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    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Mongolia

Ethnicity

Nearly every citizen in Mongolia is an ethnic Mongol. However, to be Mongol, as an ethnicity, includes numerous ethnic groups, but this blanket term is often used both politically and ethnically so the actual ethnic divide among the people is somewhat muted. Some people are wholly one ethnicity, such as being Khalkha (again confusing since this is often referred to as a linguistic term), while most people are a combination of numerous Mongol tribes and are more generally defined as being an ethnic Mongol. The origins of the Mongols is debated, but most people believe they are most closely related to the Manchurians, Han Chinese and the Turkic people of today; despite these relations, they are fairly distinct from all of these groups.

Language

Khalkha Mongol is the official language of Mongolia and this is the native language of nearly 90% of the country's population. Mongol is a part of the Mongolian language family, which consists of numerous small languages. Mongol and these other languages are perhaps distantly related to the Turkic languages as well as the Tibetan languages. However, none of these languages are closely related, it related at all.

In addition to the many minority Mongol languages, a couple Central Asian languages are spoken by minorities near the country's western border and some dialects of Chinese are spoken along the southern border. Russian is also a popular language, but primarily as a second language as it was widely taught during the Soviet times when the two countries had close relations. This continues today as many people still speak Russian, although English and other popular international languages are slowly being taught in larger numbers.

Religion

About half the population of Mongolia is Lamaist Buddhist with another 40% of the total population being atheist. The last 10% of the people are almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Buddhism is a religion or philosophy that encourages people to strive for enlightenment. Adherents believe that each being is reborn until enlightenment is reached, at which time they escape the cycle of birth and death. To accomplish this, every being must speak, act, and live in a positive manner; this is magnified with the force of karma, which dictates an individual's later life and/or their rebirth.

This page was last updated: May, 2014