Mongolia is a landlocked country nestled between China and Russia. It is the least densely populated country in the world and hosts the world’s largest continuous temperate grasslands. A large portion of the population remains nomadic or semi-nomadic, moving with the seasons and working as livestock herders.
As an American, I think back to our country’s history and the cowboy-lifestyle that we have a never ending romance with. When I think of that “home on the range,” my heart longs for it. I long for the endless stars, blue skies, and the peace and simplicity in life.
“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
There seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not cloudy all day.”
Brewster M. Higley, 1876
This simple nomadic life still exists in Mongolia. The people and their tents look a little different, but the culture is warm and familiar.
This is not to say that Mongolia is all grass and sand. The capital city, Ulaanbaatar, is on the Trans-Siberian Railway, connected to both Moscow and Beijing. The capital city’s population is around 1 million and you can find most things you may need there today. They have museums, stadiums, an opera house, and an international airport.
Mongolia was a communist country for many years, supported by the Soviet Union. You can clearly see the Soviet influence in the city’s government and older apartment buildings. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, many Buddhist style buildings have sprung up and most recently large groceries, luxury hotels, and other businesses common to Western countries have appeared.