New schoolbooks had to be compiled and many adults who were born after 1940 must now learn a completely different writing system which does not only look different but which also represents a different historical development stage of the Mongolian language. In 1992, A law was passed to the effect that from 1994 on Mongolian Classical script be the official writing of Mongolia again. Even the new constitution of Mongolia passed in 1992 was printed in Modern (Cyrillic) and Classical (Uighur) Mongolian (see the <htmlurl url="" name="Constitution in Modern Mongolian, MLS-encoded"> and <htmlurl url="" name="Constitution in Classical Mongolian, MLS-encoded">, both in Infosystem Mongolei) but one year after this magic date nothing really changed substantially. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Chinese<p> Astonishing as it may sound, Chinese has been the writing of choice for important Mongolian documents during the 13th and 14th century. Chinese characters (a virtually canonical set of some 500 characters) were used according to their pronounciation. Some characters failed to render the pronounciation and were prefixed (or affixed) with modifiers, small Chinese characters indicating whether the main consonant (or `initial') of the syllable had to be pronounced in a velar manner of not. The most important document written with Chinese characters is the Secret History of the Mongols. It was an achievement of the late 19th and the early 20th century to decypher the text and restore its original Mongolian shape. The problems linked to this work are manyfold: One has to understand Early Mandarin (the name of the specific form of Chinese used for this script) phonology, and one has to understand words which appear only in this text but no other source, not even the famous Hua Yi Yi Yu or Barbarian Glossaries, Chinese dictionaries of the Middle Ages dealing with a number of Central and North-East Asian languages. The most promiment scholars contributing to the understanding of these texts were the Japanese K. Shiratori, the German E. Haenisch, the Japanese Hattori, to name just a few. Using Chinese characters for writing Mongolian had the big advantage that a message encoded in this system was obscure to a Chinese messenger but perfectly transparent to a Mongolian listener. Despite this advantage of privacy, the system ceased to be used in the early 14th century. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Phagsba<p> The Phagsba or Square Writing was developed in the 13th century by a famous Tibetan monk and scholar, Phagsba. Designed as the Unified Writing of the Yuan (emphasis through capitalisation added by OC), it combined the features of Tibetan (e.g., rich consonant inventory) with the features of Chinese (vertical writing direction) and Mongolian (additional vowels were provided). Despite its functionality, it could not establish itself properly and came largely out of use after the fall of the Yuan dynasty. The Phagsba or Square Writing is a valuable research tool because 14th century dictionaries give us a deep insight in the phonetics and phonology of Mongolian (and, by the way, Chinese) of those days. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Soyombo<p> Another writing the design of which was politically motivated was the Soyombo script designed by the monk and scholar Zanabazar in 1686. It is of intriguing beauty and complexity yet never really succeeded as script for everyday use. The only symbol of that script which can be seen literally everywhere is the Soyombo symbol. More about the Soyombo script and symbol can be found at the <htmlurl url="" name="Soyombo Script"> page of Infosystem Mongolei. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Horizontal Square, or Xwt Drwljin <p> Zanabazar created a second writing system which looks very much like a horizontal version of the Phagsba script, and indeed it shares the same Tibetan roots. Horizontal Square Writing has a close resemblance to many Tibetan characters, and similar to the Soyombo alphabet, it shows the same typical arrangement of short and long vowels, together with basically the same order of consonants. Only a few documents in Horizontal Square Writing have survived, and the script was never popularized. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Tibetan<p> In the last centuries, monks at the Gandan monastery in Ulaanbaatar used Tibetan letters to write Mongolian texts, thus continuing Phagsba's and Zanabazar's tradition with simplified means: they did not create an extra alphabet which was based on Tibetan principles, they directly used the Tibetan letters to spell out Mongolian words. Documents surviving contain several Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries of religous terms. <sect3>Mongolian Writing: Cyrillic<p> In 1940, The then Mongolian People's Republic started using a modified Cyrillic alphabet which was extended by two vowel symbols, <it></it> and <it></it>, the female counterparts of [o] and [u]. The orthography of Cyrillic Mongolian is based on the Xalx dialect. Despite a few orthographic instabilities, the Cyrillic system is the major vehicle of written communication today in Mongolia; virtually all newspapers, book etc. are printed in Cyrillic letters. Since the system is based on the Xalx dialect, it is not as transparent for speakers from other Mongolian areas if compared with the Classical script; on the other hand, the clearly phonemical notation makes it easy to understand written materials read aloud, and it allows easy searching of dictionaries. Despite the strong political overtones around its inception in the 1940s, the Cyrillic writing has proven to be useful and practical. Due to its structural similarity to Latin, the Cyrillic script could be integrated into the world of modern information technology (printing equipment, data interchange, computing, etc.) which further promoted the solid standing of Cyrillic writing in present day's Mongolia. <sect1>Is Mongolian easy to learn? <p> From the introduction about the Mongolian language we can draw the following conclusions on whether Mongolian is or is not easy to learn. Since it is an SOP language its grammar may pose problems to speakers of most European languages and Chinese. It should however be much easier for learners with a background in Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Manchu or similar languages. Since the assumptions on word classes ('parts of speech') sometimes differs thoroughly from most Indo-European languages, problems may arise in this field (When does an ``adjective'' need declension? Is it really what we call an adjective?). The pronounciation does not pose enormous difficulties. Although there are no completely unfamiliar sounds for speakers of most other languages tutoring is strongly recommended during the initial phase of acquiring phonetics and phonology. The Classical writing system should be learned under a teacher's or tutor's guidance - it is sometimes a bit tricky to master it on one's own. The number of language training materials is not overwhelming, dictionaries are only available for a few languages (notably Russian, Chinese and English; but also German and Japanese. See the document by Christopher Kaplonski and Oliver Corff: <htmlurl url="" name="SROMDIC - Suggested Readings on Mongolia - Dictionaries"> in Infosystem Mongolei) The final key to success is practice, practice, practice. Expose yourself to as much printed and audio material as possible. <sect1>Are the Mongolian dialects an obstacle for the foreigner learning Mongolian? <p> The language[s] in Mongolia and Southern Mongolia are virtually the same: Mongolian is spoken in Mongolia and Southern Mongolia, but it is spoken in its Xalx (Khalkha) form in Mongolia but spoken in its Chahar (Cahar) dialect form in Southern (Inner) Mongolia. Besides Chahar, there are other dialects: Alashan in the western regions of Southern Mongolia, and the forms spoken in Hulunbuir (eastern part of Southern Mongolia). Nonetheless, Chahar is the quasi-standard of Southern Mongolia. Differences can be found in lexicon, pronounciation and grammar. The differences in lexicon differs mostly in the realm of foreign loans: Chinese words are more popular in Southern Mongolia (e.g. <it>biyanji</it> for editor) which is <it>redaktor</it> in Russian-influenced Xalx; both try to re-introduce the genuinely Mongolian term <it>nairuulagq</it>. Other words, especially of theoretical and political nature, are often formed after completely different roots. The pronounciation differs in the case that some sounds which were not separated in the Classical Mongolian writing (like z) are now pronounced like z in Mongolia and j in Southern Mongolia. This is a general rule which is influenced by the following vowel, i.e. whether a i or something different follows. Grammar is occasionally distinct because elder forms are sometimes preserved in Southern Mongolian speech. In general, it is not too difficult to speak Xalx in Southern Mongolia since Xalx is recognized as the prestigious lingua franca of the International Mongol community. It is however slightly more difficult to understand Chahar if one has only enjoyed Xalx training. The differences are aggravated by the usage of different writing systems. Southern Mongolia keeps using the Classical Mongolian writing (which is very conservative, also for the grammatical endings of verbs etc.) while in Mongolia in the 1940s an extended Cyrillic alphabet was introduced. The extensions were necessary to accommodate the Mongolian vowels <it></it> and <it></it> which are usually indicated by two dots over o and u in transliterations. <sect>Mongolia - Administrative <p> <sect1>I want to study in Mongolia. Where do I establish contact? <p> Contact your university. They may already have an exchange program with Mongolia without your knowledge. If this fails, contact your national academic exchange service (e.g. the DAAD in Germany or the JFPS in Japan). <sect1>I want to work in Mongolia, e.g. teach a foreign language. Where do I establish first contact? <p> Here as above it is recommended to contact your university or your national academic exchange service. You are strongly discouraged to go to Mongolia posing as a foreign language teacher if you are not one for purposes other than teaching, e.g. missionary work. While in the beginning of the 1990s it was still possible to do so, anyone not being sent by an acknowledged academical institution or governmental body must now show certificates proving his/her qualification as a teacher. In addition, every foreigner staying within Mongolia for more than a month has to register with police. In case of foreign experts, foreign personnel etc. the employer or host will certainly assist. Not registering has consequences when leaving the country. Regularly you get fined (anything near USD100.--) and you may risk missing your plane/train. You may even appear with your nationality and name spelled out in full in a newspaper article. Not registering is not worth the trouble. <sect1>I want to study in Inner Mongolia. Where do I establish contact? <p> The answer here is the same as above. Only one difference must be observed: Politically being a part of China, all programs dealing with Inner Mongolia are usually in the Chinese section or department. <sect1>I want to work in Inner Mongolia, e.g. teach a foreign language. Where do I establish first contact? <p> The answer here is the same as above. Only one difference must be observed: Politically being a part of China, all programs dealing with Inner Mongolia are usually kept in the Chinese section or department of the exchange organization or university. <sect1>I want to travel to Mongolia. What kind of travel documentation do I need? <p> You must obtain a visa at a Mongolian embassy or consulate. (See below for a list of embassies / consulates). In order to obtain a visa for stays of one month or longer you must produce an invitation issued by a) a Mongolian private person or b) a Mongolian institution. This may be a university. It is principally possible to apply for a visa directly at the airport Buyant-Uxaa, at least when flying in from Beijing. The applicant should carry an invitation (see above) and is usually only granted a stay of one month. Two passport photographs are required and USD 50.-- are levied. Once you have entered Mongolia various regulations on registering with police may apply depending on the length and nature of your stay. Registration is mandatory when staying for longer than one month. It is more than highly recommended to observe the registration procedure since you may risk being denied exit from the country upon presenting your passport at the airport without the proper police registration stamps. You also risk being fined somewhere in the area of USD 100.-- upon exiting Mongolia when disobeying the registration rule. You may even risk being mentioned in a newspaper article on foreigners violating Mongolian laws (like: <it/ndr/, Jan. 6, 2000, p. 6: Gadaadyn 79 Irgn juram zrqj). Persons staying on official visa (category ``A'') should turn to their official host (university, government ministry, etc.) for assistance. For details, ask your Mongolian embassy when receiving the visa. The registration is done at the National Civilian Information and Registration Centre (<it/Irgdin Mdllin Brtglin Ulsyn Tw/, abbreviated IMBUT) in the North of Ulaanbaatar at Zuun Alt. Every taxi driver knows this place name. Registration requires paying 500.-- Tugrik at the bank counter (Golomt Bank), ground floor. Then proceed to room 303 on the third floor, exchange your payment coupon against a form to fill in (asking your name, host institution, address in Mongolia, etc.) which must be filled in and handed to another counter in the same room. Do not forget to bring your passport and one photograph with you. The assistance of a Mongolian friend or colleague is invaluable in case language capabilities are overstretched when filling in the Mongolian form, which features, by the way, a question concerning the applicant's Mongolian language skills. <sect1>I want to travel to Inner Mongolia. What kind of travel documentation do I need? <p> You need a visa issued by the authorities of the People's Republic of China. Once in China (and Inner Mongolia) you'll be requested to register at a hotel etc. by using the forms available there. Various other procedures may apply depending on length and nature of your stay. <sect1>I want to travel to Buryatia. What kind of travel documentation do I need? <p> You need a visa issued by the authorities of the Russian Federation. Contact your local (usually former USSR) embassy. <sect1>I want to travel to Kalmykia. What kind of travel documentation do I need? <p> You need a visa issued by the authorities of the Russian Federation. See above. <sect1>Where is the nearest embassy / consulate of Mongolia? <p> There are not so many Mongolian embassies and consulates. Most of them are accredited for several countries. The following list is very incomplete and remains to be completed with the readers' help. Since it is helpful to use a travel agency's services when applying for a visa this list contains also some information about travel agents. If you miss your favourite agent here then you can send the address to Infosystem Mongolei. The selection here is purely ``global'' (whatever is submitted gets published). Please note that the addresses, telephone numbers etc. could not always be verified and counter-checked. They may be subject to change without notice. The editor of this FAQ tries to maintain all information in a state as correct as possible but relies on the contributors' accuracy. <verb> Mongolian Embassy in Australia There is no embassy in Australia. Australia is covered by the Mongolian Embassy in China, Beijing. Honorary Consul in Austria Mr. Johannes Stiedl Anhofstr. 65-67 A-1130 Wien Tel.: ++ 43 1 8773353 1724 5661 Mongolian Embassy in China No. 2 Xiu Shui Bei Jie Jian Guo Men Wai District Beijing Tel.: ++ 86 10 6532 1203 Fax : ++ 86 10 6532 5045 Mongolian Embassy in France 5, Av. R. Schuman Paris Tel.: (+33) 1 46 05 30 16 or (+33) 1 46 05 23 18 Mongolian Embassy in Germany Siebengebirgsblick 4 53844 Troisdorf Tel.: 02241-402727 Auenstelle der Mongolischen Botschaft in Berlin Gotlandstr. 12 10439 Berlin Tel.: 030-4469320 21 Honorary Consul in Hong Kong Mr. Kwok Shiu Ming 4 Sommerset Toad, Kowloon Hong Kong Tel.: ++ 852 338 9034 Fax : ++ 852 338 0633 Honorary Consul in Italy Mr. Aldo Colleoni viale XX Settembre, 37 34126 Trieste Tel.: 040-362241 Fax 040-363494 telex 461138 CONMON1. Mongolian Embassy in Japan Pine Crest Mansion 21-4, Kamiyamacho Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150 Tel.: 03-3469-2088 Mongolian Embassy in New Zealand New Zealand Embassy and Ambassador in Beijing are credited for NZ foreign affairs to Mongolia, while Mongolian embassies in Tokyo or Beijing handle matters between Mongolia and NZ. See China. Mongolian Embassy in Poland Ambasada Mongolii ul. Rejtana 15 lok. 16 Warszawa POLAND Tel./Fax: +48-22-484264 Mongolian Embassy in the United Kingdom 7 Kensington Court LONDON W8 5DL Tel: (0171) 937 5238 Tel: (0171) 937 0150 Mongolian Embassy in the USA 2833 M Street, NW Washington, DC Tel: 202-333-7117 Honorary Consul in Switzerland Stephan Bischofberger P.O.Box 173 Limmatstr. 35 8005 Zrich Fax : ++ 1 272 7924 Tel.: ++ 1 272 4005 According to the Swiss electronic telephone directory ETV, Mr. Bischofberger seems to be in charge of a travel agency named `Discovery Tours'. * Selected Travel Agents * Mongolian Tourism Corporation of America A joint venture between Zhuulchin and an American travel agency. Princeton Corporate Plaza 1 Deer Park Drive, Suite M Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852 Tel.: ++ 1 908-274-0088 NOMADIC EXPEDITIONS (This one seems to have contact with Zhuulchin, too) Princeton Corporate Center 5 Independence Way, Suite 300 Princeton, NJ 08540 BOOJUM Expeditions 14543 Kelly Canyon Road Bozeman, MT 59715 USA Toll-Free- US and Canada 1-800-287-0125 Tel.: ++ 1 406-587-0125 Fax : ++ 1 406-585-3474 BOOJUM Expeditions has two URL's: or NOMADIC JOURNEYS Ltd P.O. Box 479 Ulaanbaatar 13 Tel/fax: +976 1 323043 Which can be reached from June to mid September every year. In the winter period reservations for tour operators and groups are with Jan Wigsten in Gotland: Eco Tour Production Ltd Burge i Hablingbo 620 11 Havdhem Gotland, SCHWEDEN. tel 0498 487105 fax +46 498 487115 e-mail: Nature Tour, PO Box 49/53, Ulaanbaatar or Baga Toiruu-10, Mongolian Youth Federation Bldg, Room 212 Tel: 312392 Fax: 311979 They arrange for jeeps and drivers for those wanting to explore the country. Also, they run a ger hostel near Hara Horen. Mykel Board stayed there. It's somewhat expensive (about USD 50.-- a day) but includes all meals and local sight-seeing. </verb> Beyond the range of the official state travel agency Zhuulchin there are now numerous private agencies operating in Mongolia. Their addresses are occasionally hard to come by but a good source is the World Tourism Handbook. <sect>Mongolia - Tourism <p> <sect1>How to travel to Mongolia? <p> The principal ways to Mongolia are by train and by air. The capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, is connected via the Transmongolian Railway to China and Buryatia. In Ulan Ude, capital of Buryatia, the Transsiberian Railway (leading from Moscow to the Russian Far East, Khabaravosk, Nakhodka etc.) connects to the Transmongolian Railway. Trains from Moscow to Beijing run once a week in each direction and take about five days for the whole trip. There are also `local trains' between Irkutsk (rx) and Ulaanbaatar which take about 24 hours one way. Similar local trains run between Ulaanbaatar and Beijing. Since the Transmongolian Railway sports only one track this is a bottleneck for railway traffic which results in these one train/week schedules. Prices for train tickets vary between USD 200 and USD 500. It is not possible to state any exact amount because prices fluctuate, the currency exchange rates vary daily and pricing policies create different price tags depending on where the tickets are purchased. <!-- Further information can be consulted at <htmlurl url="" name="Trans-Siberian Train Schedules and Prices"> ( --> The second feasible way to enter Mongolia is by air. Air transport is available between Buyant Uxaa (the international airport of Ulaanbaatar) and Beijing as well as Irkutsk, the latter with a weekly connect flight to Moscow (or should I say, it's a weekly flight to Moscow with a stop-over in Irkutsk?). These lines are served throughout the whole year. In summer, there are additional flights to Huhhot (Inner Mongolia) and Japan, the latter being served on a somewhat irregular basis. Past experience has shown that these links were just chartered flights without a genuine ``schedule'' in the sense of the word. There are about four to six international passenger flights per week connecting Ulaanbaatar and the rest of the world. Links to other Central Asian regions are under consideration or offered on a seasonal basis such as a flight between Almaty / Kazakhstan and Mongolia. A new route has recently been opened between Buyant Uxaa and Seoul, Korea (spring 1996). The latest developments (fall 1996) include an air link between Buyant Uxaa / Ulaanbaatar and Germany, Berlin Schoenefeld (code SXF - important because there are two other public airports in Berlin: Tegel (TXL) and Tempelhof (THF)). The flights are scheduled on a weekly basis (Sunday: OM135 goes to Berlin, OM136 returns to Ulaanbaatar). There is a stop-over in Shcheremetyevo/Moscow and occasionally a fuel refill in Nowosibirsk. Prices for the return ticket start from appr. USD 700.-- (in winter) when bought in Berlin. Only the prices on the Ulaanbaatar / Beijing route are fairly constant: around USD 200.-- for a one-way ticket. For almost all other destinations there are wildly varying ticket prices depending on where the ticket is bought and whether the client is entitled to special reductions (like being an official student at the Mongolian National University). <sect1>What kind of accommodation is available in Mongolia? <p> In Ulaanbaatar there are some big hotels. One of them is a monument to Soviet-style luxury and lavishness: The ``Ulaanbaatar Zoqid Buudal''. Located next to the central square, it is ideal for travellers with a not so restricted budget. Price tags start at USD 60.- (or so) and the two dining rooms are frequently used by external guests when every other supply of food in Ulaanbaatar collapses. The next important hotel (near the Bogd Gegen Palace) is the Bayangol which was thoroughly revamped in 1992. Similar standard. The ``Chinggis Khan Hotel'' in Sansar (a district name in Ulaanbaatar) has been ``due to open soon'' since 1991 but did not do so until 1995. It used to be ``under construction'' and was temporarily managed by the Holiday Inn group, a Korean group (Lotte, I think) until it was finally taken over by a Mongolian enterprise. It offers good Western food and is virtually empty so that you can enjoy a very calm meal there. Service used to be good in the opening year as part of the personnel was trained in Munich, Germany, but has deteriorated significantly recently. Small hotels for the traveller with a tight budget include the ``Stroitel'' (Russian: construction worker) which is north of the Ix Torog (Great Ring) Road close to the smaller monastery. A Mongolian-Chinese joint venture is the ``Manduhai'' hotel near the Ix Dlgr (Department Store). Clean rooms, simple furniture, but nice atmosphere and acceptable price tag. Other private hotels keep opening with the rise of the private sector. These offer similar prices (sometimes starting with USD 10.-- / day for a complete little flat) but the situations keeps changing so it is difficult to give names and addresses here. New hotels open constantly; a nice choice is the ``Flower Hotel'' which is the former ``Altai Zoqid Buudal''. It is under Japanese management now. In the countryside the situation looks different. In the tourist spots there are ger camps with a complete infrastructure (restaurant gers, shower facilities etc.) and they are quite convenient because they ensure a minimum of reliability for the traveller. Some of these camps are still operated by Juulqin while new camps are operated by private companies. Once leaving the tourist paths the situation again looks different. It is possible to ask at people's homes (= gers) but one may be turned away (already too many people staying there). Prepare for a long demarche to the ``neighbour'' (maybe 50 or 100 kilometers (30 to 60 miles). Never, never forget to bring a reasonably useful and valuable gift. Useful and valuable gifts include tobacco, vodka, snuff bottles, snuff tobacco and other objects. When staying at somebody's <it/gr/ then stick to the following minimal rules regardless how friendly people may appear to you: <enum> <item>Check carefully whether your potential host is capable at all of accommodating another guest. In order to find out, you can check for the number of family members, the situation of the animals, etc. <item>Never stay longer than one day. <item>Never refuse ceremonial offerings of tea even if it is salty, etc. <item>Roll down the sleeves of your shirt/coat no matter which temperature it is. If it is summer and you (and Mongolians) wear a t-shirt, then pretend to roll down your sleeves symbolically when being offered food and drink. <item>Never accept any offering of food, drink etc. with your left hand. Both hands is best. <item> If there is only a well, not a river nearby, never abuse it as a bathtub. Water in general and wells in particular are precious in this country. <item> When bringing your own food or drink never forget to offer it to everybody. Never attempt to munch your biscuits secretely. If you can't resist eating your own biscuits then wait until you are on the road again. <item> Perhaps last in this list, but not least: Show due respect to the dogs and animals of your host. The dog will only respect you if advised by his master to do so. Mongolian dogs are no pets! </enum> <sect1>What kind of transport is available in Mongolia? <p> <sect2>Transport in Ulaanbaatar <p> <quote>``In UB, you can walk, ride the bus, or flag down a private vehicle and negotiate a price. No taxis. I was fairly insulated from that, as my cousin has a car. But I did a lot of walking anyway, because I like to walk and the city is a convenient one to walk in. Most of the hotels are near the center of the city, as are many of the sights. The exception is the big market, which runs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays - it's a bit of a hike from downtown.'' (Quoted from Peter Crandall's Mongolia Travelogue) </quote> Besides that, Ulaanbaatar sports numerous public bus lines which are usually more than crowded but offer about the cheapest rides in the world even though the prices went up by a factor of 100 from 1991 to 1995: In 1990, a bus ticket was 0.50t, while in September 1996 it was 50t. Bus tickets are now priced 100t. Peter Crandall's observations on taxis are superseded by end of 1999. There is now a taxi service with bright yellow cabs of Korean origin. The company, City Taxi, can be reached with the telephone number 343433 and accepts reservations at any time. The price per kilometer is 280t. Most drivers have a mobile phone. It is helpful to record the driver's phone number in case the reservation desk does not answer. Flagging down a private car is certainly recommended for all ad hoc transport in Ulaanbaatar as it is faster than calling a taxi first. The kilometer is charged with 300t. It is always good to know the words for left, right and straight ahead in Mongolian (<it/zn gar tish, baruun gar tish, qigr/) when directing the driver. Ulaanbaatar does not have many named streets, and addresses are usually given by land marks (see the MobiCom address above which was given as ``behind the Central Post Office''), or in the case of residential buildings, by district and building number. <sect2>Transport outside Ulaanbaatar <p> Travelling to the country requires going by MIAT, the national air line carrier, or renting a jeep. MIAT flights are fairly irregular (usually only once a week per direction) and may be cancelled completely for lack of gasoline or bad weather. It may happen that you take a flight to Uws and cannot return for 8 weeks. Renting a jeep is fairly inexpensive and usually includes a driver who is indispensable because this man usually knows the way in the endless steppe. He also has the technical skill to cross rivers, sand dunes etc. A ``Camel Trophy'' - commercial-like driving style may ruin vehicle and passengers. In the areas closer to Ulaanbaatar (within a 500-km or 300 miles range) there are busses available. Their departure takes place in front of the Museum of Fine Arts downtown Ulaanbaatar. <sect1>Which season is recommended for travelling? <p> Summer is beautiful but short. Winter is not recommended if you go beyond Ulaanbaatar. Living conditions and road conditions are at least uncomfortable, nutrition and all related resources become too scarce. Storms in winter are especially dangerous for hikers outdoors, and even a short sightseeing trip in the close vicinity of Ulaanbaatar, like Zuun Mod with its famous monastery Manjshirin Xid, might yield one or the other frost bite. A good start is in May. It is still cold but the overwhelming beauty of spring, the mild fragrance of blossoms and the fresh smell of water offer experiences which one will never forget. <sect1>What are the points of sightseeing, museums etc.? <p> Mongolia is a country rich in natural beauty which includes a wide range of different types of landscape on her vast territory. From the Gobi desert in the south to the pristine waters of Lake Xwsgl in the north, from the grasslands of the east to the Altai mountain range in the west there is something for every traveller who loves nature. For those interested in culture and religion, there are numerous museums in Ulaanbaatar: <itemize> <item>Natural history museum, <item>geological museum, <item>hunting museum, <item>historical museum: the former revolutionary museum - it now hosts an extensive exhibition focussing on the years of reform, 1989-1991 and a beautiful collection of Mongolian garments, <item>fine arts museum: with some fine pieces of religious silk painting --- thankas, <item>Choijil Monastery: located in the centre of Ulaanbaatar, this former monastery is now the home of the priceless sculptures crafted by the famous monk, politian, sculptor and philologist Zanabazar; <item>Bogd Khan Museum: the palace of the last dynastic ruler of Mongolia; and <item>municipial museum: the first seat of the Revolutionary Party in Ulaanbaatar, now sporting a collection of exhibits related to the history of Ulaanbaatar as well as a display of diplomatic gifts from former socialist brother states. </itemize> The universities have some permanent faculty exhibitions which are often worth visiting. Most Aimag capitals have their own local natural history museum. Xar Xorin has a temple museum about Chingis Khan and the buddhist oriented spiritual history of Mongolia. This list does not claim to be complete. Main points of interest outside Ulaanbaatar include the former Capital Xar Xorin (Kara Korum, or ``Black Fortress'', derived from the word ``xrm'') and Manjshirin Xid in Zuun Mod, Central Aimag. Only two or so of the over 700 monasteries survived the Stalinist purges of 1937/1938. One of them is the Gandan monastery in Ulaanbaatar which recently underwent major reconstruction, and the other one is situated within the walls of the Xar Xorin compound. Manjshirin Xid is the monastery dedicated to the protector goddess of Mongolia, Manjushri. The ruins of the monastery, situated in a valley at the south slope of Bogd Uul mountain, are a silent witness of the atrocities which took place in 1937/38. Recently, money has been donated to reconstruct the monastery, and first steps towards that direction are the erection of a small museum on its site with many photographs of the 1920s showing the former dimensions of the monastery complex. Another famous monastery worth visiting is Amarbayasgalang, and en route between Xujirt and Xar Xorin you can find the somewhat smaller Baruun Xuree (Western Monastery). The travel literature on Mongolia offers more in-depth information. <sect>Inner Mongolia - Tourism <p> <sect1>How to travel to Inner Mongolia? <p> Inner Mongolia can be reached by train and by aircraft. The Transmongolian Railway which leads from Beijing via Ulaanbaatar to Ulan Ude crosses the Mongolian-Chinese border at Erenhot (Erlian[haote]) / China and Zamyn d / Mongolia. North of Datong it connects to the Chinese Railway, Inner Mongolian branch leading to Baotou and eventually to Ningxia and Gansu which implies that one can also travel to Inner Mongolia when coming from Lanzhou and Yinchuan. It takes about 10 hours to travel from Beijing to Huhhot and the night train which leaves Beijing in the evening is very convenient as one arrives at Huhhot early in the next morning. Trains go on a regular basis (usually every day, sometimes every second day depending on the line) and are fairly reliable. Prices are reliable, too, but the foreign traveller is forced to pay about twice as much as the Chinese citizen. Due to frequent depreciation of the Chinese Yuan no fixed number can be given here but a one-way trip (second class sleeper) from Beijing to Huhhot should be around USD 40.--. Flights between Huhhot and Beijing go several times a week and last less than one hour. The ticket prices are not very much higher than those of the railway (considering prices for foreigners). Other destinations in Inner Mongolia are also served from Beijing. Up-to-date information on schedules should be available at travel agencies dealing China Airlines tickets. <sect1>What kind of accommodation is available in Inner Mongolia? <p> The traveller's situation is governed by more rules here than in Mongolia. Basically, when staying in the cities (like Huhhot etc.) the traveller has no choice but to stay in huge hotels. In the countryside the situation is similar to that in Mongolia but is more difficult to get to the countryside. <sect1>What kind of transport is available in Inner Mongolia? <p> In addition to railway (from and to Beijing, Huhhot, Baotou, Hailar etc.) there are flights between regional centres and long-distance busses within the regions. For local excursions you can also rent cars with drivers. <sect1> Which season is recommended for travelling? <p> See the answer about Mongolia above. Generally speaking, travelling is difficult in winter. The grasslands show their beauty only in summer, and in winter there is ``nothing to see'' in the conventional sense. On the other hand, since there is ``nothing to see'' in winter, winter is a good time to go there if you want to see temples, monasteries etc., because at that time you most certainly do not have to compete with other tourists for resources like accommodation, transport e.a. In addition, the places you're interested in will most probably be fairly empty. <sect1>What are the points of sightseeing, museums etc.? <p> Inner Mongolia deserves a better coverage in literature and in this FAQ than it finds at present. A few points of interest may be mentioned here (indicating that this is a *very* preliminary list). The Inner Mongolia Museum in Huhhot has an enormous collection of archaeological findings from the times of the Xiong Nu on. The gold crowns on display there are virtually identical in design with the ones unearthed in Japan and dated to Japan's Kofun period. These findings contain some of the strongest hints that early Japan (before the nation state emerged) may have been part of a unified culture stretching from Central Asia over Korea to Japan. Not so many temples and monasteries survived in Huhhot. One of the most intering ones is the ``Five Pagoda Temple'' (tabun suburGan sumu - wu ta si) the walls of which are covered with thousands of Buddha sculptures. Its most fascinating object is a stellar map cut in stone (more than two meters in diameter) which is the eldest map with Mongolian zodiacal names in the world. The stone carving is protected by thick layers of glass which make it practically impossible to take pictures but the site is well worth the visit. Of the two main temples (``Big'' and ``Small'' temple: yeke zuu, baG-a zuu; da zhao, xiao zhao) only the big one remains as the small one was replaced by a school during the 1960s. The quarter of town where these temples are located is pittoresque and offers an insight into Chinese life (Huhhot by overwhelming majority is a city with Han-Chinese population) as it might have been `before Revolution', i.e. before 1949. The streets and lanes are so narrow that no automobile can pass, and rare enough for a Chinese city, much of the old architecture is preserved. Huhhot also has a mosque for its Hui nationality. <sect>Mongolia - Computing Issues <p> <sect1>Is there some kind of ``Mongolian ASCII'' or commonly acknowledged encoding standard for Mongolian language data processing? <p> Unlike the American ASCII code, the Chinese GuoBiao code or the Japanese JIS code there is not yet a national code system for the encoding of Mongolian writing be it encoded in its Classical or Cyrillic form. As a consequence, no international standard organization (like ISO) could accept a national standard and turn it into an international one. The problems we find in this field are of a complex nature and frequently have strong mutual dependencies. Let's look at Cyrillic encoding first. It is not far-fetched to suggest using an existing Cyrillic encoding scheme for encoding Mongolian but not even such a simple idea is without its traps. There is more than one Cyrillic encoding, and some encodings are incomplete: they do not include the Cyrillic <it>yo</it> or <it></it>. In addition, these tables (or code pages) usually have no space to accommodate the additional Mongolian vowel symbols <it></it> which must then be placed somewhere outside the natural order of the alphabet. Several modified code pages of this type exist; implementations available are mentioned below. With Classical writing, the situation is even more complicated. For a long time in history, there has not been one commonly acknowledged Classical Mongolian alphabet (or <it>cagaan tolgo</it>); differences can be observed in the number of letters, the sorting order and the treatment of ambiguous letters which have more than one reading for a given shape, like <it>t/d</it>. The situation is further complicated by the fact that one given letter may assume numerous different shapes depending on its position within the word. The designer of an encoding scheme has to decide whether only canonical letters (the ones under which one would try to find a word in a dictionary) are to be included or whether all shape variants should be included as well. The next problem arises when thinking of computer technology. The eight bit (one byte) code space of commonly used systems cannot hold more than 256 characters of which 128 have been defined already. If both Cyrillic and Classical writing are to be enclosed in one common code space, it is only possible at the cost of sharing common letter shapes between Latin and Cyrillic characters. There is no other choice if one wants to avoid the switching of code pages in one document. Another problem intimately related to writing is the field of transcriptions and transliterations. The layout of rules for transliterating Classical or Cyrillic Mongolian has many consequences in the field of data exchange, automatic text processing, the building of library catalogues, etc. Some popular systems (e.g. the so-called Petersburg transliteration) use characters which are not readily available on today's computers, and the ones working with reduced character sets are sometimes not popular. Only in recent years (more or less starting with the UNESCO conference on the Computerization of Mongolian script in Ulaanbaatar in August 1992) there has been a genuine international effort to solve these problems and to come up with an encoding scheme that will be accepted world-wide. The Mongolian National Institute for Standardization and Metrology (MNISM), the Chinese National Standard Bureau, other standard bodies of other countries, ISO and UNICODE all have held regular meetings during the last years in order to define a standard. So far, no final agreement exists, and there is no software package which could serve as a demonstrator for this future standard. All available software either defines its own code page or relies on ASCII representations of Mongolian which are then converted into Mongolian writing. <sect1>Are there computer programs for processing Mongolian language documents? <p> Yes, there are. Nota Bene: While the editor is happy to offer this information it must be mentioned as a caveat that in most cases the editor could neither verify the sources of these programs nor did he have a chance to review them. In addition, not all of the programs are direct competitors: some of them provide `pure' front-ends for printing systems, other focus on data models which make them useful for text processing, etc. The available programs can be roughly classified as follows: <itemize> <item> Layout software for Classical Mongolian produced at Inner Mongolia University for MSDOS and UNIX platforms. Maybe this is the most complete package one can dream of since it supports everything from different writing styles (Ulaanbaatar vs. Inner Mongol typeface) to different alphabets (including Oirat, Phags-ba etc.) Availability: Yes, but with a high price tag in the four-digit USD range. <item> Windows Software by American and German producers. These are usually only font sets which are sold in combination with some exotic text processing software. Does not offer full support for correct conversion of text data, etc. <item> The ``Sudar'' package of the National University of Mongolia was written in 1991/2 by M. Erdenechimeg. This package runs on a DOS platform, can do both Classical and Modern Mongolian and has import utilities for a number of encodings. The author is developing a new package at the moment, the support for improvements of ``Sudar'' supposedly being discontinued. <item> ``Cyrillic only'' products for enhancing MSDOS platforms are available at little or no cost in Mongolia. These include printer drivers, screen fonts and keyboard mappers for the extended Cyrillic alphabet. Around three or four different encodings are known under the following program names: NCC, MOSLAST, SUNCHIR and MONKEGA. No commercial code converters available, no support for Classical Mongolian. <item> Research-type programs for MacIntosh machines, produced by the Université de Nanterre but never made publicly available. <item> One classical font is offered by Ecological Linguistics for Mac systems. <item> A commercial font package is available for extended Cyrillic by Linguist's Software for both the Mac and PC worlds. <item> One apparently free Cyrillic font package for Mongolian is available from, it is intended for Windows3xx users. Numerous reports were received that the system, once automatically installed (there is no manual installation process) replaces system fonts and keyboard drivers in an irreversible manner so it is difficult to use this font on an occasional basis. <item> Daniel Kai's XenoType Technologies' Inner and Outer Mongolian TrueType (and Postscript) fonts for the Mac (as well as Soyombo, Phagspa) in the computer systems for Classical Mongolian. This system gets good reviews. <item> MBE -- Mongol Bichig Editor. Written in Taiwan and released in 1995, this editor for MSDOS system provides true vertical display and editing as well as 48-pixel and 96-pixel bitmap fonts for nice printing results. The awkward editing behaviour and the feature that everything between whitespace is regarded as one input and editing unit (one cannot delete a single letter, only a complete word!) make it a bit difficult to use. For documents in the pageno<10 range, like short letters etc. the system provides a simple interim solution until really powerful systems emerge. <item> MLS - Mongolian Language Support. Originally developed for IBM compatible PCs, now extended to the Unix world. Availability: free. See the <htmlurl url="" name="MLS"> software section of Infosystem Mongolei. MLS is a MSDOS enhancement featuring support for both Classical and Cyrillic Mongolian. It offers conversion modules, a viewer for text with vertical lines and allows the continued use of (text mode) applications like dBASE, spreadsheets and text processing packages. Windows support is currently under development. Besides the MLS package itself there is the above-mentioned Mongolian text viewer (MVIEW) with on-line conversion from transliteration to Mongol script and a converter from Mongol text to graphics (MLS2PCX) which generates graphics files out of Mongolian language texts. The free packages do not yet contain printer support which is overly due and can be expected soon (said the author of MLS a long while ago). It should be mentioned that the focus of MLS lies in processing Mongolian language data and providing Internet support rather than creating beautiful documents. Technology advances rapidly, and the original devices conceived for printing MLS documents were superseded soon due to their numerous limitations. The MLS author then developed a generic MLS printing support via LaTeX, and in early summer 1998 a Windows software for printing Mongolian appeared, too, which will soon offer MLS support (see next two items). <item> MonTeX -- Mongolian for LaTeX2e. Donald Knuth's TeX is certainly the finest document processor available in the digital universe. It enjoys outstanding reputation in university circles and beyond. Since the original MLS package never provided meaningful printer support, the task of creating hard copy documents was relegated to TeX/LaTeX. MonTeX can typeset portions or complete texts of Cyrillic Mongolian in an acceptable manner. The package allows the use of virtually all popular codepage layouts, thus typesetting one's texts in the favourite environment should not pose too much of a problem. MonTeX is available from <htmlurl url="" name="MLS"> or from the CTAN servers (Comprehensive TeX Archive Network). <item>QAGUCIN -- a Mongol Bicig editor for Windows95 and Windows3.xx with an editing window for transliterated Mongolian and an output window for Classical script. The <htmlurl url="" name="QAGUCIN Download"> page offers this package for free. QAGUCIN is still in an early development stage but looks very promising. The author of QAGUCIN, Michael Warmuth, is also working on including MLS support. </itemize> <sect>Mongolia - Suggested Readings <p> <sect1>Which book do you recommend as a start? <p> A dedicated document by Christopher Kaplonski -- <htmlurl url="" name="SROM - Suggested Readings on Mongolia"> -- is available at Infosystem Mongolei. This document is occasionally updated and gets posted to the USENET newsgroup soc.culture.mongolian. A second document (<htmlurl url="" name="SROMDIC -- Suggested Readings on Mongolia -- Dictionaries">) by Christopher Kaplonski and Oliver Corff at the same location reveals information about commonly used dictionaries. </article>