The Best of Mongolia for Kids
Let’s Go Geography explains Mongolia for kids in this post! After all, Mongolia is a rough and rugged country with a long history. There’s so much to explore.
Mongolia is a large, sparsely populated country on the continent of Asia. China is south of it and Russia is on its northern border.
Although on a map it may look like a tiny part of Kazakhstan touches it in the west, Kazakhstan is actually 23 miles away.
Mongolia is land-locked. This means it is surrounded by land with no ocean or lake or any other body of water anywhere on its border.
Notice on the map below how many US States Mongolia could cover. Quite a few! It would take about 6 Mongolias to equal to all of the United States, including Alaska & Hawaii. Mongolia is a big country!
So why is it sparsely populated? There are several reasons, but the most obvious is the Mongolia climate or weather. Mongolia tends to be very cold, with very long, harsh winters.
Mongolia for Kids: The Landscape
Most of Mongolia’s open land is a grassy steppe. These are huge spaces of flat land filled with grass. There are no trees on the steppe because Mongolia does not get enough rain for trees to survive. Grasses can handle the dry climate, but trees cannot. In any case, the poor soil and the lack of rain are two reasons you won’t find many farms in Mongolia!
Mongolia earned the nickname Land of the Blue Sky since it has so many sunny days each year. Although it gets such little rain, most of the country is not quite dry enough to be called a desert.
Outside of the steppe, Mongolia is also known for high mountains and a very large desert called the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is a rocky, barren land that covers large parts of both Mongolia and China.
How Mongolian People Live
The Mongolian people of long ago were nomads. This means they moved from place to place fairly often. They lived in tent-like structures called gers, which could be easily taken apart, moved, and set back up again. Another name for a ger is a yurt.
Even today, gers still dot the landscape of the Mongolian steppe. Beneath the outer covering of cloth or felt, there is a lightweight wooden frame. An opening at the top is for air circulation, allowing steam from the cooking fires to escape.
Although many Mongolians still live in housing from long ago, they do have some modern conveniences. You might see cars or motorcycles parked outside of a Mongolian yurt. Or you may even see a satellite dish outside, mixing modern technology with yesterday’s way of life.
More About Mongolian Life
Many Mongolians earn a living by herding sheep or cattle on the cold and windy steppes like their ancestors did before them.
They are known for being excellent at handling and riding horses, and horses a major part of their lives. In fact, most kids learn to ride by the time they are 5 years old.
Mongolia for Kids: A Past Hero
When you look at the history of Mongolia, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest. Genghis Khan.
Mongolia is proud of their ancestor, Genghis Khan. When he lived long ago, he conquered the surrounding countries and ruled the powerful Mongol Empire.
Today, Mongolians remember him by naming many things after him—everything from cigars to highways to airports. You may see his name spelled Chinggis Khan in Mongolia.
There is a huge silver statue of Genghis Khan close to the Mongolian capital and largest city, Ulaanbaatar. This enormous statue is made of stainless steel and is 130 feet tall!
Genghis Khan is even pictured on today’s Mongolian money, which is called the Tugrik (also translated Tughrik or Togrog).
There are 2 primary religions in Mongolia. The first is Buddhism, which came to the country from India over 2,000 years ago during the reign of the great Indian emperor Ashoka.
Next comes shamanism, which is the oldest religion in Mongolia. Mongolian shamanism involves the worship of many gods. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is a temple for shamanism, since shamans worship Genghis Khan as one of their gods.
Although a mausoleum is usually a large, above-ground tomb, Genghis Khan is not buried at his Mausoleum. No one knows where Genghis Khan’s body is actually buried.
Mongolia for Kids: Sports
Mongolia has a big sports festival every year called Naadam, but their sports are very different from those of most other countries.
Mongolian sports are based on the skills that their ancestors needed long ago to survive. Wrestling, archery, and horse racing are the 3 prized skills in Mongolia and are called the Three Manly Games of Naadam.
First, archery. Men, women, and children can all compete in archery, although one special part of the competition is reserved just for the men. Everyone must wear traditional Mongolian clothing when they participate.
Next is horse racing. The Mongolian races go way beyond just a few laps around a track. They stretch for miles across the grassy steppes.
And there is no limit on the number of horses and riders who can participate. Riders show up in throngs!
The riders are usually kids from 5-13 years old because kids weigh less than adults. Carrying less weight allows the horses to run faster.
The races are separated into ages…but those separations are based on the ages of the HORSES, not the kids!
Wrestling is the 3rd ancient sport that is highly respected in Mongolia. The wrestlers have no weight limit, so they all tend to be very large!
Also, they do not have to stay within a ring or specific space when they compete. Mongolian wrestlers wear special clothes for their sport.
More on Mongolia
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