In 1990, Mongolia abandoned its 70-year-old Soviet-style one-party system in favour of political and economic reforms and multiparty elections.
Vast quantities of untapped mineral wealth have made it a target for foreign investors, transforming the country’s tiny but fast-growing economy. This rapid change has taken place against a backdrop of political wrangling and government pledges to tighten control over the country’s assets.
Once the heartland of an empire stretching to Europe under Genghis Khan, Mongolia is a landlocked country dominated by sparsely populated steppe and semi-desert.
A third of the population lives in the capital, while around 40% of the country’s workforce is nomadic, herding livestock in the extensive pasturelands.
President: Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
The Democratic Party’s Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was re-elected for a second term in July 2013, winning just over 50% of the vote. Key issues in his electoral campaign were the country’s faltering economy and concerns over the growing role of foreign investors in its mining sector.
The Harvard-educated, veteran democracy campaigner has previously served two terms as prime minister.
Prime Minister: Chimed Saikhanbileg
Parliament chose Chimed Saikhanbileg as prime minister in November 2014 after his predecessor and fellow Democratic Party member Norov Altankhuyag lost a vote of no confidence over allegations of corruption within his administration and economic mismanagement. Mr Saikhanbileg’s election was boycotted by the opposition Mongolian People’s Party.
Born in 1969, the former minister represents a new generation of Democratic Party politicians.
Mongolia’s media have undergone considerable reform since the collapse of the Soviet-style system in 1990 to reach their current level of freedom and diversity.
The main public service broadcaster is competing with a growing number of private and satellite/cable services and more than 300 print and broadcasting outlets. State-owned newspapers have been privatised and internet access is unrestricted.
Some key dates in Mongolia’s history:
1206-63 Genghis Khan unites Mongol tribes and launches a campaign of conquest which eventually results in the world’s biggest land empire.
1691– Mongolia come under the rule of China’s Qing dynasty.
1921 – Wins independence but under strict Soviet control.
1990 – Mongolia holds its first free multiparty elections.
2014 – Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag is dismissed by a parliamentary vote of no confidence and later replaced by Chimed Saikhanbileg.
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