A History of Mongolia

By Tim Lambert

Early Mongolia

In 209 BC a great leader called Modun united the people of Mongolia. This early state was called Hunnu. The Hunnu was a powerful empire and they were often at war with China. However, the Hunnu state broke up in the 4th century AD.

From the 6th century to the 9th century tribes speaking Turkic languages ruled Mongolia. Then in 1162, the most famous person in the history of Mongolia was born. His name was Temujin. He soon proved to be a remarkable leader. By 1206 Temujin made himself the leader of all the Mongols and he took the name Chinggis Khan.

Under Chinggis Khan and his successors, the Mongols conquered a vast empire. They conquered China and Russia and advanced into Europe as far as Poland and Hungary. They also conquered Persia. However, the Mongol Empire soon fragmented. Mongol rule in China was overthrown in 1368. Mongolia became split between different groups and China came to dominate the country.

Modern Mongolia

However in 1911 revolution broke out in China which gave Mongolia the chance to regain its independence. In 1915 the Treaty of Khyata between Mongolia, China, and Russia allowed the country limited autonomy. However, in 1919, the Chinese occupied Mongolia again. They were driven out in 1921 and Mongolia became completely independent. It then became a Communist country. The People’s Republic of Mongolia was created in 1924.

Mongolia then came under Russian domination. In 1939 the Russians and Mongolians fought the Japanese in eastern Mongolia. Meanwhile, the Communists introduced a totalitarian regime in Mongolia and they cruelly persecuted religion. However, Communism collapsed in 1990 when demonstrations were held demanding democracy in Mongolia. The Communists caved in and elections were held. Mongolia gained a new constitution in 1992. Furthermore, Mongolia changed to a market economy.

Although Mongolia suffered in the recession of 2009 it soon recovered. Today the economy of Mongolia is growing rapidly. Mongolia has great mineral wealth. In 2024 the population of Mongolia was 3.3 million.

Last revised 2024