Ulaanbaatar, also Ulan Bator or simply just UB, is the capital and, with a population of around 1,200,000, also the largest city in Mongolia.In fact, according to recent estimates, this means approximately 41% of the country lives here. It is located just east of the center of the country.
It is the cultural, industrial and financial heart of the country, the centre of Mongolia's road network and connected by rail to both the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia and the Chinese railway system.
The city was founded in 1639 as a movable (nomadic) Buddhist monastic centre. In 1778, it settled permanently at its present location, the junction of the Tuul and Selbe rivers. Before that, it changed location twenty-eight times, with each location being chosen ceremonially. In the twentieth century, Ulaanbaatar grew into a major manufacturing centre.
|POPULATION :||City: 1,372,000|
|TIME ZONE :||H (UTC+8)|
|LANGUAGE :||Khalkha Mongol 90%, Turkic, Russian|
|RELIGION :||Buddhist Lamaist 50%, Shamanist and Christian 6%, Muslim 4%, none 40%|
|AREA :||4,704.4 km2 (1,816.3 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||1,350 m (4,429 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||47°55′N 106°55′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.50% |
• Female: 50.50%
|ETHNIC :||Mongol (mostly Khalkha) 94.9%, Turkic 5%, other 0.1%|
|AREA CODE :||11|
|POSTAL CODE :||210 xxx|
|DIALING CODE :||+976 (0)11|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Ulaanbaatar has a long history, and is only now undergoing an industrial revolution. UB is one of the most drab looking cities on the face of the planet, a travesty really, considering it's the capital of one the most beautiful and hospitable countries on earth. Still, as traditionalists, Mongolians love their capital. They understand that it is not an Asian beauty, but in their hearts they are aware of the city's history, culture and many struggles. Foreigners who take the time to get to know the faces that are hidden behind the gray walls will discover a hospitable and warm-hearted people.
Explore the city from different angles, while at the same time do not ignore the abject poverty of many of the ex-nomads who in recent years have come to the city to find work after severe winters have killed their livestock. In this way, you will learn to unlock the city's many secrets and discover an Ulaanbaatar that is not initially revealed to the casual visitor.
Peace Avenue (Enkh Taivny Örgön Chölöö) is the main street and it stretches from east to west through the center. It's the main shopping street and many of the restaurants are along it. The street also passes by the southern edge of the central square, Sükhbaatar Square. Tourist information office is located in the south flank of the town hall in the western corner of Sükhbaatar square.
Ulaanbaatar's history as the capital of Mongolia dates back to the founding of a ger monastery in 1639 called Örgöö or Urga which means "palace-yurt" near the ancient Mongol capital of Karakorum some 250 km west of the current site of the city.
In 1651, it became the capital of the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Zanabazar, when he returned from Tibet. The mobile monastery gradually became a mobile city, moving every few years as needed. Urga was moved 25 times between its founding in 1639 and settling in its current location in 1778. By this time, it had several thousand tents and temples and was served by trade routes from China and Russia. It was also estimated to have about 10,000 monks.
The Gandan Monastery was established in 1809 and became the center of learning for all of Mongolia, and one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. The city continued to grow as a provincial capital of the Qing Empire and a center of religion and trade through the 19th century.
In 1911, the 8th Bogd Khan declared independence from China, leading to a long unstable period in the city's history including an occupation by a Chinese warlord in 1919. However, the Chinese were kicked out by the White Russian, Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, aka the "Mad Baron", in 1921. This forced the Soviets to intervene and set up a puppet state in what was then known as Outer Mongolia.
In 1924, the city's name changed from Urga to Ulaanbaatar ("Red Hero"). Many of the monasteries and temples were destroyed in the religious purges of the 1930s. Following the end of the 2nd World War, the old ger districts were largely cleared out for Soviet-style city apartments, offices, and factories. The Trans-Mongolian Railway was completed in 1956, connecting Ulaanbaatar to Beijing and Moscow. Gandan Monastery was reopened during a visit by US Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944 when he asked to see a monastery.
Since the democratic revolution in 1990, the population of the city more than doubled to over a million with thousands moving in from the countryside. The commercial and residential real estate sectors have boomed since 2000, though large factories have closed and much of the city still lives in ger districts.
Owing to its high elevation, its relatively high latitude, its location hundreds of kilometres from any coast, and the effects of the Siberian anticyclone, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest national capital in the world, with a monsoon-influenced, cold semi-arid climate.
The city features brief, warm summers and long, bitterly cold and dry winters. The coldest January temperatures, usually at the time just before sunrise, are between −36 and −40 °C (−33 and −40 °F) with no wind, due to temperature inversion.
Most of the annual precipitation of 267 millimetres (10.51 in) falls from June to September.
|Daily highs (°C)||-16||-11||-2||8||17||22||23||22||16||7||-4||-14|
|Nightly lows (°C)||-27||-24||-15||-6||3||8||11||9||2||-6||-16||-24|
Ulaanbaatar is located at about 1,350 metres (4,430 ft) above mean sea level, slightly east of the centre of Mongolia on the Tuul River, a subtributary of the Selenge, in a valley at the foot of the mountain Bogd Khan Uul. Bogd Khan Uul is a broad, heavily forested mountain rising 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) to the south of Ulaanbaatar. It forms the boundary between the steppe zone to the south and the forest-steppe zone to the north.
It is also one of the oldest reserves in the world, being protected by law since the 18th century. The forests of the mountains surrounding Ulaanbaatar are composed of evergreen pines, deciduous larches and birches while the riverine forest of the Tuul River is composed of broad-leaved, deciduous poplars, elms and willows. As a point of reference Ulaanbaatar lies on roughly the same latitude as Vienna, Munich and Orléans. It lies on roughly the same longitude as Chongqing, Hanoi and Jakarta.
Ulaanbaatar is divided into nine districts (Düüregs):
- Khan Uul
- Songino Khairkhan
Each district is subdivided into Khoroos, of which there are 121.
Internet cafes - there are many Internet cafes liberally scattered around the city. Also, many of the restaurants and coffee houses have WiFi.
Telephone - the city has an international call center. However, if you have access to a private phone, the most convenient way to make an international call is to use a prepaid card, such as BodiCom.