Mongolia is just as affected by its former Soviet communist past as the other countries where SON Network serves. Many challenges still exist and much work remains.

Over half of the Mongolian population identifies as Buddhist. Christianity appeared in the country quite late in its long history. It was only after the end of Soviet communist rule in Mongolia, in 1990, that the number of Christians in the country started growing. While the Christian population of Mongolia was just 4 people, in 1989, it increased to 40,000 by 2008, and is approaching 70,000 believers, today. A large section of the country’s Christian community lives in and around the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.  Muslims in Mongolia are mainly ethnic Kazakhs distributed in different parts of the country. Other religions, like Shamanism, also have a small presence in Mongolia.

The Constitution of the country provides for freedom of religion. The government generally respects this right of the people. However, religious organizations must register with the government to operate and the registration process is often cumbersome and associated with bureaucratic obstacles. Although a few reports of discrimination on the basis of religion exist, the Mongolian society is usually tolerant towards religious differences.

The Mongolian capital city, Ulaanbaatar, is the 5th highest in the world (at 1,350 m/4,430 ft above sea level) and is officially recognized as the coldest capital of the world, with an average annual temperature at a frigid -1.3 degrees Celsius (+29.7 degrees Fahrenheit). In winter, it sometimes drops to -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F). At the same time,  it is not uncommon for summer heat to spike at +40 degrees C (+104 degrees F)! Almost half of Mongolia’s entire population, of 3.17 Million, resides in Ulaanbaatar.

Regarding the written language in Mongolia:  Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, forcibly replaced Mongolian written script with the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, in the 1940s. The Cyrillic alphabet is still used today, throughout Mongolia.

Historical background:  The Mongolians first appeared during the 3rd century BC, when the Huns rose to power, first, in Central Asia and then headed into Europe to confront the Roman Empire. Later the Mongolians gained their most notable fame in the 13th century when, under Genghis Khan, ravaged and conquered the huge Eurasian empire. After his death the empire divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these later disbanded, in the 14th century.

The Mongols eventually retired to their original, high altitude, steppe homelands but succumbed to almost 200 years of Chinese colonization. Mongolia won its independence from China in 1921, with Soviet backing. The communist regime dominated for 70 years until the Soviet Union began to fall. Mongolia then embarked on a path toward democracy in 1990. Since that time Mongolia has undergone the transition from a centrally planned economy toward a market-based free economy.

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Country Snapshot

Area: (slightly smaller than Alaska; more than twice the size of Texas) total: 1,564,116 sq km (603,909 sq miles), 1,553,556 sq km (599,831 sq miles), 10,560 sq km (4,077 sq miles)

Population: 3,168,026 (July 2020 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.99% (2020 est.)

Capital City: Ulaanbaatar

Independence Day: Naadam (games) holiday (commemorates independence from China in the 1921 Revolution), 11-15 July; Constitution Day (marks the date that the Mongolian People’s Republic was created under a new constitution), 26 November (1924); democratic revolution (leaving the Soviet Union) in 1990

Ethnic Groups: Khalkh 84.5%, Kazak 3.9%, Dorvod 2.4%, Bayad 1.7%, Buryat-Bouriates 1.3%, Zakhchin 1%, other 5.2% (2015 est.)

Languages: Mongolian 90% (official) (Khalkha dialect is predominant), Turkic, Russian (1999)

Life Expectancy at birth: total population: 70.8 years / male: 66.6 years / female: 75.2 years (2020 est.)

Religious Groups:

Buddhist 53%

Muslim 3%

Shamanist 2.9%

Christian 2.2%

other 0.4%

none 38.6% (2010 est.)

SON’s Work in Mongolia

Life & Adventure Camp for Teens

New for 2021, SON Network will take a short-term mission team to Mongolia to serve as teachers and camp leaders at a SON Life & Adventure Camp for teens. We are particularly honored to partner with the Mongolian Evangelical Lutheran Church (est. 2017) and Pastor Purevdorj Jamsran in this, our first collaboration in ministry!