First thing one notices, when talking about Mongolia, is the severe continental climate. This climate is caused by a couple of factors. Mongolia is landlocked between the super states China and Russia. Most of the country is lying on high altitude and the division of air pressure systems also plays a role. It is reported that less than one percent of the country's surface is arable, 8-10 percent forested and the rest being pasture, including semi-desert in the Gobi region.


The borders of present day Mongolia are mostly formed by natural boundaries of mountain ranges. In the north sediments of the Angara shield form old remains of relief from the Caledonian folding 400 million years ago. To the west and the east borders the structures are formed by the Hercynical folding of 300 million years ago. In the south old parts of the Chinese shield are covered by sediments from later times.
There is a hunch that there might be a breaking line on the Eurasian Plate, through the center of Mongolia, on the line Lake Baikal to the border of Pakistan and India. Earthquakes may occur in Mongolia.


The highest point lies in the utter west, with an altitude of 4734 metres, the lowest is not yet determined, but lies around the 560 metres. The average altitude of Mongolia is 1580 metres, which makes it one of the highest countries in the world. The Changajn Nuruu (mountain range) in the west center of Mongolia is the water division. The main rivers in the north flow into the Russian great rivers, which take the water to the Arctic Ocean. The southern rivers mostly run up dry.

Mongolia has distinctive climate regions from north to south: taiga, steppe and desert. In general the extreme continental climate causes long, cold winters lasting for around eight months and short, relatively hot summers. There is an average of 257 cloudless days a year (70%)

Original Text: Barry Wijnandts

Edited by Guido Verboom, January 8, 2005


Additional sources:

Modern Mongolia: A Concise History by Tsedendambyn Batbayar



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