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The history of Mongolia merges with the history of the nomadic peoples who populated the steppe of Central Asia. At the source of the Amur River, which serves as the border with China and Russia, Mongolia is the heart of the Central Asian steppe and has often been the starting point for formidable warriors who, when they were able to federate their tribes nomadic herders, were able to carve out empires for themselves, by breaking with their bows and their little horses as far as southern China, and India, and even in Western Europe (Huns of Attila, Bulgarians, Avars, Hungarians framed by a Hunnic aristocracy).


Around 150, the Xianbei exercised their hegemony over eastern Mongolia to the detriment of the northern Xiongnu. In the 3rd century, the Avars or Ruanruan formed a confederation which extended in the 5th century from Korea to Irtych. The powerful Köktürks empire of Bumin defeated them in 552. Mongolia was integrated into the first and then the second Turkish empire until 744. The Uyghurs then dominated the region until 840 when their empire fell under the blows of the Kyrgyz. The latter were in turn driven out by the Khitans in 924. Mongolia, emptied of its inhabitants, now escaped the Turkic peoples (the Uighurs refused the Khitans' proposal to reintegrate the region) in favor of the proto-Mongols who came mainly from Manchuria ( Tatars, Naimans, Kerait, Ongüt). The empires of the steppes, according to the formula of René Grousset, were constituted from a clan which, on the initiative of an energetic leader proclaimed khaan (or great khan or qagan), united by force arms and matrimonial alliances a vast confederation of tribes. And after having swept over and subjugated wealthy sedentary neighboring kingdoms, most often his empire fell apart under his successors as quickly as it was formed. Several empires follow one another as follows:

3rd century BC. J.-C.-2nd century: Confederation of the Xiongnu.

2nd-3rd century: Confederation of Xianbei.

4th-6th century: Confederation of Ruanruan.

552 - 657: First empire of the Köktürks.

681 - 747: Second empire of the Köktürks.

744-840: Uyghur Empire. 840-927: Kyrgyz Empire.

924-1125: Empire of the Khitans. They founded the Liao dynasty in northern China in 947.

1125-1206: Confederation of the Mongols, preamble to the Mongol conquests.

1206: Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire.

From the empire of the Köktürks, there remains the stele of the Orkhon, "the oldest dated monument of Turkish literature". The most famous and the vastest of these empires, that of Genghis Khan, was initially constituted from his tribe, the Arlat, to which were confederated first the other properly Mongol cousin tribes, then those of the Djelaïr, the Tatar , the Merkit, the Oïrat, the Tumat, the Naïmans, the Ongüt, and especially the federation of the Kereit where, as in the two preceding ones, Nestorian Christians dominate. Toghril, the Ong khan the Kereit, whose father of Genghis Khan was the sworn ally, advances the project of confederation that Genghis takes over after defeating his former master.


From 1206 to 1227 the Mongol khan Genghis Khan conquered much of Asia, creating the greatest empire of all time. His successors complete the conquest of the continent and reach as far as Syria and Eastern Europe. The empire, split into four great ulus from the time of Genghis Khan, gave birth to four great groups which evolved separately from 1260: China of the Yuan in the east, Djaghatai in the center, Ilkhannat in the south- west (Iran, Iraq and Syria) and the Golden Horde in the Russian steppe. Genghis Khan establishes a real Mongolian state by borrowing their administrative institutions from the Uighurs and imposing Mongolian law (Grand Yasa or Djasag, Le Grand Corps de Lois, written in part by Chiki-koutougou and no longer exists today). The country is divided into two constituencies, the baraghoun-ghar in the west and the djegun-ghar in the east. The Djasag consolidates feudal relations to the detriment of clan rights and tribal structure. The people are attached to the pastures and it is forbidden to leave the communities organized by the military administration. It provides for tribunals and the punishments to be inflicted on offenders. The conquests lead to the depopulation of Mongolia and slow down its internal evolution. The lack of men, used for war, slows down the development of society. During the reign of Ogodeï, feudalization experienced a rapid development both in Mongolia and in the conquered territories. From the 1260s, the Mongol Empire disintegrated and now formed independent provinces. The great khan, who resides in Peking, can impose his direct authority only on China and Mongolia, and because of the distances, his authority is only nominal in the western ulus.

The economic life of Mongolia is stagnating and the economy remains essentially pastoral. The wars have enriched the ruling stratum, but considerably weakened the demography. During the second half of the 13th century, many Mongols left Mongolia to settle in the conquered territories, which were richer, and blended into the local population. In Mongolia proper, the nomadic and feudal ruling class deprives herders and peasants of the right to migrate, considered by the Djasag as desertion and punishable by death. The free herdsmen of the previous century become serfs attached to the soil and deprived of their freedom.

After the collapse of the Mongol Empire in China in 1368, Mongolia entered a period of nomadic feudal dismemberment and poverty. The military and feudal class, which grew rich during the conquests, saw its resources dwindle and sought to compensate for it through the intense exploitation of the herdsmen (arates). During the 13th-14th centuries, these were definitely attached to grazing and must not only maintain their lords (noïons) but enter the countryside to increase their wealth through booty. Military campaigns depopulated Mongolia. The shortage of labor prevents the evolution of the economy, the extensive breeding of large cattle remaining the only income. Trade declines with China after the fall of the Yüan. Deprived of the tribute of the ulus, the economy of the central domain becomes autarkic. Hunting is beginning to play an important role again (large hunts in the fall, small hunts in the spring and summer).


In 1644, the Manchus overthrew the Chinese Ming Dynasty and established the Qing Dynasty. The southern Mongols are thus attached to China. Living in what is known as Inner Mongolia, they never regained their independence. The submission of the Khalkhas to the Manchus is caused by the emergence of the Dzungar Khanate with a high-profile conqueror, Galdan, born in 1645. After subjugating the Uighurs of Xinjiang, his southern neighbors, he turns to Mongolia. Between 1688 and 1690, he managed to put the Khalkha princes to flight, who had no other option but to ask for help from the Manchus. The Kangxi Emperor rushes to meet the Dzungars and pushes them back with his artillery. The Khalkha proclaimed their allegiance to him in May 1691, at Lake Dolon.

Galdan set out again to attack Mongolia, but his troops were crushed (and his wife killed) by Manchurian artillery south of Ulaanbaatar, June 12, 1696. The time of the military supremacy of the nomads over the sedentary , now equipped with modern weapons, is over. Galdan kills himself on May 3, 1697. In 1757, the Dzungars of Dzungaria are definitively defeated, and even practically exterminated, by the Chinese troops.

Few Khalkha contest Manchu suzerainty. A revolt led by Prince Chingunjav is reported in 1756 and 1757. During the war against Dzungaria (1754-1757), the Khalkha khanates became the field of operation of the Manchurian armies, which provoked the discontent of the Arates like that lay and ecclesiastical lords. The peoples of the Aïmaks (leagues) bordering the Khanate of Jasaktou and Saïn-Noïon evacuated their territories to fight against the occupier and against their lords. The anti-Manchurian uprisings were supported by ecclesiastical personalities such as the second kutouktu of Ourga (the Bogdo Gegen), whose brother Rintchindordji was taken to Beijing and executed for having taken part in the Amoursana uprising. Faced with the growing discontent of the Mongols, aggravated by the harsh winter of 1755-1756, the Manchu emperor authorized the head of the Church and the touchetou to leave Beijing and return to Ourga with the body of Rintchindordji.

After the annexation of the Dzungar Khanate by China (1757), in the part of the former Oirat Khanate (current Kobdo aïmak) in Western Mongolia, an autonomous military territory was created directly subordinate to the representative of the emperor, as well as a military sector on the Russian border. Political consolidation after the suppression of the Oirats and Khalkhas uprisings allowed the Qing imperial house, at the behest of Chinese traders and Mongol lords, to allow a moderate resumption of trade relations between China and Mongolia. However, the number of Chinese traders staying in Mongolia is limited, as is the duration and location of the traffic, which must be carried out in authorized cities. The sale of metal objects, with rare exceptions, is prohibited. It is strictly forbidden for Chinese women to enter Mongolian territory and marry there.

The Manchus import with more or less success in Mongolia the Chinese bureaucracy, which allows them an extended control of the population. This system has the merit of prohibiting the internal quarrels of the Mongols, as well as the raids they launch against each other. But the small breeders are crushed with taxes and corvées and the Chinese merchants impoverish the Mongols by their dubious transactions and their loans at usurious rates. From the 19th century, the installation of Chinese settlers tended to drive the Mongols back to the north.


At the beginning of 1911, a secret meeting in the presence of the Bogd Gegen decided on secession from the Qing Empire and rapprochement with Imperial Russia. Thanks to the Chinese revolution of 1911, Mongolia finally declared its independence on December 1; the Manchurian governors of Ourga are ordered to leave the country. The eighth Bogd Gegen becomes ruler of the Mongolian Khanate, with the title of Bogd Khan.

In 1912, the Russian and Mongolian governments signed an agreement.

During the summer of 1913, the Republic of China brought together significant forces in Xinjiang, but talks with Russia finally led to an agreement: China recognized the autonomy of Mongolia, which nevertheless theoretically remained under its suzerainty; in effect, however, Mongolia became a protectorate of Russia.

A bicameral parliament, stemming from both the traditional Mongolian Qurultay and the British parliamentary model met in Ourga in 1914, and a legal code was promulgated soon after. The rights of the two chambers, convened by the Bogd Gegen, are limited to deliberations.

The Russian revolution, however, deprived Mongolia of its protector: in November 1919, Chinese troops entered Mongolia and settled in Ourga, occupying the country. The Bogdo Khan is placed under house arrest. The situation led to the creation of two independence movements, one by Damdin Sükhbaatar, a 26-year-old typographer, and the other by Tchoïbalsan, a 23-year-old telegraph operator. Sukhbaatar had played a role in the Bogd Khan regime, as a member of the Assembly. As for Tchoibalsan, he had been admitted to the Russian language course of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 1920, these two movements merged and became closer to Soviet Russia. While Sukhbaatar and Tchoibalsan settle in Irkutsk, the White Armies are driven out of Russia by the Red Army. Eager to settle in Mongolia, the Japanese recruit among them an ex-Baltic officer, Baron Ungern von Sternberg. With their logistical support and a troop of 800 Cossacks, he seized Ourga on February 4, 1921, driving out the Chinese garrison. She took refuge in Kiakhta, on the Russian border. Under the pretext of chastising the communist Mongols, Ungern indulges in the worst atrocities, earning him the nickname "mad baron". However, he puts the Bogdo Khan back on the throne.

At the beginning of 1921, the movement of Sukhbaatar and Tchoibalsan took the name of "Mongolian People's Party", which later became the "Revolutionary Party of the Mongolian People", held its first congress in Siberia and set up a provisional people's government, with Sukhbaatar as Minister of War. The Mongol Communists drive the Chinese out of Kiakhta, then take Ourga with the help of Soviet auxiliaries. Ungern-Sternberg is beaten and delivered to the Soviets, who shoot him.

The communist government now controls the whole country; the Bogd Khan retains the title of sovereign of Mongolia, but loses all temporal power. Social reforms are undertaken, but it is only after the death of the pontiff, on May 20, 1924, that a real communist regime is put in place. Sukhbaatar ("Axe Hero") having died a year earlier, Urga is renamed in his memory Ulaan Baatar ("Red Hero"). The leaders of the new republic align themselves with the Soviet Union.


On January 24, 1929, Marshal Tchoibalsan became President of Mongolia, which he then governed as Prime Minister until his death in 1952. Under his reign many purges took place.

In 1932, the forced collectivization of land and herds, the prohibition of Lamaism, led to a general insurrection repressed by the People's Army.

In 1939-1940, Mongolia was at stake in the Soviet-Japanese war. The Japanese, based in Manchuria and relying on groups of exiled Mongols, attempt to overthrow the communist regime. The Soviet army immediately intervened to support it: it gained valuable experience in mobile warfare and in particular armored vehicles. In the absence of support from Germany, which, on the contrary, signed the German-Soviet pact, Japan abandoned the fight and signed a non-aggression treaty with the USSR in April 1941. Japanese neutrality helped to save the USSR from disaster during the German invasion a few months later.

On January 5, 1951, the Chinese government recognized Mongolia. Trade and relations are restored between the two nations. The Sino-Soviet split at the end of the 1950s put an end to this.

​After Choibalsan's death in 1952, the General Secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party Yumjagiyn Tsedenbal ruled the country.

The USSR supported Mongolia's candidacy for the UN in 1961. A border treaty was signed with China in 1962. Treaties of friendship and assistance were signed in 1966 with the USSR, renewed in 1986.

On August 8, 1984, Yumjagiyn Tsedenbal had to resign because of authoritarianism. His successor Jambyn Batmonkh holds him responsible for the "stagnation" of the country. It strengthens the already close ties with the USSR.

At the end of 1989, popular meetings demanded the end of the rule of the single party. New parties, democrats, social democrats and nationalists are created and demand reforms. These are the beginnings of the democratic revolution.

Within the Communist Party, the economic crisis forced Jambyn Batmonkh to resign on March 21, 1990. The reference to the leading role of the party was removed from the Constitution (March 1990). The first multi-party elections take place in July. The Communists remain in power. Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat, former Minister of Foreign Trade, their presidential candidate, triumphs easily. It inaugurates a period of political and economic liberalization.

Flag of the People's Republic.

Damdin Sükhbaatar born February 2, 1893 in Ourga and died February 20, 1923, nicknamed the Mongol Lenin, was one of the leaders of the 1921 revolution, which brought to power in Mongolia the communists of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.


A new Constitution, respecting the principles of democracy, mixed economy, freedom of opinion and neutrality in foreign policy was adopted in January 1992. The name of people's republic and the red star of the flag were abandoned.

The reconstituted Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (PPRM) won the legislative elections in June 1992. The Grand Khural was abolished and a new unicameral Grand Khural became the country's legislative body.

The last troops of the former Soviet Union (about 65,000 soldiers) left Mongolia at the end of 1992.

In June 1993, the first direct presidential elections took place in Mongolia. The PPRM is defeated. He had proposed a communist ideologue as a candidate against the outgoing Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat, supported by the democratic opposition. Political tensions prevent the government from taking action against the economic crisis. Serious doubts about the conversion of the communists emerged when the party rehabilitated Tsedenbal, the "Mongolian Brezhnev", posthumously and developed a new national ideology based on the maintenance of an important state sector and on the multiplication of obstacles to the growth of private enterprise.

The Democratic Alliance won a narrow majority in the 1996 elections, ending 75 years of uninterrupted communist rule. On June 20, 1997, Natsagiyn Bagabandi was elected to the presidency on behalf of the PRPM. Re-elected in 2001, he did not stand in the 2005 elections where Nambaryn Enkhbayar was elected.

Since 2012 the Democratic Party, resulting from the merger between the Mongolian Democratic Union and pro-democracy activists, has been in power in the presidency with Khaltmaa Battulga. However in 2016 the Mongolian people's party which won the legislative election as well as in parliament and government.


Khurelsukh Ukhnaa President of Mongolia since July 2021

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