city Ulaanbaatar is home to one third
of the entire country’s population.
When Genghis Kahn created the Mongol empire
800 years ago, he consolidated the states under
one system and opened them up to trade and cultural
exchange. He was considered responsible for
giving Mongolia a unified and ethnic identity
and provided stability for the nation during
uncertain times. Most Mongolians regard him
as a great leader, whose infamy for brutality
is balanced by the positive effects he had on
the Mongol state. When Mongolia withdrew from
the Russian bloc in 1990, the people upheld
the Great Khan as a symbol of the free national
As the government had been modeled on the
Soviet system, until 1990 the Communist MPRP
was the only functioning party in Mongolia.
A sudden shift towards reform took place when
the Mongolian Democratic Union appeared on the
political scene. As a result of increasing political
opposition, the MPRP resigned and the constitution
was amended to allow for opposition parties,
create a standard legislative body and establish
the office of president.
While the long path towards democracy has
not been easy, Mongolians are, by nature, adaptable,
ready to make the transition a success. We
Mongolians are a nomadic people. We have to
be ready to move whenever it may be necessary.
To make the change to democracy was like migration
and moving to a new pasture, says Nambaryn
Enkhbayar, the nations president. Democracy
is a test and a challenge which presents opportunities.
Now we live in a society where we try to fully
realize our potential. In the old system, we
were allowed to live, study, and speak without
using our potential. Thats the difference
between the totalitarian regime and democracy.
Mongolia has, for the most part, been receptive
to change. Urban development, peoples
lifestyles and the construction of larger factories
and enterprises are considered key factors which
have allowed the country to endure and absorb
transition. However, key priorities such as
infrastructure, tourism, education, information
technology (IT) and the mining sector still
require further development. The government
is currently looking to attract investment from
the foreign private sector. More funds, technology
and outside experience are the principle ways
Mongolia is looking to make progress.
Another important challenge for Mongolia is
to capitalize on its strategic geographical
position between Russia and China. Plans are
underway to develop the rail network that links
these two countries across Mongolian territory.
A regional electrical power sharing initiative
to connect Mongolia, Russia, China and Northeast
Asia is also making steady progress. We
need to keep the country open politically so
that we can change economically, says
Prime Minister Miyeegombo Enhkbold. If
we can keep Mongolia open for investment and
construction of infrastructure, we can become
an important player in northeast Asia.
Geographically, Mongolias position between
China and Russia has not made it easy to develop
an independent and dynamic economy. For years
it relied heavily on the Soviet Union until
1990 when the regime was dismantled. The nation
subsequently suffered a recession; however,
later, after a sweeping privatization of the
economy and a shift towards free-market economics,
Mongolia was on the path towards economic growth.
After a series of reforms and the stabilization
of the banking sector, the economy has since
found its equilibrium.
The progress and changes which Mongolia has
made and gone through during the last 800 years
since its original formation have become a cause
for official celebration: eight centuries of
statehood. To celebrate, the government has
declared 2006 a year-long celebration with special
activities planned almost every day. The
800th anniversary of the establishment of the
Great Mongolian state is a great opportunity
to promote Mongolia and to make the world understand
its outstanding history, says the prime
minister. From dances and parades to contests
and exhibitions, the activities pay homage to
Mongolias unique cultural heritage. The
culmination of festivities falls on the national
holiday, Nadaam, on July 11th-13th. Another
big festival will be held at the end of August
in Kharakorum, the former capital.