Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator
Ulan Bator
—  Municipality  —
Official Cyrillic transcription(s)
 – Mongolian cyrillic Улаанбаатар
 – Transcription Ulaanbaatar
Classical Mongolian transcription(s)
 – Mongolian script ᠤᠯᠠᠭᠠᠨᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠤᠷ
 – Transcription Ulaγanbaγatur
View of Ulan Bator


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): УБ (UB), Нийслэл (capital), Хот (city), Азийн цагаан дагина (Asia's white fairy)
Ulan Bator is located in Mongolia
Ulan Bator
Location in Mongolia
Coordinates: 47°55′N 106°55′E / 47.917°N 106.917°E / 47.917; 106.917
Country Mongolia
Established as Örgöö: ᠥᠭᠦᠭᠡ 1639
current location 1778
Ulan Bator 1924
 – Total 4,704.4 km2 (1,816.3 sq mi)
Elevation 1,350 m (4,429 ft)
Population (2011-08-30)
 – Total 1,190,400
 – Density 235/km2 (603/sq mi)
Time zone H (UTC+8)
Postal code 210 xxx
Area code(s) +976 (0)11
License plate УБ_ (_ variable)
ISO 3166-2 MN-1
Website http://www.ulaanbaatar.mn/
Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator play /ˌlɑːn ˈbɑːtər/ or Ulaanbaatar (Mongolian: Улаанбаатар, [ʊɮɑːŋ.bɑːtʰɑ̆r], ᠤᠯᠠᠭᠠᠨᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠤᠷ, Ulaγanbaγatur, literally "Red Hero") is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. An independent municipality, the city is not part of any province, and its population as of 2008 is over one million.[1]

Located in north central Mongolia, the city lies at an elevation of about 1,310 metres (4,300 ft) in a valley on the Tuul River. It is the cultural, industrial, and financial heart of the country. It is the center of Mongolia's road network, and is connected by rail to both the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia and the Chinese railway system.[2]

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, Ulan Bator grew into a major manufacturing centre.[2]



"Ulan Bator" (Ulaγanbaγatur) in classical Mongolian script

Ulan Bator has been given numerous names in its history. From 1639 to 1706, it was known as Urga (Mongolian: Өргөө, Örgöö, "Residence"), and from 1706 to 1911 as Kuren (Хүрээ, Xüree, "Camp"), Da-Kuren (Даа Хүрээ, Daa Xüree, from Chinese: , , "great", translation of Mongolian: Их Хүрээ, Ix Xüree, "Great Camp"), or Kulun (Chinese: 庫倫, transcription of Xüree). Upon independence in 1911, with both the secular government and the Bogd Khan's palace present, the city's name changed to Niĭslel Xüree (Нийслэл Хүрээ, "Capital Camp"). It is called Bogdiin Khuree (Богдийн Хүрээ, Bogdiĭn Xüree, "Saint's Camp") in the folk song "Praise of Bogdiin Khuree".

When the city became the capital of the new Mongolian People's Republic in 1924, its name was changed to Ulan Bator (Улаанбаатар, Ulaanbaatar, classical Mongolian Ulaγanbaγatur, literally "Red Hero") in honor of Mongolia's national hero Damdin Sükhbaatar, whose warriors, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Soviet Red Army, liberated Mongolia from Roman Ungern von Sternberg's troops and Chinese occupation. His statue still adorns Ulan Bator's central square.

In Europe and North America, Ulan Bator generally continued to be known as Urga or sometimes Kuren (or Kulun) till 1924, and Ulan Bator afterwards (a spelling derived from Russian: Улан-Батор, Ulan-Bator). The Russian spelling is different from the Mongolian because it was defined phonetically, and the Cyrillic script was only introduced in Mongolia seventeen years later. By Mongols, the city was nicknamed Aziĭn Cagaan Dagina (Азийн Цагаан Дагина, "White Fairy [Dakini] of Asia") in the late 20th century. In Mongolian it is now sometimes sarcastically called Utaanbaatar (Утаанбаатар, "Smog Hero") due to the heavy layer of smog in winter.


Pre-1778 settlements

Human habitation at the site of Ulan Bator dates from the Lower Paleolithic. Alexey Okladnikov's archeological work in 1949 and 1960 revealed many Paleolithic sites on Mt. Bogd Khan Uul, Buyant-Ukhaa and Mt. Songinokhairkhan. In 1962 various Paleolithic tools were discovered at Mt. Songinokhairkhan as well as Buyant-Ukhaa (23 stone tools) that scholars date from 300.000 years ago to 40.000-12.000 years ago. Okladnikov also revealed an Upper Paleolithic (40.000-12.000 years ago) site on the south-east base of the Zaisan Hill north of Mt. Bogd Khan Uul. Byambyn Rinchen mentions it as an inspiration for his prehistoric novel Zaan Zaluudai. The lower strata of this bistratified settlement located at the present-day Zaisan Memorial revealed tools and materials fashioned according to the Levallois technique. These Upper Paleolithic people hunted mammoth and wooly rhinoceros, the bones of which are found abundantly around Ulan Bator.

Red ochre rock paintings from the Bronze Age (3000 years ago) are to be found at Ikh Tenger Gorge on the north side of Mt. Bogd Khan Uul facing the city. The paintings show human figures, horses, eagles and abstract designs like horizontal lines and large squares with over a hundred dots within them. The same style of painting from the same era is found very close to the west of the city at Gachuurt, as well as in Khovsgol Aimag and southern Siberia, indicating a common South Siberian nomadic pastoral culture. Mt. Bogd Khan Uul was probably an important religious cult location for these people.

To the north of Ulan Bator there are the vast Noin-Ula Xiongnu royal tombs which are over 2000 years old. A Xiongnu tomb has been found in Chingeltei district. The Xiongnu tombs of Belkh Gorge near Dambadarjaalin monastery are under city protection. Located on the banks of the sacred Tuul River ("Khatun Tuul" or Queen Tuul in legend), the area of Ulan Bator was well within the sphere of nomadic empires such as the Xiongnu (209BC-93AD), Xianbei (93AD-4th century), Rouran (402-555), Gokturk (555-745), Uighur (745-840), Khitan (907-1125) and Mongol Empire (1206–1368). At Nalaikh District there is the important Stele of Tonyukuk (c. 697 AD) inscribed with Turkic Rune script. The inscription is lengthy and it is worth noting that here one can find mentions of a people called "Khitans" who were a Mongolic speaking people of the east. A balbal or ancient human statue was chosen as the ceremonial foundation site (Shav) of the city when it settled in 1778 at its current location. Now a modern stone turtle sits atop the spot of the ancient balbal near Sukhbaatar Square in the city center.

Wang Khan Toghrul of the Kerait, a Nestorian Christian monarch who was identified as the legendary Prester John by Marco Polo, is said to have had his palace here (the Black Forest of the Tuul River) and forbade hunting in the holy mountain Bogd Uul. The ruins of his palace (15x27 metres with a gate facing south) was found in Songinokhairkhan District in 1949 and excavated by D.Navaan in 2006. This brick palace influenced by Chinese architecture, later also called the Third Palace of Genghis Khan or Yesui Khatun's palace, is where Genghis Khan stayed with Yesui Khatun before attacking the Tangut. Japanese and Koreans made special programs about this palace where many important events of Genghis Khan's life took place. In 1984 a rich 13th century tomb of a 50-60 year old, 175 cm tall warrior with an ornate golden belt was excavated at Dadart Uul of Mt.Songinokhairkhan. A simple 13th century rock painting of a Mongolian woman with distinct Mongolian headdress can be seen on the north side of Mt Bogd Khan Uul. Abtai Sain Khan is said to have worshipped the mountain in the 16th century as well. The Manchu envoy Toulischen wrote an account of his travels through this region in 1712, describing how his party rested and fished ten to twenty salmon and pike in the river "Tu-la" while one Ko-tcha-eur-too killed a deer with a gun in the "Han-shan" (i.e., Khan Uul). He also describes the "rich and luxuriant" nature around the "Sung-kee-na" mountains (i.e., Mount Songino Khairkhan).[3]

Mobile monastery

Founded in 1639 as a yurt monastery, Ulan Bator, then Örgöö (palace-yurt), was first located at the lake Shireet Tsagaan nuur in what is now Övörkhangai, around 250 km from the present site of Ulan Bator, and was mainly intended to be the seat of the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Zanabazar.

As a mobile monastery-town, it was often moved to various places along the Selenge, Orkhon and Tuul rivers, as supply and other needs would demand. During the Dzungar wars of the late 17th century, it was even moved to Inner Mongolia.[4] As the city grew, it moved less and less.[5] In 1778, the city settled for good at its current location, near the confluence of the Selbe and Tuul rivers and beneath Bogd Khan Uul, back then also on the caravan route from Beijing to Kyakhta.[6] Based on Yundendorji's petition the Qianlong emperor had officially recognized an annual ceremony on Mt. Bogd Khan Uul in 1778 and provided the annual imperial donations. The city became the seat not only of the Jebtsundamba Khutugtus, but also of two Qing ambans, and a Chinese trade town (Chinese: 買賣城; pinyin: Măimàichéng) grew "four trees" or 4.24 kilometers east of the city center. A pair of highly ornate 11 metre tall inscribed columns remaining from the Guanyin Temple in the former Maimaicheng district is now under national protection. Since 1778 Urga may have had around 10,000 monks. They were regulated by a monastic rule called the Internal Rule of the Grand Monastery or Yeke Kuriyen-u Doto'adu Durem (for example, in 1797 or the second year of Jiaqing a decree of the 4th Jebtsundamba forbade "singing, playing with archery, myagman, chess, usury and smoking"). Urga was visited by many foreign envoys and travelers, including Egor Fedorovich Timkovskii (1820), N.M.Przhevalsky, Pyotr Kozlov, M. De Bourbolon (1860) and A.M.Pozdneev. The Russian embassy of 130 persons which arrived in Urga in January 1806 included Count Yury Golovkin, Count Jan Potocki, Julius Klaproth and Andrey Yefimovich Martynov.[7] In 1863 the Russian Consulate of Urga was opened in a newly built two-storey building. A small onion-domed Chapel of the Holy Trinity was opened the same year.

Revolutions of 1911 and 1921 and Communist era

Outdoor market near Gandan hill in 1972. State Department Store in the background

By the early 20th century, Ikh Khüree had a population of 25,000, of whom some 10,000 were Buddhist monks or monastery workers.[8] In 1911, with the Qing Dynasty in China headed for total collapse, Mongolian leaders in Ikh Khüree for Naadam met in secret and resolved to end more than 200 years of Manchu control of their country. On December 29, 1911 the 8th Jeptsundamba Khutughtu was declared ruler of an independent Mongolia and assumed the title Bogd Khan.[5] Khüree as the seat of the Jebtsundamba Khutugtu was the logical choice for the capital of the new state. However, in the tripartite Kyakhta agreement of 1915 (between Russia, China, Mongolia), Mongolia's status was changed to mere autonomy. In 1919, Mongolian nobles, over the opposition of the Bogd Khan, agreed with the Chinese resident Chen Yi on a settlement of the "Mongolian question" along Qing-era lines, but before this settlement could be put into effect, Khüree was occupied by the troops of Chinese warlord Xu Shuzheng, who forced the Mongolian nobles and clergy to renounce autonomy completely.

In 1921 the city changed hands twice. First, in February 1921, a mixed Russian/Mongolian force led by White Russian warlord Baron Ungern von Sternberg captured the city, freeing the Bogd Khan from Chinese imprisonment and killing most of the Chinese garrison. Baron Ungern's capture of Urga was followed by a spree of looting and murder (not much better than what the Chinese had engaged in before they lost the city) and the massacre of Urga's small Jewish community.[9] On February 22, 1921 the Bogd Khan was once again crowned Khan of Mongolia in Urga.[10] However, at the same time Baron Ungern was taking control of Urga, a Soviet-supported Communist Mongolian force led by Damdin Sükhbaatar was forming up in Russia, and in March they crossed the border.[11] Ungern and his men rode out in May to meet them but suffered a disastrous defeat in June.[12] In July the Communist Russo-Mongolian army became the second conquering force in six months to enter Urga.[13] On October 29, 1924 the town was renamed to Ulan Bator ("red hero") as reference to Sükhbaatar, who had died the year before.[5]

Zaisan Memorial that honors Soviet soldiers killed in World War II.

In the socialist period, and especially following the Second World War, most of the old yurt quarters were replaced by Soviet-style blocks of flats, often financed by the Soviet Union. Urban planning began in the 1950s, and most of the city today is the result of construction from 1960 to 1985.[14] The Transmongolian Railway, connecting Ulan Bator with Moscow and Beijing, was completed in 1956, and cinemas, theatres, museums etc. were erected. On the other hand, many of the temples and monasteries of pre-socialist Khüree were destroyed following the anti-religious purges of the late 1930s.

Democratic protests of 1989-1990

Central Tower, UB. One of many tall buildings in the city center.

Ulan Bator was the site of demonstrations that led to Mongolia's transition to democracy and market economy in 1990. On December 10, 1989, protesters outside the Youth Culture Centre called for Mongolia to implement perestroika and glasnost in their full sense. Dissident leaders demanded free elections and economic reform. On January 14, 1990 the protesters, having grown from two hundred to over a thousand, met at the Lenin Museum in Ulan Bator. A demonstration in Sukhbaatar Square on Jan. 21 followed. Afterwards, weekend demonstrations in January and February were held accompanied by the forming of Mongolia's first opposition parties. On March 7, ten dissidents assembled in Sukhbaatar Square and went on a hunger strike. Thousands of supporters joined them. More came on March 8, and the crowd grew more unruly; seventy people were injured and one killed. On March 9 the communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party government resigned. The provisional government announced Mongolia's first free elections, which were held in July. The MPRP won the election and resumed power.[15]

Since Mongolia's transition to a market economy in 1990, the city has experienced further growth - especially in the yurt quarters, as construction of new blocks of flats had basically broken down in the 1990s.[citation needed] The population has more than doubled to over one million inhabitants, about 50% of Mongolia's entire population.[citation needed] This causes a number of social, environmental, and transportation problems. In recent years, construction of new buildings has gained new momentum, especially in the city center, and apartment prices have skyrocketed.

2008 protests

Damage to MPRP headquarters after 2008 riots

In 2008, Ulan Bator was the scene of riots after the Mongolian Democratic, Civic Will Party and Republican parties disputed the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's victory in the parliamentary elections. Approximately 30,000 people took part in a public meeting led by the opposition parties. After the meeting was over some protestors left the central square and moved on to the nearby headquarters of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, attacking and burning the building. A police station was also attacked.[16] At night rioters set fire to the Cultural Palace, where a theatre, museum and National art gallery were vandalised and burned. Torched cars,[17] bank robberies and looting were reported.[16] The organisations in the burning buildings were vandalised and looted. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against stone-throwing protestors.[16] A four-day state of emergency was declared, the capital was placed under a 22:00 to 08:00 curfew, and alcohol sales banned,[18] following which measures rioting did not resume.[19] Five people were killed and hundreds arrested by the police during the suppression of the riots. Human rights groups expressed concerns about the handling of this unprecedented incident by the authorities.[20][21]

Geography and climate

Ulan Bator
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: HKO [22]
Satellite view of the city (satellite EO-1, 2009-07-23)

Ulan Bator 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. Ulan Bator is noted for its extreme isolation.

Due to its high elevation, relatively high latitude location hundreds of kilometres from any coast, and the effects of the Siberian anticyclone, Ulan Bator is the coldest national capital in the world,[23] with a monsoon-influenced, cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) that closely borders a subarctic climate. The city features brief, warm summers and long, bitterly cold and dry winters. Most of the annual precipitation of 216 millimetres (8.50 in) falls from June to September. It has an average annual temperature of −2.4 °C (27.7 °F).[22] The city lies in the zone of discontinuous permafrost, which means that building is difficult in sheltered aspects that preclude thawing in the summer, but easier on more exposed ones where soils fully thaw. Suburban residents live in traditional yurts that do not protrude into the soil.[24]


View from Zaisan Memorial in 2005
View from Zaisan Memorial in 2009

Administration and subdivisions

Map of the districts of Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator is divided into nine districts (Düüregs): Baganuur, Bagakhangai, Bayangol, Bayanzürkh, Chingeltei, Khan Uul, Nalaikh, Songino Khairkhan, and Sükhbaatar. Each district is subdivided into Khoroos, of which there are 121.[23]

The capital is governed by a city council (the Citizen's Representatives Hural) with forty members, elected every four years. The city council appoints the mayor. When his predecessor became prime minister in January 2006, former city manager Gombosuren Monkhbayar was elected mayor.[25] Ulan Bator is governed as an independent first-level region, separate from the surrounding Töv Aimag.

The city consists of a central district built in Soviet 1940s and 1950s-style architecture, surrounded by and mingled with residential concrete towerblocks and large yurt quarters. In recent years, many of the towerblock's ground floors have been modified and upgraded to small shops, and many new buildings have been erected, some of them illegally (some private companies erect buildings without the legal licenses or in forbidden places).[citation needed]


Sukhbaatar Square

Ulan Bator has not seen any war-related destruction except the February 1921 Battle of Urga in which Baron Ungern von Sternberg defeated the 10,000 strong Chinese garrison (who had themselves occupied Urga without a battle). During the Battle of Urga it was mainly the outskirts of the city that suffered damage on the large part due to fires. It was instead Prime Minister Choibalsan's harsh policies in 1937 that led to the destruction of entire sections of the city. The Zuun khuree central palace-temple complex, the nobles' residences, many ger districts as well as the main markets were completely destroyed to make way for more modern buildings. Therefore few buildings survive from before 1937.

Pre-1937 buildings that survive include: Dambadarjaalin monastery in Sukhbaatar District (1765), Dashchoilin monastery's large yurt chapels (built in 1778), Gandan monastery's golden-roofed Gandantegchinlen temple also called the Tsogchin dugan (1838), Vajradhara temple (1841), Zuu temple (1869), Didan Laviran temple (19th century), the restored Russian Consulate building (1863), Erdem Itgemjit temple (1893) at the Bogd Khan's Winter Palace, rest of the buildings at the same Palace (1893–1906), the Museum of Ulaanbaatar's History which was formerly the private residence of the rich Buryat merchant Tsogt Badamjav (1904), Zanabazar's Art Museum building which was formerly called the Ondor Khorshoo (1905), the two-storey brick headquarters of the mining company "Mongolore" (1905), the tall Megjid Janraisig temple (1913–1914), the residence of Chin Wang Khanddorj, a prominent noble and politician in the early years of Mongolia's independence (1913), the first telephone building where Russian Orthodox choir singers stayed (1914), Marshal Zhukov Museum etc. The building of the Teacher's College was originally the government headquarters and dates from 1930. Prime Minister Genden's residence was built in 1930.


Gandan Monastery
One of the gates of the Winter Palace

Among the notable older monasteries is the Choijin Lama Monastery, a Buddhist monastery that was completed in 1908. It escaped the destruction of Mongolian monasteries when it was turned into a museum in 1942.[26] Another is the Gandan Monastery, which dates to the 19th century. Its most famous attraction is a 26.5-meter-high golden statue of Migjid Janraisig.[27] These monasteries are among the very few in Mongolia to escape the wholesale destruction of Mongolian monasteries under Khorloogiin Choibalsan.

Winter Palace

Old Ikh Khüree, once the city was set up as a permanent capital, had a number of palaces and noble residences in an area called Öndgiin sürgiin nutag. The Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, who was later crowned Bogd Khan, had four main imperial residences, which were located between the Middle (Dund gol) and Tuul rivers. The summer palace was called Erdmiin dalai buyan chuulgan süm or Bogd khaanii serüün ord. Other palaces were the White palace (Tsagaan süm or Gьngaa dejidlin), and the Pandelin palace (also called Naro Kha Chod süm), which was situated in the left bank of Tuul River. Some of the palaces were also used for religious purposes.[28] The only palace that remains is the winter palace. The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan (Bogd khaanii nogoon süm or Bogd khaanii öwliin ordon) remains as a museum of the last monarch. The complex includes six temples, many of the Bogd Khan's and his wife's possessions are on display in the main building.


Throne gifted to Zanabazar by his disciple the Kangxi Emperor, used by later Jebtsundamba Khutuktus in Urga

Ulan Bator has several museums dedicated to Mongolian history and culture. The Natural History Museum features many dinosaur fossils and meteorites found in Mongolia.[29][30] The National Museum of Mongolian History includes exhibits from prehistoric times through the Mongol Empire to the present day.[31][32] The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts contains a large collection of Mongolian art, including works of the 17th century sculptor/artist Zanabazar, as well as Mongolia's most famous painting, One Day In Mongolia by B. Sharav.[33][34]

Pre-1778 artifacts that never left the city since its founding include the Vajradhara statue made by Zanabazar himself in 1683 (the city's main deity kept at the Vajradhara temple), a highly ornate throne presented to Zanabazar by the Kangxi Emperor (before 1723), a sandalwood hat presented to Zanabazar by the Dalai Lama (c. 1663), Zanabazar's large fur coat which was also presented by the Kangxi Emperor and a great number of original statues made by Zanabazar himself (e.g. the Green Tara).

Puzzle Toys Museum displays a comprehensive collection of complex wooden toys to be assembled by players using sophisticated methods.

Opera house

The Ulaanbaatar Opera House, situated in the center of the city, hosts concerts and musical performances.

Sukhbaatar Square

Sukhbaatar Square, in the government district, is the center of Ulan Bator. The square is 31,068 square meters in size.[35] In the middle of Sükhbaatar Square, there is a statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar on horseback. The spot was chosen because that was where Sukhbaatar's horse had urinated (a good omen) on July 8, 1921 during a gathering of the Red Army. On the north side of Sükhbaatar Square is the Mongolian Parliament building, featuring a large statue of Chinggis Khan at the top of the front steps. Peace Avenue (Enkh Taivny Urgon Chuloo), the main thoroughfare through town, runs along the south side of the square.[36]

Zaisan Memorial

The Zaisan Memorial, a memorial to Soviet soldiers killed in World War II, sits on a hill south of the city. The Zaisan Memorial includes a Soviet tank paid for by the Mongolian people and a circular memorial painting which in the socialist realism style depicts scenes of friendship between the peoples of Soviet Union and Mongolia. Visitors who make the long climb to the top are rewarded with a panoramic view of the whole city down in the valley.

National Sport Stadium

National Sports Stadium is the main sporting venue. The Naadam festival is held here every July.

Artificial Lake Castle

Artificial Lake Castle was built in 1969, when the National Amusement Park was established in the centre of the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.


Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a nature preserve with many tourist facilities, is approximately 70 km from Ulan Bator. Accessible via paved road. The 40 meter high Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, 54 km from Ulan Bator, is the largest equestrian statue in the world.

Embassies and Consulates

Among the countries that have diplomatic facilities in Ulan Bator are Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.[37][38][39]


2006 Naadam ceremony at the National Sports Stadium

The official symbol of Ulan Bator is the garuḍa, a mythical bird in both Buddhist and Hindu scriptures called Khan Garuda or Khangar'd (Mongolian: Хангарьд) by Mongols.


The garuḍa appears on Ulan Bator's emblem. In its right hand is a key, a symbol of prosperity and openness, and in its left is a lotus flower, a symbol of peace, equality, and purity. In its talons it is holding a snake, a symbol of evil of which it is intolerant. On the garuḍa's forehead is the soyombo symbol, which is featured on the flag of Mongolia.


The city’s flag is sky blue with the garuḍa arms in the center.


National University of Mongolia

Ulan Bator has six major universities:

  • National University of Mongolia
  • Science and Technological University of Mongolia
  • Mongolian State University of Agriculture
  • Health Science University of Mongolia[40]
  • Mongolian State Pedagogical University
  • Mongolian University of Art and Culture.

Even though relatively small, the Institute of Finance and Economics is popular as a business school in Mongolia.

The National Library of Mongolia has a wide selection of English-language texts on Mongolian subjects.[41]

The American School of Ulaanbaatar and the International School of Ulaanbaatar both offer Western-style K-12 education in English for Mongolian nationals and foreign residents.[42][43]


National Library

The National Library of Mongolia is located in Ulan Bator and includes an extensive historical collection, items in non-Mongolian languages, and a special children's collection.[44]

Public libraries

The Metropolitan Central Library of Ulaanbataar, sometimes also referred to as the Ulan Bator Public Library, is a public library with a collection of about 500,000 items. It has an impressive 232,097 annual users and a total of 497,298 loans per year. It does charge users a registration fee of 3800 to 4250 tugrik, or about USD 3.29 to 3.68. The fees may be the result of operating on a budget under $176,000 per year. They also host websites on classical and modern Mongolian literature and food, in addition to providing free Internet access.[44]

In 1986 the Ulan Bator government created a centralized system for all public libraries in the city, known as the Metropolitan Library System of Ulan Bator (MLSU). It is also known by its official name, Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj, who was the founder of modern Mongolian literature. This system coordinates management, acquisitions, finances, and policy among public libraries in the capital, in addition to providing support to school and children's libraries.[45] Other than the Metropolitan Central Library, the MLSU has four branch libraries. They are in the Chingeltei District (established in 1946), in the Han-Uul District (established in 1948), in the Bayanzurkh District (established in 1968), and in the Songino-Hairkhan District (established in 1991). There is also a Children's Central Library, which was established in 1979.[46]

University libraries

  • Library of the Agriculture University

Mobile libraries

There are "nomadic libraries," a variation on mobile libraries, that serve the districts around Ulan Bator. They are funded by the Children's Friendship Center of Japan, and also do health checks and dispense vitamins when they distribute books to rural children.[47]

The Books for Asia program, sponsored by the Asia Foundation, has a mobile library that has traveled over 16,000 kilometers through every Mongolian province to distribute books.[48]

Digital libraries

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) is an organization that publishes numerous children's books in different languages on the web in child-friendly formats. In 2006 they began service in Mongolia and have made efforts to provide access to the library in rural areas. The ICDL effort in Mongolia is part of a larger project funded by the World Bank, and administered by the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, called the Rural Education And Development Project (READ).[49] Because Mongolia lacks a publishing industry, and few children's books, the idea has been to “spur the publishing industry to create 200 new children’s books for classroom libraries in grades 1-5.” After these books were published and distributed to teachers they were also published online with the rest of the ICDL collection. While a significant portion of this project is supported by outside sources, an important component is to include training of Mongolian staff in order to make it continue in an effective way.[50][51] The project is also designed to show Mongolia’s youth that they can take part in the larger digital culture.

The Press Institute in Ulaanbataar oversees the Digital Archive of Mongolian Newspapers. It is a collection of 45 newspaper titles with a particular focus on the years after the fall of communism in Mongolia.[52] The project was supported by the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme.

The Metropolitan Central Library in Ulan Bator maintains a digital Monthly News Archive.[53]

Special libraries

An important resource for academics is the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), also based in Ulan Bator. Its goal is to facilitate research between Mongolia and the rest of the world and to foster academic partnerships. To help achieve this end, it operates a research library with a reading room and computers for Internet access. ACMS has 1,500 volumes related to Mongolia in numerous languages that may be borrowed with a deposit. It also hosts an online library that includes special reference resources and access to digital databases, including a digital book collection.[54]

There is a Speaking Library at School 116 for the visually impaired. This is a project funded by the Zorig Foundation, and the collection is largely based on materials donated by Mongolian National Radio. “A sizable collection of literature, know-how topics, training materials, music, plays, science broadcasts are now available to the visually impaired at the school.”[55]

The Mongolia-Japan Center for Human Resources Development maintains a library in Ulan Bator consisting of about 7,800 items. The materials in the collection have a strong focus on both aiding Mongolians studying Japanese and books in Japanese about Mongolia. It includes a number of periodicals, textbooks, dictionaries, and audio-visual materials. Access to the collection does require payment of a 500 Tugrug fee, though materials are available for loan. They also provide audio-visual equipment for collection use and internet access for an hourly fee. There is also an information retrieval reference service for questions that cannot be answered by their collection.[56]


There is a manuscript collection at the Danzan Ravjaa Museum of theological, poetic, medicinal, astrological, and theatrical works. It consists of literature written and collected by the monk Danzan Ravjaa, who is famous for his poetry. The British Library's Endangered Archives Programme funded a project to take digital images of unique literature in the collection, however, it is not clear where the images are stored today.[57]


Ulan Bator train station

Interurban and international: Ulan Bator is served by the Chinggis Khaan International Airport (formerly Buyant Ukhaa Airport). It is 18 km southwest of the city.[58] Chinggis Khaan airport is the only airport in Mongolia that offers international flights. Flights to Ulan Bator are available from Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk, Hong Kong and Beijing.[59] There are rail connections to the Trans-Siberian railway via Naushki and to the Chinese railway system via Jining. Ulan Bator is connected by road to most of the major towns in Mongolia, but most roads in Mongolia are unpaved and unmarked and road travel can be difficult. Even within the city, not all roads are paved and some of the ones that are paved are not in good condition.[60]

Intra-urban: The national and municipal governments regulate a wide system of private transit providers which operate numerous bus lines around the city. There is also a Ulan Bator trolleybus system. A secondary transit system of privately owned microbuses (passenger vans) operates alongside these bus lines. Additionally, Ulan Bator has over 4000 taxis.[61] The capital has 418.2 km of road, of which 76.5 are paved.[62]

Sister cities

Plaques depicting the sister cities of Ulan Bator.

According to the city's official website:[63]

Notable individuals

  1. Asashoryu
  2. Hakuho
  3. Mungonzazal Janshindulam
  4. Sanjaasurengiin Zorig
  5. Nambaryn Enkhbayar

See also


  1. ^ Ulan Bator Statistic Bulletin May.2008 http://statis.ub.gov.mn/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=170&Itemid=99999999
  2. ^ a b Ulan Bator Official Web Portal
  3. ^ Staunton, Sir George Thomas Narrative of the Chinese embassy to the Tourgouth Tartars 1821, London, p. 30
  4. ^ This Shireet tsagaan nuur is located in Övörkhangai's Bürd sum. P. Enkhbat, O. Pürev, Улаанбаатар, Ulaanbaatar 2001, p. 9f
  5. ^ a b c Brief history of Ulaanbaatar
  6. ^ Kohn, Michael Lonely Planet Mongolia 4th edition, 2005 ISBN 1740593596, p. 52
  7. ^ Timkowski, George Travels of the Russian mision through Mongolia to China and residence in Peking in the years 1820-1821 Vol.1, 1827 London, p. 128
  8. ^ Palmer, James The Bloody White Baron 2008, Faber and Faber Limited Press, ISBN 9780571230235, p. 45
  9. ^ Palmer, pp. 131-159
  10. ^ Palmer, 161-163
  11. ^ Palmer 178-9
  12. ^ Palmer 205-7
  13. ^ Palmer 208-9
  14. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, ISBN 9992906278, p. 33-34
  15. ^ Rossabi, Morris Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists 2005, University of California Press, ISBN 0520244192. pp. 1-28
  16. ^ a b c BBC.Mongolia calls state of emergency
  17. ^ ABC News.Mongolia clamps down after 5 killed in unrest
  18. ^ BBC.Fatal clashes in Mongolia capital the situation had stabilised
  19. ^ BBC. Streets calm in riot-hit Mongolia
  20. ^ Amnesty International Are the Mongolian Authorities getting away with murder?
  21. ^ Human Rights Coalition statement
  22. ^ a b c "Climatological Normals of Ulaanbaatar". Hong Kong Observatory. http://www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/climat/world/eng/asia/china/ulaanbaatar_e.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  23. ^ a b Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, ISBN 9992906278, p. 35
  24. ^ geography.about.com coldcapital.html
  25. ^ Writethru: Ulan Bator Mayor Enkhbold elected Mongolia's new PM, Xinhua news agency, Beijing, 25 January 2006. Accessed: 25 October 2010
  26. ^ Choijin Lama Monastery
  27. ^ Kohn, pp. 63-4
  28. ^ Majer, Zsuzsa; Teleki, Krisztina. "Monasteries and Temples of Bogdiin Khьree, Ikh Khьree or Urga, the Old Capital City of Mongolia in the First Part of the Twentieth Century". Budapest: Documentation of Mongolian Monasteries. pp. 36. http://www.mongoliantemples.net/images/pdfs/OLDUBWEB%202008.pdf. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  29. ^ Natural History Museum
  30. ^ Kohn, p. 60
  31. ^ Kohn, pp. 61, 66
  32. ^ National Museum
  33. ^ Kohn, p. 61
  34. ^ Zanazabar Museum of Fine Arts
  35. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, ISBN 9992906278, p. 34
  36. ^ Kohn, p. 52
  37. ^ Kohn, Michael. Lonely Planet Mongolia. 2008, fifth edition, ISBN 9781741045789, p. 255
  38. ^ GoAbroad.com
  39. ^ Welcome2Mongolia.com
  40. ^ www.hsum.edu.mn Health Science University of Mongolia
  41. ^ Kohn, pp. 54-5
  42. ^ American School of Ulaanbaatar
  43. ^ International School of Ulaanbaatar
  44. ^ a b “Metropolitan Central Library of Ulaanbaatar” Libraries of Asia Pacific Directory (2005). Accessed 7 May 2008.
  45. ^ "Library History." Ulaanbataar Metropolitan Central Library. 1 June 2002. Accessed 25 June 2008.
  46. ^ "Metropolitan Central Library Named After D. Natsagdorj." Ulaanbataar Public Library, 1 June 2002. Accessed 25 June 2008.
  47. ^ Mongolia Web News. “Nomadic Library Provides Medical Checks.” Montsame News Agency. 23 May 2006. Accessed 7 May 2008.
  48. ^ Zavala, Melody. "Books are not Obsolete!" In Asia: Weekly Insights and Features from Asia Blog. Asia Foundation, Asiafoundation.org. 30 May 2008. Accessed 1 July 2008.
  49. ^ "Rural Education and Development (READ) Project (formerly Rural Education Support Project)" World Bank. Accessed 1 July 2008.
  50. ^ Bederson, Ben. “No Hotel, Tent: The International Children’s Digital Library Goes to Mongolia.” International Children's Digital Library, 2006. Accessed 7 May 2008.
  51. ^ Bederson, Ben. “No Road, Drive: The ICDL Goes to the Mongolian Countryside.” International Children's Digital Library, 2007. Accessed 7 May 2008.
  52. ^ University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee Libraries. “Digital Librarian Lends Expertise to Mongolian Project.” University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee Libraries Newsletter. 52 (2007). Accessed 8 May 2008
  53. ^ "Monthly News Archive." Metropolitan Central Library. Accessed 25 June 2008.
  54. ^ American Center for Mongolian Studies Library Homepage. American Center for Mongolian Studies, Ulaanbataar. Accessed 7 May 2008.
  55. ^ Sumiyabazar, Ch. "Speaking Library at School No. 116." UB Post: Mongolia's English Weekly News. Thursday, November 08, 2007. Accessed June 6 2008.
  56. ^ "Library." Mongolia-Japan Center for Human Resources Development Japan-center.mn. Accessed 29 June 2008.
  57. ^ Humphrey, Caroline. "The Treasures of Danzan Ravja." The British Library Endangered Archives Programme. No date. Accessed 27 June 2008.
  58. ^ Kohn, p. 88
  59. ^ MIAT Route Map
  60. ^ Transport in Mongolia
  61. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, Foreign Service Office of Montsame News Agency, ISBN 9992906278, p. 90
  62. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, ISBN 9992906278, p. 36
  63. ^ Ulaanbaatar.mn: Улаанбаатар хотын ах, дүү хотууд
  64. ^ Seoul Metropolitan Government. "Sister Cities". http://english.seoul.go.kr/gtk/cg/cityhall.php?pidx=6. 
  65. ^ Irkustsk sister cities
  66. ^ Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg
  67. ^ Ulan Ude looking for sister cities
  68. ^ Denver Sister Cities
  69. ^ http://businessgc.com.au/index.php?page=sister-cities
  70. ^ "Delhi to London, it's a sister act". The Times Of India. July 7, 2002. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/15278423.cms. 

External links

Coordinates: 47°55′12″N 106°55′12″E / 47.92°N 106.92°E / 47.92; 106.92

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