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Mongolia - Acknowledgments


The authors are indebted to a number of individuals, without whose assistance this book would have been much more difficult to make a reality. Dr. Denis Sinor, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies, Indiana University, made an extremely useful critique of the entire manuscript, helping the authors and the editors to focus their efforts more sharply. Mary F. Weidlich of the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided a great deal of invaluable assistance, translating Mongol-language research materials, making numerous helpful suggestions on many of the topics discussed in the book, and reviewing the completed text. Barbara L. Dash, compiler and editor of The American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies, assisted with abundant bibliographic citations on Mongolia and Inner Asian affairs as well as with translations of Russian-language materials used in compiling maps. Various staff members of the Library of Congress also contributed to the research and production of the book. David W. Tsai, Exchange and Gift Division, supplied current Mongolian research materials, and Thomas M. Skallerup of the Copyright Office provided insights on Russian-Mongolian history. The authors also wish to express their appreciation to members of the staff of the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, who contributed to the preparation of the book. Tracy M. Coleman provided research assistance and wordprocessing for early book drafts. Additionally, Irena A. Weiss assisted with Russianlanguage sources used in compiling maps, Carolina E. Forrester reviewed the maps and the geography section for technical details, and Stanley M. Sciora researched the military rank and insignia information. The members of the Graphic Support Unit, David P. Cabitto, Sandra K. Ferrell, and Kimberly A. Lord, prepared the layout and the graphics for the book; Ms. Lord designed the cover and the chapter illustrations. Richard F. Nyrop reviewed most parts of the book and made valuable suggestions throughout its development before his retirement. Sandra W. Meditz, his successor, also made useful contributions to the later stages of the completed manuscript. Martha E. Hopkins, at each critical juncture, managed the editing and book production, as well as editing portions of the text. Barbara Edgerton and Izella Watson performed wordprocessing. The following individuals are gratefully acknowledged as well: Barbara Harrison for editing the body of the book; Carolyn Hinton for final prepublication editorial review; Shirley Kessel for preparing the index; and Malinda B. Neale of the Printing and Processing Section, Library of Congress, for phototypesetting, under the direction of Peggy Pixley. Those who contributed photographs used to illustrate the book are acknowledged in the photo captions.


Mongolia - Preface


This is the first revised edition of the Area Handbook for Mongolia, published in 1970. The new edition recounts events in Mongolia during the intervening years and brings up to date such developments as the changing geopolitical role of Mongolia in Sino-Soviet relations, the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the United States, the evolution to a more open, reform-minded administration, and broad economic achievements. Like its predecessor, this study is an attempt to present an objective and concise account of the major social, economic, political, and national security concerns of contemporary Mongolia, as well as to provide a historical framework for this overview. The 1970 edition, which this volume replaces, was prepared for The American University by a team composed of Trevor N. Dupuy, Wendell Blanchard, Martin Blumenson, Richard L. Butwell, Nancy Gager Clinch, Alvin D. Coox, Grace Person Hayes, Marilyn Heilprin, Virginia M. Herman, Steven J. Hunter, Brooke Nihart, Francis J. Romance, and Ellen L. Sato. The current Mongolia: A Country Study results from the combined efforts of a multidisciplinary team. The authors obtained information from a variety of sources, including scholarly studies, official reports from government and international organizations, as well as foreign and domestic newspapers and periodicals. Brief commentary on some of the more useful and readily accessible English-language sources appears at the end of each chapter. Full references to these and other sources used by the authors are listed in the Bibliography. Users of the book seeking additional materials on Mongolia, the Mongols, and Inner Asian peoples are encouraged to consult the annual editions of the Bibliography of Asian Studies and The American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies and Lidiia Pavlovna Popova, et alii Mongol Studies in the Soviet Union: A Bibliography of Soviet Publications, 1981- 1986 (Bloomington, Indiana: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1988). The authors have limited the use of foreign and technical terms, which are defined when they first appear. Readers are also referred to the Glossary in the back of the book. The contemporary place-names used in this book have been romanized-- but without using the dieresis and breve diacritics--from Mongolian Cyrillic Script according to the system approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use. The pinyin system of romanization is used for Chinese personal names and place-names, although occasionally some familiar Wade-Giles romanizations have been provided. All measurements are given in the metric system.


Mongolia - History


MONGOLIA AND THE MONGOL PEOPLE have periodically been at the center of international events. The histories of nations--indeed, of continents--have been rewritten and major cultural and political changes have occurred because of a virtual handful of seemingly remote pastoral nomads. The thirteenth-century accomplishments of Chinggis Khan in conquering a swath of the world from modern-day Korea to southern Russia and in invading deep into Europe, and the cultural achievements of his grandson, Khubilai Khan, in China are well-known in world history. Seven hundred years later, a much compressed Mongolian nation first attracted world attention as a strategic battleground between Japan and the Soviet Union and later between the Soviet Union and China. In the 1980s, the Mongolian People's Republic continued to be a critical geopolitical factor in Sino-Soviet relations.

The Mongols arose from obscure origins in the recesses of Inner Asia to unify their immediate nomadic neighbors and then to conquer much of the Eurasian landmass, ruling large parts of it for more than a century. Emerging from a newly consolidated heartland north of the Gobi in the thirteenth century, the Mongols and their armies--made up of conquered peoples--thrust through western Asia, crossed the Urals, invaded the countries of Eastern Europe, and pressed on to Austria and the Adriatic. They also advanced through southwest Asia to the eastern Mediterranean and conquered the Chinese empire. Around the same time, they embarked on ambitious maritime expeditions against Java and Japan. The Mongols were phenomenally hard driving and ambitious for such a small group, and their accomplishments were considerable. Only the Mamluks of Egypt, the "divine winds" of Japan, and the Mongols' own legal tradition--the need to elect a new khan--halted the inexorable Mongol advances.

Resistance to and accommodation of the Mongols had mixed effects on the national developments of some of the "host" nations. European kingdoms and principalities formed alliances to do battle, albeit unsuccessfully, against the Mongol armies. Europeans even combined with the hated Muslims in Egypt and Palestine to oppose the common Mongol enemy. Although the Mongol invasion of Japan was not successful, it contributed to the eventual downfall of Japan's ruling faction. The conquering Mongols brought an infusion of new ideas and unity to China but were eventually absorbed and lost their ability to rule over a people hundreds of times more numerous than themselves.

But Mongol influence did not end with the termination of military conquests or absorption. Their presence was institutionalized in many of the lands they conquered through adoption of Mongol military tactics, administrative forms, and commercial enterprises. The historical developments of such disparate nations as Russia, China, and Iran were directly affected by the Mongols. Wherever they settled outside their homeland, the Mongols brought about cultural change and institutional improvements. Although there never was a "Pax Mongolica," the spread of the Mongol polity across Eurasia resulted in a large measure of cultural exchange. Chinese scribes and artists served the court of the Ilkhans in Iran, Italian merchants served the great khans in Karakorum and Daidu (as Beijing was then known), papal envoys recorded events in the courts of the great khans, Mongol princes were dispatched to all points of the great Mongol empire to observe and be observed, and the Golden Horde and their Tatar descendants left a lasting mark on Moscovy through administrative developments and intermarriage. Although eventually subsumed as part of the Chinese empire, the Mongols were quick to seek independence when that empire disintegrated in 1911.

The Mongol character has been greatly influenced by the extremes of Mongolia's geography, comprising huge rolling plateaus, rugged mountain ranges, and areas susceptible to earthquakes. On the one hand Mongolia has Hovsgol Nuur--Asia's second largest freshwater lake--and river systems that drain toward the Arctic and Pacific oceans and into Central Asia, and on the other, the Gobi, a vast arid rangeland within which are even less hospitable desert areas. The climate is mostly cold and dry with long frigid winters and short hot summers. Minimal precipitation, temperatures that freeze the nation's rivers and freshwater lakes for long periods of the year, and severe blizzards and dust storms leave only around 1 percent of the land arable and make human and livestock existence fragile at best.

Such an inhospitable land not unexpectedly is home to a relatively small, widely dispersed population. Of the 4 million plus Mongols--only a fourfold increase over the population of the era of Chinggis Khan--just slightly more than 2 million people live in the modern Mongolian People's Republic (the rest are minority peoples in China and the Soviet Union). Except for a concentration of 500,000 people in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, the rest of the population is sparsely distributed: another quarter of the population resides in small urban areas and the remaining approximately 49 percent live in the vast countryside. The population, however, is young and growing rapidly as government incentives encourage large families to offset labor shortages. Ninety percent of the population is composed of ethnic Mongols, making the nation extremely homogeneous; Turkic peoples, such as Tuvins and Kazakhs, Chinese, Russians, and other minorities make up the remainder.

Nomadic peoples of uncertain origins are recorded as living in what is now the Mongolian People's Republic in the third century B.C., and archaeological evidence takes human habitation in the Gobi back a hundred centuries or more earlier. Warfare was a way of life, against other nomadic peoples in competition for land, and in the south against the Chinese, whose high culture and fertile lands were always attractive to the Mongols. China responded with punitive expeditions, which pushed these pre- and proto-Mongol peoples farther north, west, and east and resulted in periods of Chinese hegemony over parts of Inner Asia. The Mongols of Chinggis Khan emerged in central Mongolia in the twelfth century under Chinggis's grandfather. Tribal alliances, wars, clan confederations, and more wars contributed to a new Mongol unity and organization and the eventual conquest of lands throughout Eurasia.

The high point of Mongol achievements was followed by gradual fragmentation. The Mongol successes throughout the first half of the thirteenth century were eroded by overextension of lines of control from the capital, first at Karakorum and later at Daidu. By the late fourteenth century, only local vestiges of Mongol glory persisted in parts of Asia. The main core of the Mongolian population in China retreated to the old homeland, where their governing system devolved into a quasi-feudalistic system fraught with disunity and conflict. Caught between the emergence of tsarist Russia and the Manchus--distant cousins of the Mongols-- in the seventeenth century, Mongolia eventually was absorbed into the periphery of the Chinese polity, where it remained until 1911. As the Chinese imperial system disintegrated, the Mongols sought national independence but the Chinese did not willingly give up, and Mongolia continued to be divided into northern and southern sections. Russian interest in Mongolia was replaced by Soviet involvement, and the Japanese sought political leverage and applied periodic pressure up through World War II.

Throughout the twentieth century, Russian and Soviet influence over Mongolia has been a predominant factor in its national development. The tsarist government aided Mongolian revolutionaries both diplomatically and militarily against the Chinese, and anti-Bolshevik White Russian military forces did active battle against both the Chinese and the indigenous revolutionaries. The theocratic monarchy established after 1911 was greatly limited by the Mongolian Revolution of 1921 and eventually replaced by a "people's republic" under heavy Soviet influence. This influence continued throughout the twentieth century in the form of political guidance and economic aid. Severe purges of monarchists, Buddhists, conservative revolutionaries, and any other real or perceived opponent of the new communist regime took place throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. Extremism bordered on national disaster before evolving into more moderate policies of a new Mongolian socialism characterized by closely planned economic growth. Joint Mongolian-Soviet armies successfully fended off Japanese military advances in 1939. The rest of World War II produced further agricultural and industrial development in support of Moscow's war efforts and made Mongolia a critical buffer in the Soviet Far Eastern defense system. Technically neutral, Mongolia declared war against Japan only in August 1945.

Peacetime brought additional Soviet and East European economic aid (and eventually membership in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance [Comecon]) and a new relationship with the People's Republic of China after its establishment in 1949. Mongolian-Chinese relations resulted in still more economic assistance to and trade with Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia's external policies, however, were founded on those of the Soviet Union, and relations with China, always influenced by suspicions over real or imaginary claims by China to "lost territories," faltered in the wake of the Sino-Soviet rift that developed in the late 1950s. By the late 1960s, Mongolia had become an armed camp, as Soviet and Chinese troops were poised against one another along the Sino-Mongolian border. Tensions between Ulaanbaatar and Beijing lessened only when Sino-Soviet rapprochement began to evolve in the mid-1980s. The issue of Soviet troop withdrawal from Mongolia still constrained Sino- Mongolian relations in the late 1980s.

Some of the same late twentieth-century geopolitical developments that lessened tensions with China also brought Mongolia farther into the mainstream of world affairs. Mongolia participated more actively in international organizations and improved relations with a growing number of Western countries, including the United States, which established diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1987.

Traditional Mongolian society was affected heavily by foreign influences: commerce was controlled by Chinese merchants and the state religion - Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism - was simultaneously bureaucratic and otherworldly. Modern society has been shaped by the continued foreign--primarily Soviet-- influence. But despite increasing urbanization and industrialization, nearly half of the population lives either by the traditional methods of pastoral nomadism--moving their herds (sheep, horses, cattle, goats, and yaks) from one area of temporary sustenance to another--or in a close symbiotic relationship with the nomads. Despite its hardships, the nomadic life provides Mongols with national values and a sense of historical identity and pride.

However, traditional values and practices have made modernization of society a difficult task. Once they had eliminated the "feudal" aspects of society, Mongolia's communist leaders still had to take radical steps to modernize their country. Scientific methods were applied to animal husbandry and agriculture and new industries, such as copper and coal mining, were developed. Herding and agricultural collectives, mines and factories, and educational institutions became the focal point of a social organization controlled by state administrators, most of whom were members of the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. Modernization inevitably brought greater differentiation and mobility in Mongolian society as party functionaries, white collar administrators, factory workers, and increasing numbers of urban residents (who typically have larger family units than those in the countryside) surpassed in numbers and opportunities the once self-sufficient pastoralists, who remain at the bottom of the social system.

The development of the economy has been closely associated with social modernization in Mongolia. Beginning with the 1921 revolution, the government took increasing control over the economy. Mongolia has a planned economy based on state and cooperative ownership. Annual planning began in 1941, and five- year plans began in 1948. The plans have been closely integrated with the five-year plans of the Soviet Union since 1961 and with Comecon multilateral plans since 1976. In the years since 1921, Mongolia has been transformed from an almost strictly agrarian economy to a diversified agricultural-industrial economy. Economic reforms in the Soviet Union inspired similar efforts in Mongolia under Jambyn Batmonh, premier between 1974 and 1984 and general secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party since 1984. The acceleration of economic development, greater application of science and technology to production, improved management and planning, greater independence for economic enterprises, and more balance among individual, collective, and societal interests were the target areas of reform in the late 1980s.

Underpinning society and the economy are the government and party. Mongolia has a highly centralized government run by a cabinet (the Council of Ministers), with a unicameral legislature (People's Great Hural), and an independent judicial branch overseeing the courts and criminal justice system. Provinces and provincial-level cities and counties and town centers comprise local administration. As in all communist-run states, at the pinnacle of control is one-party rule. The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, with a membership of nearly 90,000, operates with quinquennial party congresses and an elected Central Committee. The party's Political Bureau and Secretariat provide standing leadership and carry out day-to-day business. Local party administration coincides with government offices and production units at each level.

Mongolia's national security is intimately linked with that of the Soviet Union. The armed forces have a rich historical tradition in the legacy of the great khans--an era of Mongolian history still resented by the Soviets--and their more immediate revolutionary forbearers of the 1910s and 1920s. The Mongolian People's Army was established in 1921, when the new provisional national government was proclaimed. As in all aspects of modern Mongolian organization, Soviet influence has predominated. Soviet Red Army troops remained in Mongolia at least until 1925 and were brought back in the 1930s to help quell anticommunist rebellions. They have had a major military presence since then, first poised against the Japanese and later against the Chinese threat. Up through the 1940s, Mongolian troops had had fighting experiences against White Russians, Chinese warlord armies, Mongolian rebels, the Japanese, and Chinese Guomindang (Nationalist) forces.

In the 1950s, serious efforts at military modernization took place, but it was the Sino-Soviet rift that brought about the most dramatic changes. Increasingly close ties developed between the Mongolian and Soviet armed forces in accordance with a succession of mutual defense pacts. Open hostilities between Soviet and Chinese forces in the late 1960s further strengthened ties and led to still greater modernization of the ground and air forces. By 1988 the armed forces numbered 24,500 active-duty personnel--most organized into four motorized rifle divisions and a MiG-21 fighter regiment--and some 200,000 reservists and paramilitary personnel.

Military training for able-bodied civilians--both men and women--and universal military conscription are key elements in a country with a tradition in which all men were considered warriors. Additionally, all citizens are obliged to participate in civil defense preparedness activities. Close ties between the military establishment and the civilian economy have existed since the 1930s, with many industries producing both military matériel and civilian-use goods. A demobilized soldier normally has greater technical skills than those who did not serve in the military and thus contributes significantly to the economy upon completion of military service. The military also plays an important economic role through numerous military construction projects for the civilian sector.

In sum, the Mongolian People's Republic, as it reaches the 1990s, is a small, economically developing country that has made great strides since it emerged from centuries of Chinese domination. The measure of progress is controlled by a one-party, highly centralized system that has long been influenced by Soviet mentors. With a foreign policy coordinated with that of the Soviet Union and closely integrated with and heavily dependent on Soviet and East European assistance, the degree to which Mongolia is able to conduct its own affairs is questionable. As it has for several millennia, Mongolia will continue to be geopolitically important.


Mongolia - Early Development, ca. 220 B.C.-A.D. 1206


Origins of the Mongols

Archaeological evidence places early Stone Age human habitation in the southern Gobi between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. By the first millennium B.C., bronze-working peoples lived in Mongolia. With the appearance of iron weapons by the third century B.C., the inhabitants of Mongolia had begun to form tribal alliances and to threaten China. The origins of more modern inhabitants are found among the forest hunters and nomadic tribes of Inner Asia. They inhabited a great arc of land extending generally from the Korean Peninsula in the east, across the northern tier of China to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and to the Pamir Mountains and Lake Balkash in the west. During most of recorded history, this has been an area of constant ferment from which emerged numerous migrations and invasions to the southeast (into China), to the southwest (into Transoxiana--modern Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, Iran, and India), and to the west (across Scythia toward Europe). By the eighth century B.C., the inhabitants of much of this region evidently were nomadic Indo-European speakers, either Scythians or their kin. Also scattered throughout the area were many other tribes that were primarily Mongol in their ethnologic characteristics.


Mongolia - Xiongnu and Yuezhi


The first significant recorded appearance of nomads came late in the third century B.C., when the Chinese repelled an invasion of the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu in Wade-Giles romanization) across the Huang He (Yellow River) from the Gobi. The Xiongnu were a nomadic people of uncertain origins. Their language is not known to modern scholars, but the people were probably similar in appearance and characteristics to the later Mongols. A Chinese army, which had adopted Xiongnu military technology--wearing trousers and using mounted archers with stirrups--pursued the Xiongnu across the Gobi in a ruthless punitive expedition. Fortification walls built by various Chinese warring states were connected to make a 2,300-kilometer Great Wall along the northern border, as a barrier to further nomadic inroads.

The Xiongnu temporarily abandoned their interest in China and turned their attention westward to the region of the Altai Mountains and Lake Balkash, inhabited by the Yuezhi (Yüeh-chih in Wade-Giles), an Indo-European-speaking nomadic people who had relocated from China's present-day Gansu Province as a result of their earlier defeat by the Xiongnu. Endemic warfare between these two nomadic peoples reached a climax in the latter part of the third century and the early decades of the second century B.C.; the Xiongnu were triumphant. The Yuezhi then migrated to the southwest where, early in the second century, they began to appear in the Oxus (the modern Amu Darya) Valley, to change the course of history in Bactria, Iran, and eventually India.

Meanwhile, the Xiongnu again raided northern China about 200 B.C., finding that the inadequately defended Great Wall was not a serious obstacle. By the middle of the second century B.C., they controlled all of northern and western China north of the Huang He. This renewed threat led the Chinese to improve their defenses in the north, while building up and improving the army, particularly the cavalry, and while preparing long-range plans for an invasion of Mongolia.

Between 130 and 121 B.C., Chinese armies drove the Xiongnu back across the Great Wall, weakened their hold on Gansu Province as well as on what is now Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia), and finally pushed them north of the Gobi into central Mongolia. Following these victories, the Chinese expanded into the areas later known as Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, and Inner Asia. The Xiongnu, once more turning their attention to the west and the southwest, raided deep into the Oxus Valley between 73 and 44 B.C. The descendants of the Yuezhi and their Chinese rulers, however, formed a common front against the Xiongnu and repelled them.

During the next century, as Chinese strength waned, border warfare between the Chinese and the Xiongnu was almost incessant. Gradually the nomads forced their way back into Gansu and the northern part of what is now China's Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region. In about the middle of the first century A.D., a revitalized Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220) slowly recovered these territories, driving the Xiongnu back into the Altai Mountains and the steppes north of the Gobi. During the late first century A.D., having reestablished the administrative control over southern China and northern Vietnam that had been lost briefly at beginning of this same century, the Eastern Han made a concerted effort to reassert dominance over Inner Asia. A Chinese army crossed the Pamir Mountains, conquered territories as far west as the Caspian Sea, defeated the Yuezhi Kushan Empire, and even sent an emissary in search of the eastern provinces of Rome.


Mongolia - Donghu, Toba, and Ruruan


Although the Xiongnu finally had been driven back into their homeland by the Chinese in A.D. 48, within ten years the Xianbei (or Hsien-pei in Wade-Giles) had moved (apparently from the north or northwest) into the region vacated by the Xiongnu. The Xianbei were the northern branch of the Donghu (or Tung Hu, the Eastern Hu), a proto-Tunguz group mentioned in Chinese histories as existing as early as the fourth century B.C. The language of the Donghu, like that of the Xiongnu, is unknown to modern scholars. The Donghu were among the first peoples conquered by the Xiongnu. Once the Xiongnu state weakened, however, the Donghu rebelled. By the first century, two major subdivisions of the Donghu had developed: the Xianbei in the north and the Wuhuan in the south. The Xianbei, who by the second century A.D. were attacking Chinese farms south of the Great Wall, established an empire, which, although short-lived, gave rise to numerous tribal states along the Chinese frontier. Among these states was that of the Toba (T'o-pa in Wade-Giles), a subgroup of the Xianbei, in modern China's Shanxi Province. The Wuhuan also were prominent in the second century, but they disappeared thereafter; possibly they were absorbed in the Xianbei western expansion. The Xianbei and the Wuhuan used mounted archers in warfare, and they had only temporary war leaders instead of hereditary chiefs. Agriculture, rather than full-scale nomadism, was the basis of their economy. In the sixth century A.D., the Wuhuan were driven out of Inner Asia into the Russian steppe.

Chinese control of parts of Inner Asia did not last beyond the opening years of the second century, and, as the Eastern Han Dynasty ended early in the third century A.D., suzerainty was limited primarily to the Gansu corridor. The Xianbei were able to make forays into a China beset with internal unrest and political disintegration. By 317 all of China north of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) had been overrun by nomadic peoples: the Xianbei from the north; some remnants of the Xiongnu from the northwest; and the Chiang people of Gansu and Tibet (present-day China's Xizang Autonomous Region) from the west and the southwest. Chaos prevailed as these groups warred with each other and repulsed the vain efforts of the fragmented Chinese kingdoms south of the Chang Jiang to reconquer the region.

By the end of the fourth century, the region between the Chang Jiang and the Gobi, including much of modern Xinjiang, was dominated by the Toba. Emerging as the partially sinicized state of Dai between A.D. 338 and 376 in the Shanxi area, the Toba established control over the region as the Northern Wei Dynasty (A.D. 386-533). Northern Wei armies drove back the Ruruan (referred to as Ruanruan or Juan-Juan by Chinese chroniclers), a newly arising nomadic Mongol people in the steppes north of the Altai Mountains, and reconstructed the Great Wall. During the fourth century also, the Huns left the steppes north of the Aral Sea to invade Europe. By the middle of the fifth century, Northern Wei had penetrated into the Tarim Basin in Inner Asia, as had the Chinese in the second century. As the empire grew, however, Toba tribal customs were supplanted by those of the Chinese, an evolution not accepted by all Toba.

The Ruruan, only temporarily repelled by Northern Wei, had driven the Xiongnu toward the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea and were making raids into China. In the late fifth century, the Ruruan established a powerful nomadic empire spreading generally north of Northern Wei. It was probably the Ruruan who first used the title khan.


Mongolia - Rise of the Türk


Northern Wei was disintegrating rapidly because of revolts of semi-tribal Toba military forces that were opposed to being sinicized, when disaster struck the flourishing Ruruan Empire. The Türk, a vassal people, known as Tujue to Chinese chroniclers, revolted against their Ruruan rulers. The uprising began in the Altai Mountains, where many of the Türk were serfs working the iron mines. Thus, from the outset of their revolt, they had the advantage of controlling what had been one of the major bases of Ruruan power. Between 546 and 553, the Türks overthrew the Ruruan and established themselves as the most powerful force in North Asia and Inner Asia. This was the beginning of a pattern of conquest that was to have a significant effect upon Eurasian history for more than 1,000 years. The Türk were the first people to use this later wide-spread name. They are also the earliest Inner Asian people whose language is known, because they left behind Orkhon inscriptions in a runic-like script, which was deciphered in 1896.

It was not long before the tribes in the region north of the Gobi--the Eastern Türk--were following invasion routes into China used in previous centuries by Xiongnu, Xianbei, Toba, and Ruruan. Like their predecessors who had inhabited the mountains and the steppes, the attention of the Türk quickly was attracted by the wealth of China. At first these new raiders encountered little resistance, but toward the end of the sixth century, as China slowly began to recover from centuries of disunity, border defenses stiffened. The original Türk state split into eastern and western parts, with some of the Eastern Türk acknowledging Chinese overlordship.

For a brief period at the beginning of the seventh century, a new consolidation of the Türk, under the Western Türk ruler Tardu, again threatened China. In 601 Tardu's army besieged Chang'an (modern Xi'an), then the capital of China. Tardu was turned back, however, and, upon his death two years later, the Türk state again fragmented. The Eastern Türk nonetheless continued their depredations, occasionally threatening Chang'an.


Mongolia - Influence of Tang China


From 629 to 648, a reunited China--under the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906)--destroyed the power of the Eastern Türk north of the Gobi; established suzerainty over the Kitan, a semi-nomadic Mongol people who lived in areas that became the modern Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin; and formed an alliance with the Uighurs, who inhabited the region between the Altai Mountains and Lake Balkash. Between 641 and 648, the Tang conquered the Western Türk, reestablishing Chinese sovereignty over Xinjiang and exacting tribute from west of the Pamir Mountains. The Türk empire finally ended in 744.

For more than a century, the Tang retained control of central and eastern Mongolia and parts of Inner Asia. During this century, the Tang expanded Chinese control into the Oxus Valley. At the same time, their allies and nominal vassals, the Uighurs, conquered much of western and northern Mongolia until, by the middle of the eighth century, the Uighur seminomadic empire extended from Lake Balkash to Lake Baykal.

It was at about this time that the Arab-led tide of Islam reached Inner Asia. After a bitter struggle, the Chinese were ejected from the Oxus Valley, but with Uighur assistance they defeated Muslim efforts to penetrate into Xinjiang. The earliest Mongol links with Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism, also may have been established in this period. During this time, the Kitan of western Manchuria took advantage of the situation to throw off Chinese control, and they began to raid northern China.

Despite these crippling losses, the Tang recovered and, with considerable Uighur assistance, held their frontiers. Tang dependence upon their northern allies was apparently a source of embarrassment to the Chinese, who surreptitiously encouraged the Kirghiz and the Karluks to attack the Uighurs, driving them south into the Tarim Basin. As a result of the Kirghiz action, the Uighur empire collapsed in 846. Some of the Uighurs emigrated to Chinese Turkestan (the Turpan region), where they established a flourishing kingdom that freely submitted to Chinggis Khan several centuries later. Ironically, this weakening of the Uighurs undoubtedly hastened the decline and fall of the Tang Dynasty over the next fifty years.


Mongolia - Kitan and Jurchen


Free of Uighur restraint, the Kitan expanded in all directions in the latter half of the ninth century and the early years of the tenth century. By 925 the Kitan ruled eastern Mongolia, most of Manchuria, and much of China north of the Huang He. In the recurrent process of sinicization, by the middle of the tenth century Kitan chieftains had established themselves as emperors of northern China; their rule was known as the Liao Dynasty (916-1125).

The period of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was one of consolidation, preceding the most momentous era in Mongol history, the era of Chinggis Khan. During those centuries, the vast region of deserts, mountains, and grazing land was inhabited by people resembling each other in racial, cultural, and linguistic characteristics; ethnologically they were essentially Mongol. The similarites among the Mongols, Türk, Tangut, and Tatars who inhabited this region causes considerable ethnic and historical confusion. Generally, the Mongols and the closely related Tatars inhabited the northern and the eastern areas; the Türk (who already had begun to spread over western Asia and southeastern Europe) were in the west and the southwest; the Tangut, who were more closely related to the Tibetans than were the other nomads and who were not a Turkic people, were in eastern Xinjiang, Gansu, and western Inner Mongolia. The Liao state was homogeneous, and the Kitan had begun to lose their nomadic characteristics. The Kitan built cities and exerted dominion over their agricultural subjects as a means of consolidating their empire. To the west and the northwest of Liao were many other Mongol tribes, linked together in various tenuous alliances and groupings, but with little national cohesiveness. In Gansu and eastern Xinjiang, the Tangut--who had taken advantage of the Tang decline--had formed a state, Western Xia or Xixia (1038-1227), nominally under Chinese suzerainty. Xinjiang was dominated by the Uighurs, who were loosely allied with the Chinese.

The people of Mongolia at this time were predominantly spirit worshipers, with shamans providing spiritual and religious guidance to the people and tribal leaders. There had been some infusion of Buddhism, which had spread from Xinjiang, but it did not yet have a strong influence. Nestorian Christianity also had penetrated Inner Asia.

In the eleventh century, the Kitan completed the conquest of China north of the Huang He. Despite close cultural ties between the Kitan and Western Xia that led the latter to become increasingly sinicized, during the remainder of that century and the early years of the twelfth century, the two Mongol groups were frequently at war with each other and with the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279) of China. The Uighurs of the Turpan region often were involved in these wars, usually aiding the Chinese against Western Xia.

A Tungusic people, the Jurchen, ancestors of the Manchu, formed an alliance with the Song and reduced the Kitan Empire to vassal status in a seven-year war (1115-1122). The Jurchen leader proclaimed himself the founder of a new era, the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Scarcely pausing in their conquests, the Jurchen subdued neighboring Koryo (Korea) in 1226 and invaded the territory of their former allies, the Song, to precipitate a series of wars with China that continued through the remainder of the century. Meanwhile, the defeated Kitan Liao ruler had fled with the small remnant of his army to the Tarim Basin, where he allied himself with the Uighurs and established the Karakitai state (known also as the Western Liao Dynasty, 1124-1234), which soon controlled both sides of the Pamir Mountains. The Jurchen turned their attention to the Mongols who, in 1139 and in 1147, warded them off.


Mongolia - The Era of Chinggis Khan, 1206-27


Rise of Chinggis Khan

After the migration of the Jurchen, the Borjigin Mongols had emerged in central Mongolia as the leading clan of a loose federation. The principal Borjigin Mongol leader, Kabul Khan, began a series of raids into Jin in 1135. In 1162 (some historians say 1167), Temujin, the first son of Mongol chieftain Yesugei, and grandson of Kabul, was born. Yesugei, who was chief of the Kiyat subclan of the Borjigin Mongols, was killed by neighboring Tatars in 1175, when Temujin was only twelve years old. The Kiyat rejected the boy as their leader and chose one of his kin instead. Temujin and his immediate family were abandoned and apparently left to die in a semidesert, mountainous region.

Temujin did not die, however. In a dramatic struggle described in The Secret History of the Mongols, Temujin, by the age of twenty, had become the leader of the Kiyat subclan and by 1196, the unquestioned chief of the Borjigin Mongols. Sixteen years of nearly constant warfare followed as Temujin consolidated his power north of the Gobi. Much of his early success was because of his first alliance, with the neighboring Kereit clan, and because of subsidies that he and the Kereit received from the Jin emperor in payment for punitive operations against Tatars and other tribes that threatened the northern frontiers of Jin. Jin by this time had become absorbed into the Chinese cultural system and was politically weak and increasingly subject to harassment by Western Xia, the Chinese, and finally the Mongols. Later Temujin broke with the Kereit, and, in a series of major campaigns, he defeated all the Mongol and Tatar tribes in the region from the Altai Mountains to Manchuria. In time Temujin emerged as the strongest chieftain among a number of contending leaders in a confederation of clan lineages. His principal opponents in this struggle had been the Naiman Mongols, and he selected Karakorum (west-southwest of modern Ulaanbaatar, near modern Har Horin), their capital, as the seat of his new empire.

In 1206 Temujin's leadership of all Mongols and other peoples they had conquered between the Altai Mountains and the Da Hinggan (Greater Khingan) Range was acknowledged formally by a kuriltai (council) of chieftains as their khan. Temujin took the honorific chinggis, meaning supreme or great (also romanized as genghis or jenghiz), creating the title Chinggis Khan, in an effort to signify the unprecedented scope of his power. In latter hagiography, Chinggis was said even to have had divine ancestry. The contributions of Chinggis to Mongol organizational development had lasting impact. He took personal control of the old clan lineages, ending the tradition of noninterference by the khan. He unified the Mongol tribes through a logistical nexus involving food supplies, sheep and horse herds, intelligence and security, and transportation. A census system was developed to organize the decimal-based political jurisdictions and to recruit soldiers more easily. As the great khan, Chinggis was able to consolidate his organization and to institutionalize his leadership over a Eurasian empire. Critical ingredients were his new and unprecedented military system and politico-military organization. His exceptionally flexible mounted army and the cadre of Chinese and Muslim siege-warfare experts who facilitated his conquest of cities comprised one of the most formidable instruments of warfare that the world had ever seen.

At the time of his first kuriltai at Karakorum, Chinggis already was engaged in a dispute with Western Xia, the first of his wars of conquest. In 1205 the Mongol military organization, based on the tumen, had defeated the much larger Tangut forces easily. Despite problems in conquering the well-fortified Western Xia cities, the results were the same in the campaigns of 1207 and 1209. When peace was concluded in 1209, the Western Xia emperor, with substantially reduced dominion, acknowledged Chinggis as overlord.


Mongolia - Early Wars in China


A major goal of Chinggis was the conquest of Jin, both to avenge earlier defeats and to gain the riches of northern China. He declared war in 1211, and at first the pattern of operations against Jin was the same as it had been against Western Xia. The Mongols were victorious in the field, but they were frustrated in their efforts to take major cities. In his typically logical and determined fashion, Chinggis and his highly developed staff studied the problems of the assault of fortifications. With the help of Chinese engineers, they gradually developed the techniques that eventually would make them the most accomplished and most successful besiegers in the history of warfare.

As a result of a number of overwhelming victories in the field and a few successes in the capture of fortifications deep within China, Chinggis had conquered and had consolidated Jin territory as far south as the Great Wall by 1213. He then advanced with three armies into the heart of Jin territory, between the Great Wall and the Huang He. He defeated the Jin forces, devastated northern China, captured numerous cities, and in 1215 besieged, captured, and sacked the Jin capital of Yanjing (later known as Beijing). The Jin emperor did not surrender, however, but removed his capital to Kaifeng. There his successors finally were defeated, but not until 1234. Meanwhile, Kuchlug, the deposed khan of the Naiman Mongols, had fled west and had conquered the state of Karakitai, the western allies that had decided to side with Chinggis.

By this time, the Mongol army was exhausted by ten years of continuous campaigning against Western Xia and Jin. Therefore, Chinggis sent only two tumen under a brilliant young general, Jebe, against Kuchlug. An internal revolt was incited by Mongol agents; then Jebe overran the country. Kuchlug's forces were defeated west of Kashgar; he was captured and executed, and Karakitai was annexed. By 1218 the Mongol state extended as far west as Lake Balkash and adjoined Khwarizm, a Muslim state that reached to the Caspian Sea in the west and to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea in the south.


Mongolia - Conquest of Khwarizm


In 1218 the governor of an eastern province of Khwarizm mistreated several Mongol emissaries. Chinggis retaliated with a force of more than 200,000 troops, and Khwarizm was eradicated by 1220. A detachment of about 25,000 Mongol cavalry, as part of the Khwarizmian campaign, had crossed the Caucasus Mountains, had skirted the Caspian Sea, and had briefly invaded Europe.

After defeating the Georgians and the Cumans of the Caucasus, the small Mongol expedition advanced in 1222 into the steppes of the Kuban. Combining rapid movement with guile, the Mongols again defeated the Cumans, captured Astrakhan, then crossed the Don River into Russia. Penetrating the Crimea, they stormed the Genoese fortress of Sudak on the southeastern coast, then turned north into what later became known as the Ukraine.

The Mongol leaders now thought they had accomplished their mission. Before returning to Mongolia, however, they decided to rest their troops and to gain more information about the lands to the north and the west. They camped near the mouth of the Dnieper River, and their spies soon were scattered throughout eastern and central Europe.

Meanwhile, a mixed Russian-Cuman army of 80,000 under the leadership of Mstislav, prince of Kiev, marched against the Mongol encampment. Jebe and Subetei, another great Mongol general, sought peace; however, when their envoys were murdered, they attacked and routed Mstislav's force on the banks of the Halha River. Historian Charles Halperin estimated that by this time the "destructive power of the Mongol war machine eclipsed anything the Russians had seen before," and the Kievan Russians found themeselves faced no longer with a renewal of the sporadic raids of the past but with the threat of subjugation and foreign domination. In compliance with a courier message from Chinggis, the expedition then marched eastward. As the Mongols were marching north of the Caspian Sea, Jebe died of illness. In 1224 Subetei led the expedition back, after a trek of more than 6,400 kilometers, to a rendezvous with the main Mongol armies, that were returning from their victories over the Khwarizm.


Mongolia - The Last Campaign of Chinggis Khan


The vassal emperor of Western Xia had refused to take part in the war against the Khwarizm, and Chinggis had vowed punishment. While he was in Iran, Western Xia and Jin had formed an alliance against the Mongols. After rest and a reorganization of his armies, Chinggis prepared for war against his foes.

By this time, advancing years had led Chinggis to prepare for the future and to assure an orderly succession among his descendants. He selected his son Ogedei as his successor and established the method of selection of subsequent khans, specifying that they should come from his direct descendants. Meanwhile, he studied intelligence reports from Western Xia and Jin and readied a force of 180,000 troops for a new campaign.

Late in 1226, when the rivers were frozen, the Mongols struck southward with their customary speed and vigor. The Tangut, well acquainted with Mongol methods, were ready, and the two armies met by the banks of the frozen Huang He. Despite a Western Xia army of more than 300,000 troops, the Mongols virtually annihilated the Tangut host.

Pursuing energetically, the Mongols killed the Western Xia emperor in a mountain fortress. His son took refuge in the great walled city of Ningxia, which the Mongols had failed to conquer in earlier wars. Leaving one-third of his army to take Ningxia, Chinggis sent Ogedei eastward, across the great bend of the Huang He, to drive the Jin forces from their last footholds north of the river. With the remainder of his troops, he marched southeast, evidently to eastern Sichuan Province, where the Western Xia, the Jin, and the Song empires met, to prevent Song reinforcements from reaching Ningxia. Here he accepted the surrender of the new Western Xia emperor but rejected peace overtures from Jin.

A premonition of death caused Chinggis to head back to Mongolia, but he died en route. On his deathbed in 1227, he outlined to his youngest son, Tului, the plans that later would be used by his successors to complete the destruction of the Jin empire.


Mongolia - Successors of Chinggis, 1228-59


Ogedei and Continuing Conquests

In compliance with the will of the dead khan, a kuriltai at Karakorum in 1228 selected Ogedei as khan. The kuriltai also decided to launch a campaign against the Bulghars, Turks in the region of Kazan on the middle Volga River, and to complete the conquest of the outlying Western Xia territories. By 1229 Batu Khan, grandson of Chinggis, had defeated most of the Bulghar outposts, and in 1231 Ogedei sent an expedition to conquer the Korean Peninsula.

That same year, Ogedei decided to destroy Jin. He formed an alliance with the Song, then sent Tului southward with a large army into Jin territory. In 1232 in the middle of the campaign, Tului died, and Subetei took command. He continued on to besiege Kaifeng, the Jin capital. Despite the defenders' skillful use of explosives, the city fell to the Mongols after a year's siege. Subetei then completed the conquest of the Jin empire, driving many of the Jurchen back into their original homeland, but absorbing others into the Mongol army for the further conquest of China. Ogedei refused to divide the conquered region with the Song, which in 1234 attempted to seize part of the former Jin empire. This was the signal for another war, which lasted fortyfive years.

Ogedei committed the Mongols, whose total population could not have exceeded 1 million, to an offensive war against the most populous nation on earth, while other Mongol armies were invading Iran, Anatolia, Syria, and the steppes of western Siberia and Russia. By this time, ethnic Mongols were a minority of the Mongol armies. The remainder were Turks, Tatars, Tangut, Cumans, Bulghars, and other Inner Asian peoples. Nonetheless, the confidence with which the Mongol armies embarked on these farflung wars was almost as remarkable as the invariable success of their operations.

In compliance with the wishes of Chinggis, as expressed presumably in his legal code, the yasaq, his vast empire had been apportioned among his sons (only three survived; the eldest, Jochi, had died in 1227), and his sons' descendants, subject to the overall authority of the khan at Karakorum, which was rebuilt in 1235 by Ogedi. Jochi's son, Batu, ruled the region to the north and the west of Lake Balkash. Chagadai, the second son of Chinggis was given the southwestern region that includes modern Afghanistan, Turkestan (now in the Soviet Union), and central Siberia. He and his successors were known as the khans of the Chagadai Mongols. By implication, this realm extended indefinitely to the southwest, as Batu's did to the northwest. Ogedei and his progeny were awarded China and the other lands of East Asia. Tului, the youngest of the four principal heirs, was to have central Mongolia, the homeland, in accordance with Mongol custom. He and his descendants, however, were to share Mongolia's precious fighting manpower with the other three khanates.

The kuriltai of 1235 authorized at least two more major offensive operations: one against Tibet, the other in Eastern Europe. The Tibetan expedition was led by Godan, son of Ogedei, and the conquest was completed in 1239.


Mongolia - Subetei and the European Expedition


The European expedition was to be a major Mongol effort, comparable in scope to the war against China. It was to become a catastrophe of monumental proportions for medieval East Europeans, who were confronted with devastating wars and serious social disruption. Nominal command was to be exercised by Batu, because this was the part of the world he had inherited from Chinggis. The actual commander was the aging, but still brilliant, Subetei. He was probably the most gifted of all Mongol generals, after Chinggis himself, and he had been one of the commanders of the momentous reconnaissance that had swept through southern Russia fifteen years earlier.

The Bulghars were defeated in 1236, and in December 1237 Subetei and Batu led an army of 600,000 across the frozen Volga River. The Mongols spread destruction and death through Russia. Moscow, Vladimir, and other northern Russian principalities were destroyed before summer 1238. Subetei then turned south to the steppe region around the Don, to allow his army to rest, to regain strength, and to prepare for new advances. Apparently his timetable was delayed for a year by a dispute between Batu and other royal princes commanding various hordes. Nonetheless, this additional time gave Subetei an opportunity to accumulate still further information about central and western Europe from his spies.

In November 1240, after the rivers and marshes of what, in modern times, is the Ukraine had frozen enough to take the weight of cavalry, the Mongol army crossed the Dnieper River. On December 6, it conquered Kiev, the seat of the grand prince and the Metropolitan See of Rus'. Subetei continued westward, his army advancing, typically, on a broad front in three major columns.

To the north was the horde of Kaidu Khan, three tumen strong, protecting the right flank of the main body. Kaidu swept through Lithuania and Poland; on March 18 he destroyed the Polish army at Cracow. He detached a tumen to raid along the Baltic coast and with the remainder headed westward into Silesia. On April 9, 1241, at Liegnitz (Legnica, in Poland), the more disciplined Mongol army decisively defeated a numerically superior combined European army in a bitterly contested battle.

Meanwhile, a horde of three tumen under Kadan, another son of Ogedei, protected the southern flank and advanced through Transylvania, into the Danube Valley, and into Hungary. In midApril Kadan and Kaidu joined the main body--under Batu--in central Hungary.

Batu led the central force across the Carpathian Mountains in early April 1241, lured the army of King Bela IV of Hungary into battle at the Sajo River on April 11, and annihilated it. The Mongols then seized Pest, and they spent the rest of the year consolidating their control of Hungary east of the Danube River.

Late in 1241, the Mongols were ready to move again. In December the army crossed the frozen Danube. Scouting parties raided into northern Italy toward Venice and Treviso, and up the Danube toward Vienna. But suddenly the advance halted. Word had come, by way of the incredibly swift Mongol messenger service, that Ogedei had died on December 11.

The yasaq explicitly provided that after the death of the ruler all offspring of the house of Chinggis Khan, wherever they might be, must return to Mongolia to take part in the election of the new khan. From the outskirts of Vienna and Venice, the tumen countermarched, never to reappear. They moved through Dalmatia and Serbia, then eastward where they virtually destroyed the kingdoms of Serbia and Bulgaria before crossing the lower Danube. They evacuated Hungary for lack of sufficient pasture and moved into the south Russian steppe. Advances into India also ceased.


Mongolia - Reign of Kuyuk


It was not until the summer of 1246 that a kuriltai assembled at Karakorum to select a successor to Ogedei. This was mainly because of political maneuvering by Batu and other royal princes who had hopes of being elected. While deliberately stalling in Bulghar in 1241, Batu founded Sarai (near modern Leninsk, Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic) on the lower Volga River, as the capital of his Khanate of Kipchak, best known to history as the Golden Horde.

Between 1242 and 1246, Ogedei's widow, Teregene, held power as regent in preparation for the selection of her son, Kuyuk, as the new khan. Present during the kuriltai was the Franciscan friar, John of Plano Carpini, a papal envoy sent to ascertain the intentions of the Mongols. He recognized that the Mongols planned the conquest of Europe, and he belatedly urged Europe's monarchs to adopt Mongol strategy and tactics to oppose the coming onslaught.

Kuyuk apparently was torn between completing the conquest of China and continuing the conquest of Europe. The latter project was complicated, however, by Kuyuk's continuing rivalry with Batu. Just as civil war seemed imminent in 1249, Kuyuk died.


Mongolia - Mengke and the War in China


Except for the descendants of Ogedei and Chagadai, most of the royal princes thought that Batu should be elected khan. By this time, however, Batu had decided that he preferred the steppes of the Volga to the steppes of Mongolia. He declined the offer and nominated Mengke, the eldest son of Tului (who had died in 1233), unquestionably one of the most gifted descendants of Chinggis. Mengke's nomination was confirmed by a kuriltai in 1251. He executed several of Ogedei's sons who had opposed his election and quickly restored to Mongol rule the vigor that had been lacking since the death of Chinggis.

Taking seriously the legacy of world conquest, Mengke decided to place primary emphasis on completing the conquest of Asia, particularly China; Europe was to be dealt with later. Because the Song had had the benefit of a lull of nearly ten years in which to recover and to reorganize, conquering Asia had become more difficult than it would have been earlier. Mengke himself took command, but he also placed great responsibility on his younger brother, Khubilai. Another brother, Hulegu, was sent to Iran to renew the expansion of Mongol control in Southwest Asia. Mengke encouraged Batu to raid Central Europe, but did not send him additional resources. Thus, although Batu's armies raided deep into Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia, and again overran Serbia and Bulgaria, these campaigns were not so important as the ones being undertaken in Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia.

Mengke also made some major administrative changes in the khanates established by the will of Chinggis. He disinherited the surviving sons of Ogedei, arranging that he and Khubilai would inherit the lands of East Asia. He also placed a limit on the domains of the successors of Chagadai; these were to end along the Oxus River and the Hindu Kush, instead of extending indefinitely to the southwest. Southwest Asia was to be the inheritance of Mengke's brother, Hulegu, the first of the Ilkhans ("subservient khans") or Mongol rulers of Iran.

Mengke prosecuted the war in China with intensity and skill. His principal assistant was Khubilai, who was appointed viceroy in China. In 1252 and 1253, Khubilai conquered Nanchao (modern Yunnan). Tonkin (as northern Vietnam was known) then was invaded and pacified. The conquest ended with the fall of Hanoi in 1257.

Song resistance in southern China was based upon determined defense of its well-fortified, well-provisioned cities. The Chinese empire began to crumble, however, under the impact of a series of brilliant campaigns, personally directed by Mengke between 1257 and 1259. His sudden death from dysentery in August 1259, however, caused another lull in the war with China and put a stop to advances in West Asia.


Mongolia - Khubilai Khan and the Yuan Dynasty, 1261-1368


A New Khan

The overwhelming choice of the kuriltai as Mengke's successor was his equally brilliant brother, Khubilai. Khubilai's selection was opposed violently, however, by his younger brother, Arik-Buka. This opposition precipitated a civil war won by Khubilai in 1261. For the next few years, the new khan devoted his attention to administrative reforms of his vast empire. A major development was Khubilai's establishment in 1260 of a winter capital at what is now Beijing but was then called Dadu ("great capital," also called Khanbalik--Marco Polo's Cambaluc) which shifted the political center of the Mongol empire south into China and increased Chinese influence. Khubilai maintained a summer residence north of the Great Wall at Shangdu (the Xanadu of Coleridge).

In 1268 Khubilai was able to turn his full attention to the war in China. A series of campaigns, distinguished by the skill of Bayan (grandson of Subetei), culminated in 1276 in the capture of Hangzhou, the Song capital. It took three more years to subdue the outlying provinces. The last action of the war--a naval battle in Guangzhou Bay, in which the remnants of the Song fleet were destroyed by a Mongol fleet made up of defectors from the Song navy--took place in 1279.

Khubilai did not share Mengke's fierce desire to conquer the world. He had warred against China with determination, but apparently he realized that there was a limit to the Mongol capabilities for consolidating and for controlling conquered territory. It is likely that he recognized that this limit was being approached because of an event that occurred during the interregnum between Mengke's death and his own accession.

Hulegu, who had seized Baghdad and defeated the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258 and conquered Mesopotamia and Syria, had returned to Mongolia upon receiving news of Mengke's death. While he was gone, his forces were defeated by a larger, Mamluk, army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260. This was the first significant Mongol defeat in seventy years. The Mamluks had been led by a Turk named Baibars, a former Mongol warrior who used Mongol tactics.

Neither Khubilai nor Hulegu made a serious effort to avenge the defeat of Ain Jalut. Both devoted their attention primarily to consolidating their conquests, to suppressing dissidence, and to reestablishing law and order. Like their uncle, Batu, and his Golden Horde successors, they limited their offensive moves to occasional raids or to attacks with limited objectives in unconquered neighboring regions. After the failure of two invasion attempts against Japan in 1274 and 1281, Khubilai also gave up his goal of expansion to the east. In January 1293, Khubilai invaded Java and defeated the local ruler, only to be driven off the island by a Javanese ally who turned against him.

After the Song Dynasty had been destroyed, in 1279 Khubilai declared himself emperor of a united China with its capital at Dadu, and he established the Yuan ("first," "beginning") Dynasty (1279-1368). Khubilai, who took the Chinese-style reign title Zhiyuan ("the greatest of the Yuan"), proved himself to be one of the most able rulers of imperial China.


Mongolia - The Yuan Dynasty


A rich cultural diversity evolved in China during the Yuan Dynasty, as it had in other periods of foreign dynastic rule. Major achievements included the development of drama and the novel and the increased use of the written vernacular. The Yuan was involved in a fair amount of cultural exchange because of its extensive West Asian and European contacts. The introduction of foreign musical instruments enriched the Chinese performing arts. The conversion to Islam of growing numbers of people in northwestern and southwestern China dates from this period. Nestorian Christianity and Roman Catholicism also enjoyed a period of toleration. Lamaism flourished, although native Daoism endured Mongol persecutions. Chinese governmental practices and examinations were reinstated by the Mongols in the hope of maintaining order within society. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography, geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations--such as printing techniques, porcelain playing cards, and medical literature--were introduced in Europe, while European skills, such as the production of thin glass and cloisonné, became popular in China.

The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Land and water communications were reorganized and improved. To provide against possible famines, new granaries were ordered to be built throughout the empire. Dadu was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills, and parks, and the capital became the terminus of the Grand Canal, which was completely renovated. These commercially oriented improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce throughout Asia and facilitated the first direct Chinese contacts with Europe. Chinese and Mongol travelers to the West were able to provide assistance in such areas as hydraulic engineering, and they brought back to China new scientific discoveries, agricultural crops, methods of food preparation, and architectural innovations.

Early records of travel by Westerners to East Asia date from this time. Much that the Western world of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries knew about the Mongols and Asia was the result of the famous missions of a Venetian trading family. The first mission was by two brothers, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, from 1260 to 1268. Another started in 1271, when they were joined by Niccolò's son, Marco. Marco Polo, who remained in Asia until 1295, was trusted by Khubilai Khan and undertook a number of diplomatic missions and administrative assignments for him throughout the empire. The account of his travels, Il milione (or, The Million, known in English as the Travels of Marco Polo), appeared about the year 1299 and astounded the people of Europe, who knew little of the highly developed culture of East Asia. The works of John of Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck also provided early descriptions of the Mongols to the West.

The Mongols sought, but failed, to govern China through its traditional institutions. At the outset, they discriminated against the Chinese socially and politically, monopolized the most important central and regional government posts, and developed an unprecedented and complex six-tier local-government administration. Mongols also preferred employing non-Chinese from other parts of the Mongol domain--Inner Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe--in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Chinese, in turn, were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire.

In time, Khubilai's successors became sinicized, and they then lost all influence on other Mongol lands across Asia. Gradually, they lost influence in China as well. The reigns of the later Yuan emperors were short and were marked by intrigues and rivalries. Uninterested in administration, they were separated from both their Mongolian army and their Chinese subjects. China was torn by dissension and unrest; bandits ranged the country without interference from the weakening Yuan armies.

The last of the nine successors of Khubilai was expelled from Dadu in 1368 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and died in Karakorum in 1370. Although Zhu, who adopted Mongol military methods, drove the Mongols out of China, he did not destroy their power. A later Chinese army invaded Mongolia in 1380. In 1388 a decisive victory was won; about 70,000 Mongols were taken prisoner, and Karakorum was annihilated.


Mongolia - The Ilkhans


The Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut in 1260 led directly to the first important war between grandsons of Chinggis. The Mamluk leader, Baibars, made an alliance with Berke Khan, Batu's brother and successor. Berke had converted to Islam, and he thus was sympathetic to the Mamluk for religious reasons, as well as because he was jealous of his nephew, Hulegu. When Hulegu sent an army to Syria to punish Baibars, he was attacked suddenly by Berke. Hulegu had to turn his army back to the Caucasus to meet this threat, and he made repeated attempts to ally himself with the kings of France and England and with the Pope in order to crush the Mamluks in Palestine. Berke withdrew, however, when Khubilai sent 30,000 troops to aid the Ilkhans.

This chain of events marked the end of the Mongol expansion in Southwest Asia. Although Hulegu's successors did not exhibit the austere martial qualities of their forebears, they did bring a partial and brief economic revival to Iran. An increase in commerce and the expansion of trade routes brought a measure of cross culturization between Iran and China. The Mongol rulers devoted themselves to a more genteel life and let their provinces be governed by Turkish viziers. Finally these viziers seized control, and the Ilkhan khanate ended with the death of Abu Said in 1335.


Mongolia - The Golden Horde


The Golden Horde of Batu had more time and more room for expansion of its territories than any other Mongol khanate. The Mongols maintained sovereignty over eastern Russia from 1240 to 1480, and they controlled the upper Volga area, the territories of the former Volga Bulghar state, Siberia, the northern Caucasus, Bulgaria (for a time), the Crimea, and Khwarizm. By applying the principle of indirect rule, the Golden Horde Mongols were able to preserve the Mongol ruling class and the local dynasties for more than 200 years. The influence that the Golden Horde Mongols came to have over medieval Russia and other areas was immense and lasting. They played a role in unifying the future Russian state, provided new political institutions, influenced imperial visions, and, through indirect rule, facilitated the appearance of a Muscovite autocracy.

The Golden Horde capital at Sarai became a prosperous center of commerce. Here, as in China, Mongol rule meant free trade, the exchange of goods between the East and the West, and also broad religious toleration.

In the mid-thirteenth century, the Golden Horde was administratively and militarily an integral part of the Mongol empire with its capital at Karakorum. By the early fourteenth century, however, this allegiance had become largely symbolic and ceremonial. Although certain Mongol administrative forms--such as census and postal systems--were maintained, other customs were not. The Golden Horde embraced Islam as its state religion and, with it, adopted new and more complex administrative forms to replace those of the old regime that had been devised for conquest. Even though most Mongols remained steppe nomads, new cities were founded, and a permanent urbanized bureaucracy and social structure took shape at Sarai. The Golden Horde allied itself with the Mamluks and negotiated with the Byzantines to combat the Ilkhans in a struggle to control Azerbaijan. Rather than isolating Russia, the Mongol presence and extensive diplomatic system brought envoys to Sarai from central and southern Europe, the Pope, Southwest Asia, Egypt, Iran, Inner Asia, China, and Mongolia.

The Mongols' vast contacts opened Russia to new influences, both Eastern and Western. The reason the Mongols did not occupy Russia itself, but left its administration to local princes, was not inability to administer a society that was both urban and agrarian, or Russian resistance. Rather, some historians believe that Russia had little to offer the Mongols in terms of produce or trade routes, and even tax revenues were insignificant compared with the wealth of the southern realms under their control. The inability of cavalry to operate in forests and swamps--a factor that limited the northward advance of the Mongols and largely determined the northern frontier of their empire--was undoubtedly a distinct disincentive as well.

In time the Golden Horde Mongols and the Mongol Tatars, although still nomads, lost their original identities and--as happened to Mongols in China and Iran--became largely synonymous with the local Turkic peoples, the Kipchak. Arabic and Tatar replaced Mongol as the official language of the Golden Horde, and increasing political fragmentation occurred. The power of the Golden Horde khans slowly declined, particularly as a powerful new state rose in central Russia.


Mongolia - The Mongol Decline


Contributing to the eventual Mongol decline in Eurasia was a bitter war with Timur, also known as Timur Lenk (or Timur the Lame, from which Tamerlane is derived). He was a man of aristocratic Transoxianian birth who falsely claimed descent from Chinggis. Timur reunited Turkestan and the lands of the Ilkhans; in 1391 he invaded the Eurasian steppes and defeated the Golden Horde. He ravaged the Caucasus and southern Russia in 1395. Timur's empire disintegrated, however, soon after his death in 1405.

The effects of Timur's victory, as well as those of devastating drought and plague, were both economic and political. The Golden Horde's central base had been destroyed, and trade routes were moved south of the Caspian Sea. Political struggles led to the split of the Golden Horde into three separate khanates: Astrakhan, Kazan, and the Crimea. Astrakhan--the Golden Horde itself--was destroyed in 1502 by an alliance of Crimean Tatars and Muscovites. The last reigning descendant of Chinggis, Shahin Girai, khan of the Crimea, was deposed by the Russians in 1783.

The Mongols' influence and their intermarriage with the Russian aristocracy had a lasting effect on Russia. Despite the destruction caused by their invasion, the Mongols made valuable contributions to administrative practices. Through their presence, which in some ways checked the influence of European Renaissance ideas in Russia, they helped reemphasize traditional ways. This Mongol--or Tatar as it became known--heritage has much to do with Russia's distinctiveness from the other nations of Europe.

There were a number of reasons for the relatively rapid decline of the Mongols as an influential power. One important factor was their failure to acculturate their subjects to Mongol social traditions. Another was the fundamental contradiction of a feudal, essentially nomadic, society's attempting to perpetuate a stable, centrally administered empire. The sheer size of the empire was reason enough for the Mongol collapse. It was too large for one person to administer, as Chinggis had realized, yet adequate coordination was impossible among the ruling elements after the split into khanates. Possibly the most important single reason was the disproportionately small number of Mongol conquerors compared with the masses of subject peoples.

The change in Mongol cultural patterns that did occur inevitably exacerbated natural divisions in the empire. As different areas adopted different foreign religions, Mongol cohesiveness dissolved. The nomadic Mongols had been able to conquer the Eurasian land mass through a combination of organizational ability, military skill, and fierce warlike prowess, but they fell prey to alien cultures, to the disparity between their way of life and the needs of empire, and to the size of their domain, which proved too large to hold together. The Mongols declined when their sheer momentum could no longer sustain them.


Mongolia in Transition, 1368-1911


Return to Nomadic Patterns

The end of the Yuan was the second turning point in Mongol history. The retreat of more than 60,000 Mongols into the Mongolian heartland brought radical changes to the quasifeudalistic system. In the early fifteenth century, the Mongols split into two groups, the Oirad in the Altai region and the eastern group that later came to be known as the Khalkha in the area north of the Gobi. A lengthy civil war (1400-54) precipitated still more changes in the old social and political institutions. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Oirad had emerged as the predominant force, and, under the leadership of Esen Khan, they united much of Mongolia and then continued their war against China. Esen was so successful against China that, in 1449, he defeated and captured the Ming emperor. After Esen was killed in battle four years later, however, the brief resurgence of Mongolia came to an abrupt halt, and the tribes returned to their traditional disunity.

After nearly two more decades of Oirad-Khalkha conflict, another Oirad chieftain, Dayan Khan, assumed central leadership in 1466 and reunited most of Mongolia. By the end of the fifteenth century, he had restored peace and had established a new confederation comprising a vast region of North-central Asia, between the Ural Mountains and Lake Baykal. He then extended his control eastward to include the remainder of Khalkha Mongolia. The Oirad were surrounded by the Turkic descendants of the Chagadai Mongols who occupied the lowlands to the east and west, in the three independent khanates of Yarkand (modern Xinjiang south of the Tian Shan Mountains), Ferghana, and Khwarizm. Early in the sixteenth century, these three khanates were overwhelmed, however, by the Uzbeks, who earlier had broken loose from Mongol authority. The Uzbeks consolidated their control over Bukhara (Bokhara), Samarkand, Khwarizm, and Herat. During Dayan Khan's rule, quasi-feudalistic administration was reestablished, and tribes became more settled, with more specified grazing areas. What little government existed was exercised by noble descendants of Chinggis (including Dayan), but it met with great resistance.

After the death of Dayan in 1543, the Oirad and the Khalkha disintegrated once more into insignificant and quarrelsome tribal groupings. The Torgut subclan of the Oirad was now perhaps the most vital of the Mongol peoples. The Torgut raided frequently across the Urals into the Volga Valley, which had been conquered by the new Muscovite empire. Farther east the Khalkha roamed the region north and south of the Gobi; the Ordos Mongols and the Chahar Mongols became loosely grouped in a confederation holding most of Southern Mongolia. The boundaries of territories ruled by the Uzbeks remained relatively stable.

Throughout this period of discord among the Mongols, they nonetheless shared a continuing hostility to the Ming. The struggle was maintained principally by the Khalkha. Although the title had become almost meaningless, the line of the khans had continued in the Chahar tribe, the leader of which became the rallying point for the conflict against China.

The war with China was renewed with considerable energy after Altan Khan (1507-83) of the Tumed clan united the Khalkha. Although he was not so prominent in history as his predecessor, Dayan, or his successor, Galdan Khan (1632-97), Altan was probably the greatest of the Mongol princes in the centuries following the collapse of the Yuan. By 1552 he had defeated the Oirad and had reunited most of Mongolia. It soon became obvious to Altan that there was nothing to be gained by continuing the war with the Ming; the empire of Chinggis never could be restored. Accordingly, he concluded a treaty with the Ming emperor in 1571, ending a struggle that had lasted more than three centuries.

In the remaining eleven years of his life, Altan aggressively pushed Mongol power to the south and the southwest, and he raided Tibet extensively. Altan, in turn, was coopted by a Buddhist revival in Tibet, and he became a fervent convert. In 1586 the first lamaist monastery was established in Mongolia, and Buddhism--specifically, Lamaism--became the state religion.


Mongolia - Caught Between the Russians and the Manchus


By the early seventeenth century, the power of the khan was greatly weakened, and the pattern of decentralized rule reemerged. Small tribes within each tumen became petty realms ruled over by individual princes. Division of inheritances further weakened the overall power structure, and tumen subdivisions (battalions, referred to in later Mongol history as banners--see Glossary--or koshuus in Mongol) were widely dispersed and therefore fragmented. At the same time that Mongol rule was disintegrating, tsarist Russia in the west and the Manchus in the east were expanding steadily. The Mongol and the Turkic peoples, traditionally conquerors, could now be conquered themselves not because their warlike proclivities had decreased, but because the art of war had progressed beyond the capacity of essentially nomadic peoples. Their economic resources would not permit the production or the purchase of muskets and cannon, against which their cavalry could not stand.

A new process of conquest began when most of what is now northeastern China was consolidated by the Manchus. Essentially nomadic in origin, the Manchus were descended from the Jurchen, who earlier had established the Jin Empire. Early in the seventeenth century, under their leader Nurhaci, the Manchus began to press into southern Mongolia.

The westward movement of the Manchu soon involved them in a struggle with the last of the great khans, Ligdan Khan of the Chahar Mongols. Ligdan had been attempting to reestablish Chahar predominance among the Khalkha, particularly among those tribes inhabiting the region south of the Gobi. These efforts alarmed his neighbors, who called upon Nurhaci for assistance. For several years, it appeared that the Manchu conqueror had met his match because Ligdan possessed some of the military prowess of his ancestors. Although he could not prevent the Manchus from gaining control of the territory of the neighboring Ordos Mongols, Ligdan beat back Manchu efforts to move farther west. After his death in 1634, however, Mongol resistance to the Manchus collapsed in southern Mongolia. This is the period of the Mongolian national hero, Tsogto Taji, who is said to have been the only northern Mongol aristocrat to have led his subjects against the Manchus in defense of the southern Mongols.

Meanwhile, many of the Torgut, the westernmost of the Oirad Mongols, began to migrate westward in approximately 1620. Possibly the movement was a reaction to the growing dominance of the Dzungar Mongols, an Oirad subclan and neighbors of the Torgut to the south. In any event, the Torgut fought their way through Kirghiz and Kazakh territory, to cross the Embe River. Becoming better known as the Kalmyk tribe, they subsequently settled in the Trans-Volga steppe and raided Russian settlements on both sides of the river. Finally submitting to Russia in 1646, they maintained autonomy under their own khan. They became an excellent source of light cavalry for the Russians, who later used them in campaigns against the Crimean Tatars and in Inner Asia.

The Mongol interest in Tibet that had been aroused in Altan's campaigns seems to have been transmitted to the Dzungar. They inhabited a region east of Lake Balkash that extended eastward into northern Xinjiang. They carried out a number of campaigns into Tibet, and by 1636 they had established a virtual protectorate over the region. Because of the generally high quality of their leadership at this time, the Dzungar dominated Mongolia for much of the seventeenth century.

Farther east, the religious revival begun by Altan had continued unabated, and it was perhaps the greatest single influence on Mongol life and culture during the seventeenth and succeeding centuries. In 1635 the khan of the Tushetu tribe proclaimed that his son was the reincarnation of an ancient and respected scholar, who had achieved such a state of virtue that he had become known as a buddha. Thus the young Tushetu prince was named the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu or Living Buddha, becoming the highest ecclesiastical figure in Mongolia. This was the beginning of a line of theocratic leaders that was to continue unbroken for nearly three centuries. The successors of the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu were also believed to be reincarnations, and all were found among the Tushetu.

By the middle of the seventeenth century, Russian exploration and annexation had become very worrisome to the Mongols and the Turks to the southwest. In response to this pressure, in 1672 Ayuka Khan of the Torgut Mongols raided through western Siberia, across the Urals and the Volga, and into Russia. He then made peace with the Russians on terms that enabled him to continue to control his lands in relative tranquility for the remainder of the century.

Later in the seventeenth century, a new effort toward Mongol unity was attempted by Galdan Khan of the Dzungar. He conquered most of Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khotan (Hotan) from the Kirghiz, and he expanded into Kazakh territory. In about 1682, intending to conquer the Khalkha, he turned eastward. In 1688 the hardpressed Khalkha appealed to the Manchus for aid. The Manchus were more than pleased to respond, and a Chinese-Manchu army marched to help. A development that further integrated the Mongols into the Manchu apparatus was the Manchus' adoption of the Mongol banner system, which combined administrative and military functions.

By this time, the Manchus had conquered all of China and had established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) with its capital in Beijing. They had become concerned over the steady Russian expansion eastward that, up to this time, had remained far to the north. The Russians had carefully avoided the still-formidable Torgut, who inhabited the region that now comprises central Siberia. In this way, the Russians had reached the Amur Valley and the Pacific Ocean by mid-century. In the period between 1641 and 1652, the Russians gradually conquered the Buryat Mongols, thereby gaining control of the region around Lake Baykal. The Manchus observed with considerable apprehension Russia's growing pressure on the Turkic peoples and the Mongols of Inner Asia. As early as 1653, there were clashes between Manchus and Russians in the Amur Valley. In 1660 the Manchus ejected the Russians from the Amur region, only to see them reappear when the Manchus became occupied with internal troubles in southern China.

In 1683 a second Manchu military expedition began systematic operations to eject the Russians, and in 1685 it seized the Russian stronghold at Albazin. But later that year, when the Manchus withdrew, the Russians reconstructed the fortifications. The Manchus began to prepare for a more extensive war. It was at this time that the Khalkha appealed to the Manchus for aid. The Manchus promptly responded, seeing an opportunity to gain control of Mongolia as a base for possible war with Russia.

This move was probably understood by the Russians. They were conducting a campaign in Europe, and they decided that the dispute with China must be settled peacefully. This led to the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689, in which the Russians agreed to abandon Albazin and the area north of the Amur River. The terms of that treaty were supplemented in 1727 by the Treaty of Kyakhta, which further delineated the Sino-Russian border.


Mongolia - The End of Independence


Meanwhile, the Manchus had sent a large army into northern Mongolia to confront Galdan in an effort to preempt any attempts at establishing a new Mongol empire. The employment of artillery had a decisive effect, and the Dzungar were routed. In May 1691, Qing emperor Kangxi called a kuriltai of principal Khalkha chiefs at Dolonnur. Those present acknowledged Manchu overlordship in return for protection against the Dzungar. It had become apparent by this time that, although there were strong ties between the Qing court and local Mongol rulers, the relations among individual Mongol leaders were weak. The head of each banner was a vassal of the Qing emperor and was beholden to the Chinese treasury for a pension. Mongols not only pledged personal loyalty to the emperor, but they also became inseparable from their banner and could not serve in any capacity in another banner. Membership was hereditary; class structure was rigid; and the whole feudal-like system helped the Manchus isolate and control the Mongols. The banners, in effect, became petty fiefdoms.

By this time, the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu had fled to escape Galdan's renewed advances. After five years of continued raiding by the Dzungar into central Mongolia, Kangxi led 80,000 troops into Mongolia and in 1696 crushed Galdan near Jao Modo (south of present-day Ulaanbaatar). Galdan retreated, and he died the next year. This ended the influence of the Dzunger in most of Mongolia, although they retained control of the western regions and of parts of Xinjiang and Tibet.

Despite the defeat at Jao Modo, twenty years later the Dzungar again were embroiled in war with the Qing. In 1718 Galdan's nephew and heir, Tsewang Rabdan, invaded Tibet to settle a prolonged dispute over the successor to the Dalai Lama. His troops seized Lhasa, imprisoned the Dalai Lama, and ambushed a Manchu relief force. Kangxi retaliated in 1720; two Chinese armies defeated the Dzungar and drove them from Tibet. This was the first war in which Mongol forces made extensive use of musketry; they were not very effective, however, against the larger, better-armed and better-equipped Qing forces. After the death of the Dalai Lama, a new Dalai Lama was installed by Kangxi, and a Manchu garrison was left in Lhasa. Meanwhile, another Chinese army invaded Dzungar territory to capture Ürümqi and Turpan. Additional Chinese punitive expeditions eventually defeated the Dzungar in 1732 and virtually ended Mongolian independence for nearly two centuries.

The Russian and the Chinese empires continued their expansions into Inner Asia during the eighteenth century. They found it expedient to delimit the borders between the respective areas of ancient Mongolia that they had conquered in the seventeenth century. This was done by the Treaty of Kyakhta in 1727, which established the border between the portions of Mongolia controlled by China and those controlled by Russia.

In the period 1755 to 1757, serious revolts against Chinese rule broke out among the Dzungar in Xinjiang. These were suppressed promptly, and Chinese control over western Mongolia and Oirad territory was strengthened. In 1771 the Chinese government persuaded part of the Kalmyk tribe to return from Russia to repopulate the devastated region.

During the 1750s, as a result of Manchu administrative policies, the first distinction was made between northern and southern Mongolia. The southern provinces--Suiyuan, Chahar (or Qahar), and Jehol (or Rehol), known as Inner Mongolia--were virtually absorbed into China. The remainder of the region--the northern provinces, which became known as Outer Mongolia--was considered an "outside subordinate" by the Manchus, and it was largely ignored. After another 100 years, however, China again became alarmed by Russia's expansionist policy and colonial development in the regions north and west of Outer Mongolia. Increased Chinese activity in Outer Mongolia resulted in some economic and social improvements, but it also revealed to the Mongolians the possibilities of playing off the two great empires against each other. Chinese merchants and moneylenders had become ubiquitous, and the extent of Mongol debt had become enormous, by the early nineteenth century. The debt situation, combined with growing resentment over Chinese encroachment, gave impetus to Mongol nationalism by the beginning of the twentieth century.

During the period of Chinese dominance, Mongolia not only experienced a century of peace, but it became an increasingly theocratic society. Buddhism relatively early had absorbed shamanism, and the result was a unique local religion. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, turmoil in China, caused by internal rebellion and by pressures from the West, resulted in a breakdown of the increasingly expensive administrative apparatus in Outer Mongolia. Mounting debts and higher taxes, which led to a growing impoverishment of Outer Mongolia, gradually rekindled traditional Mongol dissatisfaction with the Manchu overlord. Rioting, Mongol troop mutinies, and other anti-Chinese incidents occurred with increasing regularity in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Outside help was sought from Russia in 1900, when a mission--which failed--was sent to St. Petersburg. Thereafter, reform-minded Chinese leaders abolished many old social and political proscriptions, and, despite Mongol resentment of the idea and of continued Chinese repression, preparations were being made for constitutional government when revolution broke out in China.


Mongolia - Modern Mongolia, 1911-84


Period of Autonomy, 1911-21

With the end of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, revolutionary ferment also emerged in Mongolia. As early as July 1911, participants in an anti-Chinese meeting in Yihe Huree had petitioned the Russian government--which long had sought the independence of Outer Mongolia--for help against China. On December 1, 1911, Outer Mongolia in effect proclaimed its independence on the basis that its allegiance had been to the Manchus, not to China. On December 28, the eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu became Bogdo Khan (holy ruler) of an autonomous theocratic government; a 20,000-troop army was created; and Russian officers appeared in Yihe Huree (renamed Niyslel--capital--Huree, or Urga) to equip, to organize, and to train the army. The new Chinese government refused to recognize Mongolian independence, but it was too preoccupied with internal discord to enforce its sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Russia was moving rapidly to take advantage of the situation. On November 3 and December 19, 1912, respectively, Mongolian-Russian and Mongolian-Tibetan agreements were signed in Niyslel Huree. The latter agreement granted mutual recognition of independence; the former only affirmed Mongolia's autonomy from China. The Russian agreement and a protocol to it created a tsarist protectorate over Outer Mongolia. The Japanese, too, sought, unsuccessfully, to influence the independence movement in 1911 and 1912 with contributions of arms and money. Following the mobilization of a Mongol army to liberate Inner Mongolia, several other agreements affecting Mongolia were reached. In November 5, 1913, agreement, Russia recognized Chinese suzerainty over Mongolia, and China recognized Outer Mongolia's right to selfrule and to the control of its own commerce and industry. China also agreed not to send troops into Mongolia. On May 25, 1915, a second, tripartite agreement (among China, Mongolia, and Russia), the Treaty of Kyakhta, formalized Mongolian autonomy. Russia's involvement in World War I, however, reduced the attention that the tsar's government could pay to Mongolia. This neglect, which occurred at the same time as new monarchical machinations in China, rekindled Japanese interest in, and aid to, anti-Chinese forces in Mongolia and neighboring Manchuria.

After revolution broke out in Russia in November 1917, Japan moved to aid anti-Bolshevik forces in Mongolia, and a Japanesefostered pan-Mongol movement was established under the influence of the Buryat Mongols. A pan-Mongolia conference was held in February and March 1919 in Chita, Siberia. The participants decided to establish a Mongol state, comprising Outer Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Buryatia (present-day Buryatskaya Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) and to send letters to the Versailles Peace Conference that ended World War I. Despite formation of a small provisional government--in which Outer Mongolia refused to participate--and promises of Japanese aid, the movement failed in the face of renewed Chinese efforts to regain control over all of Mongolia. In October 1919, a Chinese warlord army, emboldened by the demise of the tsarist regime, occupied Niyslel Huree and received an acknowledgment of Chinese sovereignty from the Bogdo Khan government. The Mongol army was disarmed and disbanded.

Soon, however, the effects of the upheaval in Russia began to reach Mongolia. In October 1920, Russian White Guard troops under Baron Roman Nicolaus von Ungern-Sternberg invaded from Siberia. In February 1921, after a fierce battle, Von Ungern-Sternberg drove the Chinese out of Niyslel Huree and occupied the city. At first the White Guards were hailed as liberators by Mongolian monarchists, but in the next several months Von UngernSternberg 's reign of terror and destruction aroused popular opposition.

The threatening actions of Chinese, Japanese, and White Russian forces greatly stimulated Mongolian nationalism during this time. Two secret revolutionary circles emerged in Niyslel Huree in 1919, the military-oriented Dzuun (East) Huree Group, under Damdiny Sukhe Bator and Horloogiyn Dandzan, and the civilian-oriented Consul's Group, headed by Horloyn Choybalsan and Dogsomyn Bodoo. The Communist International, also called the Comintern, which was headquartered in Moscow, advised the two groups to merge in order to present a united front to the Chinese and the White Russian occupation forces. The merger was accomplished at a conference in Irkutsk in March 1920, with the formation of the Mongolian People's Party under the leadership of Sukhe Bator. The Jebtsundamba Khutuktu gave his encouragement and support to the revolutionary leaders, and in his name they appealed to Moscow for more assistance.

The Japanese were pressing ahead with efforts to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Russian civil war. A large Japanese force, nominally part of an anti-Bolshevik Allied Expeditionary Force intervening in eastern Siberia, had taken over much of the Trans-Siberian Railway between Vladivostok and Lake Baykal. Japanese funds were provided to von Ungern-Sternberg and other White Russian elements, in order to prevent the Soviet government from establishing control in eastern Siberia and from obtaining too much influence in Mongolia. The Japanese efforts were thwarted to a large degree, however, by the neutralist attitude of United States elements of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and Soviet forces gradually established control over Siberia.

The improved Soviet position in Siberia enabled Moscow to respond to the appeals of the Mongolian nationalists. Earlier, in the 1918 to 1919 period, Moscow had renounced all agreements regarding Mongolia that had been reached with Japan and China. The First Party Congress of the newly formed Mongolian People's Party, was held at Kyakhta (in Siberia, near the Mongolian border) on March 1 to 3, 1921. On March 13, the new party Central Committee formed the Mongolian People's Provisional Government, and, after Sukhe Bator's Mongolian Partisan Army (established in February 1921) captured the Mongolian city of Khiagt (across the border from Kyakhta), a new capital was established. A MongolianSoviet military force also had been formed, and by early July it had driven von Ungern-Sternberg's forces out of Niyslel Huree and had occupied the city. On July 11--the date recognized as Mongolia's national day--the Bogdo Khan government was replaced by a new People's Government of Mongolia, a limited monarchy nominally headed by the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu under the title of khan. Bodoo was named premier and foreign minister; Sukhe Bator continued as commander in chief and became minister of war, with Choybalsan as his deputy. The government was bolstered by Soviet troops, who virtually occupied the country.


Mongolia - Revolutionary Transformation, 1921-24


Fighting against the White Russians culminated in the capture of von Ungern-Sternberg in August 1921; the rest of his forces were defeated by January 1922. On September 14, 1921, the independence of Mongolia was proclaimed, and on October 26 a legislative assembly, the National Provisional Little Hural, opened. The formalization of Mongolian-Soviet relations then was accelerated. On November 5, 1921, a bilateral Agreement on Mutual Recognition and Friendly Relations was signed in Moscow. It recognized the People's Government of Mongolia, and it facilitated the exchange of diplomatic representatives. Furthermore, it provided for the self-determination of Tannu Tuva, a region in northwestern Mongolia that had been a Russian protectorate between 1914 and 1917.

At this juncture, discord emerged among the Mongolian factions. When supporters of the Bogdo Khan regime expressed displeasure with the limits placed on the monarchy, the Mongolian People's Party levied further restrictions on it, while giving more power to the party-controlled government. At the same time, some members of the new regime were concerned about Mongolia's close relationship with the Soviet Union. Even Premier Bodoo sought to distance himself from Soviet influence. In August 1922, however, he and forty others were arrested and charged with "counterrevolutionary activities" and with wanting to restore an unlimited monarchy. Bodoo and fourteen others were executed. When the Second Party Congress of the Mongolian People's Party was held in July 1923, Mongolian-Soviet solidarity was reiterated amid calls, for the first time, in favor of purging "oppressor class elements" from the party.

At this critical stage, several key leadership changes occurred that caused momentous political developments. On February 22, 1923, thirty-year-old revolutionary hero Sukhe Bator died of illness (although Choybalsan later claimed he had been poisoned), leaving the way clear for Choybalsan's eventual accession. Next, the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu died on May 20, 1924, and the People's Government, which had resolved to form a republic, forbade the traditional search for the reincarnation of the defunct ruler. This move eliminated the theocratic symbol of Mongolia. At the same time, a new Soviet treaty with China on May 31, 1924 (which provided for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Mongolia), set the stage for the final step in the nominal independence of Mongolia.

The Third Party Congress of the Mongolian People's Party met in Niyslel Huree from August 4 to 24, 1924, but it quickly became embroiled in a debate led by party chairman Dandzan, who, like Bodoo, hoped to reduce Soviet influence. The congress culminated in the arrest and execution of the "capitalist" Dandzan. Among the achievements of the congress was purging the party of "useless elements" and renaming it the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. On November 25, 1924, with the adoption of a Soviet-style state constitution by the First National Great Hural, the new national assembly, the Mongolian People's Republic was formally established. The National Little Hural, the standing body when the National Great Hural was not in session, was elected; it, in turn, elected a cabinet with Balingiyn Tserendorj as premier and Choybalsan as commander in chief of the army. At the same time, Niyslel Huree was renamed Ulaanbaatar (literally, Red Hero).


Mongolia - Mongolian People's Republic, 1925- 28


Soviet troops ostensibly were withdrawn in March 1925 (although some historians have debated whether all actually departed). Despite the treaty--between the Soviet Union and China--that acknowledged Outer Mongolia as an autonomous, but integral, part of China, the Soviet Union explicitly recognized Mongolia's independence of China in internal affairs and its ability to pursue an independent foreign policy. While continuing its cautious relationship with Beijing, Moscow made it clear that it would permit no Chinese encroachment on Mongolia. Mongolia's general foreign policy line was based on strong ties with the Soviet Union, "the reliable pillar of [Mongolia's] independence and prosperity" according to the party line.

Under Moscow's guidance, the leftist leaders of Mongolia began to strengthen their still-weak position. The Mongolian communists, with Comintern help, gradually undermined the rightist elements in the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and attacked the power of the two great institutions that had dominated Mongolia for centuries: first the nobles; then, the abbots (whose monastic followers comprised at least one-third of the adult males). In this period of cautious consolidation, the party abolished the aristocracy's feudal privileges, a reform which had the initial effect of influencing wealthy nobles to embark on capitalist ventures, such as investing in the new cooperatives. Gradually, however, the revolutionaries built a state-guided economy supported by Mongolian cooperatives and by Soviet trade.

Moscow's economic hold on Mongolia tightened as exports to the Soviet Union rose rapidly from about 14 percent of Mongolia's total production (chiefly livestock and animal products), in 1923 to 1924, to 85 percent, in 1928 to 1929. By 1929 Mongolia's imports lagged far behind its exports. Aside from the provision of technical and political advisers, Soviet trade policy did not yet provide for economic development aid to newer socialist countries as had been envisioned by Lenin in 1920.

Other areas of the economy showed more progress. The Mongolian National Bank, established in 1924 as a joint Mongolian-Soviet company, issued the tugrik, the new national currency, as part of monetary reform. The cooperative movement, directed by the Mongolian Building Cooperative, began to show impressive results. A standardized tax system was instituted, and other administrative reforms slowly took hold. The army, equipped and trained by the Soviets, was steadily growing and improving. The government refrained from a direct attack on the venerated religious establishment, but some higher-level monks were imprisoned and executed.

Although the Mongolian communists had not yet overthrown the conservatives in the government and the economic sectors during this period, they had gained progressively in strength as evidenced by the changes they had made in society. Slowly, the young Soviet-taught Mongols were taking over the political, the military, and the economic apparatus. Many nobles retained their wealth, however, and the number of monastics actually increased between 1925 and 1928. Nearly 90 percent of all trade was controlled by Chinese firms in Mongolia. The Fourth Party Congress (September 1925), the Fifth Party Congress (September 1926), and the Sixth Party Congress (September 1927) had witnessed policy struggles between leftist and rightist elements that presaged the victory of the left.


Mongolia - Purges of the Opposition, 1928-32


A decisive clash between leftists and rightists occurred at the Seventh Party Congress from late October to December 10, 1928. After forty-eight days of debate, party chairman TserenOchiryn Dambadorj was exiled to Moscow, and other rightist members were expelled as the left seized control of the party and the government. With their power now secure at the top and with party opinion united on major policy goals, the leftists accelerated their programs.

Strong Soviet backing was assured by Josef Stalin, who in the meantime had triumphed over his political foes in Moscow. In addition, after 1927 Soviet caution toward China no longer was necessary; Stalin was no longer constrained by his relationship with Chiang Kai-shek's Guomindang (Kuomintang in Wade-Giles romanization), or Chinese Nationalist Party, which had broken with the Chinese Communist Party and had consolidated its rule over eastern China from Nanjing. Both domestic and international changes had freed Mongolian leftists for radical changes.

Policies confirming the party line of developing the country along noncapitalist lines were ratified by the Fifth National Great Hural in December 1928. As conservative officials were eliminated from the government, Choybalsan was chosen as head of the National Little Hural. The leftist leaders called for the immediate confiscation of feudal property, the development of a five-year plan, the collectivization of stockbreeders, the ouster of Chinese traders, and the implementation of the Soviet trade monopoly. These extreme measures followed standard Soviet economic policy. In less-sophisticated Mongolia, however, the economic situation seemed to defy such planning. The basically nomadic society was largely illiterate, and there was no industrial proletariat; the aristocracy and the religious establishment held a large share of the country's wealth; popular obedience to traditional authorities continued to be widespread; the party lacked grass-roots support; and the government had little organization or experience. Nevertheless, the party was receptive to Moscow's directives; and the Mongolian revolutionaries made mistakes similar to those of the Soviets through an excess of zeal, intolerance, and inexperience.

The first harsh repression of opposition came in 1929. Under the direction of Choybalsan, more than 600 feudal estates (herds and fixed property) were confiscated and were given to members of the laity and to monks who left their monasteries. In 1931 and 1932, the property of more than 800 religious and secular leaders was seized, and more than 700 heads of households were killed or imprisoned. The antireligious campaign was three-pronged: ordinary monks were forced to leave the monasteries and enter the army or the economy; monks of middle status were put in prison camps; and those of highest rank were killed. Collectivization followed expropriation, and by 1931 more than one-third of the stock-raising households had been forcibly communized.

The brutal collectivization of herdsmen was rapid, and it caused bloody uprisings. Although the Eighth Party Congress from February to April 1930 had recognized that the country was unprepared for total socialization, the party reaction to opposition was to reenforce its measures nevertheless. The massive shift from private property to collectivization and communization was accelerated. The party then attacked the entire monastic class, the nobility, the nomads, and the nationalists, while purging its own ranks. The government imposed high and indiscriminate taxes, confiscated private property, banned private industry, forced craft workers to join mutual aid cooperatives, and nationalized foreign and domestic trade and transportation.

Extremism produced near-disaster. The power of the monks and the feudal nobles finally was broken, Chinese traders and other foreign capitalists were ousted, and still greater dependence on Soviet aid was required. The mechanical imposition of communes on an unprepared nomadic sheep-herding and cattle-herding society, however, resulted in the slaughter of 7 million animals in three years by angry and frightened herders. Mongolia's economy, which rested entirely on animal husbandry, was severely affected. The failure of communes, the hasty destruction of private trade, and inadequate Soviet supplies contributed to spreading famine. By 1931 to 1932, thousands were suffering severe food shortages, which, together with the people's reaction to terror, had brought the nation to the verge of civil war. Finally the government was forced to call in troops and tanks; with Soviet assistance, it suppressed the spreading anticommunist rebellion in western Mongolia.

In May 1932, a month after anticommunist uprisings in western Mongolia, the Comintern and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union directed the Mongolian party to end its extremism. The next month, the party Central Committee rejected its prior policy as "leftist deviation" and expelled several top leaders as "leftwing adventurers." Choybalsan announced that "the overall development of our country has not yet entered the stage of socialism, and also it is wrong to copy Soviet experience in every single thing." The entire socioeconomic pattern was swiftly changed. The collective farm experiment was dropped, worker cooperatives were abandoned, the cattle tax was reduced, and herders and peasants again were allowed to hold private property. Foreign trade, still channeled exclusively to the Soviet Union, continued to be controlled by the state, however. Under continuing Soviet protection and domination, Mongolia now settled down to a period of gradual social change.

An underlying reason for Moscow's reversal of the course of Mongolian socialism had been the growing Japanese threat. The September 18, 1931, Mukden incident had opened the way for Japan to establish Manchukuo (Japanese-controlled Manchuria). Mongolians were not alone in the fear that Japan might try to establish a Japanese-controlled Mongolian monarchy, Mengkukuo.


Mongolia - Economic Gradualism and National Defense, 1932-45


The New Turn Policy, 1932-40

The new policy of socioeconomic gradualism--the New Turn Policy--continued until the mid-1940s, when Mongolian socialism entered its modern stage of collectivization and economic growth. The Ninth Party Congress in September and October 1934 pronounced the New Turn a success, but it became obvious that this gradualism actually had been determined by the basic Soviet need to maintain Mongolia as a stable buffer state against either Japanese or Chinese expansion. At the beginning of this period, the Soviets did not want to enlarge Mongolia's small-scale industries because this might provide a further incentive for Japanese invasion. Instead, Mongolia's raw materials were used to strengthen the Soviet Union, while Soviet Red Army units and a large cavalry-oriented Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army were deployed to defend Mongolia against attack.

On November 27, 1934, a Mongolian-Soviet "gentlemen's agreement" was reached that provided for mutual assistance in the face of Japanese advances in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. In January 1935, Soviet troops reentered Mongolia as Japanese forces began to probe the Mongolian-Manchurian border. On March 12, 1936, the 1934 agreement was upgraded when the ten-year Mongolian-Soviet Treaty of Friendship--which included a mutual defense protocol--was signed. The pact did not mention Chinese sovereignty over Mongolia, and Moscow ignored Chinese protests.

In addition to concluding defense treaties with the Soviet Union, Mongolia concentrated on building its army with Soviet guidance and military aid. In 1936 military expenditures were doubled, and by 1938 more than half of Mongolia's budget was for defense. The government built paved roads, extended railroads, and established military air bases and communication lines, all with Soviet aid. Military equipment and training also were supplied by the Soviet Union. It is estimated that during World War II the Mongolian Army numbered between 80,000 and 100,000 troops, a huge percentage of the total population of 900,000.

Security concerns and a more conservative economic approach prevented major advances in stock raising and other internal development during this period. A few small Mongolian-Soviet enterprises were initiated to support the war economy. The abandonment of agricultural communes and the return to private enterprise signaled a trend toward gradualism. Voluntary producers' cooperatives were encouraged, but they remained small until the 1950s. Only a few state farms were started. Apart from some veterinary and credit assistance, the government made few efforts to support the nomads, and by 1941 herds had reached the highest recorded growth in Mongolian history. Consumer cooperatives continued to expand, and the state controlled the rest of internal trade.

The policy of gradualism was particularly ineffective in education. In 1941 an estimated 90 percent of the people were illiterate. In 1942 the country's first university--Choybalsan University, later renamed Mongolian State University--was established in Ulaanbaatar, but the spread of general education had to await the late 1940s and the 1950s. The first large-scale literacy program did not begin until 1947.

Despite the government's official policy of not overtly persecuting religious beliefs, its antireligious campaign continued slowly but relentlessly. Emphasis was placed on ideological and economic persuasion, which curtailed monastic growth and induced monks of lower rank to return to secular life. Government representatives were attached to monasteries to monitor their activities, construction of new monasteries was forbidden by law, the enrollment of minors was disallowed, and monks became eligible for military service. Many monasteries were destroyed; others were converted to secular use. Methods of suppression became especially bloody in the second half of the 1930s. In 1935 abbots and monks of higher rank were tried publicly; in 1937 and 1938, about 2,000 of them were executed. Thousands of others were arrested and jailed. The financially shattered monasteries gradually were closed in the period 1938 to 1939.

The campaign against the Buddhists was largely successful. Within two decades, the resident monastic population was reduced from about 15,000 to approximately 200 monks. A handful of small monasteries and one large institution were all that were left physically of what had been, at the century's start, the best organized and most intellectual force in Mongolian life.

There also were renewed purges in the inner party ranks in 1937 to 1939. Minor rebellions continued to plague the government, and uncooperative political leaders increasingly were accused of aiding the opposition or the Japanese. One after the other, many top party and government officials fell from power and were executed or were imprisoned. By 1939 Choybalsan had emerged as the premier, the minister of war, and the undisputed leader of Mongolia. It later was acknowledged, in 1956 and in 1962, that Choybalsan had "committed serious errors" and had established a "personality cult" during this period.

In March and April 1940, the Tenth Party Congress met. Although it confirmed Yumjaagiyn Tsedenbal as general secretary, Choybalsan continued to be the predominant force in the party. The ensuing Eighth National Great Hural adopted a new state constitution, which, however, made no basic alterations in the 1924 constitution. Although it emphasized the new Mongolian authority structure, the bypassing of capitalism, and the necessity of overall state planning, the 1940 constitution did not change the policy of gradualism. Private ownership, especially of livestock, was allowed until the turn to total communization began in late 1947.

National Defense, 1940-45

As political and religious purges finally drew to a close, the international situation worsened. Fighting had broken out, in May 1939, with Japanese forces based in Manchukuo. That summer a Japanese army invaded eastern Mongolia. Soviet General Georgi Zhukov commanded the Soviet-Mongolian army that met this invasion. Between May and September 1939, there was large-scale ground and aerial fighting along the Khalkhyn Gol, a river in northeastern Mongolia. The Mongolian troops and their Soviet allies severely defeated the Japanese, who may have sustained as many as 80,000 casualties compared with 11,130 on the MongolianSoviet side. Hostilities ended on September 16, 1939. The Soviet Union and Japan signed a truce, and a commission was set up to define the Mongolian-Manchurian border. Although Japan did not invade again, it did mass large military forces along the Mongolian and the Soviet borders in the course of the war, while continuing its southward drive into China.

The Soviet position in Mongolia was now fully consolidated. Throughout World War II, Choybalsan followed Moscow's directives, and Mongolia supported the Soviet Union with livestock, raw materials, money, food, and military clothing. The Mongolian army was maintained intact throughout the war; it served as an important buffer force in the Soviet Far East defense system, but it did not actually join the Red Army. Moreover, the Soviets, on the occasion of the April 13, 1941, Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, obtained a commitment from Japan to respect Mongolia's territorial integrity.

Modernizing the army and keeping it at peak mobilization was a heavy drain on the nation's undeveloped economy and small population. Even so, the party leaders pressed on with what limited social progress they could manage in a wartime situation. As more teachers became trained, literacy began to accelerate, and government efforts to assist the herdsmen in sheltering, feeding, and caring for their livestock continued. Stock raising bore the major war burden, however, and with large Soviet requisitions to fill, herd totals fell sharply during the war.

Mongolia's wartime neutrality ended in the closing days of World War II. On August 10, 1945, two days after the Soviet Union had declared war on Japan, Mongolia also declared war on Japan. The Mongolian army, some 80,000 strong, joined Soviet troops in invading Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. On August 14, 1945, in the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, China agreed to recognize the independence of Mongolia within its "existing boundary," provided that a plebiscite confirmed the Mongolian people's desire for independence. Mongolia obliged, and in an October 20 referendum, 100 percent of the electorate voted for independence from China. On January 5, 1946, China recognized Mongolian independence and, on February 14, agreed to exchange diplomatic representatives. None, however, were exchanged. The ensuing Chinese civil war and the victory of the Chinese communists over the Guomindang government in 1949 led instead to Ulaanbaatar's recognition of the new People's Republic of China.


Mongolia - Peacetime Development, 1946-52


On February 27, 1946, Mongolia and the Soviet Union signed the ten-year renewable Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance and the first Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation. With the war over and Chinese and Japanese threat eliminated from Mongolia, the way for renewed assertion of Soviet influence in Mongolia was clear. Mongolia was a strong defense buffer, a trading partner, and a dependable ally in international conferences for the Soviet Union. A further indication of close ties was Mongolia's adoption in February 1946 of the Cyrillic alphabet for use in schools and military units.

Secure in its relations with Moscow, Ulaanbaatar expanded its other international ties. Diplomatic relations were established with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the new communist governments in Eastern Europe. Mongolian participation in communist-sponsored conferences and international organizations increased; Mongolia applied for membership in the United Nations, but representatives from Ulaanbaatar were not seated until 1961. Mongolia was among the first countries to recognize the new People's Republic of China in October 1949.

In its shift to postwar development, the party and the government reduced defense expenditures and shifted personnel from military to civilian enterprises. Rationing was curtailed, and prices for some manufactured items and foodstuffs were reduced. Attention was given to redeveloping the livestock and the agrarian sectors at the same time that modern mining, industrial, transportation, and communications sectors were being established. Initiatives also were taken in raising education and health levels and in improving the general well-being of the people. The First Five-Year Plan (1948-52), presented at the Eleventh Party Congress in December 1947, was important in carrying out postwar construction. The first session of the national hural held since 1940, was convened in February 1949 as the Ninth National Great Hural.


Mongolia - Socialist Construction under Tsedenbal, 1952-84


Choybalsan died on January 26, 1952, and a major era in modern Mongolian history came to an end. He was succeeded as government leader by Tsedenbal who continued to be party general secretary as well.

Economic developments and extensive purges of party and government personnel marked the transition. In March 1953, a party Central Committee plenum was convened to review the results of the First Plan, and in November 1954, the Twelfth Party Congress belatedly approved guidelines for the Second Five-Year Plan (1953-57). A continuing major economic target included in the plan was the development of the livestock sector, and a 72 percent increase in grain production over 1952 levels was envisioned. Special attention also was paid to expanding electrification and international economic cooperation. Also at the Twelfth Congress, Dashiyn Damba was elected general secretary, replacing Tsedenbal as party leader.

In 1956 the party Central Committee condemned the "personality cult" of Choybalsan, specifically pointing out the excesses of the 1937 to 1939 period. Claiming success for the Second Plan, the Thirteenth Party Congress, March 17 to 22, 1958, adopted a special Three-Year Plan (1958-60), aimed at raising Mongolia from a livestock economy to an agricultural-industrial economy, all with Soviet aid. New emphasis was placed on stepping up industrial capacities--particularly in the coal mining, electric power, and construction sectors--and on increasing output of petroleum industry products, minerals, and nonferrous ores. Damba was reelected at the Thirteenth Congress, only to be dismissed for ideological reasons and replaced by Tsedenbal several months later. On July 6, 1960, the government adopted the national Constitution that continued to be in force in 1989. In January 1962, Choybalsan's "personality cult" again was attacked by the party Central Committee.

Foreign inputs and expansion of international contacts were important to Mongolia's development plans in the 1950s. A result of the close alliance of China and the Soviet Union during this period was Sino-Soviet cooperation in developing Mongolia. In 1952 a ten-year Sino-Mongolian Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation marked an important step in developing relations between the two long-estranged nations. China helped build railroad lines, gave ruble aid and loans for construction projects, and even sent large contingents of laborers in the mid- 1950s. Ulaanbaatar also subscribed to the anticolonial stance of the 1955 Bandung Conference and adopted the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Relations were developed with countries beyond the communist bloc--for example, India, Burma, Cambodia, nations in Africa and the Middle East, and, later, Cuba.

Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1956, increasing Mongolia's control over its own internal affairs. There were residual fears of a renewed Chinese ascendancy, however, despite Mongolia's signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with China on May 31, 1960, and the improved state of bilateral affairs. Memories of Chinese claims to "lost territories"--a theme, in Chinese foreign policy toward Mongolia, raised by Sun Yat-sen in 1912; reiterated by Chiang Kai-shek in the 1920s and by Mao Zedong in the 1930s; and, although rebuffed, raised at the 1945 Yalta Conference, when Chiang asserted China's claim to suzerainty based on the 1924 treaty with the Soviet Union--were strong in Mongolian consciousness.

Soon after the July 1961 Fourteenth Party Congress, Mongolia had garnered enough support from communist countries and from the Third World to be admitted to the United Nations in October 1961. The following June, Mongolia joined the Soviet-sponsored Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon).

Mongolian-Soviet ties continued to be close during the 1960s; additional aid was granted to Mongolia, and repayment deadlines were extended. In October 1965, a new three-year Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation was signed. A twenty-year Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which replaced the 1946 treaty, was the culmination of a state visit to Ulaanbaatar by the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, in January 1966. Soon after the signing of the friendship treaty, which included a defense clause, there was a buildup in Mongolia of Soviet troops and military infrastructure (including bases, roads, airfields, sheltered fighter aircraft sites, radar detection networks, communication lines, and missile sites). Mongolia, more than ever, had become a front line of Soviet defense against China. As part of its alliance with the Soviet Union, Mongolia signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

As relations with Moscow grew still closer, there was a corresponding coolness in those with Beijing. Although a difficult bilateral question was resolved with China in December 1962, when a border demarcation agreement was reached, by 1966 serious Mongolian-Chinese differences had surfaced. Chinese aid was stopped; trade decreased to low levels; relations cooled. The Chinese were angry over Ulaanbaatar's siding with Moscow in the Sino-Soviet rift; Mongolia, observing the excesses of China's Cultural Revolution, was concerned anew over China's designs on its sovereignty.

After the Fifteenth Party Congress had approved new economic plans in June 1966, Mongolia continued to try to transform its nomadic economy into ranch-style livestock herding and to expand its industrial sector. The economy, however, continued to have severe problems. For example, poor weather plagued the country; in 1967, blizzards caused a US$37 million loss in livestock alone. Severe winters were followed by drought and by plummeting harvests and exports. Planned increases in agricultural and industrial production did not materialize, and the lack of raw materials continued to hamper even light industry. Some of the blame was placed on the pullout of Chinese economic and technical assistance and the end of trade with China in consumer goods. It was admitted, however, that the economy envisioned in the Fourth Five-Year Plan (1966-70) had "not developed as rapidly as those of fraternal socialist states," and, indeed, achievements fell notably short of goals.

Large infusions of Soviet and Comecon aid eventually had salutary effects in the early 1970s. High-level state visits were exchanged in the 1969 to 1971 period, with the result that Moscow agreed to underwrite the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1971-75). Soviet economic difficulties in the early 1970s, however, had repercussions for Mongolia. The Soviet Union started insisting that trade quotas be honored, a move that caused economic disruption just as Mongolia was recovering from the economic distress of the late 1960s. Nevertheless, some economic progress was achieved between 1971 and 1974, a period during which gross industrial production rose by nearly 45 percent. Severe winters continued to hurt the anticipated growth of livestock herds. By the mid-1970s, direct business and other cooperative links had been established between corresponding Mongolian and Soviet ministries, departments, research institutes, and industries, and cooperative ties also had been established between neighboring Mongolian aymags and Soviet oblasts.

More than 100,000 Soviet troops were garrisoned in Mongolia in the early 1970s. Ulaanbaatar's anti-Chinese criticism intensified during this period, ostensibly because of increased numbers of Chinese military exercises along the frontier and alleged anti-Mongolian subversive activities. Mongolia received assurances that Soviet troops would remain; Brezhnev himself, when in Ulaanbaatar, said that Beijing's demand for withdrawal of Soviet troops from Mongolia, as a precondition for the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, was "absolutely unacceptable."

After a decade of steady growth in party membership, a dramatic change occurred in the composition of those attending the Sixteenth Party Congress in July 1971. Although membership on the Political Bureau, the Central Committee, and the Secretariat remained stable, 82 percent of the delegates were new. As the decade continued, changes at the top began to emerge. In June 1974, Tsedenbal, while retaining his position as general secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, resigned as chairman of the Council of Ministers--the premiership--to become chairman of the People's Great Hural, the de facto president of Mongolia. The former rector of the Mongolian State University, Jambyn Batmonh, in a move presaging the succession a decade later, was appointed premier; he also was elevated to the party Political Bureau. After these changes, the party leadership was more stable. The closeness of Mongolian-Soviet relations was manifested by meetings in October 1976 in Moscow among Tsedenbal, Batmonh, and three other party Political Bureau members and the Soviet Communist Party general secretary Leonid Brezhnev; the president, Nikolai Podgorny; and the premier, Alexei Kosygin. While the talks were described as "fraternal," they also were characterized as "frank," probably because of increased Mongolian demands for economic aid. Soviet aid was forthcoming for the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1976-80), primarily in support of agriculture, mining, fuel, power, food, and light industries. Mongolian relations with Beijing--following Moscow's lead--were less hostile in the years after the 1976 death of Mao, but fears of China's "predatory aspirations" still lingered in Ulaanbaatar. In 1980 Chinese nationals were expelled from Mongolia on charges ranging from gambling and drug use to public disorder and espionage.

Severe weather in the winter of 1976 to 1977 caused some of the worst damage to animal husbandry in a decade. Heavy snowfalls, severe frosts, disease, starvation, and mismanagement combined to create a perilous economic situation. Recovery was slow, and livestock targets were overestimated continually throughout the rest of the 1970s. Developments in other economic sectors, such as mining and irrigated farming, saw some improvement during the period, however.

The 1980s began with some improvements in the economy, but also with a number of top party and state leadership changes, culminating in the end of Tsedenbal's rule. While Tsedenbal was in Moscow in August 1984, special sessions of the party and the People's Great Hural were held to announce his retirement. Batmonh replaced the reportedly ailing party head, amid tributes to Tsedenbal's forty-four-year career as an "outstanding leader" and "very close friend." In December 1984, Batmonh also was elevated to the chairmanship of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural, and Vice Premier Dumaagiyn Sodnom became premier as Mongolia embarked on historic reforms.


Mongolia - Geography



The terrain is one of mountains and rolling plateaus, with a high degree of relief. Overall, the land slopes from the high Altai Mountains of the west and the north to plains and depressions in the east and the south. Hutyen Orgil (sometimes called Nayramadlin Orgil--Mount Friendship) in extreme western Mongolia, where the Mongolian, the Soviet, and the Chinese borders meet, is the highest point (4,374 meters). The lowest is 560 meters, an otherwise undistinguished spot in the eastern Mongolian plain. The country has an average elevation of 1,580 meters. The landscape includes one of Asia's largest freshwater lakes (Hovsgol Nuur), many salt lakes, marshes, sand dunes, rolling grasslands, alpine forests, and permanent montane glaciers. Northern and western Mongolia are seismically active zones, with frequent earthquakes and many hot springs and extinct volcanoes.

Mongolia has three major mountain ranges. The highest is the Altai Mountains, which stretch across the western and the southwestern regions of the country on a northwest-to-southeast axis. The Hangayn Nuruu, mountains also trending northwest to southeast, occupy much of central and north-central Mongolia. These are older, lower, and more eroded mountains, with many forests and alpine pastures. The Hentiyn Nuruu, mountains near the Soviet border to the northeast of Ulaanbaatar, are lower still. Much of eastern Mongolia is occupied by a plain, and the lowest area is a southwest-to-northeast trending depression that reaches from the Gobi region in the south to the eastern frontier. The rivers drain in three directions: north to the Arctic Ocean, east to the Pacific, or south to the deserts and the depressions of Inner Asia. Rivers are most extensively developed in the north, and the country's major river system is that of the Selenge-Moron, which drains into Lake Baykal. Some minor tributaries of Siberia's Yenisey River also rise in the mountains of northwestern Mongolia. Rivers in northeastern Mongolia drain into the Pacific through the Argun and Amur (Heilong Jiang) rivers, while the few streams of southern and southwestern Mongolia do not reach the sea but run into salt lakes or deserts.

<>Environmental Concerns


Mongolia - Climate


Mongolia is high, cold, and dry. It has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers, during which most precipitation falls. The country averages 257 cloudless days a year, and it is usually at the center of a region of high atmospheric pressure. Precipitation is highest in the north, which averages 20 to 35 centimeters per year, and lowest in the south, which receives 10 to 20 centimeters. The extreme south is the Gobi, some regions of which receive no precipitation at all in most years. The name Gobi is a Mongol meaning desert, depression, salt marsh, or steppe, but which usually refers to a category of arid rangeland with insufficient vegetation to support marmots but with enough to support camels. Mongols distinguish gobi from desert proper, although the distinction is not always apparent to outsiders unfamiliar with the Mongolian landscape. Gobi rangelands are fragile and are easily destroyed by overgrazing, which results in expansion of the true desert, a stony waste where not even Bactrian camels can survive.

Average temperatures over most of the country are below freezing from November through March and are about freezing in April and October. January and February averages of -20° C are common, with winter nights of -40° C occurring most years. Summer extremes reach as high as 38° C in the southern Gobi region and 33° C in Ulaanbaatar. More than half the country is covered by permafrost, which makes construction, road building, and mining difficult. All rivers and freshwater lakes freeze over in the winter, and smaller streams commonly freeze to the bottom. Ulaanbaatar lies at 1,351 meters above sea level in the valley of the Tuul Gol, a river. Located in the relatively well-watered north, it receives an annual average of 31 centimeters of precipitation, almost all of which falls in July and in August. Ulaanbaatar has an average annual temperature of -2.9°C and a frost-free period extending on the average from mid-June to late August.

Mongolia's weather is characterized by extreme variability and short-term unpredictability in the summer, and the multiyear averages conceal wide variations in precipitation, dates of frosts, and occurrences of blizzards and spring dust storms. Such weather poses severe challenges to human and livestock survival. Official statistics list less than 1 percent of the country as arable, 8 to 10 percent as forest, and the rest as pasture or desert. Grain, mostly wheat, is grown in the valleys of the Selenge river system in the north, but yields fluctuate widely and unpredictably as a result of the amount and the timing of rain and the dates of killing frosts. Although winters are generally cold and clear, there are occasional blizzards that do not deposit much snow but cover the grasses with enough snow and ice to make grazing impossible, killing off tens of thousands of sheep or cattle. Such losses of livestock, which are an inevitable and, in a sense, normal consequence of the climate, have made it difficult for planned increases in livestock numbers to be achieved.


Mongolia - Environmental Concerns


After many years of uncritical fostering of industrial and urban growth, Mongolia's authorities became aware in the late 1980s of the environmental costs of such policies. Belated Soviet concern over the pollution of Lake Baykal encouraged Mongolian actions to preserve their counterpart Hovsgol Nuur, which is linked to Lake Baykal through the Selenge Moron. A wool-scouring plant that had been discharging wastes into Hovsgol Nuur was closed; truck traffic on the winter ice was banned; and the shipping of oil in barges on the lake was stopped. Deforestation in the Hangayn Nuruu, had reduced the flow of northern Mongolia's rivers, which were polluted by runoff from the fertilized and pesticide-treated grain fields along their banks, by industrial wastes, and by untreated sewage from growing settlements. Ulaanbaatar--located in a valley--with factories and 500,000 inhabitants who depend on soft coal, had severe air pollution, especially when the air was still and cold in winter. Deforestation, overgrazing of pastures, and efforts to increase grain and hay production by plowing up more virgin land had resulted in increased soil erosion, both from wind and from heavy downpours of the severe thunderstorms that bring much of Mongolia's rain. In the south, the desert area of the Gobi was expanding, threatening the fragile gobi pasturelands. The government responded by founding the Ministry of Environmental Protection in 1987 and by giving increased publicity to environmental issues.


Mongolia - The Society


IN 1986 MONGOLIA CELEBRATED the sixty-fifth anniversary of the revolution that had begun the transformation of a traditional feudal society of pastoral nomads into a modern society of motorcycle-mounted shepherds and urban factory workers. The reshaping of Mongolian society reflected both strong guidance and a high level of economic assistance from the Soviet Union. The relations between Mongolia and the Soviet Union have been extremely close. The ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party has so faithfully echoed the line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that some Western observers have doubted the reality of Mongolia's independence.

From Ulaanbaatar, however, issues of autonomy and the path of social development are seen differently. Of all the peoples of Inner Asia-- Uighurs, Uzbeks, Kirghiz, Tibetans, Tajiks, and others--only those in Mongolia retain any degree of independence. As a small nation of barely 2 million people, caught between two giant and sometimes antagonistic neighbors, China and the Soviet Union, Mongolia has had to accommodate itself to one or the other of those neighbors. Twice as many Mongols live outside the boundaries of Mongolia (3.4 million in China and .5 million in the Soviet Union), as live within it, and the fate of the larger Mongol population of China, who have become a 20 percent minority in the Nei Monggol Autonomous Region--once part of their own country--demonstrates that alternatives to the pro-Soviet alignment might well be less attractive. In the opinion of most Western observers, most Mongolians traditionally have tended to view the Soviet Union as a model of modern society, and the Russian language has been the vehicle for the introduction of science and modern technology and for contacts with the larger communist world.

Mongolia in 1921 was an exceptionally economically undeveloped society in which nomadic herders, illiterate and marginally involved in a market economy, constituted most of the population. They supported some petty nobles and a large number of Buddhist monks. The society's dominant institution was the Buddhist monastic system, which enrolled much of the adult male population as monks. Such limited commerce as existed was controlled by Chinese merchants, to whom the native nobility was heavily in debt. The only avenue of mobility and escape from broad and ill-defined obligations to hereditary overlords was provided by entrance to the Buddhist clergy, whose monks devoted themselves primarily to otherworldly and economically unproductive pursuits. The population appears to have been declining, because of high death rates from disease and poor nutrition, the large proportion of celibate monks, and high levels of infertility caused by venereal disease.

Against such a historical foundation, claims that contemporary Mongolia represents a completely new society are quite plausible. In many ways, the society has been transformed, and in the 1980s rapid social change continued. The ruling party saw the nation as having leaped directly from feudalism to socialism, bypassing the capitalist stage of development. Many of the forms of socialist organization, particularly in the rapidly growing urban and industrial sectors, appeared to be direct copies of Soviet models, with some modification to fit the Mongolian context. The population has nearly tripled since 1920, as the government pursued a pro-natal policy rare among developing nations. Mongolia's herds of livestock, which outnumbered the human population by at least ten-to-one, had been collectivized, and herders in the 1980s worked as members of pastoral collectives that drew up monthly and annual plans for milk and wool production.

By 1985 a slim majority of Mongolia's population was urban, working in factories and mines, and increasingly housed in Soviet-model, prefabricated highrises. Public health and education had been the objects of intense development, which by the 1980s had produced vital rates approaching those of developed nations and nearly universal literacy among the younger generation. Much of Mongolia's industrial development and urban growth has taken place since the mid-1970s and has been so recent that the country was only beginning to recognize the problems attending rapid industrialization, urbanization, and occupational differentiation.

The drive for modernization along Soviet lines has been accompanied by an equally strong, but much less explicitly articulated, determination to maintain a distinctive Mongolian culture and to keep control of Mongolia's development in Mongolian hands. Although the topic was politically sensitive, Mongolia's leaders were nationalists as well as communists, and they aspired to much more independence than was permitted to the "national minorities" of the Soviet Union and China with whom the Mongolians otherwise had so much in common.

<>Ethnic and Linguistic Groups
<>Pastoral Nomadism
<>Traditional Patterns
<>Planned Modernization
<>Collectivized Farming and Herding
<>Kinship, Family, and Marriage
<>Position of Women
<>Social Mobility
<>Cultural Unity and Mongol Identity
<>Health and Welfare


Mongolia - Population


Vital Rates

Mongolia's population is sparsely distributed, young, and increasing rapidly. With an estimated midyear 1989 population of 2,125,463, the average population density was 1.36 people per square kilometer. The annual growth rate was about 2.7 percent, which, if sustained, would double the population in 27 years. The rate of natural increase was the result of high birthrates and of death rates that were relatively low by world standards. Mongolia does not publish figures for infant mortality, but estimates in the late 1980s ranged between 49 and 53 per 1,000 birth. The population's sex ratio was nearly even, with official 1986 figures showing 50.1 percent of the total population as male and 49.9 percent as female.

Such high population growth was one of the most striking examples of the profound transformation of traditional Mongolian society. The high growth rate dated only to the late 1950s, when the effects of improved public health and medical services were reflected in sharply reduced death rates. Despite a growth rate of under 3 percent, government statistics claimed that the population doubled between 1963 and 1988. The rate of population increase had peaked in 1960 at 3.27 percent, but it had declined to about 2.7 percent by 1989. Such a quickly growing population was necessarily a young population. In 1988 population experts in a World Bank publication projected that by 1990 72 percent of Mongolia's population would be 14 years' old and younger.

Pro-natal Policies

A larger population has been a long-standing goal of the government, which provided a series of incentives to encourage large families. A labor shortage has provided the primary overt justification for the policy, and economic aid from the Soviet Union has enabled Mongolia to meet the costs of supporting a large and economically unproductive cohort of children. Because the economy of Mongolia was to a large extent integrated with that of eastern Siberia, where the Soviet Union has suffered endemic labor shortages, encouraging the growth of the Mongolian population and labor force was in the interest of the Soviet Union. Reinforcing the policy may be a desire to ensure the survival of Mongols as an ethnic group and to boost the initially somewhat questionable legitimacy and sovereignty of the Mongolian People's Republic by occupying the land and by ensuring that key institutions and enterprises are staffed by Mongolians rather than by management imported at the behest of the Soviet Union.

The government and the ruling party put no obstacles in the way of early marriages, and engagements and marriages among university students were common. In 1985 there were 6.3 marriages and 0.3 divorces per 1,000 people. A March 1989 Mongolian newspaper reported that every twentieth marriage broke up, that more than 15,000 mothers were receiving alimony from former husbands, and that 45,000 of the 870,000 children aged 15 and younger were illegitimate. When resident Chinese laborers were expelled from Mongolia in the late 1960s as a result of the SinoSoviet conflict, their alleged offenses included the possession and the distribution of contraceptives. Childbearing was promoted as every woman's patriotic obligation, and exhortations to fecundity were backed up by a range of material incentives. Working women were granted a maternity leave of 101 days, and the Labor Law prohibited dismissal of pregnant women and of those with children younger than one year. Parents received family allowances in cash; subsidies, paid to families with more than four children younger than sixteen, could amount to as much as an average industrial wage. Women with five or more living children received the Order of Maternal Glory, Second Class, medal and an annual subsidy of 400 tugriks per child; those with more than eight children received the Order of Maternal Glory, First Class, and 600 tugriks per child. The medals entitled the mothers to all-expenses paid annual vacations of two weeks at the hot springs spa of their choice, steep discounts in fees for child care, and other benefits. Marriage and childbearing also were promoted by a special tax (of an unspecified amount) levied on unmarried and childless citizens between the ages of twenty and fifty. Full-time students in secondary schools and colleges were exempted from this tax, as were military conscripts.

The birth needed to bring the current Mongolian population to 2 million was the occasion for national celebration in 1987. The government's Central Statistical Board determined that one of the 260 babies born July 11 (Mongolia's National Day) was the 2 millionth citizen. Twenty-five of the babies were selected as "Two Million Babies." The state awarded each of their families two new residences (probably apartments), the Children's Foundation awarded each a 5,000-tugrik subsidy (industrial wages range from an average of 550 tugriks to a high of 900 tugriks per month), and local governments and the parents' workplaces also gave gifts.

Population Distribution

The 1979 census showed that 51 percent of the population was urban, and this percentage remained unchanged through 1986. Rural population density in the mid-1980s was highest in the wellwatered regions of the north and the west and lowest in the arid and desert areas of the south and the east. The country as a whole averaged 1.36 people per square kilometer, with rural densities in 1986 ranging from 1.9 people per square kilometer in Bayan-Olgiy and Selenge aymags to 0.22 people per square kilometer in Omnogovi Aymag. The three largest cities--Ulaanbaatar, Darhan, and Erdenet--are in north-central Mongolia, on or near the main railroad line and the Selenge Moron or its major tributaries. Half the country's population lived in this core area, with its river valleys, productive upland pastures, coal and copper mines, and relatively well-developed transportation system. The remaining, much larger area--occupied by widely dispersed herders and by isolated administrative centers--was the economic and social periphery.

The Urban Population

The city system is dominated by Ulaanbaatar--a classic primate city far larger than the second-ranking or third-ranking cities--in which all important political, economic, and cultural functions are centralized. In 1986 Ulaanbaatar had 500,200 people, or nearly 25 percent of the nation's population. Its dominant position was demonstrated by the transportation system, which radiated out from Ulaanbaatar. The industrial center of Darhan, on the main railroad line north of Ulaanbaatar, had 74,000 people in 1986; Erdenet, founded in 1976 and built around a major copper and molybdenum mining complex, had 45,400. Fourth place went to Choybalsan, the industrial metropolis of eastern Mongolia in Dornod Aymag, which had 28,600 people in 1979. Fifth through tenth places were occupied by a set of aymag seats with populations in the 16,000-to-18,000 range in 1979. The lowest rung of the urban hierarchy was occupied by the headquarters of state farms or herding cooperatives, which usually featured administrative offices, primary schools with boarding facilities, clinics, assembly halls, fodder storage facilities, and the cooperative's motor pool and truck maintenance centers.

During the 1980s, the pace of urban residential construction was rapid, and an increasing proportion of the urban populace was housed in Soviet-designed, prefabricated four-story or high-rise apartment complexes. Such housing complexes--equipped with heat from central plants and served by planned complexes of shops, schools, and playgrounds as well as by bus routes--represented the zenith of modernism and progress. Many people in cities continued to live in the traditional Mongolian round felt tents called ger. Mongolians do not regard ger as backward or shameful, even in Ulaanbaatar, but urban planners considered that the much higher population densities afforded by high-rise housing would permit optimum use of often-scarce flat ground and would afford the most efficient utilization of public transportion and public utilities such as water and sewer lines.

<>Ethnic and Linguistic Groups

Updated population figures for Mongolia.


Mongolia - Ethnic and Linguistic Groups


Mongols and Kazakhs

Mongolia's population is ethnically quite homogenous; about 90 percent of the populace speaks one of several dialects of the Mongol language. Mongol is an Altaic language, related to the Turkic languages, such as Uzbek, Turkish, and Kazakh, and more distantly to Korean and perhaps, in the opinion of some linguists, to Japanese. Except for the dialect of the Buryat Mongols, who predominantly inhabit the area around Lake Baykal in Siberia, and the dialects of scattered isoglosses in Mongolia, all dialects of Mongol spoken in Mongolia are readily understood by native speakers of the language. The Khalkha Mongols are the largest element of the population. According to the 1979 census, they made up 77.5 percent of the population. The term khalkha, which means "shield," has been used at least since the mid-sixteenth century to refer to the nomads of the traditional Mongol heartland of high steppes and mountains. They have been the most thoroughly pastoral of all the Mongol tribes or subethnic groups, the nomads' nomads, and the least affected by foreign influences. In the twentieth century, they occupied most of the central and the eastern areas of the country. Khalkha Mongol is the standard language; it is taught in the schools and is used for all official business. The written language is based on the Khalkha of the Ulaanbaatar region, and when Mongol script was replaced by a Cyrillic alphabet between 1941 and 1946, the Russian Cyrillic was modified to suit the phonetic structure of Khalkha.

Another 12 percent of the population in 1979 spoke a variety of western or northern Mongol dialects, such as Dorbet, Dzakchin, Buryat, or the southeastern Dariganga. Speakers of these dialects were concentrated in their ancestral territories in far western or northwestern Mongolia in Hovd, Uvs, and Hovsgol aymags, or along the Chinese frontier in the southeast. Ethnic distinctions among the various Mongol subgroups have been relatively minor; they have been expressed in oral traditions of historical conflicts among the groups, in such ethnic markers as women's headdresses or the shapes of boots, and in such minor variations in pastoral technique as placement of camels' nose pegs. Apart from immediate adaptation to different environments, Mongol culture has been relatively uniform over large areas, and dialect or tribal differences have not become significant political or social issues.

Mongolia's largest minority, accounting for 5.3 percent of the population in 1979, is the Kazakh people of the Altai. The Kazakhs, who also live in the Soviet Union's Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and in China's Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region, are a pastoral, Turkic-speaking, and traditionally Muslim people who live in Bayan-Olgiy Aymag in extreme western Mongolia. Bayan-Olgiy is a largely Kazakh administrative unit, where the Kazakh language is used in the primary schools and in local administrative offices. There is a fairly high level of contact with the Soviet Union's Kazakh Republic, which provides textbooks for the schools. Kazakhs of the Altai traditionally have hunted from horseback with trained golden eagles on their wrists and greyhounds slung across the saddle--both to be launched at game-- and pictures of eagle-bearing Kazakhs are common in Mongolian tourist literature. Mongol is taught as the second language and Russian as the third in Kazakh schools, and bilingual Kazakhs appear to participate in the Mongolian professional and bureaucratic elite on an equal footing with Mongols. Kazakhs also make up a disproportionate number of the relatively highly paid workers in the coal mines of north-central Mongolia; this situation may indicate either limited opportunities in the narrow valleys of Bayan-Olgiy Aymag or government efforts to favor a potentially restive minority, or both.

Chinese, Russians, and Others

The 1979 census identified the "nationality" of 5.5 percent of the population simply as "other," an undefined category that presumably included small numbers of Tungusic-speaking hunters and reindeer herders in the northeast, some Turkic-speaking Tuvins in Uvs and Dzavhan aymags, and, in the Altai region, isolated clusters of Uzbeks and Uighurs (the latter of whom--whose ancestors migrated north from Xinjiang in northwestern China--grow irrigated rice in the relatively sheltered Hovd Basin). The category also included Russian and Chinese residents, whose national and legal status is, perhaps intentionally, obscure. Mongolia's 1956 census counted Chinese as 1.9 percent and Russians as 1.6 percent of the population, but as of 1989 no totals for those groups had been published since. The United States Government in 1987 estimated 2 percent of the population as Russian and 2 percent as Chinese.

Historically, the Gobi served as a barrier to large-scale Chinese settlement in what was, before 1921, called Outer Mongolia; the unsuitability of most of the territory for agriculture made southern settlement less attractive. The small Chinese population in the early 1920s consisted of merchants or peddlers, artisans working for Buddhist monasteries or Mongol aristocrats, and a few market gardeners near Ulaanbaatar (then called Niyslel--capital--Huree, or Urga) and the smaller population centers of the Selenge region. Many of the Chinese married or formed liaisons with Mongol women. Their children, who spoke Mongol as first language, were regarded as Chinese by the rules of patrilineal descent common to both Chinese and Mongols. In the early 1980s, Ulaanbaatar was reported to have a small Chinese community, which published a Chinese-language newspaper and which looked to the Chinese embassy for moral support. In 1983 the Mongolian government expelled about 1,700 Chinese residents, who were accused of "preferring an idle, parasitic way of life" to honest labor on the state farms to which they had been assigned. At the same time, ethnic Chinese who had become naturalized citizens were reported to be unaffected. Because the presence and the status of Chinese residents in Mongolia were politically sensitive subjects, Mongolian sources usually avoided mentioning the Chinese at all.

The same sources frequently referred to the Soviet residents of Mongolia, but they always described them as helpful foreigners who would return to their proper homes when their terms of service were over. Most presumably were not included in the Mongolian census figures. There were small numbers of descendants of Russian settlers along the border, and the "national" status of Buryat Mongols, Tuvins, or Kazakhs who at some point had crossed the border from their home territories in the Soviet Union was not clear. Thousands of Soviet nationals were working in Mongolia as technical experts, advisers, and skilled workers; they were a noticeable presence in Mongolian cities in the late 1980s. Erdenet, which was built around a joint Mongolian-Soviet copper-molybdenum mining and processing complex in the late 1970s, had a 1987 population of 40,000 Mongols and 10,000 Soviet workers on three-year contracts. In the 1980s, an estimated 55,000 Soviet troops were based in Mongolia, and some of them worked on construction projects in cities. Although since 1920 many Russians have settled in the Tannu Tuva and Buryat Mongol regions of Siberia across the border from northern Mongolia, there has been no Russian migration to, and settlement in, Mongolia.



Mongolia - Pastoral Nomadism


Almost every aspect of Mongolian society has been shaped by pastoral nomadism, an ecological adaptation that makes it possible to support more people in the Mongolian environment than would be true under any other mode of subsistence. Pastoralism is a complex and sophisticated adaptation to environments marked by extreme variability in temperature and precipitation, on time scales ranging from days to decades. Mongolia's precipitation is not only low on the average; it varies widely and unpredictably from year to year and from place to place. The dates of first and last frosts, and hence the length of the growing season, also vary widely. Such general conditions favor grasses rather than trees, and they produce prairies rather than forests. Grain can be grown under such conditions, but not every year. Any population attempting to support itself by cereal agriculture could expect to lose its entire crop once every ten years, or every seven years, or every other year, depending on the localities they were farming. Because ecological systems adapt to extreme limiting conditions rather than to the mean of variation, agriculture is not adaptive to Mongolian circumstances.

Pastoralism, however, permits societies to exploit the variable and patchy resources of the steppe. The key to pastoralism is mobility, which permits temporary exploitation of resources that are not sufficient to sustain a human and herbivore population for an entire year. Pastoralism may be combined with agriculture if a stable resource base, such as an oasis, permits, or agriculture may serve, as in central Mongolia, only to supplement herding and may be practiced only to the extent that labor is available.

A host of features of nomadic life reflect the demands and costs of mobility and of dependence on herds of animals to convert the energy stored in grasses to the milk and meat that feed the human population. Such societies commonly develop a conscious and explicit nomadic ethos, which values mobility and the ability to cope with problems by moving away from threats or toward resources and which disparages permanent settlement, cultivation of the earth, and accumulation of objects.

Societies based on pastoral nomadism do not exist in isolation, and nomads commonly live in symbiotic relationships with settled agriculturalists, exchanging animal products for grain, textiles, and manufactured goods. Both the nomads and the agriculturalists can, if necessary, survive without the goods provided by the other, but under most circumstances both benefit from exchange. Mongols typically dressed in sheepskin tunics covered with Chinese silk; drank tea from China; consumed a certain amount of millet, barley, and wheat flour; and used cooking pots and steel tools produced by non-nomadic smiths, some of whom were Mongols and some Turkic speakers or Chinese. However, the scattered nature of the population and the necessity of moving trade goods long distances by camel caravan limited the quantity of bulky goods available to nomads.

Pastoralism as a Cultural System

Mongolian society and culture developed in interaction with, and in conscious opposition to, that of settled agriculturalists, most of them Chinese. Along the ill-defined Inner Asian frontier between the lands with sufficient rainfall and warm weather to support agriculture and the grasslands most effectively exploited by pastoralists, people and cultural elements for centuries have moved in both directions, with some agriculturalists abandoning their marginal farms and becoming herders, and with some herders settling down either as dominant overlords or as laborers. Superimposed on the gradation and shading that are characteristic of frontier cultural and biological systems is a cultural system of ethnic groups that exaggerates distinctions and denies commonalities.

Much of Mongolian traditional culture thus goes beyond the objective, technical demands of pastoral life to a conscious glorification of the values of nomadism and a disparagement of practices associated with settlement in general and with Chinese culture in particular. Traditionally, Mongols not only preferred a diet of meat and milk, but they despised, and refused to eat, vegetables, justifying this with a proverb, "Meat for men, leaves for animals." Although Mongolian lakes and rivers are full of fish, traditionally Mongols did not eat fish. Mongols disdained the sort of regular, patient toil practiced by Chinese farmers or traders, and scorned any work that could not be performed from horseback. Such values and attitudes have presented severe obstacles to efforts to modernize Mongolian society.

Pastoralism in Practice

Mongols herd sheep, horses, cattle, goats, camels, and yaks. Although horses are the most valued animal, Mongols actually depend on sheep for their basic livelihood. Horses are the focus of an elaborate cultural complex, in which the care of horses is a male prerogative, whereas tending and milking sheep is a female task. In Mongolian epics, the second lead is always the horse, which gives sound advice to the hero. In Mongolian chess, the most powerful piece is called the horse, rather than the queen. The national musical instrument is a bowed string instrument with a carved horse's head, called a morin huur, which, according to legend, was invented by a rider who used the rib bones and the mane of his favorite horse to make an instrument to express his sorrow at its death. Fermented mare's milk, ayrag, is the national drink; it is considered to have special nutritional and tonic qualities. State-owned mines and factories maintain special herds of horses to provide their workers with the ayrag they are thought to require to maintain their health.

Sheep provide milk, which is processed into butter, cheeses, and other dairy products; mutton, wool, and hide for clothes and tents; and dung for cooking and heating. Sheep can be herded on foot, with one person and a few dogs responsible for a flock. Mongolian dogs, which are famous for their ferocity and hostility to strangers, do not help herd sheep as Western sheepdogs do, but they protect the flocks from wolves or other predators. Sheep are driven back to the camp every night, both for their protection and to provide a concentrated and convenient supply of dung. The sheep are led out to pasture each day, ideally moving out from the camp in a spiral until fresh pasture is so far away that it is more convenient to move the camp.

Each species of animal is herded separately, and herders must balance, therefore, the expected benefit from each type of animal against the cost of providing human labor to watch each separate herd and to move to the precise environment to which each animal is best suited. Sheep are basic, horses something of a luxury item, and other species are added to the camp inventory as labor power and environmental considerations dictate. The demands on human labor mean that a single household is not the optimal unit for herding. The basic unit in Mongol pastoralism is a herding camp, composed of two to six households, that manages its flocks as a single integrated economic unit. In the past, the members of a herding camp were usually, though not necessarily, patrilineal kinsmen. Membership of the herding camp was reconstituted on a year-to-year basis, with some households remaining in the same camp, others leaving to join different camps, and some camps dividing if their human and animal populations grew too large for effective operation. Under collectivization, herding camps remained the basic unit of pastoral production.

Constraints on Herding

The harsh winter provides the greatest challenge to pastoralists. The herds traditionally have spent the winter eating dried grasses on the range, with at most a stone corral for shelter from the worst winter blizzards. Since the 1950s, Mongolian authorities have worked to provide shelters and fodder for the herds. Catastrophic storms, coming in midwinter or at the spring lambing season, can wipe out entire herds or severely reduce their numbers. Herders move to special winter campsites, and they reduce the size of the herd to be carried on the winter pasture by slaughtering any animals thought unlikely to survive the winter. Late fall is the only time Mongols routinely slaughter animals; the meat, preserved by drying and freezing, sustains the people during the season when neither sheep nor horses are producing milk. (Mongols do not eat horseflesh; Kazakhs do.) Mongols traditionally have consumed more milk products than meat; animals are slaughtered in seasons other than fall only for ceremonial occasions or for obligatory hospitality to guests.

Winter conditions, which severely test the Mongols' ability to sustain their herds and hence themselves, throw the society's property system and the larger political structure into relief. The key element in bringing a herd through the winter is a suitable winter campsite, which must have a source of water near terrain sheltered from the worst storms but open enough for the wind to blow snow off the grasses. The number of winter campsites is limited, and their ownership always has been well-defined. In the past, they were owned privately by families under the residual ownership of the lowest-level local administrative unit known by a number of names, banners (see Glossary--or koshuus in Mongol) being common. Now they are owned by the herding cooperative or state farm, which allocates them to herding camps.

Outsiders, who tended to observe Mongolian herders only in the summer, mistakenly assumed that they wandered randomly across an undifferentiated sea of grass. From a Mongolian perspective, however, the landscape was far from undifferentiated, and each move of a camp reflected a careful decision that matched the needs of the herd with an estimate of the condition of the grasses and the water supply at several known sites within a large, but bounded, territory. Traditionally, Mongols thought of ownership and territory not, as an agriculturalist would, in terms of square kilometers or hectares of ground with a sharp line around them, but as rights to use certain strategic areas in the landscape, such as springs, streambanks adjacent to good pasture, or named and permanent winter campsites. Such areas were the objects of conflict between and among groups of herders; the larger political structure, both past and present, regulated access to these key resources and adjudicated claims to them.


Mongolia - Traditional Patterns


Mongolia's modern rulers, using common Marxist categories, describe society before 1921 as "feudal." The term, although not totally accurate, better fits traditional Mongolian society than it does many other societies that have undergone communistdirected revolutions. In traditional Mongolian society, almost all statuses were hereditary. Most exchanges were embedded in long-term, multifaceted social relations rather than transacted in an impersonal market through money; the political system was based on a hierarchy of all-embracing service owed to hereditary overlords; and such limited formal education and social mobility as existed took place within the monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism. The society was dominated by hereditary nobles, who claimed descent from Chinggis Khan and governed the commoners. The nobles were vassals of the Manchu emperors of China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and the hierarchy continued down to the level of the common herders. In this system, people owed broad and ill-defined service, including military duty, the temporary provision of horses to those traveling on official business, and the supply of sheep and livestock on both fixed and special occasions to their overlords. Mongol social life was marked by an elaborate etiquette that expressed degrees of hierarchy and deference through words and gestures.

Above the level of the herding camp, Mongols were enrolled in larger groups that had exclusive rights to use of territory and were, in their formal structure, hereditary military units. Such groups, the names of which varied from place to place and from time to time (banner, aymag, and so forth), were established by political rulers, and people originally were allocated to them regardless of kinship or preexisting social bonds. Membership in such groups was thus fundamentally a political status. Although Mongols recognized exogamous lineages based on patrilineal descent, lineages were not political or property-holding groups, and their membership commonly was spread over several territorial groups.

Commerce was in the hands of foreign merchants, most of them Chinese. Traditional Mongols exhibited a cavalier disdain for money and practiced careful pecuniary calculation. Mongol aristocrats ran up huge debts to Chinese and Russian merchants, and when pressed by creditors, tried to exact more livestock or services from their dependent commoners. The merchants controlled the interface between the internal Mongol economy--which operated largely with the social mechanisms of reciprocity and redistribution--and the larger market economy, and they profited in the conversion from one economic sphere of exchange to the other. During the 1920s, foreign merchants were expelled from Mongolia, and the debts owed to them were repudiated.

The only alternative to the all-embracing feudal system of subordination was provided by the Tibetan Buddhist church, which recruited both young boys and men as monks, or lamas, and offered careers to those with talent. Although rational and bureaucratic in its organization and accounting, the Buddhist church was distinctly otherworldly, not interested in progress, and, with some justification, was considered the major obstacle to the modernization of Mongolian life. Between 1925 and 1939, it was destroyed as a significant political and social force.

The structure of traditional Mongolian society consisted of a large number of equivalent units: herding camps; basic-level territorial units; and Buddhist monasteries, integrated only through their common subordination to political superiors and the shared values of Tibetan Buddhism and Mongol ethnicity. Most of the population occupied only a few occupational roles; herders and ordinary monks accounted for more than 90 percent of the population. Hereditary aristocrats--8 percent of the population-- occupied a larger range of occupational roles and offices as political leaders and administrators; so did the higher monks, with their more differentiated internal organization. The society was traditional in its preference for status relations over contractual ones, for ascribed statuses over achieved ones, for functionally diffuse over functionally specific organization, and in its very low levels of division of labor.


Mongolia - Planned Modernization


Modernization in Mongolia has meant establishing new, special-purpose organizations, expanding the scope and responsibilities of the government, generating new occupational roles and hence increasing the division of labor, as well as formulating new mechanisms to integrate and to coordinate a society that is much more differentiated than its predecessor. Mongolia's modernization has, furthermore, taken place at the direction of a political party and a foreign patron the ideology of which emphasizes rational planning and disparages the use of market mechanisms to integrate the society. In the 1980s, Mongolia's leaders and mass media continued to stress the necessity of planning, of meeting goals and targets, and of carrying on large-scale projects.

The former value of accommodation to, and harmony with, the natural world has been replaced by a fervent assertion of the dominion of man over nature and a major effort to control and to conquer the natural environment. Science in the form of veterinary medicine, artificial insemination, and selective breeding has been applied to the herds in the effort to reach the increases in sheep, yaks, horses, and goats that were set in the five-year plans. Mongolia's press has publicized the number of hectares of steppe planted with wheat and has praised the labor heroes who level mountains of copper ore or control huge excavators at open-pit coal mines. The application of the most up-to-date science and technology has been expected to result in "the comprehensive development of the productive forces of socialist society," which in turn would produce rapid economic growth and increases in people's prosperity. The value of control, over both the natural environment and the human population, was associated closely with the ideology of planning, and carrying out the dictates of the plan has been made a primary political virtue for Mongolian citizens.

Social change in modern Mongolia has consisted of the enrollment of previously self-sufficient herders into bureaucratically structured and economically specialized productive units, such as herding collectives or state factories and mines. Most Mongolians have become wage-earners, subject to labor discipline and to the supervision of a new class of managers and administrators, most of whom belong to the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. In return for submission to labor discipline and surveillance, workers have received greater security and a range of welfare benefits from their enterprise or herding collectives. Benefits include free medical care and education, child allowances, sick leave and annual holidays, and old-age pensions. The government has made considerable efforts to reduce the gap between the benefits and the opportunities available to industrial workers and urban administrators and those provided to the pastoralists.

A modernized state farm and its machine operators were described in a Mongolian magazine in the 1980s. The drivers of tractors and combines were graduates of a three-year vocational secondary school, and each had a daily quota of plowing or harvesting. Those who fulfilled their day's quota received a free lunch, "prepared by professional cooks," and overfulfillment of the daily quota brought additional remuneration. Like most Mongolian workers, they engaged in "socialist emulation" contests, a Soviet practice under which teams of workers competed to do a task quickly or to surpass a quota. Each worker was rated as a first-class machine operator or a second-class machine operator, and the skill rating, in combination with an increment for length of service, determined the wage level. The state farm's chief agronomist, a graduate of an agricultural college, toured the area on his motorcycle to check the quality of each day's plowing. The state farm's administrative center was described as an urban-style community with two-story buildings and such amenities as a secondary school, medical facilities staffed with physicians, day-care centers for children of working parents, shops, and a "palace of culture."

Modernization has meant the creation of a substantial body of planners, supervisors, accountants, and clerks. The state has clearly attempted to control and to monitor the performance of all workers, including herders, who had quotas for weekly and monthly production of milk, butter, cheese, and wool.

Unifying Structures

As the economy has developed, the population has increased, the society has grown more differentiated, the people have come to have less in common, and the need to coordinate and to integrate their activities has become more pressing. The society formerly was held together and was coordinated by a set of unifying structures, of which the most significant were the ruling party, the educational system, and a set of party-directed organizations intended to enroll nearly every Mongolian in their activities.

The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, like other ruling communist parties, directed the activities of all enterprises and large-scale organizations, from herding collectives to the national government. Collective farms and factories usually were run by the first secretary of the local party branch, and the party made an effort to recruit outstanding workers and people with leadership and managerial potential. Party members belonged to two organizations, their work unit and the party, and were the intermediaries who linked enterprises and local communities with the national political system. Party members constituted most of the extensive ranks of administrators who ran the country on a day-to-day basis. They were political generalists, generic managers; those at the higher levels usually had been trained in special party schools in the Soviet Union or in Ulaanbaatar.

In marked contrast with the past, almost all young Mongolians were enrolled in schools in the 1980s. Eight years of schooling was claimed to be universal, and most cities and centers of collectives offered ten-year schools, usually with boarding facilities for the children of herders. Literacy among young people was reportedly nearly universal, and the schools provided explicit training in nationalism and party ideology. Like schools in most countries, Mongolian schools also provided the training in punctuality, respect for abstract rules and standards, and participation in collective tasks needed to prepare young people for employment in formal, bureaucratic organizations, including the military services.

A set of organizations--trade unions, children's Young Pioneers, the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League (modeled on the Soviet Komsomol, for people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-eight), the Mongolian Women's Committee, and various sports and hobby groups--was intended to enroll every member of the population and to ensure that citizens who were not members of the elite party nonetheless were exposed to its ideology, example, and leadership. Mass organizations were controlled by the party. Although the extent to which mass organization actively enrolled and mobilized the citizenry was unclear, they claimed huge memberships--94.7 percent of all laborers and office and professional workers in state-owned enterprises belonged to trade unions in 1984; they were obviously intended to unify the populace and to promote identification with national goals. The responsibilities of the Mongolian Women's Committee included "the enlistment of women in the conscious performance of their civic and labor duty," which was accomplished through such means as annual rallies for female stockbreeders. By cutting across local and regional boundaries, the mass organizations promoted identification with the nation rather than the locality and with vocational or avocational rather than regional or ethnic interests.

Increasing Social Differentiation

Mongolia's economic development in the 1970s and the 1980s produced a population increasingly divided along occupational, educational, and regional lines. There were growing distinctions between workers and white-collar administrators; between urban and rural residents; between factory workers and pastoralists; between professionals, such as teachers and engineers, and the politically elite generalist managers; between those with only a primary school education and the graduates of post-secondary institutions in Mongolia or the Soviet Union; and, perhaps, between residents of the economic core in north-central Mongolia and those of the larger, but more sparsely populated, peripheral regions. All these distinctions entailed differences in income, life chances, prestige, and power, and they indicated potential strains in the social and political system. The strains took the form both of increased competition for the more desirable occupations and of concern within the government and the party over the way policies and practices favored some segments of the population over others, such as industrial workers at the expense of pastoralists, or urban universities at the expense of rural primary schools.

The 51 percent urban population reported in the 1979 census reflected rapid migration to the cities in the 1970s. The influx of rural people created housing problems, among them long waits for assignment to an apartment, expansion of ger districts on the edges of built-up areas, and pressure to invest in more housing, roads, and other urban infrastructure. The 1979 census showed Mongolia's class structure to consist approximately 40 percent of workers, 39 percent of herders in cooperatives, and 21 percent of intelligentsia. The last term was not defined but presumably referred to those with at least secondary schooling and non-manual occupations.

Mongolia has suffered from a continual shortage of skilled labor and has had to rely on foreign workers. They come from the Soviet Union and the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) on short-term contracts. At the same time, the ranks of Mongolian clerks, accountants, and low-level managers grew many fold, and Mongolian leaders occasionally alluded to problems in persuading young people to aim for careers as skilled workers or engineers rather than as office workers. The result of the government's great efforts to expand education has been a society very conscious of educational credentials; in some instances, the diploma is more significant than any substantive knowledge or skill it might represent.

The elite consisted of bureaucrats and ranking members of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. Such people were usually male graduates of universities or military academies; they possessed a good command of Russian, had experience studying or working in the Soviet Union, and tended to live in Ulaanbaatar. They held positions in the nomenklatura, the Russian term denoting, narrowly, the elite administrative positions the ruling party filled by appointment and, more broadly, the elite "New Class" that dominated Soviet society. They had urban apartments, scarce consumer goods, opportunities for foreign travel, the use of official vehicles, and access to first-rate medical care; they probably sent their children to universities and into professional occupations.

Under the managerial elite were technical specialists, such as engineers, doctors, professors, and financial and planning experts, who also were university-trained, fluent in Russian, and predominately urban. Below them were the comparatively large categories of industrial workers, employees of state farms, and administrative and clerical personnel. Such people had an occupational title or certification, and they received a regular wage from the state payroll.

At the bottom, or the edges, of the system were the nomadic herders, the arads. They had no vocational certification or formal job titles, and their incomes and livelihood still depended to a large extent on the vagaries of the weather. Although they were honored publicly as the prototypical Mongolian working class and the repository of traditional values, they were a shrinking segment of the population and one that few urbanites aspired to join. In spite of government efforts to raise their living standards, their dispersed and nomadic mode of livelihood limited access to such public services as health care and education. Their children could rise through the school system to the professional or administrative elite, but at the cost of long separation from their families in boarding schools. Unlike those of workers in the state sector of the economy, herders' incomes depended on the performance of the cooperatives, and that in turn rested on the weather and the health of the herds.


Mongolia - Collectivized Farming and Herding


Mongolian agriculturalists, most of whom were actually herders of animals, worked either for state-owned farms or for herding cooperatives. State farm workers were on the state payroll, just as were those who worked in state factories or for the national railroad. Influenced by the Soviet Union, stateowned farms represented a more creative adaptation of Soviet models to the Mongolian environment than did factories or government offices. In practice, membership was compulsory, and the collectives owned the means of production in the form of both the livestock herds and the rights to use pastures and winter campsites. Member families carried on a modified form of traditional herding by dispersed small herding camps of several households. Households were permitted to own a limited number of private livestock--analogous to the private plot allocated to collective farmers--about 20 percent of the total herd. Households received much of their income in kind, and they earned a share of the collective's profit from the sale of animals and animal products to state purchasing agencies. Their total income, in kind and in cash, varied, from year to year and from collective to collective, along with the condition of the herds and the weather.

The average herding cooperative had about 300 households. The cooperative employed some people as administrators, truck drivers, and the like, but most work consisted of the traditional tasks of herding and milking animals, and of producing butter, cheese, and wool products. As in the past, herding was done by herding camps of two to six households. The herding cooperatives in most cases had the same boundaries as the somon, the third-level administrative units into which Mongolia's eighteen aymags were divided, and the administration of the somon and the herding cooperative appeared to be in the same hands.

Modernized Nomads

In contrast to the period before the collectivization of herding, which was carried out in the late 1950s, the work of individual herders in the late 1980s was more closely supervised by administrative authorities. Herders were responsible for a herd of collective animals that usually included some of their privately held stock as well, thus providing an incentive for careful management. Herders with a record of losing too many animals or failing to meet monthly or annual quotas were deprived of custody of the collective animals and were reassigned to other tasks. The moves of the herds and the herding camps were plotted on a map in the cooperative's headquarters, and officials of the cooperative--riding on motorcycles or jeeps, and on a more limited basis, airplanes--scouted for good pasture and then told the herding camps where to move next. Moves from one campsite to the next usually were made, using the cooperative's jeeps or trucks, and sometimes crossing the roadless steppes at night with uncanny accuracy. The cooperatives attempted, with mixed success, to grow hay and other fodder, which was stored at the winter campsites, some of which had barns and sheds to shelter animals. Herding camps were assigned to winter campsites, which often were provided with stocks of coal and sometimes with portable electric generators to provide power for lights and even television sets. Herders on the range used transistor radios to listen to weather reports and storm warnings.

The somon center became a miniature urban outpost, providing a meeting hall for regular assemblies of the cooperative, political rallies, plays, concerts, and films; for the administrative offices of the somon and the cooperative; for a clinic, or small hospital, and a veterinary clinic; for the motor pool and vehicle repair station; for shops, run by the state trading organization; for storage and processing facilities for food and wool; for a sports ground, and for a school with boarding facilities. The center kept in touch with the herding camps through radio telephones and motorcycle couriers, who, bearing messages, mail, and newspapers, usually visited the camps every three to five days. Like urban residents or state-sector employees, herders from cooperatives were eligible for annual vacations, often spent at the holiday camps or spas operated by aymag governments. The government and the party took care to recognize the value of the herders' work and devoted resources to improving their lives without demanding that they settle down in permanent dwellings. In this regard, Mongolian pastoralists were more fortunate than their counterparts in many countries in Asia and Africa. There, urbanbased governments attempted to force nomads to settle down and to abandon their migrations for what was thought of as a more modern and civilized way of life, but that usually proved detrimental to the livelihood of the nomads and to the national economy. The pastoral background of Mongolia's leaders and their understanding of the realities of the nomadic way of life produced policies designed to modernize, but not to destroy, an ancient and productive ecological system.

Work Collectives

For modern Mongolians, the primary social units were based on occupation rather than locality. Employers, such as state-owned factories or government departments, commonly provided housing, meals in unit cafeterias, day-care facilities for workers' children, and sports and recreational activities. Trade unions in enterprises offered group holidays or week-long stays at special resorts or spas. Much emphasis was placed on the mutual ties and family-like relations among members of the collective. In cities fellow workers were guests and providers of gifts at weddings, and older members of work collectives often were described as taking a paternal or maternal interest in the performance of newly hired young workers. The process by which workers secured, or were assigned to, jobs was not clearly spelled out in Mongolian sources, but it evidently combined administrative direction with some degree of personal choice. The general shortage of labor meant that individuals had no problems finding jobs. However, the jobs they obtained may not have been those they most wanted. Although it was possible to change jobs or to be reassigned by the government, such changes were not common, and individuals usually expected to spend many years, if not their entire working lives, in one enterprise and one housing collective.

The organization of work units reflected Soviet models, and if there was a distinctively Mongolian character to such units, it was not captured in official accounts. As in the Soviet Union, there was a strong emphasis on the solidarity of the collective and its priority in the lives of the workers, as well as on the use of such managerial techniques as the designation of heroes of labor, the use of socialist emulation and socialist competition to spur production, and the promotion of "shock battalions" and "shock days" to meet or surpass quotas. These techniques were attempts to motivate a work force through the use of non-material incentives and through manipulation of group pressures. Students of Soviet and Chinese industrial relations refer to a distinctive pattern of "clientalist bureaucracy" and "neo-traditionalist" forms of patronage and dependency in the factories of those countries. Both the force of the Soviet example and inherited traditional Mongolian attitudes, toward hierarchy and broadly defined relations of subordination and dependence, made such patterns likely in Mongolia.


Mongolia - Kinship, Family, and Marriage



Traditional Mongols traced descent patrilineally, from fathers to sons, and recognized progressively larger and more inclusive sets of patrilineal lineages and clans, thought of as all the male descendants of a common grandfather, greatgrandfather , and so on. By the nineteenth century, such descent groups had no political role, were not coresident, held no common estate, and hence were of little significance in the lives of ordinary Mongolians. The hereditary aristocrats based their status on membership in aristocratic lineages (which claimed descent from Chinggis Khan), but political office was more important for elite status than lineage membership alone. Lineages and clans have not played a major role in modern Mongolian society, and it is doubtful that many contemporary people even know their lineage affiliation. Contemporary Mongols use a single given name with a patronymic, so names provide few clues to common descent or kinship. There is no information on the extent to which Mongolians observe traditional exogamic restrictions on marriage with various categories of patrilateral and matrilateral kin.

Family Structure

Mongolians, unlike the settled agriculturalists to the south, have never valued complex extended families, and in the 1980s most lived in nuclear families composed of a married couple, their children, and perhaps a widowed parent. The high birthrate, however, meant that large families were common; the 1979 census showed 16 percent of families with 7 to 8 members and 11.8 percent with 9 or more. Urban families were larger than rural families, perhaps because rural people tended to marry and to set up new households at younger ages. The average size of rural families also may have reflected the high rates of migration to the cities.

Among traditional herders, each married couple occupied its own tent, and sons usually received their share of the family herd at the time of their marriage. The usual pattern was for one son, often, but not necessarily, the youngest, to inherit the headship of the parental herd and tent, while other sons formed new families with equivalent shares of the family herd; daughters married out to other families. Adult sons and brothers often continued their close association as members of the same herding camp, but they could leave to join other herding camps whenever they wished. In the 1980s, herders were likely to continue to work closely with patrilineal kins, and many of the basic level suuri, a subdivision of the negdel herding camps, consisted of fathers and sons or groups of adult brothers and their families. Herders no longer inherited livestock from parents, but they did inherit membership in the herding cooperative. If cooperative officials granted custody of collectively owned animals and permission to hold privately owned stock on a family basis, which was how private plots were allotted in Soviet collective farms in the 1980s, then it would be to the advantage of newly married sons to declare themselves new families.

Family background continued to be an important component of social status in Mongolia, and social stratification had a certain implicit hereditary element. The shortage of skilled labor and the great expansion of white-collar occupations in the 1970s and the 1980s meant that families belonging to the administrative and professional elite were able to pass their status on to their many children, who acquired educational qualifications and professional jobs. At the other end of the social scale, no one but the children of herders became herders. Some herders' children, perhaps as many as half, moved into skilled trades or administrative positions, while the rest remained with the flocks.

Modern family life differed from that before the 1950s because the children of most herders were away from their families for most of year. Between the ages of seven and fifteen, they stayed in boarding schools at the somon center. Most Mongolian women were in the paid work force, and many (in 1989 there were no complete figures) infants and young children were looked after on a daily or weekly basis in day-care centers or in all-day or boarding kindergartens. The efforts to bring women into the formal work force and to educate the dispersed herders resulted in separation of parents and children on a large scale. There was some historical precedent for this in the practice of sending young boys to monasteries as apprentice lamas, which had previously been the only way to obtain a formal education for them.


In the twentieth century, most marriages have been initiated by the couple themselves rather than by parental arrangement. The image of courtship presented in contemporary Mongolian stories and pictures is of a young couple riding across the grassland on their horses while singing in harmony. In form the traditional Mongolian wedding was an agreement between two families, with elaborate transfers of bridewealth in livestock from the groom's family and a dowry of jewelry, clothing, and domestic furnishings from the bride's. The wedding, which was a contractual agreement between families rather than a religious ceremony, was marked by celebratory feasting that brought together as many of the relatives of the bride and the groom as the families could afford to feed. Some version of this custom survived in the countryside in the 1980s, as did the practice of the bride's moving to reside in the camp of her husband's family, which traditionally provided a new ger for the bridal couple. Brides usually had their own household and family rather than joining the household of their husband's parents as subordinate daughters-in-law, and they made fairly frequent return visits to their natal families. Among herders, a traditional place to seek a spouse was from the adjacent herding camp that exchanged daytime custody of lambs (to prevent the ewes from nursing the lambs in the pasture). In-laws frequently cooperated in herding or joined the same herding camp.

In cities, the wait to be assigned an apartment did not seem to delay marriages, perhaps because the couple had the option of moving to a ger on the edge of the city until an apartment became available. Urban weddings sometimes were celebrated in special wedding palaces. That of Ulaanbaatar, an imposing white structure vaguely resembling a traditional Mongolian hat in shape, was one of the capital's architectural highlights. For a modest fee, the couple received their choice of traditional or modern wedding costumes, the services of a photographer, the use of a reception hall, a civil ceremony and wedding certificate, and a limousine to carry them to their new home. Fellow workers and colleagues played a relatively large role in urban weddings, as guests and donors of gifts to set up the new household.

Most marriages were between schoolmates or coworkers. Such a mechanism of mate selection reinforced the tendency, common in many countries, for people to marry within their own social stratum. Herders tended to marry herders, and young professionals married young professionals. Divorce was possible, but rare; there were 5.6 marriages and 0.3 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in 1980 and 6.3 marriages and 0.3 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in 1985. Mongolian fiction described disparities between the educational level of spouses or the unwillingness of husbands to accept the demands of their wives' jobs as sources of marital strain.


Mongolia - Position of Women


Traditional Subordination

Leading Western scholars agree that Mongolian women traditionally have had relatively higher social positions and greater autonomy than women in the Islamic societies of Inner Asia or in China and Korea. Women herded and milked sheep, and they routinely managed the household if widowed or if their husbands were absent to perform military service, corvée labor, or caravan work. Mongols valued fertility over virginity and did not share the obsessive concern with female purity found in much of Southwest, South, and East Asia. Women, however, although not shy, remained subordinate to men and were restricted to the domestic sphere. It is characteristic of Mongolian attitudes toward male and female contributions that the care of sheep-- which provided Mongolians with their basic, daily sustenance--was the responsibility of women, while the care of horses--which contributed much less to subsistence but more to prestige, war, and sport--was the prerogative of men. Traditional Mongols combined firm notions of female subordination with a flexible attitude toward female participation in male-associated tasks, and women ordinarily filled in for men when no males were available for such activities as milking horses or even riding them in races. Archery contests, one of the "three manly sports" (the others are racing and wrestling), always included a female round.

The 1921 revolution began efforts to bring women into public life and into the extra-domestic labor force. The state's constant efforts to promote population growth also have led to a strong emphasis on women's reproductive capacities; bearing large numbers of children has been considered a civic duty. Possible contradictions between women's productive role in the economy and their reproductive role in the population have been glossed over in public rhetoric. The tension had existed, however, and frequent childbearing, state-mandated maternity leaves, as well as caring for young children probably have affected the sorts of jobs women hold and their commitment to their occupational roles.

Education and Employment

The major change in the position of Mongolian women is their nearly universal participation in all levels of the educational system and in the paid work force. In 1985 women made up 63 percent of the students in higher educational establishments and 58 percent of the students in specialized secondary schools. In the same year, they constituted 51 percent of all workers, up from nearly 46 percent in the 1979 census. By 1979 medicine and teaching were predominately female fields; women were 65 percent of all doctors and 63 percent of those working in education, art, and culture. Women made up 67 percent of the teachers in general schools and 33 percent of the teachers in higher educational establishments. They constituted nearly 47 percent of agricultural workers and 46 percent of those in industry. Women's high level of enrollment in higher education reflected the female predominance in medicine, nursing, teaching, and professional child care. This echoed the pattern in the Soviet Union, where most physicians were women and where the social and the economic status of physicians was lower than it was in the United States or Western Europe.

The most highly skilled Mongolian scientists, engineers, military officers, and administrators had been trained in the Soviet Union. In 1989 no figures were available on the percentage of women among these elite professionals. Mongolian accounts of working women indicated that some women worked in such jobs as airline pilot, judge, and sculptor, and that women predominated in the less highly paid food processing, textile, and catering trades.

Mongolian women had legal equality, but once in the labor force they suffered the familiar double burden of housework and child care on top of a day's work for wages. This problem was recognized, and a series of studies begun by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1978 found that the greatest source of strain on urban women was excessive hours spent in transit to and from work and shopping. There were too few buses or routes; retail and service outlets were not only scarce, but they were located too far from many residential areas and kept inconvenient hours. The proposed solutions, all indirect, included state provision of more buses; the opening of more service outlets, including food shops, restaurants, and carryouts; public laundries and dressmakers; and the expansion of nurseries, kindergartens, and extended-day elementary schools. The issues of female overrepresentation in the lower paying occupations and of the representation of women in the higher professional and administrative ranks in more than token numbers were not addressed.


Mongolia - Social Mobility


High Rates of Mobility

The expansion of the economy and the rapid growth of the urban, industrial, and service sectors made high rates of social mobility possible in the 1970s and the 1980s. Population growth, which accelerated in the late 1950s and peaked around 1970, was barely able to keep up with the expansion of positions in new factories, schools, and local government bodies. In the 1980s, most Mongolians worked in occupations different from those of their parents, who were almost universally herders. These conditions, however, were not expected to continue. Most of the cohort, born in the late 1950s and the 1960s, who secured skilled industrial, professional, and administrative jobs in the 1980s, will not retire until the 2020s. The even more numerous cohort born in the 1970s and the 1980s will find many desirable positions already filled by those ten to fifteen years older. If the rapid expansion of the economy, which has been fueled by extensive Soviet aid and investment, falters in the 1990s, then the generation born in the 1970s and the 1980s will not be able to match the mobility rates of their elders.

Channels of Social Mobility

There was a single, well-defined track for social mobility, which led through the school system and the youth organizations of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. The keys to upward mobility were good academic performance, including command of Russian, and political reliability, as evidenced either by membership in the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League or by recommendations of administrators and party members. The party controlled job assignments and promotions at all but the most basic levels, and its favor was necessary for significant upward mobility. Advanced study in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe was both a reward for good performance and a qualification for further career advancement. Military service, which until 1988 was three years for almost all young men, did not in itself confer any particular advantage on veterans, although it was possible for soldiers with secondary educations who had performed exceptionally well to be commissioned as officers. It was possible for children of herders in the most remote regions to progress, through examinations and recommendations, to the Mongolian State University and on to further training in the Soviet Union or the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). A 1981 account of an eight-year school in a herding cooperative revealed that half of the sixteen-year-olds completing the course left school to become herders, while the other half went on to two more years of secondary school in the aymag seat, from which they could go to white-collar jobs or to further vocational or general education.

In the late 1980s, the government was discussing a range of economic reforms, including increased use of the contract system as well as relaxed controls on privately owned livestock, on the development of cooperatives, and on individual labor. To the extent that such reforms were implemented, they would open an additional channel for social mobility for those who had not been favored by the monolithic system that had controlled occupational movement and advancement.


Mongolia - Cultural Unity and Mongol Identity


Implicit Nationalism

The result of Mongolia's economic development and urbanization was a population that was, on the one hand, increasingly and unprecedentedly divided by occupation, education, residence, and membership in well-defined and fairly rigid status groups, but that was, on the other hand, less clearly distinguished from that of other economically developed and urbanized countries. If being Mongolian meant living in a ger in the midst of a sheep herd and being good at riding horses, then the Mongolian identity of those who lived in highrise apartments, rode buses, and worked at desks or in factories where knowledge of the Russian language was required was problematic. Mongolian nationalism, clearly a politically sensitive topic, continued to be a strong although implicit force in Mongolia. The Mongol language, the cultural trait most obviously shared by all Mongolians, continued to be fostered. Much effort was devoted to translating foreign literature and textbooks into Mongol, and teams of Mongolian scholars carefully replaced Russian loan words with new terms developed from ancient Mongol roots. The goal appeared to be to ensure that Mongol did not become a dialect restricted to shepherds or preschool children and that the educated elite did not speak mostly Russian or Russian-influenced Mongol.

Apart from the significant omission of Buddhism and the Buddhist church, much of traditional Mongol culture was studied, preserved, and transmitted to the younger generation as a source of national pride. In early 1989, party general secretary Jambyn Batmonh told a Soviet interviewer that the harmful errors of the 1930s included destruction of the monasteries and with them the priceless cultural heritage of the Mongolian people. In 1989 the party called for overcoming indifference to the national cultural heritage, and efforts were under way to change the negative evaluation of Chinggis, who had been condemned as a bloodthirsty and aggressive conqueror of, among other places, Russia. Higher secondary schools began teaching the traditional Mongol script, replaced by Cyrillic in February 1946. In early 1989, the trade union newspaper Hodolmor (Labor) called for mass production of the traditional Mongol gown, the deel, and suggested that all Mongolian diplomats wear it.

Promotion of Traditional Festivals

Although the Buddhist church was suppressed in the 1930s, much traditional custom and celebration survived in the 1980s, with either the encouragement or the acquiescence of the government and the party. The Mongolian new year festival-- Tsagaan Sar (the White Month)--is celebrated at the same time as the Chinese lunar new year, although contemporary Mongolians deny any Chinese origin or influence. In the 1960s, the government designated it as Cattle Breeders' Day and stopped celebrating it as an official holiday. In 1989, as part of the party's efforts to reaffirm traditional culture, Tsagaan Sar again became a public holiday. The festival retained its prerevolutionary character as an occasion when relatives come together to reaffirm their ties, and juniors honor their elders. The Mongolian government sponsored the summer celebrations of Naadam, the traditional Mongol sports of horse racing, wrestling, and archery. Naadam celebrations were held in every somon, in every aymag seat, and in the great stadium in Ulaanbaatar on National Day, July 11. The celebrations attracted large audiences and were one of the few occasions for the normally dispersed pastoralists to gather in large crowds, renew old acquaintances, and make new friends. Wrestlers, archers, and riders dressed in traditional costumes, and a large bowl of ayrag, fermented mare's milk, was poured over the head of the winning horse in a form of libation practiced on the steppes for more than 1,000 years. Each wrestler was accompanied by a herald or bard, who chanted verses extolling his hero in a centuries-old format. There was a hierarchy of contests, with the winners at one level going on to the next, so that the national Naadam in Ulaanbaatar brought the champions from all over the country. The winning wrestler was a national hero, and, while the contests had no obvious political content, they provided an opportunity for the political elite and the ordinary people, the herders and the urbanites, to reaffirm their common Mongolian identity and culture.


Mongolia - Buddhism


Traditional Mongols worshipped heaven (the "clear blue sky") and their ancestors, and they followed ancient northern Asian practices of shamanism, in which human intermediaries went into trance and spoke to and for some of the numberless infinities of spirits responsible for human luck or misfortune. In 1578 Altan Khan, a Mongol military leader with ambitions to unite the Mongols and to emulate the career of Chinggis, invited the head of the rising Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism to a summit. They formed an alliance that gave Altan legitimacy and religious sanction for his imperial pretensions and that provided the Buddhist sect with protection and patronage. Altan gave the Tibetan leader the title of Dalai Lama (Ocean Lama), which his successors still hold. Altan died soon after, but in the next century the Yellow Sect spread throughout Mongolia, aided in part by the efforts of contending Mongol aristocrats to win religious sanction and mass support for their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to unite all Mongols in a single state. Monasteries were built across Mongolia, often sited at the juncture of trade and migration routes or at summer pastures, where large numbers of herders would congregate for shamanistic rituals and sacrifices. Buddhist monks carried out a protracted struggle with the indigenous shamans and succeeded, to some extent, in taking over their functions and fees as healers and diviners, and in pushing the shamans to the religious and cultural fringes of Mongolian culture.

Tibetan Buddhism, which combines elements of the Mahayana and the Tantric schools of Buddhism with traditional Tibetan rituals of curing and exorcism, shares the common Buddhist goal of individual release from suffering and the cycles of rebirth. The religion holds that salvation, in the sense of release from the cycle of rebirth, can be achieved through the intercession of compassionate buddhas (enlightened ones) who have delayed their own entry to the state of selfless bliss (nirvana) to save others. Such buddhas, who are many, are in practice treated more as deities than as enlightened humans and occupy the center of a richly polytheistic universe of subordinate deities, opposing demons, converted and reformed demons, wandering ghosts, and saintly humans that reflects the folk religions of the regions into which Buddhism expanded. Tantrism contributed esoteric techniques of meditation and a repertoire of sacred icons, phrases, and gestures that easily lent themselves to pragmatic (rather than transcendental) and magical interpretation. The religion posits progressive stages of enlightenment and comprehension of the reality underlying the illusions that hamper the understanding and perceptions of those not trained in meditation or Buddhist doctrine, with sacred symbols interpreted in increasingly abstract terms. Thus, a ritual that appears to a common yak herder as a straightforward exorcism of disease demons will be interpreted by a senior monk as a representation of conflicting tendencies in the mind of a meditating ascetic.

In Tibet Buddhism thus became an amalgam, combining colorful popular ceremonies and curing rituals for the masses with the study of esoteric doctrine for the monastic elite. The Yellow Sect, in contrast to competing sects, stressed monastic discipline and the use of logic and formal debates as aids to enlightenment. The basic Buddhist tenet of reincarnation was combined with the Tantric idea that buddhahood could be achieved within a person's lifetime to produce a category of leaders who were considered to have achieved buddhahood and to be the reincarnations of previous leaders. These leaders, referred to as incarnate or living buddhas, held secular power and supervised a body of ordinary monks, or lamas (from a Tibetan title bla-ma, meaning "the revered one)". The monks were supported by the laity, who thereby gained merit and who received from the monks instructions in the rudiments of the faith and monastic services in healing, divination, and funerals.

Buddhism and the Buddhist monkhood always have played significant political roles in Central and Southeast Asia, and the Buddhist church in Mongolia was no exception. Church and state supported each other, and the doctrine of reincarnation made it possible for the reincarnations of living buddhas to be discovered conveniently in the families of powerful Mongol nobles.

Tibetan Buddhism is monastic. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Outer Mongolia had 583 monasteries and temple complexes, which controlled an estimated 20 percent of the country's wealth. Almost all Mongolian cities have grown up on the sites of monasteries. Yihe Huree, as Ulaanbaatar was then known, was the seat of the preeminent living buddha of Mongolia (the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, also known as the Bogdo Gegen and later as Bogdo Khan), who ranked third in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. Two monasteries there contained approximately 13,000 and 7,000 monks, and the prerevolutionary Mongol name of the settlement known to outsiders as Urga, Yihe Huree, means big monastery.

Over the centuries, the monasteries acquired riches and secular dependents; they gradually increased their wealth and power as those of the Mongol nobility declined. Some nobles donated a portion of their dependent families--people, rather than land, were the foundation of wealth and power in old Mongolia--to the monasteries; some herders dedicated themselves and their families to serve the monasteries either from piety or from the desire to escape the arbitrary exactions of the nobility. In some areas, the monasteries and their living buddhas (of whom there were a total of 140 in 1924) also were the secular authorities. In the 1920s, there were about 110,000 monks, including children, who made up about one-third of the male population, although many of these lived outside the monasteries and did not observe their vows. About 250,000 people, more than a third of the total population, either lived in territories administered by monasteries and living buddhas or were hereditary dependents of the monasteries. With the end of Chinese rule in 1911, the Buddhist church and its clergy provided the only political structure available, and the autonomous state thus took the form of a weakly centralized theocracy, headed by the Jebtsundamba khutuktu in Yihe Huree.

By the twentieth century, Buddhism had penetrated deeply into Mongolian culture, and the populace willingly supported the lamas and the monasteries. Foreign observers had a uniformly negative opinion of Mongolian monks, condemning them as lazy, ignorant, corrupt, and debauched, but the Mongolian people did not concur. Ordinary Mongolians apparently combined a cynical and realistic anticlericalism, sensitive to the faults and the human fallibility of individual monks or groups of monks, with a deep and unwavering concern for the transcendent values of the church.

The Suppression of Buddhism

When the revolutionaries--determined to modernize their country and to reform its society--took power, they confronted a massive ecclesiastical structure that enrolled a larger part of the population, monopolized education and medical services, administered justice in a large part of the country, and controlled a great deal of the national wealth. The Buddhist church, moreover, had no interest in reforming itself or in modernizing the country. The result was a protracted political struggle that absorbed the energies and attention of the party and its Soviet advisers for nearly twenty years. As late as 1934, the party counted 843 major Buddhist centers, about 3,000 temples of various sizes, and nearly 6,000 associated buildings, which usually were the only fixed structures in a world of felt tents. The annual income of the church was 31 million tugriks, while that of the state was 37.5 million tugriks. A party source claimed that, in 1935, monks constituted 48 percent of the adult male population. In a campaign marked by shifts of tactics, alternating between conciliation and persecution, and armed uprisings led by monks and abbots, the Buddhist church was removed progressively from public administration, was subjected to confiscatory taxes, was forbidden to teach children, and was prohibited from recruiting new monks or replacing living buddhas. The campaign's timing matched the phases of Josef Stalin's persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1938--amid official fears that the church and monasteries were likely to cooperate with the Japanese, who were promoting a pan-Mongol puppet state--the remaining monasteries were dissolved, their property was seized, and their monks were secularized. The monastic buildings were taken over to serve as local government offices or schools. Only then was the ruling party, which since 1921 gradually had built a cadre of politically reliable and secularly educated administrators, able to destroy the church and to mobilize the country's wealth and population for its program of modernization and social change.

Uses of Buddhism

Since at least the early 1970s, one monastery, the Gandan Monastery, with a community of 100 monks, was open in Ulaanbaatar. It was the country's sole functioning monastery. A few of the old monasteries survived as museums, and the Gandan Monastery served as a living museum and a tourist attraction. Its monks included a few young men who had undergone a five-year training period, but whose motives and mode of selection were unknown to Western observers. The party apparently thought that Buddhism no longer posed a challenge to its dominance and that-- because Buddhism had played so large a part in the country's history, traditional arts, and culture, total extirpation of knowledge about the religion and its practices would cut modern Mongols off from much of their past, to the detriment of their national identity. A few aged former monks were employed to translate Tibetan-language handbooks on herbs and traditional medicine. Government spokesmen described the monks of the Gandan Monastery as doing useful work.

Buddhism, furthermore played a role in Mongolia's foreign policy by linking Mongolia with the communist and the noncommunist states of East and Southeast Asia. Ulaanbaatar was the headquarters of the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace, which has held conferences for Buddhists from such countries as Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan; published a journal for international circulation; and maintained contacts with such groups as the Christian Peace Conference, the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization, and the Russian Orthodox Church. It sponsored the visits of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia in 1979 and 1982. The organization, headed by the abbot of the Gandan Monastery, advances the foreign policy goals of the Mongolian government, which are in accord with those of the Soviet Union.

Religious Survivals

Buddhism survives among the elderly, who pray and attend services at the Gandan Monastery; in the speech of the people, which is rich in Buddhist expressions and proverbs; and in the common practice of including statues or images of the Buddha on families' special shelves with photographs of relatives and other domestic memorabilia. Mongolian Buddhism, which restricted full participation in the ritual to monks and kept Tibetan as the language of ritual and sacred texts, was more vulnerable to persecution than a religion more widely dispersed among the populace would have been. Studies done among the Buryat Mongols of Siberia by Soviet ethnographers in the 1960s and the 1970s found that elimination of the complex and conceptually sophisticated culture of Tibetan Buddhism had led to a growth of the decentralized and flexible folk practice of shamanism. Similar survival or adaptation of folk religion in Mongolia would be possible, although Mongolians have published no comparable studies of religion at the local level. Approximately 4 percent of Mongolians, primarily those living in the southwest, are Muslims, as are many of their kin across the border in China. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the 1960 Constitution.


Mongolia - Health and Welfare


Health-Care Systems

Mongolia's government has made great efforts to provide modern medical care to the inhabitants. In the 1980s, medical care was free and was provided through a hierarchy of clinics and hospitals. In rural areas, the lowest level of the system was a medical station, staffed by a physician's assistant, serving people within a thirty- to forty-kilometer radius. Above this was a somon medical station, staffed by a physician, serving a forty- to sixty-kilometer radius; an inter-somon hospital, serving a seventy- to eighty-kilometer radius; and an aymag general hospital covering a 150- to 200-kilometer radius. The higher the level in the system, the more numerous the medical specialties and the more sophisticated the diagnostic equipment available. The lowest levels concentrated on acute care, public-health work, and screening and referring cases up the hierarchy.

As of 1985, Mongolia had approximately 4,600 physicians, 24.8 per 10,000 people. There were also about 8,500 nurses and 3,800 physician's assistants; many of the nurses and the physician's assistants specialized as midwives, although some medical personnel were trained in midwifery only. Medical care was provided by almost 1,200 clinics staffed by physician's assistants, 290 clinics staffed by physicians, and by 1986, 112 hospitals. The structure of medical specialties reflected both the needs of the young and rapidly growing population and the concentration of scarce resources on public health, control of epidemic diseases, and the health of the working population. The most common medical specialty was pediatrics, which accounted for 21 percent of all physicians in 1985. The next most common were general practitioners, 15 percent; obstetricians, 6 percent; public health specialists, 6 percent; and physicians specializing in the prevention and treatment of epidemic diseases, 6 percent. Government statistics listed only twenty-seven (0.5 percent) oncologists and no cardiologists; however, the existence of a large cancer research facility and the practice of bypass surgery techniques suggest a greater interest in these areas than the statistics indicate.

In spite of efforts to distribute medical facilities and specialists evenly, there was a marked concentration of physicians and hospitals in Ulaanbaatar and other major cities. In 1981 Ulaanbaatar had 49 percent of Mongolia's physicians and an average of 42.9 physicians per 10,000 people. The cities of Darhan and Erdenet had 21.7 and 18.8 physicians, respectively, per 10,000 people; low ratios of 9.5 physicians per 10,000 in Uvs Aymag and 10.2 per 10,000 in Hovsgol Aymag were also reported.

Mongolia cooperated closely with the Soviet Union in medical research and training. Soviet specialists held seminars in Mongolia and helped to build and to operate such special facilities as an oncology center and a 600-bed isolation hospital for infectious diseases in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia was an active member of Comecon's Commission on Cooperation in Public Health, and it participated in World Health Organization (WHO) projects on maternity and child health, environmental protection, and training of medical technicians and mid-level health-care personnel.

By 1981 Mongolia claimed to have eliminated smallpox, typhus, plague, poliomyelitis, and diphtheria, and to have reduced sharply the incidence of other infectious diseases. In the past, disease was spread through the use of contaminated drinking water and from such sources as lice, which were common among the herders, who seldom bathed or washed their clothing. Clean drinking water for the herders, who often shared water sources with their animals, continued to be a problem, but much effort was put into health education. The Mongolian Red Cross, an organization that cooperated with the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, focused on preventive medicine and health education. It sent mobile teams to factories and herding collectives to teach hygiene and sanitation and to hold special workshops on infant care and the health needs of the elderly. Although traditional Mongols were averse to bathing, their modern descendants patronized a network of spas. Following the Soviet and East European pattern, Mongolia established sanitoriums where workers and such deserving individuals as holders of the Order of Maternal Glory went to rest, to take the waters, and to follow a medically prescribed regimen of swimming, sunbathing, and moderate exercise. The Council of Mongolian Trade Unions operated a network of sanitoriums that used the country's many hot springs and mountain lakes. The network annually could accommodate 20 percent of the country's factory and office workers during the brief summer season. So popular were the spas that aymag authorities established their own sanitoriums to provide therapeutic holidays for collective herders.

Precautions Against AIDS

At the end of 1988, Mongolia had reported no cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1987 an AIDS research center was opened at the Institute of Hygiene and Virology, and its specialists were trained in laboratory analysis by WHO experts. About 16,000 people had been checked for the disease by December 1988, but no carriers had been found. All Mongolians who had been abroad for more than three months were required to be tested. This was considered necessary because Mongolia sends thousands of young people to study in other countries. Analysis of donor blood and blood products had begun by mid-1988, and special laboratories were being established in large hospitals. Foreign students coming to Mongolia were required to be tested for AIDS, either in Mongolia or abroad, and Mongolia accepted the results of tests performed in the United States.


Mongolia - Education


The School System

Education in Mongolia traditionally was controlled by the Buddhist monasteries and was limited to monks. Tibetan was the language of instruction, the canonical and liturgical language, and it was used at the lower levels of education. Higher-level education was available in the major monasteries, and often many years were required to complete formal degrees, which included training in logic and debate. With the exception of medicine, which involved an extensive pharmacopoeia and training in herbal medicines, higher education was esoteric and unworldly. Major monasteries supported four colleges: philosophy, doctrine, and protocol; medicine; mathematics, astrology, and divination; and demonology and demon suppression. In the early twentieth century, officials and wealthy families hired tutors for their children, and government offices operated informal apprenticeships that taught the intricacies of written records, standard forms, and accounting. Official Mongolian sources, which tended to depict the prerevolutionary period as one of total backwardness, probably underestimated the level of literacy, but it was undoubtedly low.

Secular education began soon after the collapse of Chinese authority in 1911. A Mongol-language school under Russian auspices opened in Yihe Huree in 1912; much of the teaching of the forty-seven pupils was done by Buryat Mongols from Siberia. In the same year, a military school with Russian instructors opened. By 1914 a school teaching Russian to Mongolian children was operating in the capital. Its graduates, in a pattern that was to become common, went to cities in Russia for further education. Perhaps in response to the challenge of the few secular schools, monasteries in the 1920s were running schools for boys who did not have to take monastic vows. Such schools used the Mongol language and the curriculums had a heavily religious content.

Education expanded slowly throughout the 1920s. As late as 1934, when 55 percent of all party members were illiterate, secular state schools enrolled only 2.7 percent of all children between the ages of eight and seventeen, while 13 percent of that age group were in monastic schools. Suppression of the monasteries in 1938 and 1939 closed the monastic schools, and the state schools expanded steadily throughout the 1940s and the 1950s. In 1941 the traditional Mongol script, based on the Uighur script, was replaced by Cyrillic. It took from 1941 to 1946-- sources differ on the date--to implement the change completely. Mongolian authorities announced that universal adult literacy had been achieved by 1968. A Russian-owned printing shop, opened in Yihe Huree in the early twentieth century, turned out Mongolian translations of Russian novels and political tracts; in 1915 it printed Mongolia's first newspaper, Niysleliyn Hureeniy Sonon Bichig (News of the Capital Huree).

In 1981 education consumed 20 percent of the state budget, and by 1985 27 percent (511,200) of the country's population was enrolled in educational institutions from primary through university levels. The education system, based on the Soviet model, had eight years of compulsory education and a ten-year school system, enrolling students between the ages of seven and seventeen. The first four years were primary education; the second four, were secondary. Some students left school after the eighth year, while the others went on to either two more years of general secondary education or to specialized vocational schools. Some remote settlements offered only four-year primary schools, after which students transferred to a central eight-year school. Many schools in rural areas were eight-year schools, called incomplete secondary schools. Full ten-year schools, complete secondary schools, were common in cities, and they represented the goal that all regions hoped to achieve. In 1988 about 40 percent of the graduates of general schools went on to vocational schools; 20 percent, to higher education; and the remainder joined the work force. Most rural schools had boarding facilities to serve the children of dispersed and nomadic herders; 77 percent of rural pupils in 1984 were boarders. From the lowest grades, efforts were made to link schooling with the world of work, and students routinely put in a few hours a week on useful work outside the school. Military training, including weapons instruction and outdoor exercises, began in the schools.

For students who had completed eight years of schooling, there were two types of career-oriented schools: vocational schools (sometimes called vocational/technical schools in Mongolian publications) and specialized secondary schools. The distinction between the two was not clear. Vocational schools appeared to train more highly skilled workers, such as machinists, heavy-equipment operators, and construction workers, providing a terminal education to students who did not excel in the classroom. The specialized secondary schools, which corresponded to the Soviet technicum provided two-year or three-year courses at the junior college level. They trained paraprofessionals and technicians, such as primary school teachers, medical technicians, or bookkeepers. Students with diplomas from specialized secondary schools could apply for admission to higher education. As more funds and more technically trained teachers became available, the number of vocational schools increased. In 1988 there were 43 vocational schools, which enrolled 30,000 students in 110 fields. Specialized secondary schools offered two-year or three-year courses, and students received room and board and a monthly stipend. During their stints of practical work in factories or other enterprises, they received the normal salary for their work. The reform of secondary education under way in the 1988-89 school year called for three-year vocational courses for students with eight years of general education. Students who graduated from complete tenyear courses could spend one year in vocational schools. The ninth-year and tenth-year classes in general education schools prepared students for college admission or for generalized whitecollar work.

In 1985 Mongolia had more than 900 general education schools, 40 vocational schools, 28 specialized secondary schools, 1 university, and 7 institutes. The general schools enrolled 435,900 students; vocational schools, 27,700; specialized secondary schools, 23,000; and higher education, 24,600. Women made up 63 percent of all students in higher education, and girls constituted 58 percent of students in specialized secondary schools. Women were 67 percent of all teachers in general schools, 50 percent of teachers in specialized secondary schools, and 33 percent of higher education faculty. In 1985 kindergartens, serving families in which both parents worked full time, enrolled 20 percent of the children who were three to seven years old.

Higher Education

Mongolian State University in Ulaanbaatar was founded in 1942 (as Choybalsan University) with three departments: education, medicine, and veterinary medicine. The faculty was Russian, as was the language of instruction. In 1983 the university's engineering institute and Russian-language teacher training institute became separate establishments, called the Polytechnic Institute and the Institute of Russian Language, respectively. The Polytechnic Institute, with 5,000 students, concentrated on engineering and mining. Mongolian State University, with about 4,000 students, taught pure sciences and mathematics, social science, economics, and philology. More than 90 percent of the faculty were Mongolian; teachers also came from the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, France, and Britain. Much instruction was in Russian, reflecting the lack of Mongol-language texts in advanced and specialized fields.

Besides Mongolian State University there were seven other institutions of higher learning: the Institute of Medicine, the Institute of Agriculture, the Institute of Economics, the State Pedological Institute, the Polytechnic Institute, the Institute of Russian Language, and the Institute of Physical Culture. In the summer, all students had a work semester, in which they helped with the harvest, formed "shock work" teams for construction projects, or went to work in the Soviet Union or another Comecon country. In early 1989, the educational authorities announced that third-year and fourth-year engineering students would be told which enterprise they would be assigned to after graduation, so that their training could be focused with practical ends in mind.

Study in the Soviet Union

Mongolia's educational system is supplemented by and crowned by study in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. In 1983 more than 10,000 Mongolians were studying in the Soviet Union as postgraduates at 10 academies, 191 institutions of higher learning, 101 specialized secondary schools, and 28 vocational schools. Each year 1,500 Mongolians were sent to Soviet vocational schools. Specialists of all sorts, from civil aviation pilots to urban planners to physicists, were trained in the Soviet Union. Party members at the mid-level and higher attended higher party schools in the Soviet Union. As it had since the early twentieth century, Russian served as the language of modernity and enlightenment, Mongolia's window on the wider world. So important was command of Russian that, in 1982, the People's Great Hural called for the study of Russian to begin in kindergarten.

Mongolian Science

Following the organizational pattern of Soviet science, Mongolia separated research, which was pursued in specialized research institutes, from the teaching of science in universities. The Mongolian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1961, had fourteen research institutes in 1982. Scientific work in Mongolia reflected the country's particular geological and climatic conditions, and it involved a good deal of surveying, mapping, and cataloging of minerals, soils, plants, and local microclimates. Projects with clear economic applications were favored. The Institute of Geography and Permafrost compiled maps of permafrost, which covers more than half the country, and devised methods of construction and mining in permafrost areas. Geological mapping and prospecting for useful minerals had a high priority. The country's climate and location make it a good place for astronomical observatories and for studies of seismicity and tectonic processes. Mongolian physicists were concentrating on the development of solar energy and photovoltaic generation of electricity to serve the dispersed and mobile herders and to help stem the flow of the population to the cities. The expansion of scientific education and of the number of scientists contributed to concern over the environmental consequences of the singleminded focus on short-term economic growth that had characterized the period from the 1960s through the late 1980s.

Science, Progress, and Tradition

By the end of the twentieth century, Mongolia's achievements in economic development and popular education will have produced deep, and probably irreversible, changes in the structure of society. After several decades of devotion to increasing the indices of economic growth and brooking no disagreement with its policies or methods, the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, responding in part to trends toward political reform in the Soviet Union, was encouraging greater public discussion and criticism of past practices. Mongolian leaders seemed ready to step back and to consider the price of progress and to discuss the future course of the country's development. As indicated by the 1989 moves to reevaluate the prerevolutionary past and its heroes, the reconciliation of progress with tradition and national identity is likely to be a major theme of discussion in the 1990s.


Mongolia - The Economy


ON THE EVE OF the 1921 revolution, Mongolia had an underdeveloped, stagnant economy based on nomadic animal husbandry. Farming and industry were almost nonexistent; transportation and communications were primitive; banking, services, and trade were almost exclusively in the hands of foreigners. Most of the people were either illiterate nomadic herders or monks. Property in the form of livestock was owned primarily by aristocrats and monasteries; ownership of the remaining sectors of the economy was dominated by foreigners. Mongolia's new rulers thus were faced with a daunting task in building a modern, socialist economy.

Mongolia's economic development under communist control can be divided into three periods: 1921-1939; 1940-1960; and 1961 to the present. During the first period, which the Mongolian government called the stage of "general democratic transformation," the economy remained primarily agrarian and underdeveloped. After an abortive attempt to collectivize herders, or arads, livestock raising remained in private hands. The state began to develop industry based on processing of animal husbandry products and crop raising on state farms. Transportation, communications, domestic and foreign trade, and banking and finance were nationalized with Soviet assistance; they were placed under the control of Mongolian state and cooperative organizations or Mongolian-Soviet joint-stock companies. Ulaanbaatar became the nation's industrial center.

During the second period, called the "construction of the foundations of socialism," agriculture was collectivized, and industry was diversified into mining, timber processing, and consumer goods production. Central planning of the economy began in 1931 with an abortive five-year pland and with annual plans in 1941; five-year plans began a new with the First Five-Year Plan (1948-52). Soviet aid increased, financing the construction of the trans-Mongolia railroad--the Ulaanbaatar Railroad--and various industrial projects. China also provided assistance, primarily in the form of labor for infrastructure projects. Although industrial development still was concentrated in Ulaanbaatar, economic decentralization began with the completion of the Ulaanbaatar Railroad and the establishment of food processing plants in aymag centers.

The third stage, which the government called the "completion of the construction of the material and technical basis of socialism," saw further industrialization and agricultural growth, aided largely by Mongolia's joining the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) in 1962. Soviet and East European financial and technical assistance in the forms of credits, advisers, and joint ventures enabled Mongolia to modernize and to diversify industry, particularly in mining. New industrial centers were built in Baga Nuur, Choybalsan, Darhan, and Erdenet, and industrial output rose significantly. Although animal husbandry was stagnant, crop production increased dramatically with the development of virgin lands by state farms. Foreign trade with Comecon nations grew substantially. Transportation and communications systems were improved, linking population and industrial centers and extending to more remote rural areas. In the late 1980s, Mongolia had developed into an agricultural-industrial economy, but the inefficiencies of a centrally planned and managed economy and the example of perestroika in the Soviet Union led Mongolian leaders to undertake a reform program to develop the economy further.

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Mongolia - Socialist Framework of the Economy


Role of the Government

In the late 1980s, Mongolia had a planned economy based on socialist ownership of the means of production. According to the Mongolian Constitution, socialist ownership has two forms: state ownership (of land and natural resources, economic facilities and infrastructure; and the property of all state organizations, enterprises, and institutions) and cooperative ownership (property of agricultural associations and other types of cooperatives). Private ownership was negligible in all sectors of the economy, except animal husbandry, but economic reforms adopted since 1986 gave greater leeway for individual and cooperative enterprises. The economy was directed by a single state national economic plan, which, when confirmed by the legislature, the People's Great Hural, had the force of law. In accordance with the plan, the state annually drew up a state budget, which was confirmed and published in the form of a law. The Council of Ministers constitutionally was charged with planning the national economy; implementing the national economic plan and the state and local budgets; directing financial and credit policy; exercising a foreign trade monopoly; establishing and directing the activities of ministries and other state institutions concerned with economic construction; defending socialist production; and strengthening socialist ownership.

In December 1987 and January 1988, the top-level state economic organizations under the Council of Ministers were reorganized. The State Planning and Economic Committee was formed out of the former State Planning Commission, the State Labor and Social Welfare Committee, the State Prices and Standards Committee, and the Central Statistical Board. New economic entities were the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry; the Ministry of Environmental Protection; the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply; the Ministry of Light Industry; and the Ministry of Power, Mining Industry, and Geology. Unaffected by the reorganization were the Ministry of Social Economy and Services, the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport, the State Construction Committee, and the State Bank of the Mongolian People's Republic. Local government organizations--the executive committees of hurals--implemented economic plans and budgets, directed economic construction, and supervised the work of economic and cooperative organizations at their level.


Planning in communist-run Mongolia had an inauspicious start with the Five-Year Plan for 1931-35, which set unrealistically high targets for production and called for the collectivization of agricultural production. This plan was abandoned in 1932 in the face of widespread resistance to collectivization and the failure to meet production goals. Annual planning was introduced in 1941 in an effort to deal with wartime shortages. Five-year plans were reintroduced in 1948 with the First Plan. The Second Five-Year Plan (1953-57) was followed by the Three-Year Plan (1958-60). Regular five-year plans were resumed with the Third Five-Year Plan (1961-65), and they have continued to be used since then.

In the late 1980s, economic planning in Mongolia included long-term, five-year, and annual plans that operated on multiple levels. Planning originated with the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, which produced the guidelines for economic and social development for the five-year period corresponding to the party's congress. Based on these guidelines, the Standing Commission on Economic-Budget Affairs of the People's Great Hural drafted the five-year national and annual economic plans, which were approved by the People's Great Hural and became law. The Council of Ministers directed and implemented national planning through the State Planning and Economic Committee and through the Ministry of Finance. Planning for different sectors of the economy was conducted by relevant ministries and state committees; local plans were drawn up by local governmental organizations.

Mongolia's five-year plans have been coordinated with those of the Soviet Union since 1961 and with Comecon multilateral five-year plans since 1976. Annual plan coordination with the Soviet Union, which is made official in signed protocols, began in 1971. Mongolian planners were trained by Soviet planners and cooperated with them in drafting long-term plans, such as the General Scheme for the Development and Location of the Mongolian People's Republic Productive Forces up to 1990, produced in the late 1970s; and the Longterm Program for the Development of Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation Between the Mongolian People' Republic and the USSR for the Period up to 2000, signed in 1985.

National economic plans included general development goals as well as specific targets and quotas for agriculture, capital construction and investment, domestic and foreign trade, industry, labor resources and wages, retail sales and services, telecommunications, and transportation. The plans also focused on such social development goals and targets as improved living standards, population increase, cultural development, and scientific and technical development.


The Ministry of Finance prepared annual national budgets and provided guidance to the formulation of local budgets. The national budget included the budget of the central government, the budgets of aymag and city governments, and the budget of the national social insurance fund. The national budget grew with the expansion of the economy: In 1940 revenues were 123.9 million tugriks and expenditures, 122.1 million tugriks; in 1985 revenues were 5,743 million tugriks and expenditures, 5,692.5 million tugriks. The structure of the national budget changed between 1940 and 1985. In 1940 some 34.6 percent of revenues came from the turnover tax (a value added tax on each transaction), 7.8 percent from deductions from profits, 16.7 percent from taxes on the population, and 40.9 percent from other kinds of income. In 1985 nearly 63 percent of revenues came from the turnover tax, 29.9 percent from deductions from profits, 3.5 percent from deductions from the social insurance fund, 0.7 percent from taxes on the population, and 3.2 percent from other types of income. In 1940 some 21.9 percent of expenditures went to develop the national economy; 19.7 percent to social and cultural programs; and 58.4 percent to defense, state administration, reserves, and other expenses. In 1985 about 42.6 percent of expenditures went to developing the national economy; 38.7 percent to social and cultural programs; and 18.7 percent to defense, state administration, reserves, and other expenses. The proposed 1989 budget had revenues and expenditures of 6.97 billion tugriks. Proposed expenditures for 1989 included 1.8 billion tugriks for developing agriculture, 2.1 billion for industry, and 1.6 billion for capital investment. Of the 2.76 billion tugriks proposed for social and cultural development, 1.16 billion was to go for education; 597.5 million for health, physical culture, and sports; 259.7 million for science, culture, and art; and 747.4 million for the social insurance fund. Subsidies to maintain stable retail prices totaled 213 million tugriks. Local budgets, through which 70 percent of social and cultural expenditures were funneled, totaled 3.46 billion tugriks.

Structure of the Economy

Socialist development transformed Mongolia from a predominantly agrarian, nomadic economy in 1921 into a developing, agricultural-industrial economy in the late 1980s. In 1985 a reported 18.3 percent of produced national income was derived from agriculture, 32.4 percent from industry, 4.9 percent from construction, 11.2 percent from transportation and communications, 31.6 percent from domestic trade and services, and 1.6 percent from other sectors. Sixty percent of disposable national income went to consumption, and 40 percent went to accumulation. Fixed assets totaled about 38.9 billion tugriks, of which 66.5 percent were productive fixed assets, including livestock, and 33.5 percent were nonproductive. Industry and construction accounted for 38.1 percent of the productive fixed assets; agriculture, 16 percent; transportation and communications, 9 percent; and domestic trade and services, 3.4 percent. Investment totaled 4.624 billion tugriks, 97.9 percent of which went to the state sector, and 2.1 percent, to the cooperative sector. During the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1981-85), 68.9 percent of investments went into the productive sectors of the economy, and 31.1 percent, into nonproductive sectors. Industry and construction received 44.7 percent of investment during this period; agriculture, 13.9 percent; transportation and communications, 9.0 percent; and domestic trade and services, 1.3 percent. The Eighth Five-Year Plan (1986-90) called for increasing produced national income by 26 to 29 percent and for raising investment by 24 to 26 percent, of which 70 percent was to go to developing material production.

In the late 1980s, Mongolia was divided into three economic regions. The western region (Bayan-Olgiy, Hovd, Uvs, Dzavhan, and Govi-Altay aymags), with 21 percent of the nation's population, was predominantly agricultural. The western region had 32 percent of Mongolia's livestock and produced about 30 percent of its wool and meat. Local industry was engaged in processing of animal husbandry products, timber, minerals, and building materials. Transportation was predominantly by motor vehicles.

The central economic region (Arhangay, Bayanhongor, Bulgan, Darhan, Dornogovi, Dundgovi, Hovsgol, Omnogovi, Ovorhangay, Selenge, Tov, and Ulaanbaatar aymags) was the dominant producer. The region had 70 percent of Mongolia's population (including the cities of Baga Nuur, Darhan, Erdenet, and Ulaanbaatar); 55 percent of its territory; 75 percent of its arable land; 90 percent of surveyed coal deposits; and 100 percent of copper, molybdenum, iron ore, and phosphate deposits. This region accounted for 80 percent of gross industrial production, 90 percent of light industrial production, and 80 percent of food industry production, 75 percent of coal production, and 100 percent of copper-molybdenum, iron ore, and phosphate mining. It also accounted for 60 percent of gross agricultural production, 60 percent of milk production, 50 percent of meat production, and 80 percent of grain, potato, and vegetable production.

The eastern economic region (Dornod, Hentiy, and Suhbaatar aymags) had 9 percent of Mongolia's population, 20 percent of the arable land, and 15 percent of the livestock. The region contributed 15 percent of gross meat production and 13 percent of wool production. Grain production on large state farms hewed out of virgin lands contributed 90 percent of the region's agricultural output. The major industrial center was Choybalsan, which produced 50 percent of regional gross industrial output.

Economic Reforms

In the late 1980s, dissatisfaction with the economic stagnation of the last years of the former regime of Yumjaagiyn Tsedenbal and the influence of the Soviet perestroika led Mongolia to launch its own program of economic reforms. This program had five goals: acceleration of development; application of science and technology to production; reform of management and planning; greater independence of enterprises; and a balance of individual, collective, and societal interests. Acceleration of development in general was to result from the attainment of the other four goals. Scientific research was being redirected to better serve economic development, with electronics, automation, biotechnology, and the creation of materials becoming the priority areas of research and cooperation with Comecon countries.

Reform of management and planning began in 1986 with the first of several rounds of reorganization of governmental bodies dealing with the economy. These changes rationalized and streamlined state economic organizations; reduced the number of administrative positions by 3,000; and saved 20 million tugriks between 1986 and 1988. The role of the central planning bodies was to be reduced by limiting the duties of the State Planning and Economic Committee to overseeing general capital-investment policy. The indicators specified in the five-year and the annual national economic plans also were to be decreased. State committees and ministries, rather than the State Planning and Economic Committee, were to decide upon machinery and equipment purchases. Decentralization of economic management also was to extend to aymag and city administrations and enterprises. These bodies were given greater autonomy in construction and production, and they also were held financially responsible for profits and losses.

Efforts to devolve economic decision making to the enterprise level began in 1986, when more than 100 enterprises began experimenting with financial autonomy (before then, enterprises operating with a deficit had been subsidized by the state). Enterprises were accountable for their own losses, and they were responsible for fulfilling sales contracts and export orders. The draft law on state enterprises, presented to the People's Great Hural in December 1988, was to extend greater independence in economic matters to all state enterprises and to lead to an economy that combined planning and market mechanisms.

Under provisions of the draft law, state enterprises were to be authorized to make their own annual and five-year plans and to negotiate with state and local authorities to pay taxes based on long-term quotas. State enterprises also were to sell output exceeding state orders and unused assets; to establish their own, or to cooperate with existing, scientific organizations to solve scientific and technical problems; to be financially responsible for losses, and to pay back bank loans; to set prices independently; to establish wage rates based on enterprise profitability; to purchase materials and goods from individuals, collectives, state distribution organizations, and wholesale trade enterprises; to establish direct ties with foreign economic organizations; to manage their own foreign currency; and to conduct foreign trade.

The draft law stipulated that enterprises were to be divided into two categories. National enterprises were to be the responsibility of ministries, state committees, and departments; local enterprises were to be supervised by executive committees of aymag and city administrations or members of local hurals. State and local bodies were not to interfere in the day-to-day decision making of enterprises, but they were responsible for ensuring that enterprises obeyed the law and that they did not suppress the interests of society. Enterprises were allowed to form three kinds of associations: production associations, scientific production associations, and enterprise associations to coordinate economic affairs. Finally, the draft law said that the state was the owner of state enterprises and that the labor collective was the lawful manager of a state enterprise. The labor collective was to elect a labor collective council, which was to ensure that the enterprise director (who acted on behalf of the collective and the state) met the interests of the collective in managing the enterprise. It was unclear how the relationship between the enterprise director and the labor collective would work out in practice.

Balancing the interests of society, the collective, and the individual entailed providing scope for individual and collective initiative to increase production and efficiency. Enlarging the scope for individual initiative had three aspects: linking wages to enterprise profitability, permitting output exceeding state plans to be sold for profit, and providing employment opportunities outside the state and the cooperative sectors. In 1988 wage scales dependent on enterprise revenues were introduced to the light and food industries and to the domestic trade sector, resulting in a reduction in materials utilized by those sectors. Beginning in late 1986, state farms and negdels (agricultural stations) were eligible for state payments for output exceeding the annual average growth rate for the previous five-year plan. Individual agricultural cooperative members and workers were allowed increasing numbers of privately held livestock. The draft law also stipulated that enterprises could sell production exceeding plan targets for their own profit. In 1987 the government began encouraging the formation of voluntary labor associations, auxiliary farms, and sideline production attached to enterprises, schools, and so forth to increase production of foodstuffs and consumer goods, to engage in primary processing of agricultural goods, and to provide services. The authorities permitted the formation of individual and family-based cooperatives; by 1988 there were 480 such cooperatives. Contracting among state farms and both agricultural cooperatives and families was permitted and was increasing in the late 1980s.


Mongolia - Natural Resources


Mongolia's natural resources include forests, fish, and a variety of minerals. In the late 1980s, Mongolia had 15 million hectares of forests covering 9.6 percent of the nation. Major forested areas were approximately 73 percent Siberian larch, 11 percent cedar, and 6.5 percent pine. Timber stocks were estimated to be 1.3 billion cubic meters. Mongolia's northern rivers and lakes contained more than 50 native species of fish; however, this resource barely was exploited because fish is not popular among Mongolians.

The country's richest resources are minerals--coal, copper, fluorite, gold, iron ore, lead, molybdenum, oil, phosphates, tin, uranium, and wolfram. Coal deposits in the mid-1980s were located at Aduun Chuluu (reserves of 37 million tons), Baga Nuur (reserves of 1 billion tons), Nalayh (reserves of 73 million tons), Sharin Gol (reserves of 69 billion tons), and Tavan Tolgoy (reserves of 9.5 billion tons). Copper and molybdenum were found at Erdenetiyn-ovoo and at Tsagaan Subarga in Dornogovi Aymag. Fluorite deposits were located at Burentsogt in Suhbaatar Aymag, at Berh and Bor Ondor in Hentiy Aymag, and at Har-Ayrag in Dornogovi Aymag. Northern Mongolia, particularly Tov and Selenge aymags, had widespread gold deposits. These sites included Tavan Tolgoy, Erhet, and Bugant; the Yoroo Gol and the Bayan Gol; and Narantolgoy. Other gold deposits were found at Noyon Uul in Hentiy Aymag and at Altan Uul in Omnogovi Aymag. Iron ore occurred at Bayan Gol, at Bayan Uul in Hovsgol Aymag, at Bayasgalant in Dundgovi Aymag, and at Yoroo in Selenge Aymag. Lead deposits were found at Jargalthaan in Hentiy Aymag and at Bordzongiyn Govi in Omnogovi Aymag. A major limestone deposit was discovered at Hotol in Bulgan Aymag. Mongolia exploited oil deposits at Dzuunbayan and Tsagaan Els in Dornogovi Aymag, and at Tamsagbulag in Dornod Aymag in the 1950s and the 1960s. Reports on the exploitation of oil deposits ceased after 1968. Phosphates were found at Urandosh in Hovsgol Aymag. Prospecting teams have discovered extensive veins of potash mica running through 350 kilometers of the Altai Mountains. Tin was located at Nomgon in Omnogovi Aymag and at Yeguudzer in Suhbaatar Aymag. Wolfram deposits were exploited at Burentsogt, Chonogol, Ihhayrhan, Salaa, and Hanhohiy in Tov and Suhbaatar aymags. Uranium has been discovered in Mongolia, but there were no reports of deposits that were being tapped in the 1980s.

Mongolia has cooperated extensively with Comecon countries in surveying the country's natural resources. Joint geological prospecting teams have located more than 500 mineral deposits in Mongolia. The Erdenetiyn-ovoo copper-molybdenum deposit, for example, was discovered with Soviet and Czechoslovak assistance. The Soviet Union has been the most active of the Comecon nations in joint exploration of Mongolia's mineral resources. The Joint Mongolian-Soviet Geological Expedition has discovered previously unknown minerals, has published monographs and metallogenic maps; and has focused its surveying efforts on searching for nonferrous, rare, and precious metals, fluorite, phosphates, building materials, and coal. Geological prospecting is thus conducted to assist Mongolian economic development by extending mining industries and by exploiting new mineral deposits.


Mongolia - Agriculture


In the late 1980s, agriculture was a small but critical sector of the Mongolian economy. In 1985 agriculture accounted for only 18.3 percent of national income and 33.8 percent of the labor force. Nevertheless, agriculture remained economically important because much of Mongolia's industry processed agricultural products--foodstuffs, timber, and animal products, such as skins and hides--for domestic consumption and for export. In 1986 agriculture supplied nearly 60 percent of Mongolia's exports.

Mongolian agriculture developed slowly. An abortive attempt to collectivize all arads occurred in the early 1930s; efforts to encourage voluntary cooperatives and arad producers' associations followed. In the 1930s, the government also began developing state farms, and by 1940 there were ten state farms and ninety-one agricultural cooperatives. In 1937 the Soviet Union provided ten hay-making machine stations to prepare fodder for livestock. In 1940 agriculture represented 61 percent of national income, and it employed approximately 90 percent of the labor force.

In the 1950s, agriculture began to adopt its present structure and modern techniques, based in part on material and technical assistance from the Soviet Union and East European countries. In the 1950s, the hay-making machine stations were reorganized as livestock machine stations. In 1955 negdels replaced the arad producers' associations. By 1959 the state had accomplished the collectivization of agriculture. In ten years, agricultural cooperatives had more than doubled, from 139 in 1950 to 354 by 1960. Ownership of livestock and sown areas changed dramatically as a result of collectivization. In 1950, according to Mongolian government statistics, state farms and other state organizations owned approximately 0.9 percent of livestock and 37.8 percent of sown areas; negdels had about 0.5 percent of livestock and no sown lands; and private owners some held 98.3 percent of livestock and 62.2 percent of sown areas. In 1960 state farms and other state organizations owned 2.7 percent of livestock; negdels, 73.8 percent; and individual negdel members, 23.5 percent. The state sector owned 77.5 percent of sown lands, and the cooperative sector the remainder.

By 1960 agriculture's share of national income had fallen to 22.9 percent, but agriculture still employed 60.8 percent of the work force. After 1960 the number of state farms increased, state fodder supply farms were established, the number of negdels decreased through consolidation, and interagricultural cooperative associations were organized to facilitate negdel specialization and cooperation. Mongolia also began receiving large-scale agricultural assistance from the Soviet Union and other East European countries after Mongolia's 1962 entry into Comecon. The Soviet Union, for example, assisted in establishing and equipping several new state farms, and Hungary helped with irrigation. In 1967 the Third Congress of Agricultural Association Members founded the Union of Agricultural Associations to supervise negdels and to represent their interests to the government and to other cooperative and social organizations. The union elected a central council, the chairman of which was, ex officio, the minister of agriculture; it also adopted a Model Charter to govern members' rights and obligations. In 1969 the state handed over the livestock machine stations to the negdels.

Negdels, which concentrated on livestock production, were organized into brigad (brigades) and then into suuri (bases), composed of several households. Each suuri had its own equipment and production tasks. Negdels adopted the Soviet system of herding, in which arad households lived in permanent settlements rather than traveling with their herds, as in the pastoral tradition. In 1985 the average negdel had 61,500 head of livestock, 438,500 hectares of land--of which 1,200 hectares was plowable land, 43 tractors, 2 grain harvesters, and 18 motor vehicles; it harvested 500 tons of grain. Individual negdel members were permitted to own livestock. In mountain steppe pasture areas, ten head of livestock per person, up to fifty head per household, were allowed. In desert regions, fifteen head per person, up to seventy-five head per household, were permitted. Private plots also were allowed for negdel farmers.

State farms, compared with negdels, had more capital invested, were more highly mechanized, and generally were located in the most productive regions, or close to major mining and industrial complexes. State farms engaged primarily in crop production. In 1985 there were 52 state farms, 17 fodder supply farms, and 255 negdels. In 1985 the average state farm employed 500 workers; owned 26,200 head of livestock, 178,600 hectares of land--of which 15,400 hectares was plowable land, 265 tractors, 36 grain harvesters, and 40 motor vehicles; it harvested 12,100 tons of grain.

In the late 1980s, several changes in governmental organization occurred to facilitate agricultural development. In October 1986, the Ministry of Agriculture absorbed the Ministry of Water Economy, which had controlled irrigation. In December 1987, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking, and the Ministry of Food and Light Industries were abolished and two new ministries--the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection--were established. Among the functions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry were the further coordination of agriculture and of industrial food processing to boost the food supply, and the development on state farms of agro-industrial complexes, which had processing plants for foodstuffs. The Sharin Gol state farm, for example, grew fruits and vegetables, which then were processed in the state farm's factories to produce dried fruit, fruit juices, fruit and vegetable preserves, and pickled vegetables. The Ministry of Environmental Protection incorporated the Forestry and Hunting Economy Section of the former Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking and the State Land and Water Utilization and Protection Service of the former Ministry of Agriculture.

Crop Production

Since its inception, the Mongolian People's Republic has devoted considerable resources to developing crop production in what was a predominantly nomadic, pastoral economy. Mongols traditionally disdained the raising of crops, which was conducted for the most part by Chinese farmers. Early efforts to force arads to become farmers failed, and the government turned to the creation of state farms to promote crop production. By 1941 when the state had established ten state farms, Mongolia had 26,600 hectares of sown land. State farms, however, accounted for only 29.6 percent of the planted areas.

After World War II, Mongolia intensified efforts to expand crop production by establishing more state farms, by reclaiming virgin lands for crop raising, by mechanizing farm operations, and by developing irrigation systems for farmlands. When Mongolia began to report statistics on arable land in 1960, there were 532,000 hectares of arable land, and sown crops covered 265,000 hectares of the 477,000 hectares of plow land. Mongolia's 25 state farms accounted for 77.5 percent of sown areas, and cooperatives, for 22.5 percent. In 1985 when 52 state farms and 17 fodder supply farms existed, there were about 1.2 million hectares of arable land, and sown crops covered 789,600 hectares of the approximately 1 million hectares of plow land. The state sector accounted for 80.6 percent of sown areas, and cooperatives, for 19.4 percent. Development of virgin lands by state farms was responsible for most of the expansion of arable land and sown areas. Land reclamation started in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, when 530,000 hectares were developed, and it continued throughout each five-year plan. During the Seventh Plan, 250,000 hectares were assimilated, and the Eighth Plan called for an additional 120,000 to 130,000 hectares to be reclaimed.

Mechanization of farm operations commenced on a large scale in the 1950s with Soviet assistance. The Soviet Union provided most agricultural machines, as well as advice and expertise in mechanization. State farms were more highly mechanized than cooperatives. For example, in 1985, 100 percent of potato planting and 84 percent of potato harvesting were mechanized on state farms, compared with 85 percent and 35 percent, respectively, in negdels. Beginning in the 1960s, state farms also pioneered the development of irrigation systems for crops. By 1985 Mongolia had 85,200 hectares of available irrigated land, of which 81,600 hectares actually were irrigated.

Crop production initially concentrated on raising cereals; in 1941 cereals covered 95.1 percent of sown areas, while 3.4 percent was devoted to potatoes and 1.5 percent to vegetables. Cultivation of fodder crops began in the 1950s. In 1985 cereals covered 80.6 percent of sown areas, fodder crops 17.7 percent, potatoes 1.3 percent, and vegetables 0.4 percent. Mongolia's staple crops were wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, vegetables, hay, and silage crops. Since 1960 agricultural performance--as measured by gross output, per capita output, and crop yields--was uneven. Although sown acreage expanded dramatically between 1960 and 1980, output and crop yields remained stagnant and, in some cases, fell because of natural disasters and poor management. In addition to the staple crops mentioned, Mongolia also produced small quantities of oil-yielding crops, such as sunflower and rape, and fruits and vegetables, such as sea buckthorn, apples, European black currants, watermelons, muskmelons, onions, and garlic. Small amounts of alfalfa, soybean, millet, and peas also were grown to provide protein fodder.

The Eighth Plan called for increasing the average annual gross harvest of cereals to between 780,000 and 800,000 tons; potatoes to between 150,000 and 160,000 tons; vegetables to between 50,000 and 80,000 tons; silage crops to between 280,000 and 300,000 tons; and annual and perennial fodder crops to between 330,000 and 360,000 tons. Emphasis was placed on raising crop production and quality by increasing mechanization; improving and expanding acreage; raising crop yields; expanding irrigation; selecting cereal varieties better adapted to natural climatic conditions and better locations for cereal cultivation; applying greater volumes of organic and mineral fertilizers; building more storage facilities; reducing losses because of pests, weeds, and plant diseases; and preventing soil erosion. Emphasis also was put on improving management of crop production on state farms and negdels as well as of procurement, transport, processing, and storage of agricultural products.

Animal Husbandry

From prerevolutionary times until well into the 1970s, animal husbandry was the mainstay of the Mongolian economy. In the traditional economy, livestock provided foodstuffs and clothing; after the 1921 revolution, livestock supplied foodstuffs and raw materials for industries and for export. Mongolia had 9.6 million head of livestock in 1918 and 13.8 million head in 1924; arad ownership was estimated to be 50 to 80 percent of all livestock, and monastic and aristocratic ownership to be 50 to 20 percent. Policies designed to force collectivization in the early 1930s met with arad resistance, including the slaughter of their own animals. Reversal of these policies led to a growth in livestock numbers, which peaked in 1941 at 27.5 million head. World War II brought new commitments to provide food and raw materials for the Soviet war effort. With the levy of taxes in kind, livestock numbers fell to about 20 million in 1945, and they have hovered between 20 million and 24 million head since then. Collectivization and advances in veterinary science have failed to boost livestock production significantly since the late 1940s. In 1940 animal husbandry produced 99.6 percent of gross agricultural output. The share of animal husbandry in gross agricultural output declined after World War II, to 71.8 percent in 1960, 81.6 percent in 1970, 79.5 percent in 1980, and 70 percent in 1985. The rise in crop production since 1940 has accounted for animal husbandry's decline in gross agricultural output.

Nevertheless, in the late 1980s, animal husbandry continued to be an important component of the national economy, supplying foodstuffs and raw materials for domestic consumption, for processing by industry, and for export. In 1985 there were 22,485,500 head of livestock, of which 58.9 percent were sheep; 19.1 percent, goats; 10.7 percent, cattle; 8.8 percent, horses; and 2.5 percent, camels. In addition, pigs, poultry, and bees were raised. In 1985 there were 56,100 pigs and 271,300 head of poultry; no figures were available on apiculture. Livestock products included meat and fat from camels, cattle, chickens, horses, goats, pigs and sheep; eggs; honey; milk; wool from camels, cattle, goats, and sheep; and hides and skins from camels, cattle, goats, horses, and sheep. In 1986 exports of livestock products included 15,500 tons of wool, 121,000 large hides, 1,256,000 small hides, and 44,100 tons of meat and meat products.

In the late 1980s, differences existed in ownership and productivity of livestock among state farms, agricultural cooperatives, and individual cooperative members. For example, in 1985 agricultural cooperatives owned 70.1 percent of the "five animals"--camels, cattle, goats, horses, and sheep; state farms, 6 percent, other state organizations, 1.7 percent; and individual cooperative members, 22.2 percent. State farms raised 81.4 percent of all poultry; other state organizations, 3.3 percent; cooperatives, 12.9 percent; and individual cooperative members, 2.4 percent. State farms accounted for 19.1 percent of pig raising; other state organizations, for 34.2 percent; agricultural cooperatives, for 12.5 percent; and individual cooperative members, for 34.2 percent. Survival rates of young livestock were higher in the cooperatives than on state farms; however, state farms produced higher yields of milk and wool. Fodder for livestock in the agricultural cooperatives was supplemented by production on state fodder supply farms and on state farms, which had higher output and yields.

Despite its economic importance, in the late 1980s animal husbandry faced many problems: labor shortages, stagnant production and yields, inclement weather, poor management, diseases, and the necessity to use breeding stock to meet high export quotas. The Eighth Plan attempted to address some of these problems. To alleviate labor shortages, the plan called for higher income, increased mechanization, and improved working and cultural conditions in rural areas to retain animal husbandry workers, particularly those with technical training. Measures to raise productivity included increased mechanization; improved breeding techniques to boost meat, milk, and wool yields and to cut losses from barrenness and miscarriages; and strengthened veterinary services to reduce illness. Additional livestock facilities were to be built to provide shelter from harsh winter weather and to fatten livestock. More efficient use of fodder was sought through expanding production; improving varieties; and decreasing losses in procurement, shipping, processing, and storage. Pastureland was to be improved by expanding irrigation and by combating pests.

Overcoming poor management was more difficult. Local party, state, and cooperative organizations were admonished to manage animal husbandry more efficiently, and cooperative members were requested to care for collectively owned livestock as if it were their own. In addition, more concrete measures to improve the management and the productivity of animal husbandry were adopted in the late 1980s. The individual livestock holdings of workers, employees, and citizens were increased to eight head per household in major towns, sixteen head in smaller towns, and twenty-five head in rural areas; households were allowed to dispose of surplus produce through the cooperative trade network and through the state procurement system. Auxiliary farms run by factories, offices, and schools were established to raise additional pigs, poultry, and rabbits, as well as to grow some vegetables. Family contracts concluded on a voluntary basis with cooperatives or with state farms were reported by the government to increase high-quality output, to lower production expenses, and to enhance production efficiency.


Mongolia's vast forests (15 million hectares) are exploited for timber, hunting, and fur-bearing animals. In 1984 a Mongolian source stated that the forestry sector accounted for about onesixth of gross national product (GNP). Until December 1987, exploitation of these resources was supervised by the Forestry and Hunting Economy Section of the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking. In that month this section was integrated into the new Ministry of Environmental Protection. The woodworking component of the former ministry presumably became part of the new Ministry of Light Industry. The Ministry of Environmental Protection's assumption of control of forest resources reflected the government's concern over environmental degradation resulting from indiscriminate deforestation. Forestry enterprises reafforested only 5,000 hectares of the 20,000 hectares felled annually. In addition, fires engulfed 1 million hectares of forest between 1980 and 1986. Mongolia's shrinking forests lowered water levels in many tributaries of the Selenge and Orhon rivers, hurting soil conservation and creating water shortages in Ulaanbaatar.

Timber enterprises and their downstream industries made a sizable contribution to the Mongolian economy, accounting for 10 percent of gross industrial output in 1985. Approximately 2.5 million cubic meters of timber were cut annually. Fuel wood accounted for about 55 percent of the timber cut, and the remainder was processed by the woodworking industry. In 1986 Mongolia produced 627,000 cubic meters of sawn timber, of which 121,000 cubic meters was exported. Lumber also was exported; lumber exports declined dramatically from 104,000 cubic meters in 1984 to 85,700 cubic meters in 1985 and to 39,000 cubic meters in 1986.

Mongolia's forests and steppes abounded with animals that were hunted for their fur, meat, and other products in the late 1980s. Fur-bearing animals included marmots, muskrats, squirrels, foxes, korsak (steppe foxes), and wolves, which were hunted, and such animals as deer, sable, and ermine, which were raised on state animal farms. Animal pelts were exported in large numbers. In 1985 Mongolia exported more than 1 million small hides, which included some of the 763,400 marmot pelts, 23,800 squirrel skins, 3,700 wolf skins, and other furs. Marmot also was hunted for its fat, which was processed industrially. Mongolian gazelles were hunted for their meat, and red deer, for their antler velvet. Organized hunting of wild sheep was a foreign tourist attraction.


Mongolia's lakes and rivers teem with freshwater fish. Mongolia has developed a small-scale fishing industry, to export canned fish. Little information was available on the types and the quantities of fish processed for export, but in 1986, the total fish catch was 400 metric tons in live weight.


Mongolia - Industry


In 1924 Mongolian industry was limited to the Nalayh coal mine, an electric power plant in Ulaanbaatar, and various handicrafts. Gross industrial output (measured in constant 1967 prices), was 300,000 tugriks. Industry developed very slowly in the first two decades of the Mongolian People's Republic, primarily because Mongolia's benefactor, the Soviet Union, provided few resources to invest in industrialization. With Soviet advice, however, Mongolia adopted an industrial strategy that was based on the exploitation of natural resources and agriculture and it has followed this strategy since. The first steps to develop industry began in the 1930s. In 1933 the Union of Artisans was organized. In 1934 the Choybalsan industrial combine, the flagship of Mongolian industry, began operating in Ulaanbaatar. The combine, a joint Mongolian-Soviet company transferred to Mongolian control in 1935, had its own power plant, cloth factories, tanneries, and wool-scouring mill that produced blankets, felt, footwear, leather coats, and soap. Coal production at Nalayh rose in the 1930s, and in 1938 the narrowgauge railroad connecting the mine with the capital's powergenerating station was completed. In 1940 industry accounted for 8.5 percent, and construction for 0.8 percent, of national income. Gross industrial output rose to 124.7 million tugriks.

Industry began to develop substantially after World War II, when Soviet aid increased and Soviet-style central planning was introduced, and, in the 1950s, when Chinese assistance started. Most industrialization occurred in Ulaanbaatar; smaller food combines and livestock-product processing plants were scattered throughout the country. In the 1950s, major projects completed with Soviet assistance included the modernization of the Choybalsan industrial combine; the expansion of production at the Nalayh coal mine; the opening of oil wells in Buyant-Uhaa (Sayn Shand); and the construction of four felt-rolling mills, a water supply plant, and leather-processing factories. Chinese aid was given primarily in the form of construction projects; Chinese laborers built roads, bridges, housing, and a hydroelectric power plant. By 1960 industry and construction accounted for 14.6 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively, of national income. Gross industrial output (in constant 1967 prices) was 676.8 million tugriks.

Industrialization took a big step forward after 1960. Largescale investment by the Soviet Union and other East European countries took place with Mongolia's entry into Comecon in 1962. This assistance enabled Mongolia to diversify industry geographically and sectorally. Major industrial centers were built at Darhan and Choybalsan in the 1960s and at Erdenet and Baga Nuur in the 1970s and the 1980s. After 1970 the scope of industry expanded beyond processing of agricultural products; exploitation of minerals developed on a large scale, and the energy and the construction industries, which supported such development, also grew. In 1970 industry and construction accounted for 22.6 percent and 5.8 percent of national income, respectively; in 1985 they accounted for 32.4 and 4.9 percent of national income, respectively. Gross industrial output (in constant 1967 prices) was 1,733.2 million tugriks in 1970 and 6,244.4 million tugriks in 1985.

In the late 1980s, industry was concentrated in several urban centers. Baga Nuur was a coal-mining and energy production center. Bor Ondor produced fluorite. Choybalsan had a coal mine, a meat-packing plant, a foodstuffs combine, and a wool-scouring mill. Darhan was close to the Sharin Gol coal mine and produced construction materials, foodstuffs, and light industrial products. Erdenet, home of the copper and molybdenum processing combine, also manufactured carpets and processed timber. Hotol was the location of major limestone deposits and a cement production center. Ulaanbaatar, the oldest industrial center, specialized in coal and energy production, food processing, livestock-product processing, and textiles.

Changes in government organizations responsible for industry reflected the regime's efforts to spur industrial development. In 1968 the Ministry of Industry, originally established in 1938, was abolished; the Ministry of Food Industry was transformed into the Ministry of Food and Light Industries. That same year, the Ministry of Geology became the Ministry of Fuel, Power, and Geology. In 1972 the Ministry of Food and Light Industries established industrial producers' associations modeled on Soviet producers' associations. The industrial producers's asociations grouped ministry enterprises according to their specialization in clothing, flour and fodder, footwear, hides and skins, and wool. In 1976 the Ministry of Fuel, Power, and Geology was divided into the Ministry of Fuel and Power Industry and the Ministry of Geology and Mining. In 1986 the Ministry of Construction and Construction Materials Industry and the State Committee for Construction, Architecture, and Technical Control were dissolved, and the State Construction Committee was established. In December 1987, the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking, the Ministry of Geology and Mining, the Ministry of Fuel and Power Industry, and the Ministry of Food and Light Industries were replaced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, the Ministry of Light Industry, and the Ministry of Power, Mining Industry, and Geology. Government organizations also concerned with industry in the late 1980s were the State Construction Committee and the Ministry of Social Economy and Services, formed in 1972 to supervise handicraft production and the artels, or handicraft producers' associations.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection also was formed in 1987 out of the Forestry and Hunting Economy Section of the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking, the State Land and Water Utilization and Protection Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Main Hydrometeorological Administration of the Council of Ministers; it dealt with industrial pollution. Environmental degradation of the Hovsgol Nuur-Selenge Moron-Lake Baykal ecosystem was a concern of both Mongolian and Soviet authorities. To limit ecological damage, the Ministry of Environmental Protection took steps to close the Hatgal woolscouring mill on Hovsgol Nuur, to end shipping of gas and oil in the summer, and to cease carbon-monoxide-producing motor transportation across the ice during the winter. Plans to open the Urandosh strip mine on the banks of Hovsgol Nuur also were postponed. Other measures to alleviate environmental pollution included closing thermal power stations in Ulaanbaatar and moving industrial facilities outside the city in order to reduce air pollution. Strip mining in Mongolia--particularly at the Baga Nuur, Erdenet, and Sharin Gol mines--had created large slag heaps of concern to environmentalists. Other sources of ecological degradation were the dumping of industrial, agricultural, and household waste into small rivers and lakes.

Light Industry

In the late 1980s, Mongolian light industry included woodworking, textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, printing, and food industries, which, primarily, processed agricultural products, and handicrafts. In 1985 light industry accounted for 74.2 percent of gross industrial output. Woodworking enterprises included woodworking plants and combines, paper plants, prefabricated housing factories, match factories, furniture factories, and handicraft enterprises engaged in the production of ger frames, carts, and barrels. The food industry's meat-packing plants, dairies, distilleries, and flour mills produced canned meat, sausages, lard, soap, milk, butter, beverages, and confectionery products. The textile and clothing industries processed wool and produced woolen cloth, blankets, carpets, knitwear, cashmere sweaters, and school uniforms. The leather and the footwear industries processed hides and skins from sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and camels and produced various leather products, including shoes and coats. The Eighth Plan called for increasing production of various light industries by 17 to 46 percent and for improving labor productivity in these industries by 15 to 33 percent.


Until the late 1960s, mining in Mongolia consisted primarily of coal extraction. In the 1970s, however, joint exploitation of mineral resources by the Soviet Union and other Comecon nations commenced on a large scale. Comecon and joint Mongolian-Soviet geological teams surveyed the country's natural resources and discovered valuable mineral deposits, such as copper, molybdenum, wolfram, fluorite, gold, and tin. Several joint stock companies, such as Mongolsovtsvetmet, Mongolchekhoslovakmetall, and Mongolbolgarmetall, were formed to develop and to exploit these deposits. By the late 1980s, mining was an important sector of the economy, and accounted for 42.6 percent of exports in 1985. Little information was available on mining output.

In 1985 Mongolia mined 6.5 million tons of relatively lowgrade varieties of coal, of which only 225,200 tons, or 3 percent, was exported. Exploited lignite deposits were located at Aduun Chuluu, near Choybalsan; Baga Nuur; Nalayh, near Ulaanbaatar; and Sharin Gol, near Darhan. The Aduun Chuluu coal mine's annual output was 300,000 tons. The Baga Nuur strip mine, developed in the 1980s, produced 2 million tons annually by 1985. The Nalayh coal mine, the country's oldest, produced 800,000 tons annually in the 1980s. The Sharin Gol strip mine, developed in the 1960s, had an annual output of 1.1 million tons in the 1980s. The large Tavan Tolgoy deposit of coking coal remained unexploited because of its remoteness from transportation and industrial centers. The Eighth Plan called for raising coal production to 9 million tons, labor productivity 22 to 24 percent, and the capacity of the Baga Nuur mine.

The copper and molybdenum deposit at Erdenetiyn-ovoo was discovered by Mongolian and Czechoslovak geologists in the mid1960s and was developed with massive Soviet assistance in the 1970s. Erdenet's development required the construction of a branch railroad line from Salhit, near Darhan to Erdenet; a highway from Darhan to Erdenet; a water pipeline from the Selenge Moron; an electric line from the Soviet Union; and factories, housing, and other facilities. A Mongolian-Soviet construction force numbering 14,000 built the Joint Mongolian-Soviet Erdenet Mining and Concentrating Combine, which included a mine, a concentrating plant, a material and technical supply base, a mechanical repair plant, and a high-capacity thermal and electric power plant. The first stage of the Erdenet combine went into operation in 1978, with a planned output of 50,000 tons for 1979. With the completion of the fourth stage in 1981, planned annual production capacity was 16 million tons of concentrate. From 1979 to 1982, Erdenet's output of concentrates amounted to 250,000 tons of copper and 3,400 tons of molybdenum, with concentrates containing 33 percent copper and 50 percent molybdenum. In 1983 the Erdenet combine was completed. During the Eighth Plan, annual capacity was to reach 20 million tons. No information was available on actual output or exports.

Other nonferrous metals exploited by Mongolsovtsvetmet and other joint ventures were fluorite, wolfram, tin, and gold. The Berh, Bor Ondor, Burentsogt, and Har-ayrag fluorite deposits had an annual output of 786,700 tons; fluorite was exported to the Soviet Union, but no figures were available. The Eighth Plan called for expanding fluorite production capacity by an unspecified amount. No figures were available on output or on exports of wolfram, tin, and gold. In the late 1980s, plans to open the Urandosh phosphate strip mine near Hatgal were delayed by concerns for environmental pollution in Hovsgol Nuur. Exploitation of the Burenhaan phosphate deposit still was planned. Further development of Mongolia's other mineral resources was also planned, and the Eighth Plan called for continued cooperation with Comecon countries in geological prospecting and mining.


In the late 1980s, energy in Mongolia was provided primarily by coal-burning thermal and electric power stations. Other energy sources were hydroelectric power, wood, and imported gas and diesel fuel. Mongolia produced its own oil in the 1950s and the 1960s, but reports on oil exploitation ended in 1968. Increased electric power generation, made possible by the expansion of coal mining since the 1960s, powered the rapid development of industry after Mongolia's entry into Comecon. In 1960 when coal production was 618,800 tons, 106.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity were generated. In 1985 coal production increased to 6.5 million tons, and electricity generation rose to 2.8 billion kilowatthours . Per capita electricity generation increased from 111.7 kilowatt-hours in 1960 to 1,487.3 kilowatt-hours in 1985. In 1985 electric power and thermal energy generation and the fuel industry accounted for 11.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, of gross industrial output.

In the late 1980s, despite the growth in power generation, Mongolia suffered from energy shortages. Electricity shortfalls interrupted the power supply for industries and households in urban areas, and many rural areas lacked electricity. The Eighth Plan called for increasing energy generation, extending rural electrification, and improving the efficiency of the energy industry by economizing on unit fuel consumption and by raising labor productivity. Specifically, the plan called for raising the generation of electric power to between 3.2 billion and 3.4 billion kilowatt-hours and thermal energy to 7.4 million to 7.6 million giga-calories by 1990. Capital investment in the energy industry was to amount to 2.7 billion to 2.9 billion tugriks. Extension of the centralized power supply and rural electrification were to occur by expanding facilities in Ulaanbaatar, by constructing power plants in Baga Nuur and Erdenet, and by building power lines to connect the cities of Arvayheer, Buyant-Uhaa, and Tsetserleg, and more than thirty somons. More remote areas were to install diesel-powered and coal-powered energy generating installations to meet their requirements.


In 1985 the construction sector generated 4.9 percent of national income, and the construction materials industry produced 6.7 percent of gross industrial output. Mongolian statistics indicated that approximately 28,200 workers were involved in construction projects and that 8,500 workers were employed in the manufacture of construction materials in 1985. Mongolian statistics, however, were misleading because they did not include the role of military and foreign labor in the construction sector. The Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, East European countries and China, played a key role in constructing Mongolia's infrastructure. The Erdenet combine, for example, was built by a 14,000-strong joint Mongolian-Soviet work force that included military construction troops and workers of the Soviet construction company, Medmolibdenstroy. Other Soviet construction companies working in Mongolia included the joint-stock company, Sovmongolpromstroy, which built industrial facilities, and Mongolenergostroy, which constructed electric lines and power stations. In the mid-1980s, Mongolian construction teams undertook 40 percent of construction work; Soviet and other Comecon countries undertook the rest. China provided laborers to help build up Mongolia's transportation and industrial infrastructure in the 1950s, but such aid ceased with the SinoSoviet rift in the 1960s. In addition, in the 1980s Mongolian military construction troops were involved in building many industrial, agricultural, and other facilities.

In the late 1980s, the construction sector was plagued by substandard work, delays in completing projects and in installing equipment, and shortages of labor and building materials. To alleviate these problems, the Eighth Plan called for increasing total construction and installation work by 26 to 29 percent, for raising the work performed by Mongolian construction teams by 42 to 44 percent, and for increasing labor productivity by 20 to 22 percent. Manufacture of construction materials was to increase by 160 to 170 percent, and labor productivity in the construction materials industry, by 36 to 38 percent. Measures to increase construction efficiency were recommended, including channeling capital investments into priority projects; reducing construction times and the amount of incomplete construction; improving coordination among planning, construction, and supply organizations and their clients; creating specialized enterprises for rural construction work; and improving working and social conditions for construction workers in order to reduce labor shortages.


Mongolia - Banking and Insurance


Before 1924 Mongolia lacked its own banks and currency. Mongolians bartered, using such commodities as livestock, tea, and salt for exchange, or such foreign currencies as the United States dollar, the Russian ruble, the British pound, and the Chinese Mexican dollar (or, Yanchan, then a standard currency in coastal China) in commerce. Chinese and Russian banks offered credit, as did monasteries and private moneylenders. The government began to transform this chaotic monetary situation with a series of reforms, starting with the establishment of Mongolbank, or the Mongolian Trade-Industrial Bank, in June 1924. Mongolbank was founded as a Mongolian-Soviet joint-stock company. In February 1925, the tugrik was made the official national currency, and it was slowly introduced into circulation over the next three years. In April 1928, all other currencies were withdrawn from circulation. In 1929 the government drove private moneylenders out of business by establishing a monopoly on foreign trade and then outlawing private lending.

The establishment of a stable financial and monetary system, with a centralized bank controlling the national currency flow, permitted the government to introduce a First Plan in 1931. In 1933 additional banking reforms strengthened the position of Mongolbank in the economy. All state and cooperative enterprises were required to keep their accounts with the bank, and cash transactions were limited effectively to the household sector of the economy. Thus Mongolbank, which was firmly under government control, was able to monitor and to supervise the business transactions of all enterprises. In April 1954, the Soviet Union handed over its shares in Mongolbank, which was renamed the State Bank of the Mongolian People's Republic. In 1960 the bank's lending activities were restricted to state, cooperative, and private enterprises for which investment funds were approved by the national budget.

In the late 1980s, the State Bank granted short-term credits to cooperatives and state enterprises and long-term credits to the economy's industrial sector. Government borrowing from the bank was limited, although the limits were not always followed. The State Bank worked closely with the Ministry of Finance, and it was governed by a central board. In 1984 the State Bank had more than 400 offices and branches throughout the country. The State Bank, as the central bank, conducted currency transactions with foreign countries and had agent relations with about seventy foreign banks. Insurance was offered by the State Directorate for Insurance, or Mongoldaatgal, which was under the control of the Ministry of Finance.


Mongolia - Labor Force



In 1921 nomadic herders and monks dominated Mongolia's work force. Foreigners--Russians and Chinese--comprised the vast majority of the work force for all other occupations, namely agriculture, trade, handicrafts, and services. Mongolia faced the task of transforming the labor force into one capable of filling the variety of occupations required by a modern socialist economy. At first, the new government encountered numerous problems in building its work force, including illiteracy, the lack of qualified personnel, labor shortages, and attitudes inconsistent with systematized work and regular hours. As a result of these problems and the economy's initially slow development, the labor force remained primarily agrarian until the mid-1960s.

The composition of Mongolia's labor force changed slowly in the 1920s and the 1930s. In 1924 party leader Horloyn Choybalsan remarked that Mongolia had no more than 150 industrial workers. By 1932 the country had 2,335 "workers and employees" (employees were defined as nonproduction state employees, such as administrators and professionals), of which 302 were industrial workers. By 1936 industrial workers had increased to 2,400, and they had surpassed 10,000 in 1939. There were 33,100 workers and employees in 1940; nevertheless, 90 percent of the work force was engaged in agrarian pursuits--primarily, in herding. The distribution of the worker and employee work force in 1940 was 41.4 percent in industry, 29.3 percent in nonproduction occupations, 3.0 percent in agriculture, 4.2 percent in trade and communications, and 2.2 percent in trade. Large-scale transformation of the work force accompanied the major effort to industrialize and to collectivize agriculture after World War II. By 1960 agricultural and forestry workers represented 60.8 percent of the labor force; industrial and nonagricultural material production workers, 26.2 percent; and employees engaged in nonmaterial production labor, 13 percent. In 1985 agricultural and forestry workers dropped to 33.8 percent of the work force, while industrial and nonagricultural production workers rose to 39.8 percent, and nonproduction workers, to 26.2 percent.

Furthermore, large numbers of women entered all sectors of the economy as it developed. Women and children traditionally took part in herding activities; as the economy expanded, so did women's participation. Between 1960 and 1985, women's representation in the "worker and employee" work force rose from 30.8 percent to 51.3 percent. According to the 1979 census, women comprised 45.6 percent of the work force. Sixty-nine percent of all employed women, or 42.5 percent of the work force, were engaged in material production. Thirty-one percent of all employed women were engaged in nonmaterial production; these women comprised 54.6 percent of all workers in nonmaterial production.

Foreign labor played a major role in the development of Mongolia's economy. Because of labor shortages, Chinese and Soviet workers initially constituted a large proportion of the industrial and construction force. In 1927 about 26 percent of industrial workers were Mongolian, and in 1934 about 50 percent were foreign. In 1940 Mongolians made up 87.7 percent of all workers and employees; 6.6 percent were Chinese; and 5.7 percent were Soviets. In the 1950s, China sent approximately 10,000 laborers to Mongolia to engage in such construction projects as road and bridge building. In 1961 the number of Chinese workers peaked at 13,150; then, it declined, in the wake of the SinoSoviet split. Soviet citizens had a major role in the Mongolian economy as advisers and employees of joint Mongolian-Soviet enterprises, particularly after 1960. Smaller numbers of East European experts also came to Mongolia after its 1962 entry into Comecon. At the beginning of the 1980s, about 32,000 Soviets and 15,000 East Europeans were working in Mongolia.

Labor Force Policy and Planning

The Mongolian regime sets and implements labor force policy and planning. In the late 1980s, policy on the work force followed the General Plan for Development and Distribution of the Mongolian People's Republic's Productive Forces for the Period up to the Year 2,000 and the Program for Optimal and Rational Use of the MPR's Labor Resources. Manpower was managed by the State Committee on Labor and Wages until January 1988, when the committee was dissolved and its functions were absorbed by the new State Planning and Economic Committee. The major objectives of state manpower policy were: planned filling of all jobs with workers possessing the appropriate occupational qualifications in order to satisfy manpower requirements for the smooth functioning of the economy; full employment, balancing the number of workers with jobs available; increased labor productivity in all economic sectors; and manpower management based on principles of free will and material interest and on observance of the constitutional right to work and to free choice of occupation. The government planned labor resources and allocated labor by drawing up a national manpower balance sheet for one-year and five-year periods. This balance sheet, which aggregated territorial and administrative manpower balance sheets, took into account total population, total labor resources, distribution of labor resources, and estimates of additional manpower and training requirements; it also estimated the number of young people starting work or study courses. Analysis of the national manpower balance sheet enabled the state to plan for the training and the allocation of skilled manpower.

Special emphasis was placed on domestic vocational and technical training and on training opportunities abroad. In 1985 Mongolia had 40 vocational training schools with an enrollment of 27,700. Many Mongolians studied and took training courses of varying duration in the Soviet Union and other Comecon countries; in 1988 there were approximately 10,000 such students in the Soviet Union. The Eighth Plan called for the training of 52,000 specialists with higher and secondary technical specialist education and for no fewer than 60,000 skilled workers. As a result of such training, Mongolia's literate work force possessed increasingly sophisticated technical skills.

The state allocated manpower in two principal ways. First, local committees considered individual wishes, place of residence, and family situation, then provided work warrants to graduating students from all levels who were not pursuing further education. These work warrants compelled the management of organizations requesting workers to give the graduating students work in the appropriate occupation, as well as to provide additional training, housing, and other benefits. Second, state labor organizations recruited workers to fill positions. Workers could choose occupations, and they signed contracts committing them to work for either an indefinite period or for a fixed period of up to three years. State recruitment of labor was important because of labor shortages in certain sectors of the economy. With increased urbanization and the emphasis on specialized technical training, agricultural laborers were scarce, as were workers in capital construction. Imbalances in the labor force, combined with the composition of the population (the World Bank projected in 1987 that by 1990 some 72 percent of the population would be younger than fifteen) have led at least one Western analyst to suggest that sectoral unemployment among Mongolia's well-educated youth would be a problem in the 1990s.

Working Conditions and Income

The Labor Law of the Mongolian People's Republic, enacted in 1973, set forth the framework governing working conditions, wages and benefits, and trade union activity for workers and employees. The labor of members of agricultural cooperatives was regulated by individual negdel charters; they were based on the Model Charter of the Union of Agricultural Associations, last amended in 1979, and on other legislation. The Labor Law and agricultural legislation emulated Soviet law.

Workers and employees had an eight-hour workday (six hours on Saturdays and on the eve of holidays), eight public holidays, and fifteen days' paid vacation. In 1989 some service collectives were experimenting with a five-day workweek to determine whether the country should change from a six-day to a five-day workweek. Those engaged in arduous labor worked seven-hour days. Overtime was restricted, with some exceptions for emergencies. Minors (ages sixteen to eighteen; some fifteen-year-olds could obtain permission to work) worked a seven-hour day, and they received thirty days' paid vacation; arduous labor for minors was prohibited. The Labor Law contained sanctions for those who violated labor discipline and incentives for outstanding work performances. Workers, employees, and negdel members received compulsory state social insurance, paid for by their employers or negdels. State social insurance provided benefits for temporary incapacity to work because of illness, pregnancy and birth; benefits for birth of a child and for burial; and pensions for old age, disability, and loss of a breadwinner. In addition, state social insurance funds maintained a system of rest homes, sanitoriums, resorts for workers and employees and their families, pioneer camps, and so forth. The retirement age for the entire work force was sixty years for men with twenty-five years' experience and fifty-five years for women with twenty years' experience. Employers provided funds, full pay, reduced work days, and leaves of absence in order to raise the professional and technical qualifications of workers and employees through study and training courses.

Because of the high percentage of women of childbearing age in the labor force, the Labor Law contained provisions to protect pregnant women and women with children younger than one year. Refusal to hire women, reduction of their earnings, or dismissal because of pregnancy or the existence of children were all illegal. With medical commission concurrence, pregnant and nursing mothers were eligible for a shortened workday and for transfer to lighter work; they were not eligible for night work, overtime, or business trips. Women received forty-five days' pregnancy leave and fifty-six days' birth leave; women who did not fully use their pregnancy leave could combine the remainder with birth leave. Mothers also could combine pre-partum and postpartum leave with annual leave. In addition, they could receive an additional six months of unpaid leave and retain their jobs. Nursing mothers were granted paid breaks of up to two hours per day to nurse infants younger than six months and one hour to nurse infants from six to twelve months. Workplaces with large numbers of female employees were required to provide facilities for nurseries, for kindergartens, for nursing mothers and infants, and for personal hygiene.

National income in Mongolia in the 1980s was supposed to be distributed according to socialist principles contained in Article 17 of the Constitution. First, the state deducted from the social fund for "the expansion of socialist production, the creation of reserves, the development of public health and education, the maintenance of the aged and the disabled, and the satisfaction of the collective requirements of members of society." Second, the remainder of national income was distributed in accordance with the quality and quantity of labor, based on the socialist principle "from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor." Information on real wages and income, however, was scarce. Western sources estimated that 1985 per capita income was $880 based on gross domestic product (GDP) and $1,000 based on GNP. Mongolian sources referred to raising wages and income in percentage terms, but they rarely listed actual numbers. The Economic and Social Development Guidelines for 1986- 90 stated that during the Seventh Plan real income per capita rose by 12 percent, and they called for a 20-percent to 23- percent increase in monetary income during the Eighth Plan. Real income during the latter plan was to grow in part through wage increases and in part through such measures as reduction of electricity tariffs and a 30-percent increase in the minimum pension for negdel members.

Government statistics provided only limited information on salaries. For example, statistics on the growth rate of monthly average salaries for workers and employees indicated that salaries rose 44.2 percent between 1960 and 1985. Salaries of production workers rose 54 percent, and those of nonproduction employees rose 22.9 percent. No figures were available on the actual level of salaries. Average annual wages for negdel members rose from 474 tugriks in 1960 to 2,400 tugriks at the end of the 1970s.

Trade Unions

Mongolia's trade union movement initially had a difficult start, but then it settled down to peaceful growth as a useful tool of the regime. In 1917 Mongolia's first two trade unions, which had mostly Russian and few Mongolian members, were established but trade unionists were murdered in 1920 by troops of the White Russian baron, Roman Nicolaus von Ungern-Sternberg. Reestablished in 1921 with 300 members, the unions were reorganized in 1925 into Mongolian, Chinese, and Russian chapters. In August 1927, 115 delegates, representing 4,056 union members, held the First Congress of Mongolian Trade Unions, establishing the Mongolian trade union movement in the form it still maintained in the late 1980s. In 1927, as in the late 1980s, the organization and functions of Mongolia's trade unions were patterned on those of the Soviet Union.

In the late 1980s, the highest-level trade union organization was the Mongolian Trade Unions Congress, which was convened every five years; the thirteenth congress was held in 1987. In the interim, trade union affairs were run by the Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions. The chairman of the Central Council was a member of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural. Mongolian trade unions, through the Central Council, possessed the right of legislative initiative in the People's Great Hural. Below the Central Council were four branch union organizations--each run by its own central committee--for agricultural workers; for construction and industrial workers; for workers and employees in transport, for communications, trade, and services; and for employees in culture and education. Each aymag, as well as Ulaanbaatar, Darhan, and Erdenet, had its own trade union council, as did the Ulaanbaatar Railroad. Below the provincial level there were 3,000 primary trade union committees and more than 7,000 trade union groups. The Central Council published the newspaper Hodolmor (Labor) three times a week and the magazine Mongolyn Uyldberchniy Eblel (Mongolian Trade Unions) six times a year. In 1982 there were 425,000 trade union members. In 1984 about 94.7 percent of all office and professional workers and laborers in the national economy were trade unionists, and members of the working class accounted for 55.8 percent of trade union membership.

Mongolian trade unions did not engage in collective bargaining to represent worker interests to management as was done in capitalist countries. Instead, Mongolia's trade unions had a variety of functions. Politically, trade unions received party and state guidance and served regime goals by ". . . [contributing] to winning over the masses in order to succeed in the implementation of the social and economic policy of the party." The Mongolian trade unions were active in the international arena; the Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions joined the World Federation of Trade Unions in 1949, and Mongolia joined the International Labour Organization in 1968. The Central Council maintained contacts with more than sixty foreign trade union organizations, and it sent delegations to all World Federation of Trade Unions congresses and other international trade union conferences. Mongolian delegations to conferences sponsored by the Soviet Union and other socialist countries frequently issued communiques or statements supporting Soviet, and criticizing United States, policies.

The most important functions of Mongolian trade unions were, according to the 1973 Labor Code, "[to] represent the interests of workers and employees in the realm of production, labor, life, and culture, participate in working out and realizing state plans for the development of the national economy, decide questions of the distribution and use of material and financial resources, involve workers and employees in production management, organize the socialist competition and mass technical creativity, and promote the strengthening of production and labor discipline." Together, or by agreement with enterprises, institutions, and organizations and their superior agencies, trade unions influenced labor conditions and earnings, the application of labor legislation, and the use of social consumption funds. Specifically, this meant trade unions supervised the observance of labor legislation and rules for labor protection, controlled housing and domestic services for workers and employees, and managed state social insurance as well as trade union sanatoriums, dispensaries, rest homes, and cultural and sports institutions. In practice, the major function of trade unions was the administration of state social insurance and of worker health and recreation facilities.

Despite the broad rights granted to the trade union movement, not all trade union bodies carried out their stipulated functions. In a May 1987 address to the Thirteenth Congress of Mongolian Trade Unions, party general secretary Jambyn Batmonh criticized some trade union councils for being "on the leash of the enterprises' administrations," that is, emphasizing the fulfillment of plans while neglecting labor productivity and substandard working and living conditions. Batmonh also called on enterprises and their supervisory government bodies to observe labor laws strictly and not to oppose the legitimate demands of trade union groups.


Mongolia - Foreign Economic Relations and Comecon


In the late 1980s, Mongolia's foreign economic relations were primarily with Comecon members and other socialist countries. Mongolian policies related to Comecon were set by the Comecon Commission of the Council of Ministers. The principal official mechanisms for bilateral foreign economic relations were the various joint intergovernmental commissions on economic, scientific, and technical cooperation, which were established by treaty in the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s between Mongolia and the Soviet Union as well as other socialist nations. Intergovernmental commissions--such as the Mongolian-Soviet Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation--met annually or semiannually to coordinate planning and to arrange bilateral annual, five-year, and longerterm trade and cooperation agreements signed on the deputy premier level. The Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply primarily, but not exclusively, was handling Mongolia's day-to-day economic interaction with foreign countries and with Comecon in the late 1980s.

Close economic ties between Mongolia and the Soviet Union have existed for a long time. For example, in 1984 MongolianSoviet links included direct ties among 20 Mongolian and 30 Soviet ministries and departments handling economic affairs as well as among 55 Mongolian and Soviet ministries and departments and about 100 Mongolian and Soviet scientific research organizations handling scientific and technical cooperation.

In December 1987, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply was formed from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations, and the State Committee for Materials and Technical Supplies. Because much of Mongolia's machinery and equipment, fuel, and consumer goods were imported, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply-- rather than the Ministry of Trade and Procurement (which ran Mongolia's domestic trade system)--had specialized organizations that combined export-import and domestic distribution functions. These organizations included Abtoneft Import and Supply Cooperative, which handled imports of motor vehicles, fuels, and lubricants; the Agricultural Technical Equipment Import and Supply Cooperative; Kompleksimport and Supply Cooperative, which imported sets of equipment for the mining industry, power stations, and production lines for the food and light industries; the Materialimpeks and Supply Cooperative, which imported construction materials and equipment; and the Technikimport and Supply Cooperative, which handled imports of industrial machinery and equipment, raw materials, chemicals, and dyestuffs.

Other organizations involved in foreign trade included Mongolimpex, which handled imports and exports of goods in convertible currencies; Mongolnom, which exported Mongolian publications; and Mongolilgeemj, which handled foreign parcel post, the sale and purchase of consumer goods, establishment of business contacts with foreign companies, and intermediary service on foreign trade and commodity exchange. The Ministry of Social Economy and Services ran Horshoololimpex, which exported handicrafts. Mongolia also had a Chamber of Commerce, the functions of which included establishing contacts between Mongolian and foreign trade and industrial organizations as well as organizing and participating in international trade exhibitions in Mongolia and abroad.

Participation in Comecon

Entey into Comecon was a great boon to Mongolia's economic development, enabling it to secure increased amounts of foreign investment, assistance, and technical cooperation; to expand foreign trade markets; to raise product quality to international standards; and to coordinate economic planning better in order to direct the specialization and development the of the economy under "socialist economic integration." Mongolia coordinated its five-year plans with Comecon's five-year multilateral cooperation plans as a participant in Comecon's Cooperation in the Sphere of Planning Activity Committee as well as its Science and Technology Cooperation Committee. These committees also drew up multilateral long-term, special cooperation programs in the areas of transportation, food, energy, and consumer goods, which included development projects in Mongolia, such as the thermal electric power plant in Baga Nuur. Mongolia also participated in Comecon commissions for agriculture, coal industry, electric power, food industry, geology, light industry, nonferrous metallurgy, and transportation, and it cooperated in Comecon efforts in construction, currency-finance, foreign trade, health care, standardization, statistics, telecommunications, and postal communications.

Mongolia also received assistance from Comecon on a multilateral basis. Comecon financed the activities of the Comecon International Geological Expedition and the construction of a number of scientific, communications, and cultural facilities in Mongolia. As a member of Comecon's International Bank for Economic Cooperation and the International Investment Bank, Mongolia was eligible for, and took advantage of, loans at preferential rates. Mongolia also benefited from "incentive prices" for basic imported commodities; such commodities as fuel were imported at lower prices than those charged to Comecon's more developed East European countries.


Mongolia - Tourism


In the late 1980s, tourism played a minor role in Mongolia's foreign economic relations. About 10,000 foreign visitors came from communist, North American, and West European countries annually. Mongolia has natural, historical, and cultural sites of interest to foreign tourists, such as the Nemegt Valley's "dinosaur graveyard," the ancient city of Karakorum, and the medieval Erdene-Dzuu monastery. Hunting expeditions also are a tourist attraction. The Foreign Tourist Office, Juulchin, which was part of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply in 1989, handled all foreign tourists.


Mongolia - Government


THE MONGOLIAN PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC was undergoing a major transition in the development of its government and political institutions in the late 1980s. Beginning in 1984, the country had embarked on a program to restructure its political and economic system in ways that engaged the entire population and made it responsible and accountable for the country's modernization. Much of the inspiration for this program came from the Soviet Union's examples of glasnost and perestroika.

Nevertheless, in developing its policies, Mongolia's senior leadership displayed a realistic awareness not only of the severe challenges, but also of the opportunities, afforded by Mongolia's unique political, social, economic, and geophysical conditions. There were efforts by mid-1989 to revive key elements of the Mongolian cultural heritage. This effort apparently was inspired by the recognized need to instill vitality in a polity long stifled by the wholesale imposition of Soviet models. Openings to the West, including the 1987 establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, increased Mongolia's options within the international diplomatic community and provided additional developmental models. Finally, by mid-1989, the gradual normalizing of Sino-Soviet relations had helped significantly to reduce the tensions inherent in Mongolia's strategic location, enveloped between these giant countries, which facilitated a resurgence of Mongolian national identity and allowed a small measure of Mongolian political independence.

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Mongolia - Government Structure


Form of Government

Mongolia in 1989 was a communist state modeled on Soviet political and government institutions. The government was a oneparty system, presided over by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. The party exercised political supervision and control over a pyramidal structure of representative governmental bodies known as hurals--assemblies of people's deputies.

The highly centralized governmental structure was divided into three major parts: the executive branch, presided over by the Council of Ministers; the legislative branch, represented at the national level by the unicameral People's Great Hural (the national assembly); and the judicial branch, with a Supreme Court presiding over a system of law administered by courts and by an Office of the Procurator of the Republic. The duties and responsibilities of each of these major bodies were identified in the Constitution promulgated in 1960.

Beneath the national level were key administrative subdivisions consisting of eighteen aymags, or provinces, and of the three autonomous cities (hots) of Ulaanbaatar, Darhan, and Erdenet. On the next lower administrative level were counties, or somons, and town centers. At this basic level, government and economic activity were connected closely, so that the leadership of the somon and those of the livestock and agricultural cooperatives operating within the somon often were identical.

The party related to the apex of the governmental system through its authoritative Political Bureau of the party Central Committee. In 1989 this nine-person body contained the presiding leadership of the country, and it was headed by party general secretary Jambyn Batmonh. Batmonh had dual power status in that he also was head of state as chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural. Batmonh was promoted to these top-level positions in 1984 after his predecessor, Yumjaagiyn Tsedenbal, who had been in power since 1952, was replaced by the Central Committee, reportedly for health reasons.

Below the national level, each aymag and somon had its own party organization that conveyed the policies and programs decided by the Political Bureau and directed the work of its counterpart assembly of people's deputies, its agricultural cooperatives, and the local government executive committee in implementing party programs on its level. The concentration of power at the top of the political system and within party channels had, throughout history, helped to create a complacent party and government bureaucracy, a development that hampered the leadership's plans to modernize the country and to stimulate economic development in the late 1980s.

Constitutional Framework

The Constitution was adopted on July 6, 1960, by the People's Great Hural. It was the third constitution promulgated since the revolution of 1921. The first constitution was passed by the First National Great Hural on November 26, 1924. It abolished the system of monarchial theocracy, described the legislative consolidation of state power, provided a basic statement of socioeconomic and political rights and freedoms for the people, and espoused a national program that would bypass the capitalist stage of development in the course of promoting fundamental social transformations in order to bring about socialism in Mongolia.

The second constitution, adopted on June 30, 1940, took the Soviet constitution of 1936 as the model. As Mongolian premier Horloyn Choybalsan reported to the Eighth National Great Hural in 1940: "We are guided in our activity by the experience of the great country of socialism, the experience of the Soviet Union. Consequently, only the constitution of the Soviet Union may be a model for us in drafting our new constitution." In subsequent revisions to the 1940 Mongolian constitution in 1944, 1949, 1952, and 1959, disparities between the Mongolian and Soviet constitutions were reduced even further.

Under the 1940 constitution, elections were restricted-- "enemies of the regime" could not vote--and indirect; lower bodies elected higher levels. Constitutional amendments introduced after 1944 changed this system, however, by restoring political rights, including the right of suffrage throughout the society; by instituting a unitary hierarchy of directly elected representative bodies; by reorganizing electoral districts; by replacing voting by the show of hands at open meetings with voting by secret ballot; and by abolishing the National Little Hural--the Standing Body of the National Great Hural-- transferring its functions to the National Great Hural, which was renamed People's Great Hural in 1951. The regime's justification for making these changes was that Mongolia had already realized many sociopolitical achievements in its advance toward socialism. Therefore, it became historically correct to introduce reforms that had been adopted in the more advanced society of the Soviet Union.

The Constitution adopted in 1960 includes a lengthy preamble that acclaims the successes of the revolution and notes the importance of the "fraternal socialist assistance of the Soviet Union" to growth and development in Mongolia. The preamble clarifies the dominant role of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party as the "guiding and directing force in society," using as its guide the "all-conquering Marxist-Leninist theory." A renewed commitment is made to completing the construction of a socialist society and culture, and eventually, to building a communist society. Enunciated foreign policy goals describe a diplomacy based on the principles of peaceful coexistence and proletarian internationalism.

The points outlined in the preamble are explained more fully in the main body of the Constitution. Compared with its 1940 predecessor, the 1960 Constitution is more succinct. The 1940 document had been divided into twelve chapters. The 1960 Constitution clusters most of the same content into four general sections: socioeconomic structure, state structure, basic rights and duties of citizens, and miscellaneous provisions. Within these categories, the articles are compressed into ten chapters, compared with twelve chapters in the 1940 constitution.

In the first general section, the socialist system, rooted in the socialist ownership of national wealth and the means of production, is presented as the economic basis of society. Areas protected under law include private ownership of one's income and savings, housing, subsidiary husbandry, personal and household articles, as well as the right to an inheritance. These legal guarantees, however, are subject to the qualification that "it shall be prohibited to use the right of personal ownership to the detriment of state and social interests."

The second and longest general section defines the state structure, following that laid down in the 1940 constitution, as amended in 1959. It details the nature, composition, and duties of all state organs of power, including the executive, the legislative, and the judicial at both the national and local levels.

In the third general section, the fundamental rights and duties of citizens are grouped together, a departure from the previous constitutions. The rights promised in this basic law and the actual experience of Mongolians in daily life, however, are often at variance. Among the basic rights guaranteed are equality irrespective of sex, racial or national affiliations, faith, social origin, and status. These were overlooked in practice, to the extent that male Khalkha Mongols occupied most of the elite government positions, and religious practice has been an impediment to career advancement in an atheistic MarxistLeninist society. In addition, citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, press, assembly, meeting, demonstration, and processions, but with the restriction that the activities must be practiced "in accordance with the interests of the working people and with a view to developing and strengthening the state system of the Mongolian People's Republic."

A list of duties begins with the exhortation that "every citizen of the Mongolian People's Republic shall be obliged to: show dedication to the cause of building socialism; maintain the priority of the interests of society and the state vis-à-vis private interests; safeguard the concept of communal socialist property; and fulfill all civic duties, and demand the same of other citizens." Other duties involve supporting international friendship and worker solidarity "under the leadership of the Soviet Union," and teaching and practicing good social values.

The Constitution can be amended by the People's Great Hural with a majority of not less than two-thirds of the delegate votes, a system that has produced frequent revision. Perhaps the most novel feature of the Constitution is contained in its concluding article, unique among socialist constitutions. Article 94 allows the gradual repeal of the constitutional provisions: "The Constitution . . . will be repealed when the need for the existence of the state, which is the principal instrument for building socialism and communism, disappears, when it will be replaced by a communist association of working people."

The official seal of Mongolia also has been revised and reflects aspirations of becoming an industrialized society. Furthermore, the Constitution says that the state arms of Mongolia "shall reflect the essence of the state and the idea of friendship of peoples and shall show the national and economic peculiarities of the country." Accordingly, the official seal now consists of a circle framed by sheaves of wheat, fastened together by a machine cog-wheel, replacing animal heads that denoted a pastoral country. In the center is a figure of a "working man on horseback galloping upward toward the sun-- communism," in place of a herdsman holding a lariat and galloping toward the rising sun.

Major State Organizations

As is true of any communist-run state, the party's influence and voice were authoritative and all high government officials belonged to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. Nevertheless, in order to establish the mechanisms of government for pursuing the party program, the Constitution provides authority to key state executive, legislative, and judicial bodies, and defines their respective character, composition, and powers.


The unicameral People's Great Hural is described in the Constitution as "the highest agency of state power in the Mongolian People's Republic." It is assigned exclusive legislative power for the country by Article 19. The Eleventh People's Great Hural, elected in July 1986, had 370 deputies as determined by a constitutional amendment in 1981. Of the 370 elected deputies, nearly 89 percent were party members or candidate members; 28 percent, industrial workers; 28 percent, agrarian cooperative members; and 44 percent, intellectuals and bureaucrats. Also, 25 percent of the deputies were women, and 67 percent were elected for the first time. Finally, deputies were afforded special protection in that they may not be arrested or brought to trial without the consent of the Hural or its Presidium.

Deputies served four-year terms, and they were elected from districts divided equally according to population. The slate of candidates presented, however, required party review and approval well in advance of the election. Candidates were proposed by trade unions, farm organizations, youth and party organizations, and other social organizations. Before election day, usually in June, the names of candidates for these constituencies were published in the press. Registered electors could vote for one registered candidate by placing an unmarked ballot bearing the candidate's name in the ballot box. To vote against a candidate, an elector had to strike the candidate's name from the ballot.

It was estimated that 33 percent of the deputies-- representing the party and state leadership--were reelected after each term. Not surprisingly, a high proportion of the elected deputies were party members or candidate members. There also was a noticeable trend reflecting the gradual urbanization of the country, as shown in the 1979 Mongolian census figures. Press coverage of results usually reported 99.98 percent turnout, in favor of the official candidates.

The People's Great Hural, which convenes once a year, elects its officers, including a chairman (speaker) and four deputy chairmen. It selects standing commissions (budget, legislative proposals, nationality affairs, and foreign affairs), and it elects the Presidium. Constitutional powers accorded to the People's Great Hural include amendment of the constitution; adoption of laws; formation of the Council of Ministers; and confirmation of ministers, the national economic plan, and the budget. In 1989 the deputy chairmen were the president of the Presidium, an army officer, a woman, and, to show recognition of minorities, a Kazakh.

Ten permanent committees assisted in specialized areas of government work: industry; environmental protection; construction; youth affairs; budgets and planning; transportation and communications; labor resources; agriculture; trade and services; and health, education, culture and scientific affairs. Also, the People's Great Hural was given powers to establish "the basic principles and measures in the domain of internal and foreign policy" and to decide "questions of peace and defense of the socialist motherland." In practice, however, authority in the fields of foreign and domestic affairs was exercised regularly by the chairman of the Presidium and the minister of foreign affairs. By a constitutional amendment in November 1980, the People's Great Hural is charged with forming the state's People's Control Committee that heads a system of agencies "which shall incorporate state and social control of the working people at enterprises, institutions, organizations, and agricultural associations."

Although legislative power is concentrated in the People's Great Hural, the right of legislative initiative is accorded to several bodies. They include the Presidium, the Council of Ministers, deputies and standing commissions of the People's Great Hural, the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Procurator of the Republic. In addition, legislation can be introduced by youths and workers through the Central Committee of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League and the Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions.

The Presidium of the People's Great Hural was the "highest agency of state power" presiding in the interval between legislative sessions. In 1989 the chairman of the Presidium, Batmonh, was the de facto president of Mongolia. Other Presidium officers included a deputy chairman, a secretary, and five members representing trade unions (two persons for this category), youth, women, and a key party department (either the cadres administration or foreign relations department). The principal powers of the Presidium include formation, abolition, and reorganization of ministries; appointment of ministers and ambassadors; ratification or denunciation of treaties and agreements with other states; and award of military and other titles and ranks. The Presidium also participates in the regular powers accorded to the People's Great Hural.


The Council of Ministers is the "highest executive and administrative agency of state administration." Under Article 42 of the Constitution, this body is composed of a chairman--or premier, a first deputy chairman, five other deputy chairmen, ministers, chairmen of the state committees, the chairman of the State Bank of the Mongolian People's Republic, the president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and the head of the Central Statistical Board. In the 1980s, the deputy chairmen regularly included the chairmen of the State Planning Commission; the State Committee for Construction, Architecture, and Technical Control; and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) Affairs. In 1986 the Council of Ministers was composed of thirty-three members.

Members of the Council of Ministers also were party members or candidate members. In 1989 Dumaagiyn Sodnom, a full member of the party Political Bureau, was chairman of the Council of Ministers, making him de facto premier. The principal responsibilities of the Council of Ministers in the late 1980s were to coordinate and to direct the work of the ministries; to supervise national economic planning and to implement the national plan; to exercise general direction over foreign relations and defense matters; to take measures for the defense of state interests and the concept of socialist ownership; to ensure public order; and to direct and to guide the work of aymag and somon executive administrations.

A general ministerial reorganization was carried out in 1987 and 1988 during which 3,000 administrative positions were abolished--reportedly, a significant saving of funds. In December 1987, the Mongolian press announced the dissolution of six ministries and two state committees and the subsequent formation of five new ministries. These efforts to streamline the government structure and to make it more efficient continued into January 1988, when six state committees and special offices were dissolved and two new state committees were formed. In general this reorganization resulted in the performance of certain functions by separate ministries or in the subsuming of several committees under the mission of one. For example, the responsibilities for agriculture and the food industry, previously handled by two separate ministries, were combined in the new Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. The newly established Ministry of Environmental Protection indicated Mongolia's recent and growing concern over one of its most intractable problems: the protection and renewal of the national environment.

There was no formally constituted permanent civil service to staff government positions. Party organizations were paramount in the selection and assignment of civil servants. The party decided which person was suited to what kind of work on the basis of individual loyalty, honesty, political consciousness, knowledge of relevant tasks, and organizational abilities.


The Supreme Court is described in the Constitution as "the highest judicial authority" that directs "all...judicial agencies and also establishes supervision over their judicial activity." It is elected for a four-year term by the People's Great Hural, and it presides over the lower structure made up of eighteen aymag courts and local somon courts. Members of the local court structure were elected locally, and the judges for these courts served three-year terms. Elected in May 1986, the chairman of the Supreme Court, Lubsandorjiyn Renchin, had a first deputy and two other deputies, including the chairmen of the criminal affairs and the military affairs collegia.

The Procurator of the Republic exercises "supreme supervision over the precise observance of laws by all ministries and other central agencies of administrations, institutions and organizations." The procurator was appointed by the People's Great Hural for a term of four years.

The law and the legal system were described officially as being solidly grounded in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. The purpose was to ensure that the socioeconomic order produced and shaped a distinctive political, economic, and legal superstructure. Within this context, the principal function of law was to regulate the economy and to contribute to the building of socialism. As of 1989, there still was a limited role for custom in the area of socialist law, but only those considered compatible with prevailing legal norms persisted. There also was a new emphasis on equal rights for women. For the most part, the law functioned as a body of prescriptive regulations that guided social relationships and interpreted the duties of citizens in ways that the party found to be in the best interests of society and development. In general, regulations and codes controlled more areas of life than ever before.

Two separate legal codes form the basis of Mongolian law--the Civil Code and the Criminal Code. The Civil Code, which went into effect in April 1963, was modeled closely on the code adopted by the Soviet Union in 1963. This code regulates personal relations more carefully than had been the case before its enactment. It extends certain rights, including protecting the honor and the dignity of citizens. The code enlarges the discussion of obligations to include contracts of delivery and carriage-- matters essential to efficient business operations. There also are law codes that apply to the family and to the workplace.

Formal training in law was given under the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Mongolian State University. Beginning in 1980, 100 full-time students per year were enrolled at this institution. Although the Constitution contains no channel of appeal, the law does provide for appeals of all verdicts except those of the Supreme Court.

Local Administration

In Mongolia's organizational pyramid, government beneath the national level was carried out by assemblies of people's deputies operating in the eighteen aymags and the three provinciallevel autonomous cities (hots), sometimes called "republic cities." In the late 1980s, each aymag continued to be divided into about thirty somons; towns and population centers within a somon were apportioned into "districts and districts-in-cities." Each of these administrative divisions had its corresponding governing assembly of people's deputies. Some continuity between the Mongolian People's Republic and the traditional Mongolian political culture was provided in preserving the terms aymag, which was a fifteenth-century word for a tribal unit, and somon, which was the traditional basic-level administrative unit. Aymags were established on the basis of geographic boundaries, ethnic groupings, economic conditions, population density, and convenience of administrative control. Somons were the basic units of administration within aymags, and they were where the greatest interaction between government and the people took place.

Deputies to the local assemblies are elected for three-year terms, according to the Constitution. In June 1987, a total of 15,967 deputies were elected to local assemblies, by the usual 99.98 percent of the vote cast. Regular sessions of aymag and autonomous municipal assemblies convened at least twice a year. Sessions of somon and district assemblies were convoked at least three times a year. Each local assembly elected presidiums to administer the government between sessions of the assemblies. Presidiums were composed of a chairman, a deputy chairman, a secretary, and members who included party functionaries and local luminaries residing in the administrative centers.

Within their respective jurisdictions, the assemblies and their presidiums were responsible for directing "economic and cultural-political construction," for supervising the economic and cooperative organizations, for confirming and implementing the economic plan and local budgets, for ensuring the observance of laws, and for making certain that all citizens were fully involved in the work of the state. Superior assemblies of people's deputies were empowered to "change or repeal" decisions of lower assemblies and their presidiums.

Procurators and courts also functioned at the local levels. Local procurators were appointed by the state procurator for three-year terms, and they were subordinate "only to the superior procurator" in the system. Courts were elected by deputies of the corresponding assemblies of people's deputies, also for threeyear terms; precinct-level courts were formed by direct elections and by secret ballot for three-year terms.


Mongolia - Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party


Mongolia's communist party was established on March 1, 1921, with 164 members in a country that previously had no political parties. At that time, it was called the Mongolian People's Party. In August 1924 at the Third Party Congress, the party assumed its current nomenclature, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. It was the only political party, modeled closely after the organizational structure and party program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It has followed the Soviet example during most of its existence, and it continued to do so in mid-1989.

The authoritative Party Program, the fourth in Mongolian history, which was adopted in 1966, states that party organizations serve as "the directing and guiding force of society and the state," and at the national level are decisive in setting policy, developing programs, and making key personnel appointments. Below the national level, party organizations and personnel ensure the implementation of the Party Program, maintain political discipline, and supervise appointment to all party and non-party organizations.

Following the pattern of ongoing developments in the Soviet Union, high-level substantive discussions of party organizational reform measures were being held in 1989. One measure under consideration would have government bodies play an enhanced role as consultative bodies in the party's policy-making process. New senior government bodies that eventually could disperse some of the party's closely held power were being discussed. Consideration also was being given to the devolution of some decision-making powers from upper party levels to the primary party organizations. Nevertheless, in the late 1980s, top-level party organizations still continued to hold exceptional authority, dominating the governmental, economic, and military life of the country.


As of April 1988, party membership was reported at 89,588, an average of 1 in 11 of the adult population. According to the Rules of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, "anyone of the working people, acknowledging the Party Program and Rules, actively participating in their implementation, working in a party organization, and implementing all party resolutions, may be a member of the party." Membership was open to males and females at least eighteen years old, although those between eighteen and twenty years could earn party membership only through acquiring a good record as a Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League member.

A candidate for party membership must be sponsored by a party member who has held a full membership for three years. After sponsorship, a candidate's acceptance into the party was discussed by a general meeting of the appropriate party cell and was considered resolved if at least two-thirds of those attending approved. Conversely, expulsion from the party was decided by a vote of at least two-thirds of party members present, but it was effective only after confirmation by the appropriate party committee at the next-highest level. Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party membership increased by 16 percent during the period 1981 to 1986.

Party Congress

The party congress, convened regularly every five years, is theoretically the most authoritative body in the Mongolian party system. The Nineteenth Party Congress of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, convened in May 1986, was attended by 851 delegates--for 79 percent of whom it was their first party congress. An overview of the composition of the delegates revealed that 66 percent also were deputies to the People's Great Hural or to assemblies of people's deputies. Thirty-three percent were workers in industry, construction and communications; 17 percent were collectivized herdsmen; and 50 percent were white-collar workers, including members of the military and the intelligentsia. Seventy-nine percent were of the majority Khalkha nationality.

These statistics showed predominantly urban and educated delegates, and they indicated the professionalization of the Mongolian leadership, much like what had occurred in the Soviet Union by the 1960s. In 1986 women accounted for 21 percent of the total number of delegates, which suggested a substantial representation within the leadership until this figure was balanced against the 30 percent of total party membership that women held in 1986.

The party congress also elects the Central Auditing Commission, which examines and verifies state expenditures. The Nineteenth Party Congress elected a Central Auditing Commission of twenty-three members, smaller than the previous commission of thirty-one, elected in 1981. Eighty-three percent of the commission's members were newly elected.

The Nineteenth Congress also stated its commitment to the existing Party Program, which in essence is dedicated to completing the "construction of socialism" in Mongolia. The Party Program contains the concepts and goals to be realized through the five-year plans and implemented by the government bureaucracy. As stated in the program, the party's role is to instill total commitment among citizens toward this goal: "The party will devote unflagging attention to organizing resolute struggle against views and morals as well as survivals of the past alien to socialism in the minds and lives of people." Extolling the values of patriotism and "proletarian internationalism," the program dictates that Mongolia "will educate the working people in the limitless love and devotion to their homeland, the Soviet Union and other countries in the socialist community. . . ."

Because the party congress of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party meets in regular session only every five years, it cannot serve as the governing party organization. Rather, one of its key functions is to elect the Central Committee, the body that sets the tone and establishes the overall leadership for the country.

Central Committee

The Central Committee elected by the Nineteenth Congress in 1986 included eighty-five members and sixty-five candidate members. It was a smaller body than the Central Committee elected at the Eighteenth Party Congress in 1981, which had an additional six members and six candidate members. Fifty-seven members were reelected to the Nineteenth Central Committee, eleven were promoted from candidate membership, and seventeen were newly appointed. No full members were demoted to candidate membership, but twenty-four retired, died, or had been removed. Candidate members filled the places of former Central Committee members. The number of members on the Nineteenth Central Committee was smaller than that of its predecessor, but the number of new members increased by 20 percent and of new candidate members, by 77 percent. Thus, the composition of the new Central Committee suggested trends toward reducing the size of the senior party leadership, toward adding new members, and toward initiating the newcomers through service first as candidate members.

In 1989 the Central Committee had twelve departments responsible for managing specialized functions including a general department for overseeing and coordinating party affairs. The departments supervised cadres affairs; ideological matters; party organization; military and security affairs; foreign relations; planning and budget; industry; agriculture; construction; transportation and communications; and education, science, and health. Another key body, the Party Control Commission, is subordinate to the Central Committee and is responsible for maintaining internal party discipline and for dealing with incidents that challenge party authority. There also were a Higher Party School and an Institute of Social Studies (formerly the Party History Institute), both of which had the status of a Central Committee department.

Political Bureau and Secretariat

The Political Bureau is elected by the Central Committee to conduct the party's business between plenary sessions of the Central Committee and to provide the top leadership for the party and the country. As the senior policy-making body, it establishes specific goals; and it regularly evaluates the progress of national programs.

The Secretariat also functions between plenary sessions, and it is the administrative center of the party apparatus. It is elected by the Central Committee to oversee implementation of the Party Program and party resolutions and to select leading cadres. This last function gives the Secretariat nomenklatura, the authority to make appointments to the key positions in both the party and the government bureaucracies.

The ruling hierarchy was stable during the 1980s. In May 1986, the Political Bureau included seven members and three candidate members. The Secretariat was composed of six secretaries. Batmonh was reelected general secretary of the Central Committee. These elections produced few changes; four leaders were retained as both Political Bureau members and secretaries of the Central Committee. Three leaders were retained as members of only the Political Bureau, and three were elected candidate Political Bureau members. Two new secretaries were elected to the Central Committee. This leadership group, averaging fifty-nine years of age, was changed somewhat at the third plenary session--or fully constituted meeting--of the Central Committee in June 1987, when one Political Bureau member retired and was replaced by a candidate member. By 1989 the Political Bureau had been reduced to nine members after the death of one candidate member. Two Political Bureau members mentioned as likely successors to Batmonh were Bat-Ochiryn Altangerel, a former Ulaanbaatar first secretary, and Tserendeshiyn Namsray, a member of the party Secretariat and chairman of the MongolianSoviet Friendship Society.

Some party leaders held concurrent key government positions. For example, Batmonh was chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural, and Sodnom was chairman of the Council of Ministers, or premier. All Political Bureau members and candidate members also were deputies to the People's Great Hural. The known substantive responsibilities of the top party leadership covered several specialties: party disciplinary affairs, law and administration, foreign affairs, building and construction, and industry.

Regional and Local Party Organizations

A general understanding of the size of the party structure below the national level was provided by reports in January 1981 that recorded "twenty-seven provincial, town and equivalent-level party committees, seven urban district party committees, 256 basic-level committees, and 2,600 party cells." In March 1989, Batmonh noted that there were 3,199 primary party organizations, or cells. Party first secretaries of aymags and those of the three autonomous cities, usually were represented on the Central Committee. In addition to their key party organizational responsibilities, these regional leaders had the important duty to implement the party's economic policies and programs within the areas under their supervision. In fact, active participation in the current party programs emphasizing economic development was regarded as essential to the regional leaders' success; this probably explained their participation on the Central Committee. Two other key posts, probably equal in rank to aymag first secretaries, were held by leading party representatives in the state Railroad Administration and the army's Political Directorate.

Aymag-level and somon-level party organizations are formed by election of the conferences of representatives within the respective jurisdictions. These committees control the executive and the legislative institutions of government as well as economic enterprises. Meeting in plenary sessions at least twice a year, the committees' regular daily business is conducted by an elected bureau of seven to nine members. Bureau meetings are held once or twice every fourteen days to hear reports and recommendations, to discuss implementation of higher-level decisions, to coordinate and to assign cadres' work, to approve acceptance of candidate members, to assign cadres to non-party organs in territorial units, to provide leadership to party cells and to evaluate their achievements and shortcomings, and to maintain party discipline within various subordinate organizations.

The party cell is considered the primary party organization. Every party member has to belong to a cell. These bodies exist in industrial enterprises; agricultural cooperatives; state farms; and educational, cultural, and other establishments. Cells are formed from not fewer than eight party members or candidates for membership. The cell's responsibilities include recruitment of party members, training and ideological development of the membership, and party discipline. When there are fewer than eight members to be organized, a party section is formed; it has responsibilities similar, insofar as possible, to those of the party cell.

Mass Organizations

Youth Organizations

The Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, founded on August 25, 1921, is the party's most important auxiliary. The Party Program describes the organization as the party's "militant assistant and reliable reserve." In 1986 the league had 235,000 members between fifteen and twenty-eight years of age and was a significant element in reinforcing the party ranks and in contributing to social and economic development. A good record as a youth league member was a prerequisite to selection for party membership. Seminars, lectures, and technical schools were run under league sponsorship to raise the ideological, educational, and cultural standards of Mongolian youths. The league also played an active role in preparing youths for service in the armed forces by instilling patriotism and by encouraging participation in reserve training programs to maintain a high level of physical fitness.

The league structure resembles that of the party, with a Central Committee, a Political Bureau composed of members and candidate members, and a Secretariat. Tserendorjiyn Narangerel, who was sixty-eight in 1989, was elected first secretary of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League in 1984. In 1986 he was elected to the party Central Committee and became a deputy in the People's Great Hural. Narangerel's predecessor until 1983 was Lodongiyn Tudev, who became editor-in-chief of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party newspaper, Unen (Truth). In addition to Narangerel, the top league leadership in 1989 included a second secretary and four secretaries. Below the national level, the league included committees led by first secretaries in various-level units that had structures comparable to that of the party. The league belonged to the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students.

The Sukhe Bator Mongolian Pioneers Organization, named after the revolutionary hero, Damdiny Sukhe Bator, and founded in May 1925, was supervised by the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League. With a membership, in the late 1980s, of 360,000, it served children ages ten to fifteen. In 1989 its head--and chairman of the Central Council--was concurrently a secretary of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League Central Committee. Like the youth league, the Pioneers Organization is meant to involve the children in active work and service in fulfilling party goals. It sponsored rallies focused on labor themes; provided medals for good progress in work and study; and encouraged the ideological, moral, and educational development of children. The organization also hosted sports competitions, art reviews, and festivals. In the summer, the organization operated camps to enhance the physical training and the education of youths.

Mongolian-Soviet Friendship Society

Although party-sponsored mass organizations existed for women, laborers, the elderly, and creative artists, the largest mass organization in the late 1980s was the Mongolian-Soviet Friendship Society, established in 1924. With 580,000 members in 1984, the society was chaired by Political Bureau member Namsray, and it included most of the country's prominent leaders. As the name implied, its mission was to strengthen friendly ties and cooperation with the Soviet Union. The society furthered this goal by sponsoring films, exhibits, and lectures and by conducting an annual friendship month celebration preceding the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7. Another body, the Federation of Mongolian Peace and Friendship Organizations, acted as an umbrella association, serving other international friendship societies.

Women's Organizations

The Mongolian Women's Committee was established in 1924. This body operated through women's councils established in industrial centers, businesses, and schools in cities, towns, and aymags. Lubsanchultemiyn Pagmadulam chaired the group in 1989. The federation had approximately 5,000 women's councils that sponsored rallies, educational activities, and work-related training, and it monitored national health care and maternal issues for those sixteen years and older. It supported raising the level of culture among youth and enhancing the quality of their upbringing by instilling moral values. In 1946 the organization affiliated with the International Democratic Federation of Women.

Labor Organizations

The Mongolian Trade Unions originated in 1927. In 1989 it included 600,000 members, grouped into four categories of trade unions: industry and construction; agricultural workers; transportation, communications, trade, and services; and culture and enlightenment. Trade union organizations ran production and training conferences, and they participated in collective agreements between the managements of enterprises and trade union committees. They also articulated issues of concern to the work force, supervised social insurance programs, and oversaw the observance of labor legislation. These and other powers were vested in law, particularly in the National Labor Law. Schools run by labor organizations focused on improving the qualifications and vocational education of factory and office workers.

The highest body in the organizational structure of the labor unions was the Congress of the Mongolian Trade Unions, which elected a central council and an auditing commission. In 1989 the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions was chaired by BatOchiryn Lubsantseren, also a member of the party Central Committee and the Presidium of the People's Great Hural. A presidium--composed of the chairman of the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions, a deputy, and two secretaries--and a four-person secretariat provided the leadership for the subordinate trade union councils and committees. About 3,000 committees operated at the primary factory level. The composition of the trade unions in the late 1980s was 50 percent industrial workers, 30 percent office and professional workers, and 20 percent agricultural workers. In a population that was 58 percent working class, and in a work force that was 95 percent unionized by 1984, trade unions played an important role. How well they performed was another question. At a party Central Committee plenary session in December 1988, the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions was criticized for not adequately protecting workers' interests. The Mongolian Trade Unions was affiliated with the Soviet-sponsored World Federation of Trade Unions.

Other Mass Organizations

Like most other professional groups in Mongolian society, journalists were organized into a mass organization. By 1989 the Union of Mongolian Journalists had 800 members, more than half of them formally trained as journalists. Ninety-seven percent of the membership had received higher education. In 1989 the press in Mongolia was undergoing major changes, and the effect of these changes on this body still was unclear.

There also were "creative unions" to organize writers, artists, and composers. Their main purpose was to ensure that artistic content supported the party's social and political policies. The top leaders of these mass organizations usually served on the party Central Committee. In 1984 the Writers' Union included a sixty-one member committee with seven presiding author-secretaries.

A newer mass organization, established in 1988, was the Culture Fund of the Mongolian People's Republic. Its purpose was to protect monuments and key examples of Mongol history, literature, and architecture as well as to recover cultural treasures that have been taken out of the country. It was funded by voluntary contributions.

The attempt to organize segments of the country's population extended to elderly citizens. The Union of Mongolian Senior Citizens was established on March 25, 1988, with 120,000 members. Its purposes were to make the elderly more productive and involved in the country's development as well as to study and to improve the health of the aging. The organization had a chairman, a deputy chairman, a 150-member executive Committee, a 15-member presidium, and a 7-member central auditing committee. An important subcommittee of this mass organization, reflecting the World War II legacy of military service, was the Committee of War Veterans.


Mongolia - The Political Process


Since 1924 the Mongolian political system and apparatus, patterned after those in the Soviet Union, has followed the organizational principle of democratic centralism. As applied in the Soviet Union, this principle concentrates decision-making authority and the power to take policy initiatives at senior party levels. Throughout the party system, the decisions of higher-level bodies are binding on subordinate-level party organizations. The democratic feature of this Leninist principle prescribes that members of party organizations at all levels are elected by conferences of delegates and are accountable to their respective electorates. Policy issues are to be discussed freely within the party organizations, but once final decisions (expressed in programs) are adopted, strict party discipline then dictates that policies be implemented exactly, without any further expressions of disagreement.

Democratic Centralism

Under the guidance of early party leaders Horloyn Choybalsan and Yumjaagiyn Tsedenbal, the principle of democratic centralism was weighted heavily toward its centralizing features, just as it was being applied in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. Purges, reprisals, and political violence in Mongolia mirrored the arbitrary behavior of Stalin. Choybalsan directed his attacks against political foes, rivals, and religious institutions. After Choybalsan's death in 1952 and Tsedenbal's emergence as the top party and government leader, Mongolian politics again followed the Soviet example. Starting in 1956, Tsedenbal initiated an extensive anti-Stalinist, anti-Choybalsan campaign, accusing the party leader of having conducted a "cult of personality" like Stalin.

In 1989, in the latest mirroring of Soviet politics, observers concluded that the democratic aspects of democratic centralism were beginning to play an enhanced role in Mongolian politics. Highly personalized and centralized politics were giving way to increased involvement by more democratic or representative sectors. Party general secretary Batmonh, speaking before the important fifth plenary session of the Central Committee held December 21-22, 1988, emphasized the need for "renewal" of the Mongolian sociopolitical system by "democratizing the party's inner life." Just before the plenary session, in November 1988, Batmonh pointed to the poor performance of the Mongolian economy even under the policies of "renewal," or Soviet-style restructuring. He gave as reasons for this condition a lack of vitality in the Mongolian political system, which, he said, could be remedied only by a more open and free social and political system.

At the December 1988 plenary session, which focused on reform of the political system, Batmonh spoke at length on the Mongolian equivalent of glasnost and perestroika and, for the first time, identified by name his predecessor, Tsedenbal, with the social, economic, and political problems that plagued Mongolia. In addition, Batmonh linked Tsedenbal's shortcomings with the "serious damage" that the personality cult of Choybalsan had caused and charged that "democracy was restricted and the administrative-command method of management took the upper hand."

Probably with a view to containing the political impact of these provocative statements, Batmonh urged the leadership to recognize these mistakes in leadership in a positive and instructive way. He also laid out the new political course by emphasizing that "a key point to the transformation and renewal" was recognition of the importance of the various levels of assemblies of people's deputies. He said the assemblies' deputies embodied the institutional expression of self-government now regarded as essential to the efficient and effective functioning of the political system. In addition to stressing the importance of these representative bodies, Batmonh exhorted several key mass organizations, particularly the trade unions and the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, to play a more active role in "perfecting organizational renewal" by becoming more vocal about issues and more involved in reform programs. Accordingly, democratic reform was to be carried out at all levels--in central and local government bodies, as well as in party, state, and mass organizations. The assemblies of people's deputies and all mass organizations were to be made responsible for "perfecting" the government system by engaging in free dialogue and in criticism and debate of reform issues and programs.

This speech by Batmonh set the agenda for further party action. The fifth plenary session concluded with the Central Committee's adoption of a seven-point resolution espousing the democratization of the political system. Batmonh discussed the major party reforms involved during an interview reported in the March 1989 issue of the Soviet periodical, New Times. They included: reducing the size of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party membership and giving priority to the primary party organization, the point of contact with the Mongolian population; setting a fixed five-year term of office for elected party bodies, from the Central Committee to the district party committee, and limiting the opportunity to be reelected to one further consecutive term; holding party conferences every two to three years, with the partial--up to 25 percent--replacement of members of party committees; and conducting Political Bureau and Secretariat elections by secret ballot. In general, these party reforms were to contribute to a rejuvenation of party leadership and to democratize internal party politics.

Batmonh revealed that government reforms being proposed at the fifth plenary session were to emphasize the People's Great Hural and assemblies of people's deputies as the "political basis of the state." He said that a distinction would be more clearly drawn between the functions of party and state organizations. Briefly, party organizations were to make policy decisions, the results of which were to be managed and implemented through government representative bodies. Major government reforms included reducing and streamlining the government bureaucracy; limiting the term in office in any of the representative assemblies to five years, with only one opportunity for reelection; nominating several candidates for an office; and discussing candidate qualifications freely. Following up on the fifth plenary session's initiatives, the Political Bureau proposed developing revisions to both the Party Program and the state Constitution to reflect Batmonh's concerns. In February 1989, a commission was formed to begin drafting a new edition of the state Constitution, to be presented for national discussion by December 1989. Addressing its first meeting, Batmonh asserted that "implementation of restructuring in the country was impossible without perfecting its existing laws, and this matter should be started with a new edition of the . . . Constitution." In addition, a new body was being planned, the Commission for Constitutional Control, to improve adherence to the Constitution. Revisions of the Rules of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and to the Party Program were to be ready for the Twentieth Party Congress planned for 1991.

In large measure, Batmonh's efforts to emphasize and to strengthen the democratic features in the political system reflected his responsiveness to precedents set in Moscow. Nevertheless, if implemented, these reforms may have at least the short-term effect of opening debate and allowing more discussion of pressing local issues, a development that might improve the quality of life for Mongolians. Over the long term, the permanence of these "democratic" policies was likely to be related closely to the success or the failure of the ongoing economic programs.

Batmonh's professional background fits neatly into the mold of the senior Mongolian political leader. He was born in 1926 in Hyargas Somon, Uvs Aymag, in western Mongolia, reportedly to a peasant family of herdsmen. Like his predecessor, Tsedenbal, Batmonh was educated in the Soviet Union, at the Academy of Social Sciences. Typical of past and present members of the party Political Bureau, Batmonh has a strong economic-technical background. He studied at the Mongolian State University, and in the late 1960s he was rector of the Higher School of Economics. From 1963 to 1973, he was vice rector and then rector of the Mongolian State University. Batmonh's political ascent was rapid and remarkable. While serving as head of the Central Committee's Department of Science and Education, he became chairman of the Council of Ministers in June 1974, without first being elected to Political Bureau membership. At that time, he was only a candidate member of the Central Committee. By December 1984, Batmonh was concurrently the party's general secretary, having replaced Tsedenbal in August, and chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural. He thus had control over, and access to, the two governing bureaucracies, securing his place at the center of the political system.

Sodnom was the second most prominent leader in Mongolia in the late 1980s. Born in 1933 in Orgon Somon, Dornogovi Aymag, Sodnom graduated from the Finance and Economics Technical School in Ulaanbaatar and the Finance and Economics Institute in Irkutsk, Soviet Union. His professional career concentrated on economics and planning. From 1963 to 1969, Sodnom was minister of finance; by 1974 he was chairman of the State Planning Commission. He became a full Political Bureau member and chairman of the Council of Ministers (premier) in December 1984, succeeding Batmonh.

The backgrounds of others serving on the Political Bureau in 1989 were mixed, but they shared a notable emphasis on economics and state-planning experience. Demchigjabyn Molomjamts, perhaps the third most influential leader, was minister of finance and concurrently held key state planning positions. Altangerel was concurrently the first deputy premier. Colonel General Jamsrangiyn Dejid a former minister of public security, was concurrently a party secretary. Namsray, a former aide to Tsedenbal and a journalist, was elected to the Political Bureau in June 1984, just before Tsedenbal's retirement in August. Candidate Political Bureau members Bandzragchiyn Lamjab and Sonomyn Lubsangombo represented different, but critical, career specialties. Lamjab concurrently served as chairman of the Party Control Commission. Lubsangombo, an urban development specialist, was chairman of the State Building Commission and deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers (or, deputy premier).

Political Issues

The political leadership style of Batmonh can be described as cautious and pragmatic, and it explains in part why the senior leadership levels in the party have escaped major shake-ups. Under his leadership, the political program has focused on bringing greater productivity, efficiency, and material prosperity to society. Implementing this program, however, has raised certain key political issues of central concern to Batmonh and other top party leaders. One issue has been the performance of the party and government bureaucracies. The official bureaucracy has come under attack for apathy to reform measures and for displays of resistance to their implementation. Another major criticism, often related to those just cited, was that some party and government leaders were considered either unqualified or too inept to understand and to carry out reform programs.

In attempts to address this issue, party pronouncements have stressed the participation and the accountability of officials at all levels of the bureaucracy. This has been accomplished in some measure at the provincial level by increasing participation of aymag first secretaries on the party Central Committee. Having them serve on this national body included them in the policy debate and made them responsible for, and accountable for, the effective implementation of policies and programs. In 1986 the Central Committee included fourteen of the eighteen first secretaries, as either full or candidate members. Two of the unrepresented aymags actually were represented indirectly by having representatives on the Central Committee who had been elected from the autonomous cities, Darhan and Erdenet, located within those aymags. Two decades earlier, only a few aymag first secretaries served on the party Central Committee.

In 1989 the change that linked aymag leaders to the national- level leadership probably did not indicate a major decentralization of political power in Mongolia. Official policy still followed precedents set in the Soviet Union that were transmitted by the central party structure. Instead, these "decentralizing" measures appeared to be inspired more by a recognition of the nature of past economic stagnation and failure. They were designed to provide aymag party leaders with a substantial political stake in the regime in order to win their much needed enthusiasm and commitment to the new reformist goals.

Creative approaches and bold thinking were qualities that the regime espoused to energize its often-complacent bureaucracy. At the Nineteenth Congress in 1986, Batmonh echoed the reformist thrust of Mikhail Gorbachev's speech to the preceding Twentyseventh Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Batmonh stressed that party members needed to "think and work in new ways." He identified as the "chief political result of the supreme forum of Mongolian Communists" (that is, the party congress) the recognition that more attention had to be paid to party ideological and organizational work and "to strengthening inner-party democracy." Batmonh raised similar themes in his key December 1988 plenary session speech. In discussing ideological work within the party bureaucracy, he identified the main task as being "to foster in people a scientific world outlook and further raise their social consciousness."

Developing a program of "renewal and rejuvenation" has precipitated as an issue the question of what should constitute the official view of Mongolian history. Who were the heroes, and who obstructed progress? By late 1988, Tsedenbal, for the first time, was identified with the regime's economic failures because economic stagnation and official dogmatism that stifled growth and creativity flourished during his tenure. The charges leveled against Tsedenbal during this revision of modern Mongolian history also appeared to extend into the emotional area of the fate and the status of indigenous Mongolian cultural institutions and heritage. Calling for a "realistic appraisal" of Tsedenbal's career, Batmonh said "we draw serious conclusions on the acts of destroying historical and cultural monuments, monasteries and temples. But that bitter lesson was not duly considered, and even today a careless attitude to national culture persists." Filling in what have been called "blank spots" in Mongolian history appeared in mid-1989 to extend even to the historical treatment of Chinggis Khan and perhaps can be viewed as one important barometer of political change in Mongolia. Traditionally, the Soviet press has described Chinggis as a "feudal and backward element." By early 1989, the Mongolian press had adopted a more positive view of this historic national figure, a change suggesting that, politically, the Mongolian leadership has begun to move somewhat out from under Soviet political tutelage.

Role of the Military

The Mongolian military establishment played only a minor role in the political system in the late 1980s. In 1989, no Political Bureau member or candidate member represented defense interests. Dejid served on the Political Bureau and the Secretariat, but not as a military leader. Rather, his responsibilities were civilian in nature, involving preservation of party and state unity and discipline in the course of carrying out the new programs of openness and leadership restructuring.

Dejid's career experience was typical of military leaders who had risen to positions of influence in party and state circles. Dejid was a former minister of public security and chairman of the Party Control Commission. During his active military service, he was involved in public security, censorship, and civilian control activities. Ancillary to these duties were his obligations to greet visiting Soviet military delegations and to participate in defense discussions with Soviet commanders.

The percentage of military representation on the party Central Committee was not reported officially, but the number was thought to be small. It was clear that military officers with direct and primary defense responsibilities maintained a low political profile. This was well illustrated by the fact that Colonel General Jamsrangiyn Yondon, minister of defense in 1989, was not a member of the Central Committee when he was selected for the senior government defense post in 1982. The welldocumented career of Yondon's predecessor, Jorantayn Abhia, was characteristic of a member of the Mongolian military elite. Abhia held several key positions successively in police or militia work and in the court and procuracy system. Senior military officers often filled the key positions in government public security and in the civil and criminal justice system. In 1989 the minister of public security was Lieutenant General Agbaanjantsangiyn Jamsranjab, and the chief of state security was Lieutenant General B. Tsiyregdzen. Tsiyregdzen's duties included suppressing anti-Soviet propaganda and counterespionage as well as guarding against alleged Western subversion, particularly through censorship of the mails.

Probably the greatest impact the military has had on the Mongolian political process has been indirect--through its organizational and ideological activities. Beginning with the militarist period of leadership under Choybalsan and even in 1989, the military establishment contributed to the formation in the popular consciousness of the concepts of state and national polity. In addition, the army played a significant role in spreading literacy, and it served as an integrating agent by spreading the national language to minority groups. In the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of improvements in media and communications, the military probably has found it somewhat easier to fulfill the goal of producing a dedicated cadre of soldiers who will return to civilian life.

General Political Values and Attitudes

The political system became heavily regimented under communism and the organizational principle of democratic centralism. Young and elderly citizens, urban and rural dwellers, skilled and unskilled laborers all had to become fully involved in, and cognizant of, the goals and the ideological content of party programs. Inevitably, the implementation of this political system has provoked a variety of responses. Mongolians, now middle-aged and older, who by 1959 had experienced collectivization and were deprived of their animal herds and the freedom to roam in search of new pastures, harbored resentment against the government's procedures and limitations on their erstwhile freedoms. Any outright opposition was put down quickly, but negative feelings probably have not been eradicated.

Support for the regime existed, and it was likely to continue in the 1990s among those with the greatest stake in the success of its policies--for example, party and government cadres, economists, and technocrats. The earlier sovietization of politics and society, and the role of officials in that process, had given this group an elevated status, but with the concomitant requirement that they exhort the people to uphold the preferred values of conformity and political orthodoxy at the expense of more traditional values and spontaneity. Improvements in communications and transportation as well as the opportunities for reaching a larger audience afforded by increased literacy have permitted the communist regime and its cadres more immediate contact with the populace. By the 1980s, there were no more mass political purges, but the state machinery had become more efficient and pervasive in organization. Its political influence was deeply felt throughout the country. How this system would fare under the reformist policies of openness and democratization could not be assessed in mid-1989.

Reportedly, some resistance to this method of rule--from Mongolian youths who were better-educated, aware that change was occurring, and anxious that even greater openness be permitted-- was becoming evident. Politically, they seemed to advocate extending the trend toward democratization. They viewed democracy more as a human right than as a means for improving the political system and its policies, by such methods as encouraging public criticism of cadre incompetence, poor management practices, and so forth. Youth demands also may have been shared by the artistic community and by some members of the intelligentsia. The latter, while saluting the de-Stalinization campaign ongoing in 1989, also may have wanted a more extensive reappraisal of Mongolian culture and its heroes. It was difficult to assess how deep these feelings were, but observers doubted that they represented any immediate threat to the regime's stability.


Mongolia - Foreign Policy


Mongolia's foreign policy must be viewed in the context of the nation's landlocked position, sandwiched between the Soviet Union and China. The country's survival and growth have largely depended on its leaders' adroit management of this sensitive and strategic location. Too weak to act independently to hold encroachments from both China and the Soviet Union in check, Mongolia's leaders have interpreted their national interests as being best served by accepting the political direction and military support of Moscow. Thus, for more than sixty years, the Soviet Union has been the patron and the predominant force shaping Mongolian foreign affairs. In 1987 this Mongolian stance was expressed succinctly in Batmonh's statement that his country was "grateful Soviet units were still guarding socialism in Mongolia."

Motivation and Goals

In 1989 the principal motivations driving Mongolia's foreign policy were the preservation of territorial integrity, together with the projection of a substantial measure of political independence. Major goals included expanding and modernizing the economy through aid and trade arrangements, and extending diplomatic and economic contacts with the international community. During the 1970s and 1980s, the opportunities afforded by Soviet economic aid and assistance, along with those available through Comecon and the Soviet military guardianship, continued to hold Mongolia firmly within the Soviet orbit. Internationally, Mongolia often served as a Soviet proxy, representing the Soviet position when and where needed.

By mid-1989, some indications of changes in Mongolia's foreign policy direction were visible, very likely in response to initiatives taken by Soviet leader Gorbachev. Operating within the context of the distinct improvements being made in SinoSoviet relations, Mongolian leaders also began to demonstrate a more relaxed attitude toward China. Furthermore, they seemed willing to explore new relationships with other Asian countries and to accelerate contact and deepening relationships with Western and Third World countries.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign policy goals are pursued through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed in 1989 by Tserenpiliin Gombosuren. The trade aspects of foreign relations are carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Trade. The power of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is limited to implementing foreign policies formulated by high-level party organizations. That Gombosuren was only a candidate member of the Central Committee underlines this fact.

The formulation of foreign policy is done in the name of the party Central Committee, and it is closely controlled by top party leaders, organizations, and departments. Foreign policy is formulated by senior leaders in the Political Bureau who are well attuned to Soviet foreign policy preferences. In mid-1989 Political Bureau member and party secretary Namsray appeared to have responsibility for supervising foreign affairs. In addition, the party Central Committee has a subordinate department responsible for foreign relations; the head of it in mid-1989 was concurrently a member of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural. He probably coordinated foreign policy matters with the chairman of the Standing Commission for Foreign Affairs of the People's Great Hural, who also happened to be a party secretary.

In 1989 the minister of foreign affairs was assisted in implementing foreign policy by a first deputy minister, two deputy ministers, and heads of specialized departments. Some key departments believed to have been responsible for specific geographic areas were: number one, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and Poland; number two, remaining European countries; number three, East Asia and Southeast Asia; and number four, South Asia, West Asia, and Africa. Additional departments handled cultural affairs, treaties and archives, relations with international organizations, legal affairs, protocol, the administration of diplomatic agencies, the press, and other matters.

Foreign Relations with ...
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Mongolia - Soviet Union


In the late 1980s, the close relationship between Mongolia and the Soviet Union was much the same as it had been since the 1920s. Mongolian foreign policy stressed consolidating the "fraternal alliance" with the Soviet Union and close cooperation with the members of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. The two countries had direct links among ministries, agencies, departments, and party organizations. The Soviet Union encouraged direct contacts between Mongolia and the Buryatskaya Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and Tuvinskaya Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics as well as the Central Asian Soviet republics. By 1985 the Soviet Union had consulates in the cities of Choybalsan; Darhan, where many Soviet-built factories were located; and Erdenet, the site of a Mongolian-Soviet joint copper and molybdenum mining enterprise. In August 1988, the only Mongolian ambassadorships with incumbents serving concurrently on the party Central Committee were assignments to countries of major concern to the Soviet Union: Albania, Afghanistan, East Germany, and Finland. The Mongolian ambassador to the Soviet Union also served on the party Central Committee.

When Batmonh became general secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, an event followed closely by Gorbachev's election as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the two leaders pledged to uphold and to strengthen the Mongolian-Soviet alliance. Gorbachev's "new thinking" in foreign policy matters soon became evident, however, and it no doubt raised major concerns, on the part of Mongolian leaders, particularly regarding a warming of relations between the Soviet Union and China. Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze visited Mongolia from January 23 to 25, 1986, shortly after celebrations marking the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the 1966 Mongolian-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance and its extension for ten years. Shevardnadze said that "the period of strained relationships with China is now behind us. The Soviet Union is for normalizing and improving relations with the Chinese republic on condition that the principle of not harming third countries be observed." One clear purpose of the Soviet formula of "not harming third countries" was to reassure Mongolia that the Soviet Union did not plan initiatives toward China that would compromise or endanger Mongolia's national security or expose that country to Chinese encroachments.

In July 1986, Gorbachev extended the new direction in foreign affairs in a speech on Asian security delivered in Vladivostok. He indicated Soviet interest in improved Moscow-Beijing relations, and he included a plan to withdraw Soviet troops from Mongolia, a major factor in Soviet diplomatic initiatives designed to meet China's conditions for normalization of relations.

Shortly after the Vladivostok initiative, Mongolian officials began talks with United States diplomats concerning another attempt to improve relations. Ulaanbaatar probably viewed prospective ties with Washington as offering a greater degree of maneuverability in the increasingly complex international setting in Asia. In January 1987, diplomatic ties were established with the United States, and the Soviet Union announced its intention to withdraw one division of troops from Mongolia. Both actions no doubt were the subject of lengthy substantive talks between Soviet and Mongolian leaders.

Mongolia further broadened its diplomatic horizons by hosting delegations from twenty-one communist and workers' parties for the Consultative Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties of Asia and the Pacific Region, the first regional gathering of this type, in July 1986. The theme of this meeting was "peace, security and good-neighborly cooperation in Asia and the Pacific region." By hosting this meeting, Ulaanbaatar served Moscow's purposes of underscoring Gorbachev's new interest in Asia-- further highlighted by the attendance of a high-powered Soviet delegation. China declined to send a delegation, claiming that conditions were "not ripe," and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) did not attend either, probably as a gesture to China.

As Mongolia expanded its contacts in the international community, Gorbachev continued to extend his Asian initiatives, a development directly affecting Mongolia's national interests. In a speech delivered on September 16, 1988, at the southeastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Gorbachev presented a seven-point program designed to enhance security in the Asia-Pacific region and to promote his view of a multipolar approach to resolving issues in foreign relations. The so-called Krasnoyarsk initiative indicated both Soviet intentions to play a major role in the region and its awareness that China also must be included in regional development plans. Observers speculated that the Soviets must have expended considerable effort in reassuring Mongolian leaders that Soviet proposals dealing with East Asia, particularly those involving China, did not threaten Mongolian national security.

The challenge for Mongolia's foreign policy makers was to comply with Soviet initiatives, about which they had little choice, but to do so in a manner that suggested that Mongolia was acting as an independent country, shaping a foreign policy that served its national interests. At the same time, the Soviet Union could not appear to be overlooking the interests of its ally Mongolia while making its overtures to China. This mild restriction on Soviet behavior had helped to reassure Mongolia that continued Soviet protection and strategic support were reliable. In any case, Mongolian compliance with the Soviet initiatives was evident in Gorbachev's address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on December 7, 1988. In it he announced that most Soviet troops stationed in Mongolia would be withdrawn. Subsequently, in February 1989, during talks between Batmonh and a Soviet deputy foreign minister, the latter explained that discussions to resolve questions connected with "the withdrawal from the territory of Mongolia of 75 percent of Soviet land forces and other military subunits would soon begin." On March 7, 1989, the Soviets announced, probably as an additional concession to China on the eve of the May 1989 SinoSoviet summit, that withdrawal plans had been finalized.


Mongolia - China


Mongolian-Chinese relations historically have suffered because of China's claims to "lost territory" and Mongolia's fear of China's expansion because of overpopulation. Since 1984 improvement in Mongolian relations with China has lagged behind the more rapid advances in Sino-Soviet relations. An early indication of lessening of tensions, however, came in July 1984 when Ulaanbaatar sent to Beijing a delegation led by its deputy foreign minister, the first such visit in several years. The Mongolian representative met with China's minister of foreign affairs to discuss developing bilateral economic, cultural, trade, and technical relations. Also, the officials signed a document verifying the first joint inspection of the MongolianChinese border. The warming atmosphere continued with the signing of an agreement on civil aviation in December 1985, followed by the resumption of direct Beijing-Ulaanbaatar air service in June 1986. A five-year agreement increasing levels of trade was signed in April 1986.

Batmonh gave official sanction to improvements in MongolianChinese relations in his address to the May 1986 Nineteenth Congress. Displaying caution and restraint, Batmonh declared that Mongolia was pursuing consistently its "scrupulous policy" of normalizing relations with China, with the qualification that the relationship should be based on equality and "non-interference in another's internal affairs." This evident uncertainty concerning national security was reflected in Mongolian press statements, just prior to Gorbachev's July 1986 address that announced Soviet troop withdrawals were under consideration. The press stressed that the disposition of Soviet troops stationed in Mongolia was an internal matter between Mongolia and the Soviet Union, and that it was not a subject for discussion during any Sino-Soviet consultations. An article appearing in the press shortly after Gorbachev's speech captured the Mongolian sentiment that "no country which borders on China feels secure."

Batmonh's initiatives were followed by an August 1986 visit to Mongolia of a vice foreign minister described as the highestranking Chinese official to visit Mongolia in twenty years. This important meeting resulted in the signing of a consular agreement, the first since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries in 1949. This agreement was followed in 1987 by several key visits and events: a high-level delegation from China's legislative body, the National People's Congress, visited Mongolia in June; this visit was reciprocated in September 1988 by a delegation from the People's Great Hural, the first since 1960; a scientific and technical cooperative program for the 1987 to 1988 period was ratified in July; and a major Mongolian friendship delegation visited China in September 1987--reciprocated by a Chinese friendship delegation that went to Mongolia in July 1988.

Other important points of discussion at the August 1986 meeting reportedly were "certain international issues of common concern." Japanese press reports indicated that the Mongolians had rejected a Chinese request at the meeting that all Soviet troops be withdrawn from Mongolia. In China's view, the presence of Soviet troops in Mongolia was a key "obstacle" to normalization of relations between China and the Soviet Union. China, maintaining that only a total troop withdrawal would be satisfactory, refused to back down from this position. From the Chinese perspective, Mongolia once had been under China's domination; it was therefore particularly galling that Soviet troops were now massed in that area and were directed against China.

In 1988 security concerns and Mongolia's image as an independent country were especially visible in its foreign policy vis-à-vis China. The Mongolian minister of foreign affairs remarked in November that significant progress had been made in Mongolian-Chinese relations, but he stressed that any further Soviet withdrawals from Mongolia were a matter for deliberation by the Mongolian government. Mongolia's message was that this was not a unilateral Soviet issue. Following Gorbachev's UN address in December, Mongolia announced that Soviet troop withdrawals had been set in accordance with an agreement reached between Mongolia and the Soviet Union and had resulted from "the positive shift that had occurred in Asia and on the international arena as a whole." Bilateral cooperation between Mongolia and China on security issues had advanced to the point that on November 28, 1988, a treaty on a border control system was signed in Beijing. The Chinese side described the purpose of the treaty as being to maintain stability in the border areas.

The stationing of Soviet troops on Mongolia's border with China remained a major impediment both to improved Sino-Soviet relations and to Mongolian-Chinese relations. Nevertheless, by early 1989 Soviet assurances that Mongolian security would not be compromised, complemented by Mongolia's new relationship with the United States and enhanced international status, apparently allowed Mongolia's leaders to accept additional Soviet efforts to remove the Chinese "obstacle" of border troops. Sino-Soviet consultations, in preparation for the May 1989 summit between Gorbachev and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping resulted in the retention of Soviet troops in Mongolia--a requirement, no doubt of Mongolia--although a 75 percent force reduction was to occur at some unspecified time in the future. Whether this action would satisfy China fully was still unclear in mid-1989. What was clear was that Mongolia's status would change significantly, with a much reduced level of protection from the Soviet Union. In addition, with increasing Chinese influence and involvement in Mongolia, Soviet motivation for providing larger aid and assistance packages might be diminished.

Foreign observers assumed that the agenda of the May 1989 Sino-Soviet summit was a key subject for discussion during Minister of Foreign Affairs Tserenpiliin Gombosuren's eight-day visit to Beijing, beginning in late March. With Sino-Soviet relations showing significant improvement, and the normalization of Mongolian-Chinese relations being in practice a by-product of these developments, the expansion of Mongolian-Chinese relations might be expected to accelerate. The Beijing meeting of foreign ministers, the first in twenty-seven years, resulted in agreement to establish a joint commission on cooperation in economy, trade, and science and technology; on allowing visa-free travel between the two countries; and on restoring a Mongolian consulate general in China's Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia).


Mongolia - United States


The <"http://worldfacts.us/US.htm"> United States and Mongolia established diplomatic relations on January 27, 1987, after a period of "mutual flirtation" when negotiations were conducted in New York by the two nations' UN missions. United States officials were primarily interested in establishing ties because of Mongolia's strategic and geographic position in the Sino-Soviet relationship. Washington had considered establishing diplomatic relations in the past, but it had deferred to the Guomindang (Kuomintang in Wade-Giles), or Chinese Nationalist, government in Taiwan, which still claimed Mongolia as part of China. In the early 1970s, negotiations were reopened, and they were almost completed when the proceedings were broken off by Mongolia because of problems between the United States and the Soviet Union, including the Second Indochina War (1963-75).

The establishment of Mongolian-United States relations reflected improvements in the United States-Soviet relationship, and it was consistent with Gorbachev's interest in dealing with all states that have substantial interests in Asia. The United States gained the diplomatic recognition of a strategically located country in Asia. The new Mongolian-United States relationship was assisted by the establishment of ties between China and the United States. For Mongolia the new relationship has given greater credibility to its political independence and sovereign status and has increased its foreign policy options.

The United States embassy in Ulaanbaatar opened in April 1988. Because of continued inadequate facilities, however, the ambassador to Mongolia was the only United States chief of mission who was resident in Washington. By 1989 the ambassador had traveled to Mongolia several times in the space of a year in order to carry out state business.


Mongolia - The Media


Mongolia's approach toward the development and the dissemination of information and its policies concerning the degree of access to, and influence allowed from, other countries were undergoing significant change in the late 1980s as, particularly in 1989, official views concerning themes, events, and leading personalities in Mongolia's recent and early history were undergoing substantial revision. Many of these new interpretations were opening the way to further research on the Mongolian cultural heritage, an area previously regarded as sensitive because of its potential for arousing "nationalistic" emotions. Echoing similar events in the Soviet Union, these developments were in keeping with the political trend toward openness and democratization.

Information Policy

At the Nineteenth Party Congress in 1986, Batmonh described the media as powerful "tools of openness" that were "to influence the formation of public opinion, foster a creative atmosphere in society, and inspire an active approach to life in the individual." Recognizing the chief role of the media as being to educate and to inform as well as to direct the population toward the goals and program developed by the party, Batmonh and the senior party leadership also appeared to be using media channels for improving the performance of party and government organizations. There was a new emphasis on exposing the shortcomings in economic performance and on making "the real state of affairs" known. In December 1986, Batmonh launched an attack on "bureaucracy, stagnation and passivity," calling instead for "a new and creatively courageous approach to work in an atmosphere of openness, frankness, justness and principledness." By mid-1987, the press included exchanges of letters between readers and responsible officials discussing examples of bureaucracy and government inefficiency.

At the key December 1988 Central Committee plenary session, Batmonh said that the media needed to foster in people "a scientific world outlook and further raise their social consciousness." He also extended the scope of il tod (openness), Mongolia's version of glasnost, to include a critical reappraisal of questions about Mongolian history and society by filling in the so-called "blank spots." In addition to criticisms of Tsedenbal, Political Bureau resolutions emanating from the plenary session stressed the importance of Mongolia's cultural heritage. In a major departure from the past, the party was instructed to preserve the national culture carefully and to transmit it to the next generation. Even Chinggis Khan, whom the Soviet Union repeatedly had identified as a "reactionary figure," was given an honored place in Mongolian history as founder of the nation. A two-volume biography of Chinggis, published in China's neighboring Nei Monggol Autonomous Region in 1987, reportedly was in great demand by young Mongolians.

Underlying the party's new information policy--espousing critical thinking, intellectual vitality, and national pride--was the intention to inspire and to involve the entire population in the party's developmental program. The media carried the party message throughout society through press, radio, television, publishing outlets, vocational and social clubs, films, and libraries. The selection of thematic material was being supervised closely in the late 1980s, but, in comparison with the Tsedenbal years, a relaxed atmosphere toward the media was apparent.

Major Channels

Channels of communication were government-owned and government-operated; information and propaganda were woven together in news, educational material, and entertainment. The most important body directing the media was the Press Agitation and Propaganda Section (Agitprop) of the party Central Committee. Agitprop, in conjunction with the Council of Ministers, published Unen (Truth), established in 1920. It was the most widely read newspaper; in 1988 it had a circulation of 170,000 and was published six days a week. The weekly publication of the Unen newspaper organization was Shine Hodoo (New Countryside), aimed at the rural population. Unen also published eighteen issues annually of the popular satirical magazine, Toshuul (Woodpecker), which featured cartoons and light reading material. Namyin Amdral (Party Life), with a circulation of 28,000, has served since 1923 as the Central Committee's monthly ideological organ. Ediyn Dzasgiyn, Asuudal (Economic Questions), also published by the Central Committee, carried speeches and documents concerned with political and economic affairs and was published in eighteen issues annually. Another party periodical, Uhuulagch (Agitator), emphasized propaganda material and was published bimonthly, with a circulation of 34,000 in the late 1980s.

Communications media were directed by overlapping and interlocking government commissions and committees of the People's Great Hural, the Council of Ministers, and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. The Presidium of the People's Great Hural published a quarterly journal, Ardyn Tor (People's Power), with a circulation of 11,000. The Ministry of Culture, together with the Union of Mongolian Writers, published a weekly periodical called Utga, Dzohiol Urlag (Literature and Art). The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security jointly produced Ulaan Od (Red Star), a biweekly, and Ardyn Armi (People's Army), a quarterly magazine. The Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Mongolian Society for the Dissemination of Knowledge published a bimonthly popular science magazine, Shinjleh Uhaan, Amidral (Science and Life). Finally, the Office of the Procurator of the Republic, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of Justice collaborated in the publication of the quarterly journal Sotsialist Huul' Yos (Socialist Legality).

In 1987, a total of almost 130 million copies of 35 national newspapers and 38 periodicals were being published. In addition, there were nineteen provincial newspapers, mainly published biweekly by provincial party and government executive committees. The cities of Ulaanbaatar, Nalayh, Erdenet, and Darhan also had their own newspapers. The two major news agencies were Mongol Tsahilgaan Medeeniy Agentlag (MONTSAME--Mongolian Telegraph Agency) and Mongolpress. The latter published fortnightly news bulletins in Russian, English, and French. In 1987 each household reportedly received four to six publications. Another body, the Media Information Center, was established in February 1989, reportedly to expand the range of information available to the public by providing members of the press and the media with increased access to high party and government officials.

Various mass organizations also had publishing arms. The official organ of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, Dzaluuchudyn Unen (Youth Truth), was published biweekly and carried league speeches and documents. Other youth journals included Dzalgamjlagch (Successor) and Dzaluu Uye (Young Generation). The Central Council of the Sukhe Bator Mongolian Pioneers Organization, together with the Youth League Central Committee, published 84 issues annually of Pioneriyn Unen (Pioneers' Truth) and was circulated to 175,000 subscribers.

The leading publications of the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions was Hodolmor (Labor), published three times a week, and a bimonthly magazine entitled Mongolyn Uyldberchniy Eblel (Mongolian Trade Unions). The publishing organ of the Federation of Democratic Women was the quarterly magazine Mongolyn Emegteuchuud (Mongolian Women). The Union of Mongolian Writers published the bimonthly political and literary journal, Tsog (Spark). The Union of Mongolian Artists and the Ministry of Culture published a quarterly journal, Soyol, Urlag (Culture and Art). Another quarterly journal published by the union was Dursleh Urlag (Fine Arts).

Most titles of Mongolian publications were translations of the titles of counterpart Soviet publications, which served as models for format and content. A Russian-language newspaper, Novosty Mongolii (News of Mongolia) published 26,000 copies, three times weekly; a Chinese-language journal, Menggu Xiaoxi (News of Mongolia), was published weekly. Publications in other languages were scarce in 1989, although the situation was improving. In 1986 the Mongolia Express Agency for Publication Data was established to aid in the distribution of publications and bulletins published in several foreign languages.

Radio and television were available through Ulaanbaatar Radio and Mongoltelevidz, both of which were supervised by the State Committee for Information, Radio, and Television. In December 1988, a new radio and television center, built with Soviet aid, opened in Ulaanbaatar. It was estimated that in 1989 the center would increase the volume of broadcasting by 150 percent. Almost every family, including those residing in rural areas, had access to a radio receiver in 1989. In 1985 Mongolia had 382 broadcasting centers, providing radiobroadcasts to more than 90 percent of the population and television broadcasts to more than 60 percent. By 1987 radiobroadcasts were available eighteen hours daily through two programs, with broadcasts in Mongol, Kazakh Russian, English, French, and Chinese to sixty countries. A 1987 poll of listeners and viewers indicated that the primary sources of news information for this audience were: radio, 66 percent; the press, 21 percent; and television, 12 percent.

By 1988 an estimated 64 percent of families residing in Ulaanbaatar possessed television sets. National television broadcasts were available five times a week, or for 15,000 hours annually. Broadcasting also was available from Orbita, a Soviet satellite communications system that relays television broadcasts. Almost 60 percent of the Mongolian population viewed television by late 1987. Mongolian-originated television was available in Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, and Darhan; in fifteen aymag centers; and in forty-eight towns and somon centers. The Orbita broadcasting was more limited.

The State Publishing House and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences supervised publishing. Each year they produced a prospectus of books to be published that year. The Sukhe Bator Publishing House produced 70 percent of Mongolia's printed matter, including 400 book titles. There also were publishing facilities in each aymag, and there were other publishing houses in Ulaanbaatar. Russian-language books always dominated the foreign category, but there also were prose and verse from France, the United States, and India, which offered a view of the noncommunist world. By 1985 Mongolia had 983 libraries housing more than 13 million volumes, most of which were located at the State Library in Ulaanbaatar.

Foreign Sources

The major foreign source for media information in the late 1980s, as it had been since the 1920s, was the Soviet Union. Foreign news consisted mainly of edited material available through the Soviet news agency, Telegrafnoye Agentstvo Sovetskovo Soyuza (TASS). Other foreign bureaus located in Ulaanbaatar were the Soviet Agentstvo Pechanti Novosti (APN) and the East German Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst (ADN). MONTSAME had a staff based in, or visiting and reporting from, all capitals of its communist allies. Foreign newspapers, magazines, and books came from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. No newspapers from the United States or Britain were being distributed in Ulaanbaatar in the late 1980s. Also, distribution channels reportedly have been faulted for causing lengthy delays in deliveries to subscribers and readers. English-language materials include Mongolia Today, a magazine geared to foreign consumption, published monthly by the Mongolian embassy in New Delhi and distributed in Mongolia.

The existing political system, ruled by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, was firmly established in Mongolia in the late twentieth century. Beginning in 1989, however, major revisions of the country's government and party structure were being undertaken, patterned after reforms going on in the Soviet Union. Although it was too early to assess the situation adequately in mid-1989, these measures were expected to meet with bureaucratic resistance, as had occurred in other communist party-ruled states undergoing reform. Still there were certain factors--political and international--that might be expected to work in favor of the reform program's success: a stable political leadership, a tradition of political conservatism and conformity, and an international climate that continued to lessen external pressures on Mongolia. The emerging relaxation in internal politics and the thaw in key external foreign relations might, if they lasted, afford Mongolian leaders valuable opportunities to establish a sense of national identity and some measure of cultural authenticity, both probably essential to Mongolia's revitalization and revival in the 1990s.


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CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

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